February 22, 2015
Palliative Medicine Versus Medical Assisted Dying
Suffering has always been part of human existence. Requests to end suffering by means of death have occurred since the beginning of time. If another person carries out the wishes assisting in death, it is considered murder! If a medical physician is permitted to carry out the wishes of a patient to “die with dignity,” is this considered ‘breaking the code’ of medical ethics?
Professor Clive Seale from the Centre for Health Sciences, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, conducted a study to collect the United Kingdom medical doctor’s opinions to compare with the general public attitude to clear the air of any “uncertainty about the stance of the British medical profession” (2009, p. 1). The professor wants to show through his collected works the “variations according to medical specialty, extent of experience in caring for patients approaching death, religious beliefs and other variables” (Seale, 2009, p. 2). From my understanding, the professor is publishing facts to inform people on both sides of the debate. I did not find any of influential rhetoric in the report to lead me to believe Seale supported or opposed euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide. His intent in this qualitative analysis was informative and objective to show the merit and credibility of his work and data for any future legislative debates. In this essay, I will convey the different ways Seale reported his findings with the different appeals of logos, ethos, and pathos, and how he used those appeals without interfering with the survey results. The eight-page report uses all three modes of persuasion to exhibit the logical, ethical and credible statistical data to be used with other studies such as the general public’s opinion by British Social Attitudes (B.S.A.) about assisted dying. I found a few pathos and ethos appeals within the report, but sighted many more logos appeals with facts, statistics, and historical studies. The first appeal in the first sentence of his report was ethos. Seale (2009) states, “The attitudes of UK doctors towards legalization of assisted dying are not well understood” (p.1). His studies are to gain a better understanding of the uncertainty of the past polls and hone in on credible data provided by physicians. He follows with how the last review in 2005 concluded that the support for legislation has varied between 22% and 66%, a margin of 44 percent. The reason for the large percentage gap in his report is attributed to “differences in question wording contributing to variability” (Seale, 2009, p. 1). This quote establishes the premise of his research to find the errors and fallacies of past studies and results, creating credibility of how the past surveys were not consistent in their wording or selecting the appropriate physicians to be interviewed. Seale (2009) found the differences in two regional studies that has similar questions but delivered a wide margin of results “exemplified by a comparison” from the different wording used (p.1). The question in the 1994 study by Ward and Tate stated, “48% of GPs agreed with UK law on euthanasia and should be the same as the that in the Netherlands,” (Seale, 2009, p.1) however in the 2006 Pasterfield study, Seale found only 25% of the GP respondents to agree with a similar question of Ward and Tate’s study of, “the law on intentional killing should be changed to allow physician-assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia” (p.1). Seale (2009) reports the questions hold similar legal positions but the difference in wording may have been a contributing factor for the percentage differences between the two reports. Seale used convincing logos and ethos appeals in his comparative results to substantiate his credibility and logic as