Ethical Dilemma of Assisted Suicide

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The topic of Assisted suicide has many different types of viewpoints and ethical questions. Some agree with the decision of ending one’s life under certain circumstances with the help of a physician and others disagree and would say it’s an unethical act. There are two different kinds of definitions when describing assisted suicide. Euthanasia is when the administration of the lethal medication is done by someone other than the patients, usually the physician, and results in ending their life (Harris, Richard, Khanna, 2006). Physician assisted suicide is giving the patient the knowledge and option to take their own life and the final act is performed by the patient (Harris, Richard, Khanna, 2006).

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The ethical dilemma is between those that believe assisted suicide is ethical or unethical. Those that believe its unethical stand behind the belief and argue that it’s better to use and develop terminal care and palliative care for the patient resulting in there no longer having a need for assisted suicide (Harris, Richard, Khanna, 2006). If a patient is getting the proper treatment and medication t Other concerns that have been argued is that if assisted suicide where to be legislated it would lead to a “slippery slope” and has the ability to evolve from assisted suicide being voluntary and the patient’s decision leading to euthanasia and having it be done against the patient’s wishes. It’s important to protect elderly, mentally incompetent and disabled individuals from having the stigma that their way of life is a burden and their suffering is not worth living (Harris, Richard, Khanna, 2006).

The argument in favor of assisted suicide includes the beliefs that even with the use of palliative care, it fully does not relief the patient from suffering and destress the them (Harris, Richard, Khanna, 2006). Terminally ill patients request for the assisted death and it’s their right to decide what happens and the timing of their death. Terminally ill patients usually have no other options for treatment and end up dying a slow and painful death. The act of suicide is not illegal and if doctors have the means to end life in a quick and painless manner then it’s an individual’s decision to make that decision for themselves.

Possible answers to this ethical dilemma is having safeguards in place to protect individuals who might not have the capacity to fully understand their decision making. This can be done by having two doctors check off on the patient’s decision to go through with the assisted suicide and make sure their mental health and comprehensive capacity is well. The doctors must agree that the patient qualifies and has a terminal illness that is leaving them to live their life suffering and they agrees with the decision to carry out the suicide. The patient must have a written consent request for the lethal medication. The patient has a fourteen-day period before going forward with the administration giving them time to decide if that is what they truly want for themselves.

Those that oppose assisted suicide believe the answer to the dilemma is to increase development of palliative care. Palliative care is the approach of help improving the patient’s life by the relief of suffering and pain when they have a life-threatening illness. The use of this kind of approach gives the patient the ability to die with dignity.

Ethical principles that are included in the for assisted suicide and against argument includes Autonomy, beneficence, non- maleficence and justice. Those in favor believe that autonomy gives patients the right to decide for themselves what they want to do with their life and when they can die. The patient should be able to die in dignity on their own terms instead of having to suffer. If doctor has the ability to save life’s then what stops them from taking it away when it is wanted by the patient. Beneficence which is defined as doing good, can be argued by saying the patient is suffering and it would be doing good to ultimately reliving the patient from that pain and destressing them. Non-maleficence which means to do no harm can be argued to say if the doctor chooses not to address the patients request to relieve the pain and hardships then this can be detrimental to the patients and the medical providers relationship. Justice which can be defined as societal implication, can be argued that regulatory safeguards ensure the protection for individuals that have disabilities and mental incompetents that could be harmed by the action of assisted suicide.

The argument against assisted suicide believes the ethical principle autonomy is over ridden by the sanctity of life (Harris, Richard, Khanna, 2006). If people with terminal illness are able to request assisted suicide, then people are non-terminals can also argue that they autonomously request the lethal medication as well. There should be balance between appreciation for life and human dignity. Beneficence is argued that assisted death is not doing good because the medical provider is abandoning the patient. Non-maleficence is augured that assisted suicide is harmful to the patient and doctor relationship as well has is harmful to the integrity of the medical profession within society (Harris, Richard, Khanna, 2006). The last ethical principle Justice can be argued that vulnerable groups in society for example the mental incompetent and disabled may begin to start requesting assisted suicide.

In this dilemma both viewpoints make an excellent argument and have key points that are compelling. The act of Euthanasia is completely unethical because the patient is not the one deciding it and completing the final action. For me this isn’t an easy yes or no question when talking about physician-assisted suicide, I can see the argument on both sides. That being side in my opinion I would side more with the argument that assisted suicide is not ethical. Yes, I think the patient does have a right to decide what they can do with their life. Healthcare is defined as the maintenance and improvement of physical and mental health.

Health care providers are there to help improve the patient’s life not end it, now if the patients wants to end their life then yes I agree that is there decision to do so, no one should have a say in what they decide to do, but in my opinion a doctor should not be involved in that decision and give them the means to carry it out for doctors are there to improve their health can do good for the patients. I also understand the argument that if terminal patients can argue autonomy then what stops patients that are non-terminal from arguing the same thing.

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Ethical Dilemma Of Assisted Suicide. (2019, Apr 29). Retrieved June 1, 2023 , from

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