Physician Assisted Suicide

Brief explanation of why this topic interests you: Physician assisted suicide is a raging debate in the contemporary society. The modern society has grown to be sensitive of the health care practices which are carried out by health care practitioners in ensuring that the health status of the society is maintained at desired levels. There are two sides to the debate, those who support physician assisted suicide and those who oppose the practice. In order to develop not only efficient and effective solutions, but also sustainable ones, the modern society needs to understand the cause behind the problems hence my interest in the topic.

My Thesis: Due to the prominence of physician assisted suicide, the research paper will analyze the arguments presented by the two sides engaged in the controversial debate.

Approach to the subject of my paper: The paper will define terms in order to create a clear understanding of what they mean exactly. Terms like Euthanasia will be defined in order to create clarity regarding the difference between it and physician assisted suicide. Physician assisted suicide will also be defined with voluntary, non-voluntary, active and passive forms also defined. It will be important that the existing practices are defined and the acceptable forms indicated so as to highlight where the issue arises from. The state of Oregon, which has legalized physician assisted suicide, will be used as the case example in the research paper. The paper will mainly present arguments that are fronted by the existing sides in the debate and analyze them in order to develop a conclusive insight. This is important as it will add to the understanding of the issues that create problems in the society.

Kinds of sources I will use and why they will benefit my paper: Different forms of scholarly literature will be utilized to provide the information needed in the research paper. Ardelt (424-434) in a journal article provides definitions of the concepts present in the paper regarding physician assisted suicide. Dahl and Levy (335-338) in their journal article present statistics that create more insight on the impact of physician assisted suicide in areas where it is legalized. In support of the medical practice, Dahl and Levy state that “Assessing PAS requires a great deal of work, both empirical and conceptual. In the meantime, we have no evidence at all that it is riskier to permit PAS than to forbid it” (337) hence it should not be condemned. Len Doyal and Lesley Doyal (1079-1080) a professor of medical ethics and a professor of health and social care respectively in their article provides support for physician assisted suicide while giving several reasons.

Girsh (68) and Emanuel, Fairclough and Emanuel (2461-2462) argue in their articles that physician assisted suicide should be allowed in the society as it is for the good of the patients. It is the humane thing to do when a patient is suffering. On the opposing view is McCaffery (1-2) who argues that there is potential for abuse and it contradicts what the doctors were sworn to do. McCaffery states that “if a patient requests his doctor to treat him in a manner that will make his illness worse, the doctor cannot provide such assistance and is obliged not to” (2). Golden and Zoanni (16-30) oppose physician assisted suicide as it develops a perception among members of the society that disability is tantamount to not being useful to the community hence termination of life. Hraned (515) in her article also explains the downside of legalizing physician assisted death in the contemporary society.


Tentative List of References: 

Ardelt, Monika. “Physician-assisted death.” Handbook of death and dying 1 (2003): 424-434.

Dahl, E., and N. Levy. “The case for physician assisted suicide: How can it possibly be proven?.” Journal of medical ethics 32.6 (2006): 335-338.

Doyal, Len and Lesley Doyal. “Why active euthanasia and physician assisted suicide should be legalized: If death is in a patient’s best interest then death constitutes a moral good.” British Medical Journal, 323.7321 (2001): 1079-1080.

Emanuel, Ezekiel J., Diane L. Fairclough and Linda L. Emanuel. “Attitudes and Desires Related to Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide Among Terminally Ill Patients and Their Caregivers.” Journal of the American Medical Association, 284 (2000): 2460-2468.

Girsh, Faye, J. Voluntary Euthanasia Should be Legalized. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven, 2000.

Golden, Marilyn, and Tyler Zoanni. “Killing us softly: the dangers of legalizing assisted suicide.” Disability and Health Journal 3.1 (2010): 16-30.

Hraned, Mary E. “The Dangers of Assisted Suicide: No Longer Theoretical.” Defending Life (2012): 513-521.

McCaffery, Marji. Opposition Testimony SB-200, 2013.


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