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Physician Assisted Suicide and Euthansia
Transcript of Physician Assisted Suicide and Euthansia
Miss Jamie Kearns
9 March 2014
"I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect."
Although the Hippocratic Oath does state that a physician is not to administer a lethal drug or promote nihilism, there is also a gray area when it comes to preserving life, such as in the following example:
The right to die and how to die is someone's personal choice.
Patient and family suffering at end-of-life can be reduced.
It can be beneficial to others /save other lives in the long run.
What is it?
Physician- doctor of medicine
Assisted- to give aid or help
Suicide- intentional taking of one's own life
In physician assisted suicide, a doctor either administers a lethal drug or withholds from medical measures in order for a patient to die.
The patient should be assessed and deemed "terminally ill" by two doctors who do not know the patient.
The patient needs to be evaluated by a psychologist to make sure he/she is mentally stable and competent.
The patient should be required to have both a written and verbal request.
Although the oath is widely renowned and accepted...
It was created in the 5th Century BC. Medical practices, teachings, and technologies are much more advanced than they were back then.
The oath was also written in Ionic Greek, so it is very possible for translations of the true meaning to have been lost.
Many people in opposition to physician assisted suicide claim that it is a violation of a doctor's Hippocratic Oath, an oath taken by many healthcare professionals who swear to practice in an honest and ethical manner.
Who has legalized PAS?
"I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of over-treatment and therapeutic nihilism."
Excerpts from the Hippocratic Oath (Original and revised)
"I will respect the privacy of my patients...their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty."
Therapeutic nihilism- skepticism regarding the worth of curative agents especially in a particular disease
PAS Should be Legalized For These Three Reasons
Physician assisted suicide should be legalized. However, very strict guidelines need to be determined before intervention from doctors in end of life matters.
According to the European Court of Civil Rights every person is entitled to:
ARTICLE 1: Obligation to respect human rights
ARTICLE 2: Right to life
ARTICLE 8: Right to respect for private and family life
Under Article 8,
1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family
life, his home and his correspondence.
2. No interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except in accordance with the law and is necessary in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health, morals, and the rights and freedoms of others.
In the US Constitution,
The Fourteenth Amendment forbids any state to deny any person the right to life, liberty, or property.
The Ninth Amendment states there are other rights not mentioned that cannot be violated.
-The Library of Congress
-Tyson Peter- The Hippocratic Oath Today
-Tyson Peter- The Hippocratic Oath Today and Merriam-Webster
According to Strasbourg Observers in the court case of Gross v. Switzerland, "an old woman, affected by a continuing decline of her physical and mental faculties, due to her advanced age...attempted suicide unsuccessfully, and she wished to end her life painlessly and 'safely', by taking a lethal dose of sodium pentobarbital."
If PAS is not legalized, it could result in messy suicide attempts. For example:
The woman was denied this prescription by several doctors who believed it to be against Switzerland ethical code and she was not deemed terminally ill. She took it to the European Court on Human Rights, claiming it was a violation of her "right to private life, by preventing her to decide when and how to die." The court ruled that it was in fact a violation of her rights under Article 8.
Without law in place, people may attempt to take their lives on their own. For some people, the pain is too unbearable and they feel forced to do something about it.
My great uncle was sick with cancer for several years. In May 2011 he committed suicide by shooting himself . I believe that he was in so much pain that he did not see any other option.
If a person is in so much pain that they are willing to take their own life, they should be able to receive doctor aid. It would be less painful for not only the patient, but family as well.
How can PAS be beneficial to others?
It can limit family suffering.
If a patient undergoes physician assisted suicide, that allows family and friends to say good-bye. It does not necessarily make the loss easier, but everyone can say what they need to say and there will not be regrets of not getting to tell the person how you feel.
Vital organs can be saved that could go to other patients who need them.
If the patient is terminally ill but has certain organs that are healthy, they could be donated to save other lives. However, if the person were to die on their own, those life-saving organs might not be preserved in time.
It can free up doctor time to save another patient that is curable.
This kind of patient is taking up a doctor's time and perhaps a hospital bed. If the person wants to die, then they should be allowed to.
"In 1994, Oregon became the first state to legalize assisted suicide, giving physicians the right to prescribe chemicals that facilitate death only once specific conditions have been met, including two oral and one written requests each two weeks apart, a medical diagnosis of six months or left to live and confirmation of the diagnosis by a second physician. It became law in 1997."
-Micah Issitt and Heather Newton from "Assisted Suicide is a Civil Right"
Survey from gallup.com showing the views on PAS in the U.S.
Poll distinguishing views on PAS with age and illness taken into account from npr.com
Physician assisted suicide should be legalized under strict conditions for the best interests, needs, and civil rights of terminally-ill patients and their families. In the near future, more states should pass legislation to legalize it.
The family should be consulted.
The patient should be at least 18.
No doctor should be legally obligated to prescribe or aid in the patient's death.
Not allowing someone to choose when and how to die violates some of their basic civil rights, as granted in the US Constitution and European Human Rights Convention.