The definition of suicide is to kill oneself. In a society where suicide is looked down upon it is no surprise that the topic of physician assisted suicide is controversial. Ethically this action is deemed immoral and there are many theories that would support this claim. Physician assisted suicide is the voluntary termination of one’s own life by administration of a lethal substance with the direct or indirect assistance of a physician. The physician does not actually physically kill the person; they counsel the patient in taking a drug that they can take themselves.
Although the law was not passed in the State of Massachusetts but is legal in Physician assisted suicide is legal in Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Oregon was the first to pass the Death with Dignity Act in 1997. Washington followed suit, passing the Death with Dignity Act in 2008, and Montana passed the Rights of Terminally Ill Act in 2009 (Strohm).
Before a terminally ill patient can go through with this procedure there are requirement that must be met first. For example in Oregon the patient must be 18 years of age or older, a resident of Oregon, capable of making and communicating health care decisions for him/herself, and diagnosed with a terminal illness with only 6 months to live. The physician would decide of all these requirements have been met and further essential requirements are necessary such as two oral requests by patient, at least 15 days apart, a written request by the patient signed by two witnesses, confirmation of diagnosis and prognosis by the attending doctor and consulting physician, and the individual must be aware of the feasible alternatives. The individual is free to cancel the assisted suicide at any time.
There are obvious restrictions from going through with the procedure. Physician Assisted Suicide does not authorize mercy killing, lethal injection or active euthanasia. People who are suffering from psychiatric or psychological disorders or depression causing impaired judgment are not allowed to receive physician assisted suicide. Physicians who are not licensed cannot practice this procedure. It also does not allow coercion or undue influence.
Although Physician Assisted Suicide is deemed immoral there are some benefits from this procedure. A person who undergoes Physician Assisted Suicide ends all the suffering they were going through. The death with Dignity Act allows these patients to die peacefully and hasten their death. The family of the terminally ill adult benefits from less medical bills. Another benefit is that the vital organs can be saved from the patient and it can also be donated.
If patients are not aware of Physician Assisted Suicide they may take their lives in their own hands which could lead to a terrifying death. There have been cases where patients have been denied Physician Assisted Suicide and they proceed to take matters into their own hands. The Doctors also benefit for the procedure because their time is freed up and they can help save more patients. Overall it helps those who do not want to lengthen their pain and suffering.
Alongside these benefits of PAS there are also many adverse effects related to this procedure. Physician Assisted Suicide demeans the value of human life. Physician Assisted suicide is permitted to terminally ill adults but without further investigation and precautions PAS could open gates to non-critical patients. One major issue with PAS is that it goes against many religious beliefs. It is viewed as an immoral and unethical procedure. Some people even believe that the patient may have had the wrong diagnosis or they may be able to heal miraculously. People also view this procedure as giving these doctors way too much power. PAS also creates the claim that it is a form of discrimination against the disabled.
The religious aspect concerning Physician Assisted Suicide can be complex. Some religions believe that deliberate killing of another human being is