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Physician-Assisted Suicide Essay

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Assisted Suicide Defined

            Assisted suicide is technically defined as “the act of helping someone to die without having to feel any pain or if there’s pain, it is extremely minimal” (Elmer Social Science Dictionary, 2003). This usually is “requested by and administered to individuals with or suffering from terminal illnesses” (Elmer Social Science Dictionary, 2003).


Physician-assisted suicide” is actually officially authorized and lawful in the Netherlands (Manning, 1998). Unlike in the other areas of the world, “Physician-assisted suicide” remains unlawful (Manning, 1998). In fact, if the doctor withholds/withdraws/stop certain medical procedures like dialysis, feeding tubes, hydration, etc., he or she is not bound to face any liability from the law since it is legal in the aforementioned country (Manning, 1998). In fact, such an act can be easily justified especially if the medical treatment/procedures withheld/withdrawn/stopped is not anymore helpful in making longer the life of an individual who is already about to die or who is already categorized as terminally ill (Manning, 1998).

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In addition, in the circumstances wherein the most important organ systems of the body shuts down, an extremely sick individual typically experiences more comfort if he or she will not be eating food or drinking anything; and to make an individual suffering from such take in anything whether it is solid or liquid is categorized as “force feeding” which “eventually causes extreme physical discomfort, as well as, suffering” (Manning, 1998). In the Netherlands, carrying that out is far worse than anything and so they just carry out “Physician-assisted suicide” (Manning, 1998).

Assisted suicide has been the foundation/cause or basis of too much divisive/troublesome deliberations/disputes (Elmer Social Science Dictionary, 2003).    It is so because of the “conflicting views of the purpose of life, as well as, on the admissibility of killing” (Elmer Social Science Dictionary, 2003).    In addition, “physician-assisted suicide is contentious also because of the practical consequences and historical experiences that it brought about” (Elmer Social Science Dictionary, 2003).

Opinion on the Consequences of Physician-Assisted Suicide

            There are, of course, consequences of physician-assisted suicide:

            A “very hot” consequence is the fact that physician-assisted suicide may turn out to be voluntary/intentional/deliberate or if one participated in it, one may be even charged for being an accomplice to murder (Dworkin et. al., 1998). An individual who is very sick tends to also feel depressed (Dworkin et. al., 1998). He or she is then needy and reliant; thus, he or she is effortlessly “overpowered by emotional and psychological pressures” (Dworkin et. al., 1998).

Explaining further, these sickly individuals “will tend to feel guilty for not choosing to die especially if they feel that physician-assisted suicide is as good as receiving care” (Dworkin et. al., 1998). This is why sick people who believe in physician-assisted suicide and “who feel that they add to the financial burden of their families and the government are pushed/motivated to choose to die and so, again, there is a tendency that physician-assisted suicide will only become voluntary” (Dworkin et. al., 1998).

            Second, physician-assisted suicide may be utilized as an excuse for murder (Dworkin et. al., 1998). “For example, an elderly individual in a nursing home who can barely understand what’s going on around him is asked to sign a form giving the doctor the permission to let him die” (Dworkin et. al., 1998).  The problem is this question: “how can he be protected by the law” (Dworkin et. al., 1998).

  He has signed the form voluntarily but he of course did not comprehend what he just signed (Dworkin et. al., 1998). Will this now be categorized as voluntary or can it be considered involuntary (Dworkin et. al., 1998)? Will this be considered taking a life or killing (Dworkin et. al., 1998)? Again, aside from it becoming voluntary, the worse is that “physician-assisted suicide may be used as an excuse for murder” (Dworkin et. al., 1998).

            Third, another consequence is that assisted suicide may become widespread/customary because “it is possible that it could become a profit-enhancing tool especially for Health Maintenance Organizations” (Dworkin et. al., 1998). Simply put, physician-assisted suicide can become “a means of health care cost containment” (Dworkin et. al., 1998). Explaining further, “physician-assisted suicide costs much less as compared with the traditional way of treating sick people” (Dworkin et. al., 1998).

In fact, the “medicines utilized in physician-assisted suicides cost only approximately forty dollars while the treatment of a patient can actually reach of up to an average of forty thousand dollars or more” (Dworkin et. al., 1998). In addition, because of the enhanced stress on the providers of health care to contain cost, these providers may choose to consider physician-assisted suicide as their way of cost containment (Dworkin et. al., 1998).

In the United States where countless individuals do not have medical insurance, “several physicians could find themselves better off financially in case the patient chooses to die instead of going through treatments” (Dworkin et. al., 1998). Also, the government may decide to set aside and accumulate savings by implementing such as a “cut back on paying for treatment and care and exchange it for the treatment of death” (Dworkin et. al., 1998). This will cause financially-challenged residents of certain states to be seriously affected through these “cutbacks on health care coverage” (Dworkin et. al., 1998).

            Last but not least, physician-assisted suicide is “akin to putting an end to the development of medical breakthroughs or cure to certain diseases” (Dworkin et. al., 1998). This means that the efforts of experts to further their research and look for new cures or treatments will now be decreased, they will now be de-motivated and “will think that assisted suicide will the ultimate solution or that doctors will just resort to assisted suicide if the patient asks for it” (Dworkin et. al., 1998).


            Assisted Suicide is the act of helping someone to die to end his or her suffering. It is legal in the Netherlands, but not anywhere else (Manning, 1998). There are several consequences of physician-assisted suicide including becoming an excuse for killing, impeding further research, may lead to widespread or customary occurrence, etc.


Dworkin, G., Frey, R.G. and Bok, S. (1998).  Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide


(For and Against). NY: Cambridge University Press.  

Elmer Social Science Dictionary. (2003). Assisted Suicide. Retrieved December 14, 2007

from http://www.elissetche.org/dico/E.htm

Manning, M. (1998). Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide: Killing or Caring?


NY: Paulist/Newman Press.


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