Is Physician Assisted Suicide Ethical Nursing Argumentative Essay Sample

Is Physician Assisted Suicide Ethical?

Physician-assisted suicide (PAS) can be described as a practice that involves a physician consciously and deliberately providing a patient with the information or means necessary to end their lives. This may also include counseling about poisonous doses of medicines, prescribing such deadly doses or providing the drugs. In accordance with numerous studies, majority of the oncologists participated have obtained requests from a patient seeking to end his/her life (Somerville, 2014). Doctors are only permitted to recommend poisonous drugs in countries where it is officially authorized, irrespective of what the patient asks or the diagnosis for their illness. Discussions relating to physician-assisted death have never been an easy and in the 48 states where it remains unlawful, the issue has only become more intricate in recent years. Physician-assisted suicide deteriorates humanity’s respect for the sacredness of life and it undermines the physician’s profession and therefore it is unethical (Somerville, 2014). Accepting this practice is like acknowledging that some members of community, the disabled or terminally sick, are of less importance than others. Physician-assisted suicide is the beginning of a slippery slope that may cause involuntary PAS and the execution of people who are deemed unwanted. Physician-assisted suicide might not be in a person’s best interests and it affects other people’s rights, not just those of the patient.

Physician-assisted suicide puts the lives of weak members of the society in danger. In countries where it has been permitted, safeguards purporting to reduce this danger have proved to be insufficient and have frequently been weakened or abolished over time. This practice is permitted in three European countries namely Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg (Finlay & George, 2011). The evidence from these countries, mainly Netherlands, which has more than 30 years of experience, indicates that measures to ensure effective control have proved insufficient (Finlay & George, 2011). In Netherlands, a number of official, government-funded surveys have revealed both that in many cases doctors have deliberately administered poisonous injections to patients without a request and also reporting these cases to the authorities.

Physician-assisted suicide alters the traditions in which medicine is carried out. It misrepresents the medical profession by allowing the medical tools to be utilized as means of ending lives. Additionally, PAS threatens to fundamentally disfigure the doctor–patient relationship since it reduces patients’ faith in doctors and doctors’ complete obligation to the life and wellbeing of their patients (Finlay, & George, 2011). Physician-assisted suicide would present perverse enticements for insurance givers and the public/private funding of health care. This practice would offer an economical, quick fix in a world of increasingly inadequate healthcare resources thereby making it favorable even in situations that are not necessary to use the practice.

Physician-assisted suicide would spoil the entire culture, particularly family units and intergenerational duty since people who ought to have society’s support are instead proffered a quick death. The enticement of seeing the disabled members of the family as burdens will increase (McCormack, Clifford, & Conroy, 2012). Also there will be temptation for family members with disability to internalize this outlook and see themselves as burdens. Therefore this practice undermines societal cohesion and compassion.

The most profound injustice of PAS is that it contravenes human dignity and denies impartiality before the law (McCormack et al., 2012). Every member of the society has basic dignity and immeasurable worth. In order for the legal structure to be rational and fair, the law should respect the dignity in every being. This is by taking all rational steps to prevent the patient, of any age or state, from being undervalued and murdered.

Categorizing a subgroup of people as lawfully eligible to be killed violates the nation’s commitment to fairness before the law and therefore showing unfathomable disrespect for and insensitivity to those who will be judged to have lives shortened and they include the weak elderly and the disabled. There is no natural right to planned suicide that exists and a legal structure that allows this practice abandons the right to life of its entire people (McCormack et al., 2012).

Religion is among the most significant things to contemplate for a patient and mainly those with fatal illness. The meaning of life and the people’s life plan are two subjects that are continuously questioned with various religions. Every religion has their own belief when it comes to matters relating to ending of a person life. A terminally ill person who cannot avoid death will perceive his/her own religion as one that will bring them contentment after death (Somerville, 2014). Sensitivity and understanding should always be employed when evaluating a patient’s care. It is essential to appreciate that assisting with suicide can detach a patient from their faith. Majority of faith groups consider that human anguish can have a positive value for the fatally ill individual as well as caregivers. According to some Roman Catholics, pain can be a divinely appointed chance for cleansing (Somerville, 2014). Since assisted suicide constitute intentional killing of another human being, these practices disagree with the basic Buddhist principle of abstaining from taking life. In relation to Buddhism, suicide is described as an uncompassionate act as it leads to anguish to others and is thought to deny them spiritual growth. Buddhism also believes that assisted suicide is inconsiderate because, in relation to Buddhist belief, death will not ease the killed person of pain, but suspend the pain to the next life. The person responsible for the death will also, in Buddhist belief, undergo negative karma and anguish in the next life, as killing a human being, irrespective of the reason, is viewed as a negative act (Somerville, 2014). PAS is also contradicts the original Hippocratic pledge of 400 B.C.E., stating “I will give no lethal medicine to anyone if asked, nor propose any such advice” (Olsen, Swetz, & Mueller, 2010).

There are several health care experts who are against PAS because of the harmful effects that the practice can have in connection with susceptible populations (Somerville, 2014). This argument is identified as the slippery slope and it covers the apprehension that once PAS is instigated for the fatally ill it will evolve to other susceptible communities and may start being used by those who believe to be less worthy. Additionally, susceptible persons are more at danger of premature deaths because they might be subjected to the practice without their real consent (Somerville, 2014).

Also, discriminations against disabled people may occur at some stage in end-of-life care. Additionally, people who suffer from permanent disabilities experience a general feeling of dejection that comes due to years of desperation (Olsen et al., 2010). Naturally, people who are experiencing dejection will more likely refuse medication and end their lives sooner than the ones who are not.

Instead of endorsing PAS, people should react to suffering with true sympathy and cohesion. People seeking this practice naturally suffer from dejection or other mental sicknesses, as well as merely from solitude (Olsen et al., 2010). People should offer them proper medical attention and human presence rather than helping them to end their lives. For the patients undergoing physical pain, proper pain control and other analgesic medicine can control their symptoms successfully. For the patients whom death is about to happen, medical care and companionship can accompany them in their final days. Physicians are supposed to assist their patients to endure a sound death of natural grounds, instead of aiding in killing them.


Finlay, I. G., & George, R. (2011). Legal physician-assisted suicide in Oregon and The Netherlands: evidence concerning the impact on patients in vulnerable groups—another perspective on Oregon’s data. Journal of Medical Ethics, 37(3), 171-174.

McCormack, R., Clifford, M., & Conroy, M. (2012). Attitudes of UK doctors towards euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide: a systematic literature review. Palliative medicine, 26(1), 23-33.

Olsen, M. L., Swetz, K. M., & Mueller, P. S. (2010, October). Ethical decision making with end-of-life care: palliative sedation and withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatments. In Mayo Clinic Proceedings (Vol. 85, No. 10, pp. 949-954). Elsevier.

Somerville, M. (2014). Death talk: the case against euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. McGill-Queen’s Press-MQUP.