Who gets to make the choice whether someone lives or dies? If a person has the right to live, they certainly should be able to make the choice to end their own life. The law protects each and everyone’s right to live, but when a person tries to kill themselves more than likely they will end up in a Psychiatric unit. Today we hear more and more about the debate of Physician assisted suicide and where this topic stands morally and ethically. Webster 's dictionary defines Physician assisted suicide as, suicide by a patient facilitated by means (as a drug prescription) or by information (as an indication of a lethal dosage) provided by a physician who is aware of the patient 's intent (Webster, 1977).
The Superior Court of Los Angeles County became a pivotal case in a patient’s right to refuse treatment. In the initial case Ms. Bouvia and her legal team sought a court order to have the NGT removed and to stop all medical treatments she did not consent to. She argued that this treatment would not be a cure for her condition and would not improve her quality of life. The hospital staff argued the interest of the state prevailed over a patient’s right to refuse treatment. They noted that the state and healthcare teams viable interests include: “(1) preserving life, (2) preventing suicide, (3) protecting innocent third parties, and (4) maintaining the ethical standards of the medical profession, including supporting the right of physicians to effectively render necessary and appropriate medical services” (Liang & Lin, 2005). Additionally they sighted Ms. Bouvia’s failed previous attempt to “starve herself to death” in 1983 with the assistance of her medical team. The court denied her request citing these key interests and the fact that medical professionals felt that Ms. Bouvia could live 15-20 additional years with supplemental nutrition justified the state’s interest in preserving her life. The court also stated that any other decision would be condoning a medical team to aid and abet suicide.
One of the most controversial end-of-life decisions is “physician-assisted suicide” (PAS). This method of suicide involves a physician providing a patient, at his or her own request, with a lethal dose of medication, which the patient self-administers. The ethical acceptability and the desirability of legalization of this practice both continue to cause controversy (Raus, Sterckx, Mortier 1). Vaco v. Quill and Washington v. Glucksberg were landmark decisions on the issue of physician-assisted suicide and a supposed Constitutional right to commit suicide with another's assistance. In Washingotn v. Glucksberg, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the state of Washington's ban on physician-assisted suicide was not unconstitutional.
The United States is a nation founded on freedoms and liberties, giving each citizen the ability to make their own life decisions. This freedom includes all aspects of one’s life, including medical care. With freedom comes responsibility, and this is true in terms of physician-assisted suicide. The ongoing struggle between those in favor and those opposed to this subject has ravaged the medical field, bringing into question what is morally and ethically right. The fact of the matter is that physician-assisted suicide is neither morally nor ethically acceptable under any circumstance. Not only is it a direct violation of a doctor’s Hippocratic Oath, but it is not constitutionally binding. Physician-assisted suicide would also lead to
Suicide is one person’s personal decision; physician-assisted suicide is a patient who is not capable of carrying the task out themselves asking a physician for access to lethal medication. What people may fail to see however is that the physician is not the only healthcare personnel involved; it may include, but is not limited to, a physician, nurse, and pharmacist. This may conflict with the healthcare worker’s own morals and there are cases in which the patient suffers from depression, or the patient is not receiving proper palliative care. Allowing physician-assisted suicide causes the physician to become entangled in an ethical and moral discrepancy and has too many other issues surrounding it for it to be legal.
A woman suffering from cancer became the first person known to die under the law on physician-assisted suicide in the state of Oregon when she took a lethal dose of drugs in March, 1998. The Oregon Death with Dignity Act passed a referendum in November, 1997, and it has been the United States ' only law legalizing assisted suicide since then. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, more than 4,000 doctors have approved of the assisted suicide law (cited in "The Anguish of Doctors,” 1996). The law allows terminally ill patients who have been given six months or less to live and wish to hasten their deaths to obtain medication prescribed by two doctors. The most important thing to notice is that this law does not include those who have been on a life support system nor does it include those who have not voluntarily asked physicians to help them commit suicide. The issue of doctor-assisted suicide has been the subject of the heated dispute in recent years. Many people worry that legalizing doctor assisted suicide is irrational and violates the life-saving tradition of medicine. However, physician-assisted suicide should be legalized because it offers terminally ill people an opportunity for a peaceful death and recognized the inadequacy of current medical practice to deal with death.
Facts: The state of Washington passed a law that made it a crime to assist in a suicide that takes place within the state. The crime is listed as “promoting a suicide attempt” and is classified as a felony offense. In order for a person to be convicted of this crime it has to be proven that the defendant knowingly caused or aided another person in an attempt to commit suicide. In January 1994 Dr. Glucksberg along with four other doctors, three terminally ill patients who died before the case reached the
Doctor assisted suicide is a topic that has recently become a much larger debated issue than before. A timeline put together by Michael Manning and Ian Dowbigging shows that prior to Christianity, doctor assisted suicide was something that was tolerated, and was not heavily questioned (2). Yet, in the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas had made a statement about suicide as well as doctor assisted suicide, and his words shaped the Catholic teaching on suicide into what they teach today. Beginning in the 17th century, Common Law tradition frowned upon suicide, as well as assisting in suicide, and the colonies had adopted the Common Law principles. (2) In 1828, New York passed a law completely outlawing the assistance of suicide, and made it to where whomever assisted in the suicide could be tried for murder. In 1976, California became the first state to allow patients to withdrawal themselves from life saving medicines, and this Natural Death Act was seen as a gateway to assisted suicide. (3-7) As controversy about California 's Natural Death Act increased, Pope John Paul II released a statement in 1980 which opposed to killing someone out of mercy, but allowed the increased use of painkillers (8). Although, in 1994 Oregon passed their Death with Dignity act, and with it came incredible amounts of backlash. Yet, in 2008 Washington state passed the same act to legalize doctor assisted suicide. (10-12)
In 1991, by a vote of 54 to 46 percent, Washington State voters defeated Initiative 119, a measure that would have permitted physicians to provide assisted suicide by a prescription for an intentional lethal overdose of drugs. After that, three attempts were made in the Washington State legislature to transform assisted suicide, which was a crime in Washington, into a “medical treatment.” All three attempts failed. However, in 2008, assisted-suicide proponents targeted the state for a massive effort to make Washington only the second state to approve assisted suicide. With a voter initiative on the 2008 ballot, they succeeded, by a vote of 57.91 to 42.09 percent, in making it legal for doctors to help their patients commit suicide. There had been over 340 cases in the year
According to Westrick (2014), the terms “assisted suicide and euthanasia generally mean aiding or assisting another person to kill himself or herself, or killing another person at his or her request, often called ‘active voluntary euthanasia’” (p. 349). Assisted suicide is better defined as a prescriber providing a lethal dose of medication to a patient with the intent of ending a patient’s life (Westrick, 2014). Political debate concerning assisted suicide is ongoing. Currently in the U.S., physician-assisted suicide is legal in Oregon, Montana, Washington, Vermont, and California (Death with Dignity, 2016). The purpose of this paper is to review RCW 70.245, The Washington Death with Dignity Act, Initiative 1000, and to identify and address the gap in existing statutory language in the
In 1975 the State of Washington enacted a law that stated that no person was to aid or encourage a person to commit suicide in any given circumstance. This law had some insight pertaining to teenagers because the state didn’t want teenagers to be encouraged in committing suicide. After all, all life is valued and precious. However Dr. Harold Glucksberg in 1976 got together with four other physicians, three terminally ill patients, and a non-profit organization that counsels clients in end of life circumstances.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld court decisions in Washington and New York states that criminalized physician-assisted suicide on July 26, 1997.12 They found that the Constitution did not provide any “right to die,” however, they allowed individual states to govern whether or not they would prohibit or permit physician-assisted suicide. Without much intervention from the states individuals have used their right to refuse medical treatment resulting in controversial passive forms of euthanasia being used by patients to die with dignity such as choosing not to be resuscitated, stopping medication, drinking, or eating, or turning off respirators.9
Sylvia Law, a published author in the University of Maryland Law Review, in her essay, “Physician-Assisted Death: An Essay on Constitutional Rights and Remedies,” addresses the issues in constitutional law surrounding the controversy of a person’s right to die. In the three parts to her essay, Law contends and considers whether “statutes that criminalize medically assisted suicides violate the liberty and privacy rights of terminally ill” and whether “assisted suicide should be considered a constitutionally protected right and also the ways in which these issues come before the courts”. Her purpose is to analyze and inform on the laws and challenges relating to this issue in order to make readers aware of the problems that are created by the
'Choosing death before dishonor is seen by some philosophers and ethicists as a rational reason to commit suicide.' In the 1994 case of Glucksberg v. Washington (Otherwise acknowledged as Compassion In Dying v. The State Of Washington), Harold Glucksberg, alongside the right-to-die organization Compassion In Dying, filed a suit in opposition to the state of Washington for three fatally ill patients he treated.
In 1994, Oregon voters passed the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, which exempted, “from civil or criminal liability physicians who, in compliance with specific safeguards, dispense or prescribe (but not administer) a lethal dose of drugs upon the request of the terminally ill patient.” Oregon, to this day, remains the only state within the Union to allow physician-assisted suicide. In 1997, the United States Supreme Court ruled in a landmark case that, although there was no constitutionally protected right to physician-assisted suicide, states have permitted to pass laws allowing it. Thus, the issue of euthanasia remains widely open to philosophical, political, legal, and ethical challenges.