Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide

Euthanasiaand Physician-Assisted Suicide

Inthe medical profession, doctors and health workers face toughdecisions when there is an ethical clash between upholding theirprofessionalism and the interests of patients. Euthanasia andPhysician-Assisted Suicideare the medical practices that attract such a kind of tough decisionin relation to ethics. In this speech, I will explore the ethics andthe debate surrounding euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. Bydiscussing the case for and against euthanasia, I will describe theviews, opinion and perspectives of people about the practice.

  • Definition: Euthanasia is the terminating a life of a patient in order to end the pain and suffering he or she is undergoing. The debate surrounding the practice is determined by the motive behind the ending of the life of the patient.

  • Definition: Physician assisted suicide is assisting a patient to kill himself. According to McDougall and Gorman (7), physician assisted suicide is the doctor aiding a patient to terminate his or her own life for reasons based on the patient

  • Conceptual Differences: the two practices are different, even though they are commonly confused. Unlike the euthanasia where the doctor knowingly terminates the patient’s life from his own decision, physician-assisted suicide involves the doctor assisting the patient commit suicide. In euthanasia, the decision to kill the patient, is made by the doctor, but the patient makes that decision in the case of Physician-assisted suicide.

Casefor Euthanasia and Physician-assisted Suicide

  • The two medical practices give a way of helping people to die with dignity. In this case, death with dignity means ending the life of a patient to avoid extreme pains and suffering.

  • Terminal diseases like cancer and accidents are some of the causes for high level of suffering. Ethically, mercy killing is argued to be the best option when the suffering from the medical condition is too high for pain-killing medicine.

  • Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia are ethical because the patients involved are mostly certain of their death. McDougall and Gorman (12) argue that most of the patients have prior knowledge that they will death especially in cases of terminal illnesses. Physician assisted suicide relieves the burden of thought of oncoming death. Termination of life also relieves emotional pain for patients and relatives.

  • Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are backed with some legislation that seeks to protect this dignity of patients at death. The best example is the Death with Dignity Act, which legalized competent termination of adult patients in Oregon (DWD 1). The act provides the deserving patients with legality to make requests in adherence to the set regulations such as waiting for two weeks (DWD 1).

  • The two medical practices prevent the use of unconventional suicide methods for seeking death. The alternatives to suicide sought by patients lead to more emotional torture, more pain and lower the dignity of patients due to complications. Physician-assisted suicide provides medical assistance for patients to die with integrity and under the care (McDougall and Gorman 23).

Caseagainst euthanasia andphysician-assisted suicide

  • Physician-assisted suicide is unethical because it shifts the role of doctors. The practice turns doctors from healers into agents of death. This main role of the doctor is to protect life and to save it and should not be to end it.
  • Religious organizations and social rights groups are opposed to the two practices because they contradict ethical beliefs. God is the sole giver of life and the sole decider of when death should end life (MacKinnon 24). To religious groups, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide work to replace the role of God with the doctor. This is considered evil and irreligious.

  • The two practices are acts of killing human beings, just like any other murder. Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide denies the healing process to occur naturally. Therefore, the practices ignore the less chance for the patient to heal.

  • Just like any other murder or manslaughter, Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide denies the life a chance (McDougall and Gorman 31).


  • The ethical nature of euthanasia and the practice of physician-assisted suicide depend on the contextual circumstances of the patient and the laws governing the two.

  • Doctors argue for euthanasia and some patients also prefer termination of their lives instead of facing pain and suffering.

  • Other doctors and patients would rather endure the suffering death or physician-assisted suicide.

  • Religious organizations consider the ideals of their religions when viewing the practices of terminating the lives of patients.

  • On the other hand, medics base their view on the conditions of their patients in relation to the certainty of death and the dehumanizing suffering they undergo before natural death.

  • In this regard, euthanasia and physician assisted suicide is considered as mercy killing by the opponents, while doctors consider the dignity over suffering.


  • Euthanasia and physician assisted are two differences in practices, but with the similarity in the reason and the eventuality of causing death before the natural time.

  • Euthanasia and the practice of physician assisted suicide are said to give the dignity of affected patients at death by ending suffering.

  • The prior knowledge and certainty of death for some patients give the voluntary or involuntary termination of life through physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia a valid alternative.

  • Despite the arguments and counterarguments, euthanasia and practices of physician assisted suicide are ethical in deserving cases, but should be regulated to prevent abuse.


Deathwith Dignity, DWD, 2014.Deathwith Dignity: the Laws &amp How to Access Them.RetrievedFrom,&lt, 2014MacKinnon,Barbara. Ethics:Theory and Contemporary Issues, Concise Edition. Stamford:Cengage Learning, 2012, Print

McDougall,Jennifer and Gorman, Martha. Euthanasia: A Reference Handbook. SantaBarbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2008, Print