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Agree: Physician Assisted Suicide

Agree with physician assisted suicide? There are an array of reasons that physician assisted suicide should be legalized. People should have the right to choose whether and when they want to die. A patient should not be forced to continue living, when there is no hope for recovery and they are experiencing intense pain. This in turn would reduce pain of the patient and their family. Other lives would be saved and health care costs would be reduced if it was legalized. These and many other reasons support the idea that physician assisted suicide would be beneficial to our society as a whole.

Allowing physician assisted suicide would lessen the pain and enable some terminally ill patients fairer treatment. Horrible pain and suffering that some patients must endure prior to death could be done away with. Instead of a dragged out death that puts burdens on family members, families could say their goodbyes at a specified time. The right to die is a fundamental right that all people should have. Additionally, justice says that we should “treat like cases alike”. Some patients can refuse treatments which will hasten death; however, for some patients treatment refusal will not speed up death, so suicide is the only option. Also, the assistance of a physician with suicide would mean that there would be less messy and traumatizing suicides. Many people that are facing an agonizing death choose to commit suicide. Some do this through shooting themselves in the head or jumping off a building, and this can have significant negative impacts on those that the patient left behind. If physicians were enabled to participate in assisted suicides, then these traumatic suicides could be avoided. Physician assisted suicide is a beneficial option for terminally ill patients to have because it lets them reduce pain and maintain their dignity during death.

Furthermore, if physician assisted suicide were allowed other lives would be saved and health care costs would be lowered. If a patient chooses assisted suicide instead of a prolonged death, then medical staff would have more time to treat other patients. Understaffed hospitals have an increased rate of making mistakes and provide a lesser quality of care for patients. Additionally, millions of dollars are spent each year to keep patients alive who are terminally ill, who would prefer to be dead. This money could be better spent on patients who can be saved. Also, vital organs could be used to save the lives of other patients. It isn’t fair to the patients or the health care system to drag out a dying patients life when they would rather die. By legalizing physician assisted suicide, hospitals would be more efficient, costs would be lowered, and other patients would be saved.

Physician assisted suicide is beneficial to all of the parties involved. Patients can stop an agonizing death and die when they want to. Families are not forced under the burdens of a dying relative for months or years. The lives of other patients would be saved; medical costs and errors would be reduced. Physician assisted suicide is something that upon closer examination has many advantages.

Disagree: Physician Assisted Suicide

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.