Physician-AssistedSuicide (PAS) refer the act medical practitioners facilitating thedeath of aterminally ill patient throughthe administration of a fatal dose of medication following theirdirectives. Physician-assisted suicide is related euthanasia whichthe act of ending the life of a patient in a painless mannerfollowing the realization that the health condition of the patientcannot reverse and the patient is destined for death (Lipuma,2013).Is it ethical to end the life of oneself or life of another personprematurely? This question has attracted heated debate, with theproponents and opponents of physician-assisted suicide presentingtheir argument. Every individual has a desire, values and goals whenissuing an advance directive. However, it is not assured that aphysician will always comply with our advance directive during theend of life care. A patient may decide to end his or her life throughthe assistance of a medical practitioner so as to end the pain andsuffering that they are experiencing. This situation may put thephysician into an ethical dilemma since it contradicts the oath thatthey take to preserve the life people at all cost and ending the lifeof a person goes contrary to their professional value (Mishara &Weisstub, 2013).This paper presents a debate on Physician-AssistedSuicide with the aim of establishing whether it is an ethicalpractice or not while taking into consideration the morals of thesociety, the paper further seeks to determine the possibility oflegalizing it.
Areview of the current situation in medicalinstitution
Somemedical institution practices physician-assisted suicide, despite theethical dilemma that surrounds it. However, it is only done to as alast resort after all the attempts of restoring the health of thepatient has failed and they meet the stated conditions which includethey must be terminally ill with their lifespan approximately beingsix months. The physician must inform the patients of therepercussion to make them aware of the consequences of the act. Also,they have to make both verbal and written request within a period of15 days. At least two witnesses must confirm the requests. Inaddition, the patient must be served by two doctors, that is theconsulting physician and attending physician. Finally, the patientsmust take the drug aimed at ending their life by themselves. There isa general assumption that the doctors are obligated to comply withthe desires of the terminally ill patients and in some case, legalaction is taken against the ones who do not follow the requests ofthe patients. However, it should be noted the patient are not alwaysright and following their uninformed decision which they make due toignorance of the consequences and may be detrimental to them(Periyakoil, Kraemer, & Neri, 2016).
Humanlife is crucial, and it is undesirable to end it prematurely.Besides, it may go against the ethics to end life, but is this right.Taking a break from the medical scenario, There are cases when thelife of people are ended prematurely even by our governments throughthe security agencies and judicial system, for instance, theexecution of terrorist, criminals and death sentence to peoplecharged with murder. Is ethically right for our judicial system topunish offenders by sentencing to death or by our security agencieskilling the people who break the law? .This analogy highlights someof the situation outside the medical setup where death may benecessary to protect the citizens or as a form of punishment and isethically accepted since the laws and regulations of a given countryare based ethics of the society. Just like in the case presentedabove, I believe that physician-assisted suicide is an ethicalpractice depending on the manner and situation at which it is carriedout. It goes against ethics to conduct the practice on a patient whostill has chances of surviving. However, the likelihood of survivalare very low there is no need of subjecting the patient toexcruciating pains while having the knowledge that the patient is notgoing to get well and will ultimately die in a short while. In suchcases, the proposal for physician-assisted suicide should come fromthe patients, and they should not be compelled to make decisions thatthey may be unfavorable to them (Periyakoil, Kraemer, & Neri,2016).
ReasonsWhy Physician Assisted Suicide Is Ethical and Should Be Legalized
Mostcountries have banned Physician Assisteddeathsarguing that it goes against the morals of the society. However, somemedical practitioners engage in the practice as a way of helping apatient with a terminal illness to manage the pain that theyexperience in the course of the futile treatment. Several proofs showthat physician-assisted suicide is ethical and the patients canderive a lot of benefit from it when it is conducted appropriatelyand in a professional way. These include the following:
Right to avoid sufferings
Terminalillness is characterized severe pain that prevents the patient fromleading their normal pain. When the pain become intolerable, and theprobability of the patient getting well is low, it is appropriate toallow them to embrace a dignified death rather than leaving tocontinue suffering, just because the doctor is striving to prolongtheir life. Besides, the patient is subjected to long term care whichcan be draining to their family in terms of the medical expenses. Thegovernment should, therefore, legalize physician-assisted suicidesince it is only ethical to save the patient from long term sufferingand the family from spending all their income trying to sustain theirloved ones in hospital whereas their death is inevitable (Mishara &Weisstub, 2013) .
Theobjective of Palliative Care is to alleviate the pain experienced bythe patient, physician-assisted death is a compassionate care thattakes into consideration the autonomy of the patient and makes themend their life with dignity. Every option of palliative care shouldbe discussed with the patient and tried before the physician agreesto help the patient end their life. It is important to incorporatePAS in of end-of-life care so as to improve palliative care. No onewould like to die, and if a patient has asked for assisted death,then it is evident he or she is overwhelmed by their condition(Mishara & Weisstub, 2013) .
Respect for autonomy
Peoplehave the right to make decisions about the personal issues thataffect their life. They should, therefore, be allowed to decide ontheir own about the timing of their death and the manner in whichwould like to die when they are under the end of life care(Lipuma,2013).
Honesty and transparency
Mostof the medical institutions practice physician-assisted suicidedespite the fact that it is illegal in some of the countries.However, it is done in secret, in such a way that the governmentagencies do not notice it(Lipuma,2013).Medical professionals who do it base their argument son the fact thatit helps in promoting better care for the patient in end of lifecondition. It is high time that they government realize the benefitsof PAS and embrace it.
Banningphysician-assisted suicide denies the patient control over theirlife. The government should recognize that a terminally ill patientindeed has the desire to live, but they cannot do so based on theirsituation. It is the responsibility of the state to preserve the lifeof its citizens. However, they should also give the patient controlover their life (Lipuma,2013).
Justicerequires that scenarios be viewed with neutrality and without anyform of biasedness. The same way patients who are terminally ill havethe right to refuse the treatment given to them by medicalpractitioners is the same way they should have the right to rejectany form treatment that is likely to prolong their life. A criticallyill patient who refuses to be put on ICU will end up dying, and theyallowed to refuse such type of treatment. It makes no sense preventhim or her from undertaking a medication that will facilitate theirdeath(Lipuma,2013).
Thesufferings that a terminally ill person experiences ismultidimensional, apart from the physical pain that they go through(Lipuma,2013).They are also deprived of independent and have to rely on assistedliving and long-term care. Besides they lose their basicfunctionality and are psychologically tortured. It is, therefore,compassionate to all allow them to terminate the indefinite sdistresses by ending their life.
Onthe other hand, the opponents of the physically assisted suicidebelieve that it is no ethicallyright and no be legalized for the following reasons:
Potential for abuse
Thelong-term care that is given to the terminally ill patient is verycostly, and one may decide to seek for assisted death to avoidburdening their family members. Also, the health care providers mayalso attempt to convince the patients or their families to opt forPAS away avoiding the task of attending to a patient who is likely todie. I believe there are measures that can be put in place to preventabuse and it is not right to illegalize it.
Theobjective of the medical profession has always been to uphold life,and this is defined in theHippocratic Oaththat medical professional take at the entry level of their career.Any activity that goes against the oath harm the integrity of theprofession. Besides, it influences the perception that people developconcerning medical institution. I believe that the wellbeing of apatient is much important that the integrity of a profession. Thereare a number of changes that have been effected in the HippocraticOathto meet the changing needs of the patient. The oath should be revisedfurther to accommodate Physician-AssistedSuicide.
Sanctity of life:
Humanlife is invaluable. The religion asserts that life is given by asupernatural being who is God, it is, therefore, important to upholdthe sanctity life. Secular traditions also concur with the religiousprinciple about the significance hum life. It is therefore morallywrong for a medical practitioner to assist patients in ending theirlife(Lipuma,2013).
Failureof the profession:
Thereis a growing concern that medical practitioners are likely to make amistake while undertaking their duties without the fear that theywill be held responsible for the medical outcome of the patient. Forinstance, they may make an error while diagnosing and treating apatient and in the event, the patient succumbs they may claim thatthe patient asked for assisted suicide to end their sufferings.Measures should be put in place to ensure that the doctors carry outtheir duties professionally(Lipuma,2013).
Inconclusion, people view in two differentways. The first faction believes that it is ethical and should belegalized while the second, assert that it is ethically wrong. I sidewith the proponents of Physician-Assisted suicide. Letting anindividual to die while undergoing severe pain is unacceptable andtorture to the patient. It is needless to subject the patient toseveral types of palliate care practices whose end results of willnot achieve the objective of restoring the health of the patient.Besides, no definite palliative care will focus on a particularcondition experienced by the patients. Doctors administer the carethrough trial and error and in the process expose the patient to moresufferings. Everyone can not access the palliative care that issupposed to be offered to the terminally ill patient due to the highcost of medication. The patient will have no alternative but to bearwith the pain. should be legalized toenhance the value that the patients derive from the medicalinstitution.
Lipuma,S. H. (2013). Continuous sedation until death as physician-assistedsuicide/euthanasia: a conceptual analysis. Journal of Medicine andPhilosophy, jht005.Radbruch, L., Leget, C., Bahr.
Mishara, B. L.,& Weisstub, D. N. (2013). Premises and evidence in therhetoric of assisted suicide and euthanasia. InternationalJournal of Law and Psychiatry, 36(5-6), 427-435.doi:10.1016/j.ijlp.2013.09.003
Periyakoil, V. S.,Kraemer, H., & Neri, E. (2016). Multi-Ethnic AttitudesToward Physician-Assisted Death in California and Hawaii. Journalof Palliative Medicine, 19(10), 1060-1065.doi:10.1089/jpm.2016.0160
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