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Terminally sick individuals have the same right to care as other patients in healthcare facilities. However, the care is referred to as 'end of life' because their ailments are incurable and the only way out is death. Some terminal illnesses are excruciatingly painful, exacerbating the patients' anguish and pain in futile because death is typically unavoidable. Furthermore, the patients regard themselves as weak and useless, preferring to leave the world in a dignified manner rather than waiting for death. The issue of assisted suicide has long sparked heated debate, particularly over its morality, because it involves taking the patient's life. Physician-assisted suicide involves the physician administering lethal drugs or injection doses upon the patients request so that they may die peacefully with minimal suffering. However, Physician assisted suicide is wrong in the majority of the states in the United States as it amounts to the killing of human beings which is against medical ethics. The paper evaluates the issue of physician-assisted suicide through the deontological approach which supports the practice.
The morality of Physician Assisted Suicide
The two sides of the divide on the morality of the physician-assisted suicide are clear on the issue in their supporting arguments. The opponents of Physician-assisted suicide cite the sanctity of human life as the reason why the practice should not be allowed. Further, the doctors need to conform to their oath of practice that requires them to do anything possible to ensure that they preserve life (Maclyntyre, 2013). However, the protagonists of physician-assisted suicide intimate that while the physicians are required to save lives, the free will of the patient comes first. In the healthcare setting, the patient's choices must be considered before the administration of any treatment. Further, it makes sense that the terminally ill patients want to alleviate their suffering since their conditions cannot be healed. Further, the supporters of physician-assisted suicide make use of the utilitarian theory, which posits that the morally right action is that which when compared to other options, presents more desirable results to the agent (Singer, 2003). The practice thus makes the patients happy and contented as they do not have to suffer from their illnesses anymore.
Deontology on the issue
The deontology of physician-assisted suicide considers that the physicians have a duty towards their patients. It means that the doctors have to consider that their primary duty in the treatment process is to ensure restored or at least sustained health for their patients. Nevertheless, deontology ethics requires that the rights and the free will of patients be respected. In this case, the rights of the patients should be respected by the physicians. According to Kant (1972), patient autonomy requires that the physician observes that the patient has a right to decide what he or she wants. The physician is thus obliged, above his duty to respect the free will and the freedoms of the patients especially concerning their health. The patient’s decision should be respected if they are deemed to have the ability to make rational decisions. In this case, the patient chooses physician-assisted suicide as a way to eliminate suffering through pain and hopelessness (Jantos, 2016). Therefore, considering the deontology ethics, it is morally right for the physician to carry out assisted suicide as it promotes the rights, freedom, and rationality of the patient, which amount to autonomy.
In conclusion, physician-assisted suicide is a contentious issue. It enjoys support from the two sides of the divide with one side supporting it while the other is against the practice. The morality of the physicians assisting in the suicide is the issue in question following their duty to preserve life. While different metrics of morality are used to debate the issue, the Utilitarian and the deontological ethics hold that physician-assisted suicide observes the rights of the patient and maintains the patient's autonomy. Moreover, it leads to the contentment and happiness of the patient as it helps in alleviating pain and suffering from the terminal illness that will eventually kill him or her.
Jantos, M. (2016). Patient autonomy on a psychiatric ward. Archives of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, 3, 13-17.
Kant, I. (1972). Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (p. 409). Hutchinson University Library.
MacIntyre, A. (2013). After virtue. A&C Black.
Singer, P. (2003). Voluntary euthanasia: a utilitarian perspective. Bioethics, 17(5‐6), 526-541.
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