Physician-assisted Suicide Debate

Physician-assisted Suicide Debate

The ethics surrounding a physician assisting a patient die is increasingly becoming a hot topic. In its simple definition, physician-assisted suicide refers to the intentional act of killing oneself with the assistance of a qualified physician who provides the advice or the means to do so. In a more concrete definition, PAD refers to the process in which a qualified doctor/physician provides, upon the request of the patient, a lethal dose prescription which the patient intends to use to end his/her life. Throughout history, several terms have been used to describe the situation or the practice of a patient using a lethal dose, prescribed by a qualified physician, to end his/her life. Before the enactment of the ODG Act (Oregon Death with Dignity Act) in 1996 physician-assisted suicide (PAD) was the commonly used term whose intention was to tie the traditional role of a doctor assisting someone to kill themselves. Several countries later enacted several Acts legalizing the physician-assisted death but specifically in relation to terminally-ill patients. However, the debate surrounding PAD is increasingly growing hotter.


While some people take PAD as being synonymous to the typical suicide thus considering it as immoral; others consider it as a moral act which is necessary for some circumstances. Many faith groups such as Jews, Christians, and Muslim sincerely believe that life is God-given; thus, only God can take that life. They consider physician-assisted death as negating God’s sovereign plan of human life. Although these groups believe that each individual serves as a steward of his/her life, they should never take suicide as an option (Wang et,al., 2015). Proponents of the legalization of PAD argue that terminally-ill patient experience intractable pain and poor quality life with little or no possibility of recovery. Should it not be fair to just allow them to die?

Position Statement

Given the mental capacity of terminally-ill patients especially while making decisions, it is not just to use physician-assisted death on terminally ill patients.

Supporting Reason

Physician-assisted suicide (PAS) provides a dangerously ethical slippery slope. Once a state approves PAS for terminally-ill patients, it creates loopholes for offering the same lethal prescriptions to patients who are not terminally ill such as those suffering from distress or depression and spiritual sufferings where individuals face the reality of death (Wang et,al., 2015). The case of a 24-year old lady from Belgium provides a perfect illustration on how PAD can be exploited. Besides, what is the mental capacity or condition of terminally ill patients? Inarguably, they lack the capacity to make independent and rational decisions meaning that they really do not know what they are doing nor do they know the consequences of their actions. As such, their decision to kill themselves might be ill-advised.

Opposing Reason

By definition, a terminally-ill patient refers to patients who a competent physician believe that they have less than six months to live. Coupling this with the provision of natural justice and the rule of law which provides for the “treatment of all people alike,” terminally-ill patient have a right to object to medications intended to extend/prolong their lives (Orentlicher et al., 2015). As such, completely prohibiting the use of physician-assisted suicide would serve as an excess limit on personal liberty. As such, it would be just for a state to allow the use of physician-assisted death on terminally ill patients: PLAGIARIZED SAMPLE-ORDER YOUR PAPER NOW


Orentlicher, D., Pope, T., & Rich, B. (2015). Clinical Criteria for Physician Aid in Dying,”

Journal of Palliative Medicine. 18(x): 1-4

Wang, S., Aldridge, M., Gross, P., Canavan, M., Cherlin, E., and Johnson-Hurzeler, R., (2015).

“Geographic Variation of Hospice Use Patterns at the End of Life”, Journal of Palliative Medicine. 18(9), 778

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