A Moral Defense Of Oregon's Physician-Assisted Suicide Law: Case Analysis

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In Michael Gill’s article “A moral defense of Oregon’s physician-assisted suicide law” he defends the law against two objections by providing arguments from opponents of PAS and proponents of PAS. The first objection that Gill defends is “that it is intrinsically wrong for someone to kill herself” (2005). The second objection is that “it is intrinsically wrong for physicians to assist someone in killing herself” (Gill, 2005). The physician assisted suicide law allows terminally ill residents of Oregon who are mentally competent and have less than six months to live to request a doctor to prescribe a medication that will cause a quick and painless death. In the first part of the article Gill argues that it is not intrinsically wrong for a terminal …show more content…
He then goes on to explain big decisions as choices you make that will change the course of your life depending on the choice you made where little decisions don’t change the course of your life. Gill sees autonomy as respecting a person’s ability to make big decisions allowing them to determine the course of their life. Although he still believes a person should make as many little decisions as they can the greater value of autonomy lies in the ability to make big decisions. He goes on to say that although people who qualify for PAS may be able to make little decisions for weeks or months to come, the ability to make big decisions may be all but gone because of the illness that is eating away at their mental and physical abilities. But a person who qualifies for PAS will be able to make one more big decision, and that is how and when they will die. So in regards to the opponent’s argument allowing a healthy person access to PAS would be violating the most important value of autonomy because a healthy person still has the ability to make big decisions. Also with this outlook the difference between self-slavery and people with terminal illness is more clear because a slave may be able to make little decisions but because of her contract she is unable to make big decisions that will …show more content…
PAS opponents believe that it is morally unacceptable for a physician to assist in ending a person’s life because it a moral profession and allowing a person to request that the physician make the decision to end someone’s life isn’t morally right. However, the Oregon law makes it very clear that the only role that a physician is to determine whether the person has a terminal disease and if the person is competent which are both medical judgements and does not require the physician to make any moral judgements. Then the physician is to assist the person with the decision that they have made themselves and how best to cope with this decision. Opponents also argue that as long as a physician is knowingly involved in the process which involves suicide that it violates the medical duty to promote health. However, a physician’s duty to promote health isn’t their only duty because it would be ethically wrong for a physician to release a person from their care because there is no treatment for their illness. Someone with a terminal disease cannot be made healthy so the physicians main role would be to reduce suffering. However, the physician can only reduce suffering by ways that the person has consented. Opponents to PAS agree that physicians should reduce suffering of competent patients but state that reducing suffering should never be done with PAS because they believe a

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