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Essays on Assisted Suicide

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Brief overview
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Main Ideas

Assisted suicide is a type of suicide facilitated by another person. This term is usually used interchangeably with physician-assisted suicide, which means that the patient decides to end their life with the help of a healthcare provider or physician. Unlike Euthanasia that doesn’t necessarily require that the person has a terminal illness and can occur without consent, assisted suicide is only legal (in selected countries) if the patient meets different criteria.

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Origin

The debate surrounding assisted suicide was at its height between 1989 and 1990 when a group of physicians argued in favor of it. Dr. Kevorkian, a pathologist from Michigan, assisted the first suicide in 1991.

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Outcome

In the case that a person is allowed an assisted suicide, they’ll be provided or prescribed drugs that will end their life peacefully on behalf of a healthcare professional.

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Key Quotes
  • “I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan” – the Hippocratic Oath
  • “Unitarian Universalitsts advocate the right to self-determination in dying, and the release from civil and criminal penalties of those two, under proper safeguards, act to honor the right of terminally ill patients to select the time of their own deaths”- the 1988 General Resolution
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Interesting Facts
  • Physician-assisted suicide is legal under certain circumstances in countries including Austria, Canada, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, New Zealand, parts of the US, parts of Australia, and Switzerland.
  • In these countries, to qualify for assisted suicide, individuals must meet certain criteria: have a terminal illness, voluntarily express their wish to die, and be of sound mind.
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Arguments for

Those who support legalizing assisted suicide want the healthcare professionals that are involved in the process to be exempt from criminal prosecution in cases where this is ‘the humane thing to do’. When the patients are suffering with no chance of survival, the argument is to help them end their suffering if they want to. Arguments in support of this include equal treatment of terminally ill patients, compassion, patient autonomy, personal liberty, and ethics of responsibility.

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Arguments against

In many countries, this is illegal under any circumstances because assisted suicide is considered a criminal act or manslaughter. Many still argue that the human life should not be ended based on someone’s choice, but it should end naturally. The main opponents of assisted suicide are religion, as well as many healthcare professionals that believe this is against their Hippocratic Oath.

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