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Physician-Assisted Suicide

Is it morally reprehensible?
JoBenjamin Thiessens
ENGL 2100
What is Physician-assisted suicide (PAS)?
• Involves the use of a lethal, self-administered drug with the purpose
of ending a patient’s life.
• NOT the same as euthanasia.

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How does the drug work?
• Patient will take a dose of barbiturates:
• Nembutal is expensive
• Liquid form
• Seconal is more commonly used
• 100 caplets broken into ~3 tbsp powder
• How Seconal works:
• $125 for lethal dose
• Powder mixed into water or food
• 5 mins: Patient will slip into a coma
• Up to 48 hours: Death follows

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Where is Physician-assisted suicide legalized?

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What does the public think?
• 68% of Americans want the option (Gallup, 2015)
• Support has been increasing in all age groups and political affiliations
• Younger age groups support more than older
2014 (%) 2015 (%)
18-34 years old 62 81
35-54 years old 57 65
55+ years old 56 61
Republicans 51 61
Democrats 59 72
Independents 64 80

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Oregon Statistics:
• 1,749 prescriptions written since 1997
• 1,127 (64.4%) patients died from ingesting the medication
End of life concerns Total (Percent) Age Total (Percent)
Losing autonomy 1,025 (91.4%) 18-34 9 (0.8%)
Unable to engage in enjoyable activities 1,007 (89.7%) 35-44 24 (2.1%)
Loss of dignity 767 (77%) 45-54 70 (6.2%)
Loss of control of bodily functions 524 (46.8%) 55-64 224 (19.9%)
Burden on family, friends, caregivers 473 (42.2%) 65-74 341 (30.3%)
Inadequate pain control or concern 296 (26.4%) 75-84 290 (25.7%)
Financial implications of treatment 38 (3.4%) 85+ 169 (15%)

Information taken from Oregon Public Health Division, 2016 Data Summary
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Arguments FOR legalization of PAS
• Freedom of Choice
1. We have reached the point in society that this type of personal choice
should be permitted and respected
2. Having the option to determine your future outcome keeps dignity intact
• End Suffering
• Financial Savings

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA


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Arguments FOR legalization of PAS
• Freedom of Choice
• End Suffering
1. Avoid painful suffering leading up to inevitable death
2. Considered more humane
• Financial Savings

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND

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Arguments FOR legalization of PAS
• Freedom of Choice
• End Suffering
• Financial Savings
1. End of life care is very costly
2. Burden on family and friends

A realistic and genuine argument is made for the humane


and dignified option of ending your life on your own terms.

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Arguments AGAINST legalization of PAS
• Suicide is morally wrong
1. Looked down upon
2. Can affect others decisions – i.e.: blaming themselves
• Life has value
• False prognosis

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA

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Arguments AGAINST legalization of PAS
• Suicide is morally wrong
• Life has value
1. A universally held belief in western society
2. Religious influence
3. Can still find value in experiences in final months
• False prognosis

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA


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Arguments AGAINST legalization of PAS
• Suicide is morally wrong
• Life has value
• False prognosis
1. Mistakes have been made before
2. Could potentially live several years longer

Is physician-assisted suicide morally reprehensible? You decide.


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• Get involved
Moving • Inform others
forward • Make your voice heard
• Contact legislators
References:
https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/physician-assisted-suicide

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/introduction/intro_1.shtml

https://www.hippocraticpost.com/medico-legal/top-5-ethical-issues-in-medicine/

https://www.cnn.com/2014/11/26/us/physician-assisted-suicide-fast-facts/index.html

https://www.thehastingscenter.org/briefingbook/physician-assisted-death/

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2005/10/how-does-assisted-suicide-work.html

https://news.gallup.com/poll/183425/support-doctor-assisted-suicide.aspx

https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/PROVIDERPARTNERRESOURCES/EVALUATIONRE

SEARCH/DEATHWITHDIGNITYACT/Documents/year19.pdf

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