Assisted Suicide- Making Your Life Decisions: Unit 5 Assignment

English 101

Write a discussion essay on the ethics of assisted suicide


Assisted Suicide: Making Your Life Decisions

Assisted suicide is intentional action to take away life. According to Battin et al. (2015), assisted health professionals or physicians do suicide to relieve the pain and suffering of the patient, especially terminally ill patients, following the requests of the patient or their families. Assisted suicide has been a topic of discussion in many countries on whether to legalize it or not because, for one, it goes against the principles of life, and it is a crime subject to punishment. Some countries, for example, Switzerland, Belgium, and Canada have already legalized assisted suicide because patients frequently express their wish to die and those with terminally ill cases. However, it is argued that the subject should not be legalized as it snatches away a person’s right to life which is well stipulated in the fundamental human rights.

Pro Side of the Subject

Physician-assisted suicide should not be legalized since it does not end suffering completely. As such, it passes suffering to family members and relatives, for they fear being seen as people who have worthless lives. In this case, communities that allow physician-assisted suicide tend to ignore the vital roles of healthcare providers in the clinical context. Healthcare providers must provide universal care to all patients until death occurs naturally (Petrovic, 2016). Based on the ethics code governing healthcare providers, all clinicians should do anything possible to save and improve the patient’s life. Hence, physician-assisted suicide should not be acceptable since it undermines the roles of doctors, and as such, they cannot show compassion and love to patients.

Again, physician-assisted suicide should not be legalized since it violates the patient’s autonomy. The provision of care should be based on the preferences and needs of the patients. For patients who have been diagnosed with chronic conditions, it is imperative that their families, as well as clinicians, support them until they naturally pass out. On the same note, clinicians violate their roles as trusted healers and professionals upon assisting or taking part in physician-assisted suicide. As such, the role of a clinician is to use his or her insight, knowledge, wisdom, and healing skills to heal the patient. For chronic diseases, it is important for healthcare providers to administer different types of therapies and interventions since they will reduce the progression of the conditions. Moreover, physician-assisted suicide should not be legalized since it can be used as justification for the murder of innocent lives in society. Some selfish people can use physician-assisted suicide as a way to eliminate innocent family members over issues such as property and family resources. In this case, physician-assisted suicide violates morals and human dignity, which is unethical (Jordan, 2017).

Con Side of the Subject

Those who are opposed to the idea of assisted suicide argue that first, it is against the institution of life itself as God is the one who gives life, and only He has the right to take it away; hence even though a patient is terminally ill, they have a right to life until their last breath which should be natural not assisted, it also goes against the 5th commandment,”Do not commit murder.” Second, it goes against the healthcare professionals’ ethics as they are supposed to take care of the patients but not terminate life; if a healthcare professional is found to have taken part in assisted suicide without going through the correct criteria, they will have committed a crime and are supposed to be punished according to the laws of the country. If assisted suicide is allowed, many patients, after establishing that they are terminally ill, will prefer staying at home rather than going to the hospital to seek medical help because they are afraid of being subjected to euthanasia. This will also make health practitioners seem like evil people, and this can make patients not feel safe in hospitals (Petrovic, 2016).

Literature review

This section of the paper centers its research on the historical records on the issue of assisted suicide and those who oppose and support the subject; this is an important segment of this study as it focuses on addressing the fundamental details when analyzing the subject. The right of an individual to make decisions on their own, about their death and life, especially in cases of sickness, has been a long discussion topic. The supreme court of the United States in 1997 directed that it was unconstitutional for any law to forbid assisted suicide. It argued that each state should make its own law on whether to legalize assisted suicide or not. In this regard, some states started terming cases of assisted suicide as not criminal cases if the patient was proven to be in their right mind during the time of their request and the cases of terminally ill patients. According to De Lima et al. (2017), 22% of terminally ill patients requested their physicians to commit assisted suicide and died as a result. There is a need to establish more clear laws concerning assisted suicide; also, a physician who conducts assisted suicide must go through the correct criteria for performing the act so as not to be subject to criminal charges of murder.

The history of the debate regarding an individual’s right to make decisions regarding his or her own life and death has been long and complex. Essentially, the arguments may generally be simplified to either the value of individual choice or the value of human life. In 1997, the United States Supreme Court ruled that laws prohibiting assisted suicide were not unconstitutional, which later resulted in many debates and misunderstandings (Lagay, 2003). While one could assume that such a statement would imply the criminalization of assisted suicide throughout the country, such an interpretation is incorrect. The decision of the Supreme Court instead suggests that prohibiting assisted suicide is constitutional, and the corresponding decision should be made in each state separately. Since then, many states, including Maine, Oregon, and Ohio, have attempted to introduce laws regarding decriminalizing assisted suicide in cases of terminally ill patients with sound minds.

Despite the clear distinction between physician-assisted suicide and murder and the generally simple formulation used in referendum ballots, many individuals tend to confuse the two. While assisted suicide may be broadly defined as knowingly providing an individual with information or products needed to end his or her life, euthanasia, which is physician-assisted suicide, is a narrower concept (Canadian Medical Association, 2007). For assisted suicide to be considered euthanasia, an individual must be terminally ill, and the assistant must be compassionate and conduct his or her act with no purpose for personal gain (Canadian Medical Association, 2007. The same definition is used when attempting to apply for assisted suicide death options within the state of Oregon, one of the most arguable states for “dying with dignity.” Therefore, one must acknowledge the critical ethical and, consequently, the legal difference between assisted suicide for personal gain and euthanasia, which is conducted for the benefit of an ill individual.

Regarding physician-assisted suicide, one of the primary arguments against the concept is related to the Hippocratic oath. Many individuals, including medical professionals, pursue the principles of palliative care for terminally ill individuals (Canadian Medical Association, 2007). On the other hand, it is often argued that the Hippocratic oath should not be regarded as the primary guideline for medical professionals (Oxtoby, 2016). The arguments for and against physician-assisted suicide regard the concept of free will, the value of human life, and empathy for a terminally ill individual with a sound mind. Overall, the arguments are complex and multidimensional, which requires one’s thorough examination of both sides.

To conclude, the history of the discussion regarding assisted suicide is complex and multidimensional, and the subject undoubtedly requires an in-depth approach in order for its appropriate analysis and examination. Even though euthanasia and suicide assistance are often considered similar in regard to ethics and law, such a statement is undoubtedly false. Having established such a distinction, the literature review section provides a valuable addition to the research. Overall, the difference between euthanasia and assistance in suicide is critical from both legal and ethical perspectives. Assisted suicide always has an argument for implications of not having fully been assessed by a physician to determine that the patient, in fact, does have a medical condition and is terminally ill; without this examination, the dilemma sought is the ability to take a mental condition and not seek the proper treatment and end one’s life.


Battin, M. P., Rhodes, R., & Silvers, A. (2015). Physician-assisted suicide: expanding the debate. Routledge.

De Lima, L., Woodruff, R., Pettus, K., Downing, J., Buitrago, R., Munyoro, E., … & Radbruch, L. (2017). International association for hospice and palliative care position statement: euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. Journal of palliative medicine20(1), 8-14.

Jordan, M. (2017). The Ethical Considerations of Physician-assisted Suicide. Dialogue & Nexus4(1), 12.

Petrović, D. (2016). Instructions for assessing the pros and cons of “death with dignity.” Strani pravni život, (4), 167-180.

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Published On: 01-01-1970

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