Assisted Suicide Essay Research Paper Assisted SuicidePhysicianassisted

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Assisted Suicide Essay, Research Paper Assisted Suicide Physician-assisted suicide is the provision by a doctor, consciously and legally, to a patient who has competently requested it, of the means for that patient to end his or her own life (McCuen 10). Large amounts of lethal drugs such as barbiturates and carbon monoxide, are inhaled to painlessly cause death. Usually a physician, family member, or a friend fulfills someone s request for help in dying. Usually it involves a terminally ill patient who wishes to die but is not capable of self-destruction. He may need a doctor to give a lethal injection or prescription or a family member to help him arrange another means of suicide. In the case of assisted suicide, the patient, while receiving help, alone performs the final,

death-inducing act (Wekesser 12). Physician-assisted suicide is ethical and should be legalized. There are three types of aid-in-dying, the first being active euthanasia, which involves painlessly putting one to death for merciful reasons. A doctor gives a lethal dose of medication to the patient. Passive euthanasia involves not doing something to prevent death, when a doctor does not use an artificial respirator for a terminally ill person to stay alive (Encarta 1). Involuntary euthanasia, a person asks to die (by either active or passive euthanasia). Nonvonuntary euthanasia refers to ending the life of a person who is not mentally competent to make an informed request to die, such as a comatose patient (Encarta 1). Euthanasia and assisted suicide are different, because in

assisted suicide the patient brings it upon himself or herself and actually causes his or her death with the assistance of another person usually a physician. Like other civil rights, this controversial issue did not come about suddenly. Throughout history euthanasia has been accepted in some forms by various groups or societies (Encarta 1). Aiding others in dying or putting them to death was common in some situations, in ancient Rome and Greece. If a child was born with major birth defects it was ethical to put it to death. Also in some societies voluntary euthanasia for the elderly was a custom. However, as Christianity developed and grew powerful in the West, euthanasia became morally and ethically abhorrent and was viewed as a violation of God s gift of life (Encarta 1).

Passive euthanasia is permitted in some branches of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. In many countries there are restrictions on euthanasia, and it has not quite been adopted yet. The United States and Canada have strict laws regarding active and passive euthanasia. At the request of a patient to end life-sustaining treatment, it is legal for the doctor to do so. Now that there is advanced technology, legal rights have expanded little by little. On June 26, 1997, the Supreme Court ruled that states may continue to ban the practice of physician assisted suicide (Humphry 295). About half the states of America have a specific law forbidding assistance in suicide, and the other half could prosecute under general homicide statuses. The law must change, so that any patient, in

consultation with family, friends and consulting doctors, may voluntarily choose to end his or her life easily when there is no sensible hope for anything but never-ending misery. In France, euthanasia is treated as homicide. However, some French doctors specialize in helping the patient to die, the double-effect procedure that aims at easing suffering but does not deliberately cause death (Bloyd 111). In Great Britain, euthanasia and assisted suicide are treated as a homicide, also. The Netherlands has legalized voluntary euthanasia. Most cases are assisted suicides performed by the patient s private physician, who must consult with another physician before the act (Bloyd 112). The Netherlands is basically the only country in which assisted suicide has been legalized.