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Ethical Issues Surrounding Physician Assisted Death (PAD) by Tyler Pyle

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Ethical Issues Surrounding Physician Assisted Death (PAD) by
Article Posted: 02/17/2014
Article Views: 561
Articles Written: 2
Word Count: 856
Article Votes: 1
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Ethical Issues Surrounding Physician Assisted Death (PAD)

Health,Current Affairs,Family & Parenting
Physician assisted death (PAD) or assisted suicide is a term for suicide committed by an individual with assistance from another person or persons. It is usually referred to when referencing a person suffering from a severe physical illness (Assisted suicide – Wikipedia, n.d.). A lot of people have never heard of physician assisted death and most would cringe at the thought of such an act. Yet, many others think it is an alternative to their sufferings. But, is physician assisted death ethical? Oregon (since 1994) and Washington (since 2008) have accepted physician assisted death into their law books. Terminally ill patients residing in those two states, that are competent and not clinically depressed, can request a prescription from his/her doctor for a medicine that ends life if ingested. Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a pathologist, ended the lives of 130 ill persons from 1990 through 1997. Many of those 130 people were not actually terminal. Some were clinically depressed. After avoiding conviction three times, in 1997, he was convicted for euthanizing a client whose ALS prevented him from taking his own life. Kevorkian videotaped the event and it was telecast on a 60 Minutes segment. A man dying of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) said, “When I can’t tie my bow-tie, tell a funny store, walk my dog, kiss someone special, I’ll know that life is over. It’s time to be gone.” For this man, terminally ill, physician assisted death is how he will go. Life is a gift from God, a precious gift. When a newborn baby first cries, everyone around is filled with joy. From that first breath to the last, life is filled with moments. Some are happy, some are sad. There is pain, there is laugher, there is sorrow, and there is grief. But, all of these moments and feelings make up life. Most of life is what one makes of it. When people are faced with obstacles and situations that seem unfair, they have a choice to make. They can choose to focus on the negatives or positives. There are thousands of cancer survivors in the world. A lot of them chose to think positively despite the challenges they faced each and every day. Through the unknown of tomorrow, through the questioning of why this happened, through all of that and much, much more, they chose to look at that spark, or gleam of positive; a ray of hope. And, that is what brought them through. Medicines, treatments, and well-educated and caring doctors are extremely vital to a sick person’s road to recovery. But, a positive attitude can make the difference. In the United States alone, there are more than 20 million people who suffer with depression (Depression, n.d.). Symptoms of depression can include sadness, feelings of worthlessness, and thoughts of death or suicide. One of the many ethical issues surrounding physician assisted death is not knowing whether a patient is terminally ill or clinically depressed, not taking into account the ethical issues in regard to the value of human life. Although there are numerous and very serious symptoms that depressed people face every single day, there are many, many treatment options including therapies, medicines, or a combination of both, that can help depressed people overcome their symptoms and deal with their depression. If, in fact, some of those 20 million or more depressed people in the United States wanted to end their lives via physician assisted death because of their feeling of worthlessness or suicidal thoughts when they could be treated and live a healthy, normal life, what is ethical about that? One line of the modern Hippocratic Oath says, “I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.” What is warm, sympathetic, and understanding about physician assisted suicide? There are some advocates of it that say that if it is the patient’s wish, then the physician is being sympathetic by helping them commit suicide. However, doctors are supposed to provide their patients with the best care possible and never give up on them, regardless of how grim the situation. Another part of the Oath says, “Above all, I must not play at God.” God is the giver and taker of life. Physician assisted death is playing God. It is ending human life before the appointed time by our Creator (The Hippocratic Oath Today, 2001). Doctors and advocates of physician assisted death are either misinformed and do not completely understand the effects on the patient and their family, or they have no regard for human life. In our modern world, technology and medical advancements have created numerous cures and preventative measures for diseases and sicknesses that otherwise would have been terminal and fatal. We live in a day and time where something as horrible as physician assisted death should never be mentioned or even thought about implementing. Life is beautiful and it is what we make of it and a doctor should not end such a beautiful gift before its course has been run.


Related Articles - physician assisted death, ethics, ethical, unethical, physician, hippocratic oath, suicide,

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