Do you disagree with physician assisted suicide? First we need to define what it is: Physician assisted suicide is when a physician provides the means for death, usually through a prescription. This means that the patient, not the physician, will ultimately kill themselves. This is different than euthanasia, which is when the physician directly administers the lethal substance. The reasons against physician assisted suicide include: sanctity of life, negative impact on professional integrity, and potential of abuse. These arguments support the idea that physician assisted suicide should not be tolerated within our society.
The sanctity of human life is violated when a physician is enabled to provide the means for a patient to kill them self. In our society, many religious and traditional beliefs support the value that taking another’s life is wrong. Assisted suicide is an active way of killing a person, and this contradicts these values. However, physicians’ actions are justifiable to passively kill a patient; this occurs when the patient refuses treatment, which then causes their death. To help preserve the sanctity of life, physician assisted suicide must continue to be forbidden.
Additionally, professional integrity of physicians will not be maintained if assisted suicide is legalized. Medicine’s ethical traditions strongly oppose the destruction of life; the Hippocratic oath says, “I will not administer poison to anyone where asked … Be of benefit, or at least do no harm”. Also, the American Medical Association (AMA) and American Geriatrics Society (AGS), the major professional organizations, oppose assisted suicide. Furthermore, even physicians are fallible; there may be mistakes or uncertainty with a diagnosis and prognosis. This means that with the legalization of physician assisted suicide, patients who were misdiagnosed may choose to kill themselves due to an error. It is necessary that inevitable mistakes do not cause suicides and the integrity of the physicians is preserved.
There is also a potential for abuse if physician assisted suicide becomes legal. People that lack access to effective care and support may choose to go down the path of assisted suicide even though unknown alternative options exist. Families and patients may give in to death to easily even though there is still the possibility of recovery. In addition, insurance companies would likely pressure doctors to encourage assisted suicide for certain cases to minimize costs. The power that doctors would gain from allowing assisted suicide could be abused as well. A doctor may choose to play God and advise that a patient consider assisted suicide because they believe that the resources that would be spent on this patient could be better spent otherwise. There are an array of potential problems that legalizing physician assisted suicide would create.
It should not be made legal because it violates many values. The sanctity of life and the Hippocratic oath support the idea that assisted suicide should not be enabled. Diagnostic errors and the potentials for abuse could force many patients to choose death, when they lack a complete perspective of their outcome or they are making their decision on false information. These are the reasons that physician assisted suicide should remain illegal.