Ethical Issues of Euthanaisa Essay

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Ethical Issues of Euthanaisa

Since the time that Dr. Jack Kevorkian became a celebrated figure in many circles, the topic of physician assisted suicide has become a lightning rod that sparks heated debates on both sides. Many people argue that physician assisted suicide (PAS) is ethical and should be applied to cases where terminally ill patients can choose to end their lives in this manner because this is respecting their autonomy (their right to choose what is best for their bodies). Other people argue that PAS is ethically and morally unacceptable because it goes against the traditionally defined role of a physician-to heal sick people. They feel that if physicians were allowed to perform PAS, then patients could
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(Seay, 2001).

Most people agree that there is a fundamental difference between letting a competent, terminally-ill patient die who requests no more treatment and a competent, terminally-ill patient who requests that a physician give him/her prescription drugs that will hasten death. The first instance is a case of the physician being passive, and letting the patient die of the natural disease. But the latter case, the physician is playing a much more active role in a suicide. The second case is considered a suicide because the patient would not be dying of the natural disease, but rather from the drugs that were provided by the physician (Beauchamp, 1999). This is a general definition of PAS?that a doctor gives a patient the means to commit suicide, but the patient has to actually carry out the final act. This scenario was how Dr. Kevorkian?s first 47 official PAS patients died. The next level beyond PAS is euthanasia, which represents Dr. Kevorkian?s 4th and final patient. This increases the level of physician involvement in the death of the patient because the physician not only provides the means to end a life, but the physician is also the one who carries out the final deed.

There is a troublesome dilemma that clinicians face when a terminally-ill patient is in excruciating pain. For the physician, the number one priority is most likely dealing with that pain. When a patient is given analgesics to relieve the suffering from

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