The Death With Dignity Act and Physician Assisted Suicide Essay

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The Death With Dignity Act and Physician Assisted Suicide
According to the American Medical Association (1996), physician-assisted suicide (PAS) occurs when a physician facilitates a patient’s death by providing either the means or the information necessary to aid in the patient performing the life-ending act. PAS has had a long and controversial history dating back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. They believed that there was no reason to prolong life if continued pain and suffering was the only prognosis. The term euthanasia, in fact, stems from the Greek meaning "a good death". It was not until Hippocrates and his Hippocratic Oath, cautioning against deadly medicine towards patients, that a different view was seen.
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The DWDA contained strict regulations and guidelines governing the usage of PAS. Some of it's main points were as follows. The patient must be able to make a fully informed and voluntary decision based on a terminal diagnosis of less than six months of life by two separate physicians. The patient had to submit two oral and one written request with a waiting period of 15 days between both oral requests and a 48-hour period between the final written request and disbursement of the requested medication. The DWDA did not allow for either mercy killing or active euthanasia, in which the physician performs the act of administering the fatal drug or drugs. The medicines prescribed were either pentobarbital, secobarbital or a combo of amobarbital and secobarbital. It also punishes anyone found to be coercing the patient to use this option. In 1998, the first full year that the DWDA was in effect, 23 residents of Oregon received PAS prescriptions. Out of those 23, 15 patients died from following through with taking the medication. Between 1998 and 2007, a total of 292 deaths in Oregon have been due to PAS. The most common reasons reported for choosing this option were fear of losing their autonomy (100%), fear of losing their dignity (86%), and a decreased ability to participate in the activities that made their life enjoyable (86%) (Lachman, 2010). The majority of the patients choosing PAS
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