Physician-assisted Suicide and Personal Choice

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Suicide is a topic that is highly debated in modern society, bringing tears and distress to a large audience. A particular kind of suicide practice that has become more common in modern civilization is physician-assisted suicide. This type of suicide unlike other suicide methods, is one that requires the company of a highly trained medic to aid in the process of another person’s death. This tragedy occurs because the person requesting the suicide knows that they are terminally ill, so they do not want to be suffering any longer as well as not being a burden to others. However, despite everyone else’s opinion, I strongly disagree with physician-assisted suicide being an option for people in critical health conditions to take away their life. Instead, I believe that one should be strong during their last moments and die a natural death. Furthermore, being Catholic, I believe that God is the one who gave me life and it is also his will to take it away from me. Three module articles that challenge physician-assisted suicide are “On My Mother, And Dr. Kevorkian” by Andrew Solomon, “The Evolving State of Physician-Assisted Suicide” by Jaime Joyce, and “Physician-Assisted Suicide Is Not Progressive” by Ira Byock. In addition, three research articles that also disapprove of this practice are “Physician-Assisted Suicide: The Law and Professional Ethics” by Faith Lagay, “How religion changes the medically assisted suicide debate” by Kelsey Dallas, and “Physician-Assisted Suicide Is Always Wrong” by Ryan T. Anderson. In Solomon’s narrative “On My Mother, And Dr. Kevorkian” and Lagay’s “Physician-Assisted Suicide: The Law and Professional Ethics,” it argues how the process involved in self-deliverance is immoral and should not be permitted. In Joyce’s “The Evolving State of Physician-Assisted Suicide” and Dallas’s “How religion changes the medically assisted suicide debate,” both articles mention that this practice of death with dignity is not approved by the Catholic Church. Lastly in Byrock’s “Physician-Assisted Suicide Is Not Progressive” and Anderson’s “Physician-Assisted Suicide Is Always Wrong,” it contradicts what medics are originally assigned to do which is to promote life, not death. Based on an analysis of strong textual evidence and the conducted research, I disagree with California Governor Jerry Brown’s decision to make physician-assisted suicide legal because it is unethical, challenges religious beliefs, and disregards the therapeutic pledge of specialists sparing lives.

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An indication that disproves Governor Brown’s decision centers on the idea that the practice of self-deliverance is morally wrong. In Andrew Solomon’s narrative, “On My Mother, And Dr. Kevorkian,” he testified how he felt bad assisting in his mother’s suicide and the process in doing it was unethical. Moreover, Solomon’s mother has been fighting ovarian cancer for long time and it came to a point where she declared that she wishes to end her life. This however did not take place in a medical setting but in her own home, requiring Solomon to attain the drug to end her life. This is where Solomon disagrees with the process of assisted death when he states that “To allow her to die as she wished, we had to lie, and cheat, and break the law […] It was bizarre that being a party to my mother’s getting the Seconal would be like helping a junkie get heroin […]” (Solomon par. 1). Similarly to physician-assisted death, Solomon was the additional person present to aid in his mother’s death. Although it was unethical for the narrator to “lie,” “cheat, and break the law” with the sole purpose of attaining “Seconal” for his mother, he was not in full agreement with it. The author also references this illicit act by comparing it to “helping a junkie get heroin,” expressing his guilt over the situation. In despite that by doing this would “allow [his mother] to die as she wished,” Solomon hangs on to his principles, remaining unbiased of the circumstance. Based on the textual evidence, I agree with the writer’s logic in that every move we make, it is either right or wrong regardless of who it is about. Even though the author went through with the act, the fact that he felt remorse about it ties back to his morals which is what I am in agreement with. In addition to this reading, there is another research article that portrays a similar message.

An additional source that states physician-assisted suicide is unlawful is “Physician-Assisted Suicide: The Law and Professional Ethics.” Unlike the previous narrative, this text approaches the argument a bit differently by centering on the emotions of medics who also feel that this practice is unethical. The author, Faith Lagay communicates how doctors have to sometimes go against their will in taking part in this practice because their job requires it. The following quote supports this claim by conveying “Though a state may legalize physician-assisted suicide-or abortion, or capital punishment, for that matter-it cannot force doctors who oppose the practice on grounds of professional ethics or personal beliefs to participate. There is a difference between what voters want and what constitutes sound medical practice […]” (Lagay par. 7). According to the text, it argues against the state forcing “doctors who oppose the practice” to perform such treatments on their patients. More on the topic, these medics make the decision they make because they know it is unethical to carry out a wrongdoing that challenges “professional ethics” and “personal beliefs.” Furthermore, doctors who refuse to participate in this practice should not be obligated to work against their will because it is not what the “voters want” but rather what “constitutes sound medical practice.” Despite that “physician-assisted suicide” is legal in some states, the fact that it is an option for terminally ill patients to end their lives is wicked. The focal point in both textual evidences is that physician-assisted suicide or assisted suicide is immoral because it strips people from their morals, especially when they do it involuntarily.

Secondly, Brown’s resolution is invalid in that it challenges religious sentiments. More specifically, the act of suicide regardless of how it is done, contradicts everything that the Catholic Church preaches. In “The Evolving State of Physician-Assisted Suicide,” Jaime Joyce mentions how within the Catholic faith, suicide is not allowed. Although this article briefly touches upon physician-assisted suicide versus religion, Archbishop of Boston spoke about the subject declaring that society will one day be judged [by God] based on how people treated the sick. A quote that furthers this claim is “Disability-rights activists have also spoken out against physician-assisted suicide. So has the Catholic Church. […] the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops last year issued an impassioned statement against the practice. […] They need our care and protection, not lethal drugs” (Joyce par. 7). This statement is quoting that not only have “disability-rights activists” “spoken out against physician-assisted suicide,” but so has the Catholic Church.” This is significant because although it does not go in depth on why Catholicism opposes this practice, based on prior knowledge- no one can decide when to take away their life but God. As this practice becomes more common, the Catholic Church is trying to spread awareness rather than opt for “lethal drugs” which will results in euthanasia or suicide. Moreover, as much as the Catholic Church disapproves of physician-assisted suicide, it is up to people in each state to decide the law’s fate. Aside from this text is another research article that supports this argument.

In the text, “How religion changes the medically assisted suicide debate,” Kelsey Dallas addresses the many reasons why religion rejects the idea of physician-assisted suicide. Dallas talks about her Catholic faith and the church’s point of view on why it is a sin in taking away one’s own life because it violates God’s commandments. In addition to that, despite one being on the verge of death, those last moments of suffering is believed to hold a valuable lesson to that person. She mentioned that petitions people say nearing another person’s demise make about paradise and the profound controls that are intended to direct individuals throughout their last days on earth. Dallas also shared that religion diverts what you are to be worried about and that in the end, it is between the dying individual and God. A quote that illustrates the speaker’s concern is “Advocates for end-of-life care without the assisted suicide option, such as the Roman Catholic Church, argue that while a terminally ill patient might feel like a financial and emotional burden, he or she remains precious in the eyes of God” (Dallas par. 8). This quote is informing readers that everyone under the “Roman Catholic Church” should rule out “assisted suicide” as an “option” because they feel like a “financial and emotional burden” towards their loved ones. Instead, they should meditate on the fact that no matter in what condition they find themselves in, to God, everyone of his children“remains precious.” Moreover, it is advocating that the lord is always watching over us and by dying an unnatural death, it is not only dishonorable but a mortal sin “in the eyes of God.” In both writings, the Catholic Church opposes the idea of physician-assisted suicide, stating that it is a sinful act because then we would be doing our will [in dying] and not God’s. The second reading by Kelsey Dallas explains in detail why physician-assisted death is wrong and those who once believed in God, end up betraying their religious convictions and faith in the process.

Lastly, Brown’s decree is incorrect because it goes against the doctors original content which is to save lives. As a doctor, it their job to treat recovering patients to get well soon, but to assist them in dying is totally contradictory to what they work for. In Byrock’s Physician-Assisted Suicide Is Not Progressive, he clarifies the difference between suicide and physician-assisted suicide. He also touches upon clinical ethics which also states that doctors must not kill their patients intentionally. This is evident when it conveys, “The Oregon Health Plan office refused to authorize the $4,000 per month treatment because it was not approved for her condition, but listed among the services it would pay for were prescription drugs to end her life. ‘To say to someone, we’ll pay for you to die, but not for you to live; it’s cruel’” (Byrock par. 10). Looking back at the quote, it gives a real life scenario of dying patient who can be saved but the “Oregon Health Plan office” chooses not to because it is a 4,000 per month treatment. Even though the treatment suggested for the sick patient is “not approved for her condition,” it would be “cruel” to just let the person die. This quotation proves what doctors are doing wrong in not wanting to do everything possible to save a patient’s life Instead they offer to “pay for [them] to die, but not to live.” Additionally, there is another source that furthers this debate.

Another text by Ryan Anderson that argues against medics assisting in killing another person is “Physician-Assisted Suicide Is Always Wrong.” In his report, Anderson opens up with real life situations of people in terminally ill conditions considering physician-assisted suicide. Additionally, he talks about how it is a hippocratic act for doctors to agree in aiding in another person’s death because they are weak and vulnerable. Instead, doctors should give their patients hope and provide them with (prescribed) drugs that will prolong their life, not end it. A quote that touch upon this matter is “Human life doesn’t need to be extended by every medical means possible, but a person should never be intentionally killed. Doctors may help their patients to die a dignified death from natural causes, but they should not kill their patients or help them kill themselves” (Anderson par. 7). This quote exemplifies what doctors are suppose to do which is to keep their patients alive and not “help them kill themselves.” A doctor who is treating a terminally ill patient is responsible to attend their patient until they “die a dignified death from natural causes.” It should never occur to the doctor to “intentionally” “kill their patients” because they are reaching their finest moments. In both quotes, it stands against doctors taking part in the killing of their patients, even if it was requested. Therefore, there is no justification for doctors to kill or help “kill their patients

In view of solid literary proof and directed research, I cannot help contradicting California Governor Jerry Brown’s choice to make physician-assisted suicide lawful because I feel that there are more negatives than positives in relation to this matter. Some real circumstances concerning self-deliverance is that it is sinful, challenges religious convictions, and violates the medical oath of doctors saving lives. The practice of death with dignity is ethically wrong because it goes against moral values. It challenges religion because religion promotes life, not death. Lastly, doctors are assigned to treat ill patients and save lives, not give them death. In sum, physician-assisted suicide should not be a legal option afforded to all Americans moving forward because although this practice has its advantages and disadvantages, it is a inhumane treatment to be offered to mankind.

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Physician-assisted suicide and personal choice. (2020, Mar 06). Retrieved January 30, 2023 , from

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