Physician assisted suicide

Posted: October 17th, 2013







Physician assisted suicide






Physician assisted suicide

In medicine, physician assisted suicide has been at the heart of controversy for years on end with regard to terminally ill patients who experience immense pain because of their medical conditions. Assisted suicide is also known as active euthanasia. It involves the act of ending the life of a person on his or her behalf with the aim of ending the pain arising from a terminal illness. The argument has revolved around the fact that patients want the doctors to be given the authority to assist them to end their misery by aiding them to commit suicide. Critics are of the opinion that doctors do not have the right to take away life because it would be placing them in the role of God who is considered the giver and taker of life. The critics are also of the opinion that any doctor who aids patients to commit suicide should be jailed for life because such actions are tantamount to murder. The position assumed by an individual on whether physicians should be granted the right to assist patients with terminal illnesses to commit suicide or if it should be declared a crime to assist a patient in committing suicide. It all depends on an individual’s beliefs to make such a judgment (The Editor, 4).

Critics are of the opinion that physician assisted suicide should not be given a chance of existence as it erodes the moral standards that have been long in existence in the medical field. Based on religion or simple intuition, no one reserves the right to take or give life because they would be in mockery of the role of the creator. Another basis for this position is that, an individual, regardless of the pain, does not reserve the right to choose when to die. Such a decision to allow patients to choose when their time in the world is over to be assisted in committing suicide would be outrageous. Instead of offering people the option of death; they should be given alternative means to enable their survival and reduction of their pain without having to condone murder. It is highly hypocritical of doctors to condone and advocate for death by giving the disgruntled patients information and guidance on how to kill themselves on basis of their pain instead of focusing on how to alleviate the pain and urge the patients to try alternative means for survival. They  focus on giving the patient remedies for their pain and giving them encouragement which would play a huge role in alleviating the emotional pain which is the greatest source of physical pain because if the heart and mind are at pain the physical wellbeing is also at pain(Span,7).

If all patients, even if not in a lot of pain were granted the right to choose when they should die then there would be mass suicides assisted by physicians, which be equivalent to mass murders. In addition such steps to approve the patients to be assisted in taking away their own lives would be a wrong step in guiding the generation that is set to soon  fill the positions of higher authority and more so the doctors themselves. The physicians are considered as a source of compassion and relief for their patients in agony. Such is not reflected in the opinion requiring doctors to heed to call so assisting patients in agony to commit suicide. The call for allowing doctors to take the lives of their patients instills fear for any patient wishing to seek help in a medical facility because there are at times not sure about the decision of getting the doctors to assist in limiting suicide. The fear of death recurs in a patient’s mind due to the uncertainty of death and the afterlife. Suicide is usually associated with mental illness and instability. It is also a sign of lack of mental well being whereby an individual might be suffering from depression and is seeking help and attention in all sorts of ways. Thus, classifying those with terminal illnesses and in pain as in need of taking away their own lives would be a bad precedent in the medical fraternity (Egbert, 3).

The adoption of legislation allowing for the voluntary murder of the patients can also be because of ulterior motives of the doctors or even further outside sources such as spouses and family members. A patient can also be blackmailed into taking away his own life by being assisted to take away the life by a doctor by a person maybe who is only after the financial resources that the patient is set to leave behind ,thus finances and material wealth can also influence the decision towards taking way one’s own life. The adoption of such a policy could have a very significant change in the cultural expectations and views about suicide .Some can be led to believe that suicide is but just a part of a solution to the troubles of the world (Brown, 13).

Direct physician suicide help is forbidden by law in many states in the United States. It is defined as murder to aid a person to commit death as the helper of the act is a part of the act thus he is guilty of the crime regardless of the empathetic state that the doctor might be having for them to commit such an act . Doctors can also withdraw the life of the patients at their request by denying them the basics of life that they need for survival such as food and water, which can lead to death, is just tantamount to murder. Hence, any form of depriving am individual the ability to sustain their lives can lead to death. The alleviation of intense pain should not be a basis for denying an individual the chance to live by shortening their lives. Alleviation of pain can be achieved by the use of painkillers and allow the patient  to enjoy the simple aspects that life has to offer such as the presence of family or the ability to see and feel the nature even though the drugs may still shorten their lives (Span,04).

Physician assisted suicide should be allowed based on request by the patients; this is because the patients bear the consequences of their conditions by experiencing unimaginable pain. Due to this fact, the patient reserves the right to do whatsoever pleases him or her and alleviates the pain and suffering brought on by the terminal disease. Terminal diseases are quite humiliating and nerve drain coupled with the unbearable pain, which is only relieved by the strong medication that the patients have to live on for the rest of their lives. For example, a man not being able to fend and support his struggling family feels very humiliated by the fact that he does not have the ability to do simple tasks and has to rely on his family members for simple tasks such as movement and feeding. This brings a lot of humiliation to him as his ego is eroded and his pride as a man and has to live with (Editor, 8).

The declaration of American independence is founded on three rights to the American citizen the rights to liberty, Life and pursuit of happiness. Thus, the pain arising from the terminal illness and lack of ability to sustain oneself violates the right to pursue happiness. In addition, the denial of the right to decide what is right for one is a violation of liberty for the individual hence an individual in agony should be allowed to decide what they deem fit in their lives to end the anguish. The frail and very weak elderly people with terminal ailments seeking for cure and relief from the nudging and intense pain leads to some getting convinced of taking their on lives away regardless of what  method they find it easy. The decision to have people with terminal ailments chose when to cease living is attracting huge support from people of all aspects of life.

Thus, it has become common knowledge for people across the board to access death assistance from their physicians. Therefore, the assisted suicide outline appears as a triumph not for open mindedness, but for marginalization. Because those with pain and disabilities are not given solutions for their disheartening states but rather because they are considered a burden to the doctors and those around them. At its core lie undignified perceptions and prejudices about the worth of life with an illness or disability. All who believe in the dignity of human beings should reject such attitudes. When people voice their opinions against such injustice, it should not be an imposition of values of one self (Severson, 9). Critics of physician-assisted suicide are in line with those who are weak and marginalized those whose voices cannot be aired due to the national policies and are facing risk of having some degrading opinions imposed on them by outside forces.

Means such as treatments through medicines and operations which are seriously troublesome to the patient, and they cannot be achieved or consumed without extravagant expenses, pain or other difficulty or that, if used, would not put forward sensible hope of assistance to the patient. The presence of bad approaches and the hunger for financial wealth has led to such selfish approaches that are nothing short of murder because it is purely taking away the lives of people from their loved ones. It must be cold heartedness or the search for recognition in the medical fraternity by doctors who want to edge out names for themselves, but in a very uncouth way (Egbert, 11).

The solution to such should be provision of means to alleviate the pain without having to reach the extremes of taking away the lives of people who have loved ones and family that needs them. A doctor should be a source of compassion not a source of grief; they should focus on how to help such people by finding the appropriate channels such as counseling, surgery for respective conditions if necessary and use of medication such as morphine to alleviate the pain for those who can afford the medication. However, the presence of individuals in genuine anguish and pain would necessitate rethinking of the position because immense pain cannot be alleviated by any medication possible. Thus, they should also be given a chance to exercise their liberty as provided for by the declaration of independence that guarantees liberty and happiness, which cannot be achieved in a state of pain and anguish. The doctors should also engage themselves in adequate research to come up with conclusive solutions as to the reasons for such pain attributed to specific terminal illnesses without having to advise individuals to consider taking their own lives.


Brown, R. (2009). Arrests Draw New Attention to Assisted Suicide .New York Times Post, 3.Retrieved from

Egbert, L. (2012) Assisted suicide: Do we have the right to choose? Washington Post discussion, 12.Retrived from

New York Post: Health.11 Retrieved from

Severson, K. (6 February 2012). Georgia Court Rejects Law Aimed at Assisted Suicide. New York Times post.8. Retrieved from

Sontag, D. ((2011). Virginia: Judge Orders Nutrition for Immigrant in Nursing Home. New York Post.14 Retrieved from

Span, P. (2011). The Next Death-With-Dignity Battleground

The Editor. (2011).The Ethical Debate over Assisted Suicide: The New York Times: the opinion pages.16. Retrieved from

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