Physician-Assisted Suicide In Nursing Assignment.
With physician-assisted suicide, a medical practitioner prescribes a deadly drug which the patient administers him/herself. Activists in America have historically advocated both physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia because the two almost have the same meaning. By definition, euthanasia is derived from two ancient Greek words: eu, which means “good,” and Thanatos, which means “death.” Meaning the act of committing suicide with the aid of a physician. (WCU, 2018) Euthanasia breaks down into passive and active: active euthanasia is defined as administering a lethal dose to an individual suffering from a terminal illness. Whereas, passive euthanasia is not terminating the individual’s life instantly however it is shortening the lifespan by withholding the medications used to keep this person alive or prolonging their lifespan.Physician-Assisted Suicide In Nursing Assignment. (WCU,2018) The arguments for euthanasia are equal arguments for physician-assisted suicide. According to Neil Gorsuch, some contemporary activists criticize the movement for their dishonesty about where its argument lead. He further claimed that legal theorists and Professor Richard Epstein have charged the people who advocate assisted suicide because of their failure to endorse the legalization of euthanasia (Battin, 2015). Physician-Assisted Suicide In Nursing Assignment.
However, in both assisted suicide and euthanasia, those who are able to self-administer the deadly drugs should be offered the chance for hastened death. Medical practitioners are not allowed to administer the drug through lethal injection. In such a case, the doctor will have violated the professional laws and ethics and this will result in judgment.
Physician-assisted suicide has been made legal in the following four countries: Belgium, Switzerland, Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Netherlands has an experience of approximately 30 years and during all that time, they have been unable to control the behavior. Based on surveys, doctors intentionally administer lethal injections without the consent of the patients (Pence, 2017). No one has been able to report such incidences to the authority.
In 2015, the District of Columbia and other 18 state legislatures are considering whether to legalize physician-assisted suicide. However, legalizing the act will have a huge negative impact on society. This is because of the following reasons: it will destroy the doctor-patient relationship and corrupt the practice of medicine, it will betray human dignity and equality, it will endanger the vulnerable group and the weak, and lastly, it will compromise the family. Physician-Assisted Suicide In Nursing Assignment.
After the legalization of physician-assisted suicide by Oregon in 1977, an approximate of 700 people have terminated their lives with prescribed medication (Sulmasy & Mueller, 2017). An example of these people is Brittany Maynard who took his life at the age of 19 because he suffered from an incurable brain tumor. There are people who have been supporting the act while others are completely against it. The advocates believe that people should be given the right to die if they choose to do so while the opponents argue that physician-assisted suicide devalues human life.
Reasons for and against Physician-Assisted Suicide
The debate over the legality and morality of physician-assisted suicide has been in progress for quite some time. The discussions have lasted for hundreds of years and there are no signs of ending. The opponents of physician assisted suicide argue that people should never have a reason to seek physician-assisted suicide due to the fact that there is a model for quality end-of-life care. These healthcare services are available through palliative and hospice care programs. Therefore, people should aim at improving access to hospice care rather than legalizing physician-assisted suicide. Physician-Assisted Suicide In Nursing Assignment.
In the United States of America, there are more than 4000 hospice agencies but due to the rigidity of the Medicare Hospice Benefit and also funding restrictions, a lot of people in the country cannot access them. The patients are required by the Medicare Hospice Benefit to have a life expectancy of utmost six months. The counter-argument for this is that regardless of the improved access to quality end-of-life care, patients will still suffer from untreatable and persistent illnesses. In Oregon, 93% of the patients who opted for physician-assisted suicide was on hospice. The implication of this is that palliative and hospice care are not sufficient to deal with severe suffering.
Secondly, in the opinion of Bouvia v. Superior Court (CA), it was determined that the right to die is an essential part of people’s right to control their own lives and destinies provided the rights of others are not affected. This is referred to as patient autonomy. Since patient-assisted suicide is not a completely autonomous act, the assistance of another person is required. Opponents argue that the act of intentionally terminating patients’ lives threaten society by devaluing human life. The society should, therefore, preserve the sanctity of life. Physician-Assisted Suicide In Nursing Assignment.
The third argument is that the legalization of physician-assisted suicide will lead to an increase in euthanasia. In other words, physician assisted suicide is a slippery slope towards euthanasia (mercy killing) (Pormeister, Finley, & Rohack, 2017). People’s lives will be terminated without their consent provided they are suffering. They include individuals who are physically handicapped, people with mental illness, homeless, elderly, and demented. The above individuals are considered useless in society. The counter-argument is that the slippery slope should never be allowed to happen.
Violation of the Hippocratic Oath is another reason against physician-assisted suicide. According to the Hippocratic Oath, the obligation of a physician is primum non nocere, which means “first, do no harm.” physician assisted suicide, therefore, contradicts the oath because intentional killing is considered as a harm. The counter-argument of this is that the Hippocratic Oath should be interpreted and modified depending on the needs of patients.
In addition, opponents argue that there are morally ethical and legal alternatives to assisted death. Patients may decide not to undergo treatment and this increases their chance of death. The counter-argument is that many people do not depend on life-sustaining measures to still suffer and live (Pires, 2018). Withholding treatment will prolong the patient’s suffering rather than causing death. Physician-Assisted Suicide In Nursing Assignment.y Opinion
Based on the above arguments, physician-assisted suicide is not good and should be avoided. This is because terminating patients’ lives does not end suffering but extends the suffering to other people with the same problems. They fear that they will also be considered worthless and experience the same. People who have been assisted to die have no freedom of choice. Legalizing suicide only undermines the willingness of medical practitioners and the society to learn how to address the problems of patients and show real compassion.
In countries were suicide is permitted, patients request the lethal drugs not because of the pain they are going through but because of concerns such as “becoming a burden on others” and “loss of dignity.” These attitudes are encouraged by the law. Healthcare facilities should, therefore, provide services to patients that will assure them that they are important and have dignity. They should discourage the feeling of being a burden within them.
In addition, patients in extreme duress tend to prefer death to life. However, allowing doctors to participate in assisting suicide would lead to more harm than benefits. Physician-assisted suicide is against the roles and responsibilities of a physician as a healer. This would be impossible or difficult to control and would lead to serious societal risks.
Legalizing physician-assisted suicide will have a number of profoundly detrimental effects. It reduces the protection offered to people’s lives. It also encourages the killing of people who do not genuinely accept to be killed. In other words, it leads to an increase in euthanasia. Lastly, doctors should not have the right to determine who should live and who should die. Socrates believed that suicide is morally wrong. This is a slope where they assume the position of God. As humans, we have no power over other people’s lives. God is the giver of life and He should be the same being to take it away. It is a sin to terminate the life of patients regardless of what they are experiencing in life. (WCU, 2018)
In conclusion, physician-assisted suicide is the tendency of doctors to prescribe deadly drugs for patients with serious terminal diseases. Unlike euthanasia, physician assisted suicide allows the patients to administer the drugs themselves. However, this has been debated over time. Some people are completely against it while others are in full support of it. The proponents believe that physician-assisted suicide is a sign of mercy while opponents argue that human life is valuable and should be respected. I believe that no one has the right to decide who should live and who should not because God is in control of people’s lives.
Battin, M. P. (2015). Physician-Assisted Suicide: Safe, Legal, Rare?. In Physician-Assisted Suicide (pp. 63-72). Routledge.
Pence, G. (2017). Medical ethics: Accounts of Ground-Breaking Cases (8th ed.). Hill: Boston McGraw. Physician-Assisted Suicide In Nursing Assignment.
Pires, S. (2018). Debate on Physician Assisted Suicide.
Pormeister, K., Finley, M., & Rohack, J. J. (2017). Physician-Assisted Suicide as a Means of Mercy: A Comparative Analysis of the Possible Legal Implications in Europe and the United States. Va. J. Soc. Pol'y & L., 24, 1.
Sulmasy, L. S., & Mueller, P. S. (2017). Ethics and the legalization of physician-assisted suicide: an American College of Physicians position paper. Annals of internal medicine, 167(8), 576-578.
West Coast University. (2018). retrieved from https//learn.westcoastuniversity.edu.Physician-Assisted Suicide In Nursing Assignment.