Physician-Assisted Suicide Ethical Controversy
Physician Assisted Suicide has long been an ethical dilemma focusing on the rights of the suffering incurable versus the medical duty of providers to save lives. The topic became a widespread issue when Dr. Jack Kevorkian performed over 130 physician assisted suicides in the early 1980s-90s. He was ultimately convicted of murder and served time in federal prison. See videos posted in Moodle for more information about Dr. Kevorkian.
Over time, societal opinion of physician assisted suicide has changed and several states (approximately 10 presently) have passed laws allowing physician assisted suicide under very specific conditions.
Also known as “medical aid in dying”, recent advocates and participants such as Brittany Maynard have made the moral case for mercifully and willfully ending someone’s life.
Every physician recites the Hippocratic Oath which contains the phrase “to do no harm” however physician assisted suicide may challenge that oath. From a healthcare professional perspective, the American Medical Association released a statement about this topic:
Opinion 5.7 expresses opposition against physician-assisted suicide.
Opinion 1.1.7 expresses support for physician-assisted suicide.
As you can see, even the national association guiding physician decision making struggles to agree on a moral direction on this issue.
Your assignment is to research and reflect on the practice of physician assisted suicide.
How has it changed over the last 3 decades? Is this the same procedure that Dr. Kevorkian used decades ago? If the procedure is different, are the ethical aspects different?
Discuss the medical ethics of physician-assisted suicide.
Discuss the personal ethics of physician-assisted suicide.
What are the arguments for and against physician-assisted suicide? Discuss at least 2 reasons on either side of the argument.
After reading the AMA statement, what ethical dilemma do healthcare professionals face when it comes to caring for the “suffering incurable” and how does that affect how they practice medicine?
Just because something is legal, doesn’t make it moral or ethical. Although many states are now legalizing physician assisted suicide, it may still be immoral to you based on your values and beliefs. How do you personally feel about the topic.
Students are to write a 2-3 page research paper on the topic by answering all the questions stated above. Students are to cite research in answering the above questions for the paper.
The paper should be submitted via Moodle in MS Word. You are expected to cite 2-3 references for this paper utilizing APA format. No title page, table of contents or abstract is needed for this assignment. Simply put your identifying information in the upper left hand corner of the first page. Remember this is a
2-3 page assignment (NOT including references)!
· 12-pt. Times New Roman font
· Double spaced
· 1 inch margins on top, bottom, right, and left
· Indent all paragraphs 5-7 spaces or ½ inch
· Reference in text using appropriate APA style and include reference page at the end of the paper.