Why Physician-assisted Suicide for Terminally Ill Patients Should Be Legalized

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About this sample


Words: 1488 |

Pages: 4|

8 min read

Published: Oct 22, 2018

Words: 1488|Pages: 4|8 min read

Published: Oct 22, 2018

Suppose someone has just been diagnosed with cancer. They have six months to live and their physician has made it clear that those months will be painful. The patient must withstand the pain or move to a location where they may pass away by choice. This situation faces many terminally ill patients throughout the world. Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients should be legalized, as the decision of life or death should be in the hands of the patient, who is the rightful owner of his or her life.

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The Middle East Journal of Cancer proposes such a view in an argument article for euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. One part of the article focuses on a study done on oncology patients, oncologists, and the general public done within the United States. The piece states, “Both oncology patients and oncologist attitudes toward euthanasia have been assessed in the United States. The results indicated that approximately two-thirds of oncology patients and the public found euthanasia acceptable for those with unrelenting pain.” A majority of the population within America support physician-assisted suicide in relation to the continuous and unforgiving pain that comes with cancer. These people see this as an outlet out of eventual suffering. It is unfair to allow people on the opposing side of the argument to make this decision for cancer patients who favor it. And if legalized, PAS would remain a matter of choice and could not legally be forced on other patients. In legalizing this process, this could be a potential option for those who side with euthanasia in place of discomfort. On the other hand, someone may argue that physicians who allow physician-assisted suicide are aiding patients in the act of committing murder. Such an argument is proposed by the British Journal of Medical Practitioners, which is an online peer-reviewed journal that produces content pertaining to all aspects of the medical world. It is true that the Physician is aiding the patient in the act of dying. However, it is unsound to compare this act to murder, as a killing is often done in an unsound or unjust manner. The physician is assisting the patient through consent and known medical practices. Therefore this act cannot be considered synonymous with any form of execution.

Many of those against euthanasia believe that terminally ill patients only resort to such a drastic measure because they fear that they will burden their family or not receive the proper health care. Miranda Barbuzzi provides a solution to such problems with this issue. She states, “These fears could be mitigated through mandatory psychological exams and counseling for both the patient in question and his or her family by a psychologist specializing in terminal illnesses. These sessions would allow a professional to properly analyze the psychological status of the patient and any real or imagined external pressures on them.” Such psychological exams would remove any other factors besides the illness itself that may affect the decision of the patient. The patients will solely focus on themselves and whether going through with the process will be beneficial to them. The exam and counseling of the family will extend this solution to all parties involved. Thus, patients do not have to present themselves as a liability or unable to elevate their own condition. They develop a greater degree of independence and have the ability to look at all aspects of their life to make an informed decision. One could argue that patients and humans, in general, are equally valuable and thus euthanasia and PAS should not be legalized. Yet, this argument fails to address the many other challenges and situations faced by terminally ill patients. These patients do indeed have human value, but that does not correlate with their decision to go through the process or not. Patients face challenges such as where they will go during their sickness, what will happen to their finances, and what type of medical care they will be receiving. So such a view does show how patients are valuable, but must also consider other elements of the situation as well.

The restrictions placed on who can opt for physician-assisted suicide and those who cannot are quite meticulous. The San Diego International Law Journal shows how precise the requirements really are when it states, “To obtain PAS under the Death with Dignity Act, a patient must be: “capable” to make an informed decision, at least eighteen years of age, possessing an incurable disease that will lead to death within six months, and an Oregon resident.” These aspects are essential for terminally ill patients who wish to use PAS. They ensure that the patient has the ability to make a sound choice and that they will actually eventually pass away. So, assisted suicide is very controlled and can only be given to certain patients. It will ensure that no harm befalls the patient as the timeline for the death of the patient must be exact. An opposing viewpoint might be that if we legalize euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, what will follow is a legalization of euthanasia and PAS for anyone who requests it. Although this argument seems unlikely, it has been proposed by quite a few opponents of euthanasia and is addressed in the article “Non-faith-based arguments against physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia.” This is a slippery slope argument as it believes such an action will lead to something so disastrous. This is not true because the guidelines for who is able to receive PAS are quite strict and only restricted to those who will pass away in six months or less. It is not likely that anyone will qualify for PAS because the term mainly only applies to people who are terminally ill.

Furthermore, CNN provides facts about physician-assisted suicide and how the patient is given time to make a sound decision. It shows how the District of Columbia allows the patient this ability. CNN states, “In the District of Columbia, to obtain the medication, “a patient shall make 2 oral requests, separated by at least 15 days, to an attending physician. Submit a written request, signed and dated by the patient, to the attending physician before the patient makes his or her 2nd oral request and at least 48 hours before a covered medication may be prescribed or dispensed.” Within the 15 days that separate these oral requests, the patient is given more time to reflect on their decision to commit assisted suicide or not. If the psychological exams and counseling are also placed before or within those 15 days, then the patient will have the right to make a clear choice. This will reduce the risk of being forced into a decision and leading to a subsequent series of unfortunate events. Some may think that euthanasia or physician-assisted death is taking away from the gift of life that has been given by God. For instance, Dr. James Paul Pandarakalam of the British Journal of Medical Practitioners believes that PAS involves giving the gift of life back to God, or the giver. Although religion is a large part of the lives of billions of people worldwide, this argument is not valid because it does not address the secular view of science involved in the process. A large part of PAS is the pain associated with the disorders. This aspect must also be addressed to look at this issue more holistically.

Readers could argue that pain medications and treatments could work in place of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. In the article “Non-faith-based arguments against physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia,” The Linacre Quarterly states that PAS is commonly used on individuals experiencing great amounts of pain. According to the authors, medical technology today is able to prevent this pain through medicine and other means. So, most people go to PAS as a solution to their fear of pain. Although patients may be able to ease the pain through these treatments, it will never completely go away and the quality of life for the patient will still be quite low. Euthanasia will not take away the right of the patient to choose this treatment, but will rather add another option of treatments to pick from. PAS is a suitable option for such patients, who will eventually come face to face with their demise. Instead of leading a poor quality of life, such patients might seek alternate options that should at least be available to them. However, pain treatments should still be presented as viable options.

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Patients may be faced with the difficult decision of dying under the care of a doctor when facing a terminal illness, but certain restrictions and new programs can address the concerns of opponents and relieve the stress of the patient as well. Death is an inevitable part of life and becomes even more real for those facing eventual death. Legalization of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide by state governments must occur to allow patients to make a suitable decision during these times.

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Cite this Essay

Physician Assisted Suicide Legalization. (2022, November 30). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 3, 2023, from
“Physician Assisted Suicide Legalization.” GradesFixer, 30 Nov. 2022,
Physician Assisted Suicide Legalization. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 3 Dec. 2023].
Physician Assisted Suicide Legalization [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Nov 30 [cited 2023 Dec 3]. Available from:
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