John Stuart Mill Physician Assisted Suicide

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Physician-assisted suicide (PAS) is still largely considered a taboo in present-day Western society. The idea of taking one’s own life, regardless of emotional and physical circumstances, shocks many people, especially those who believe that death should arrive naturally. Despite ongoing public outcry, however, Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act allows terminally ill patients, under the supervision and evaluation of a physician, to opt for self-euthanasia. Under this law, Oregon residents in a critical state of health who are 18 years of age and older, and demonstrate a competent ability of making their own medical choices, have the right to request physician-assisted suicide. Since the enactment of the law in 1997, a total of 1,173 people have …show more content…
The traditional view of consequentialism advocates the idea that “the only kind of result that is good in itself is happiness” (Haines). Since actions in themselves are neither good nor bad, it is important to consider the consequences of our actions. Jeremy Bentham, British philosopher and mentor to John Stuart Mill, measured these consequences by their hedonistic qualities—that is, “people should do what produces pleasure, considering the intensity, duration, certainty, quickness, how many other pleasures are produced, freedom from pains, and the number of people affected” ( (Daniel). John Stuart Mill expanded Bentham’s idea in Utilitarianism, in which he defined the greatest happiness principle. This principle states that happiness is based on pleasure and the absence of pain. “By ‘happiness’ is meant pleasure and the absence of pain; by ‘unhappiness’ is meant pain and the lack of pleasure.” This philosophy would thus support Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act and other measures allowing self-euthanasia, since their goal is to spare willing, critically ill patients from the great discomfort and pain experienced during their last months of …show more content…
Like suicide, self-euthanasia awakens moral objections. Why, then, are patients like Hannah so sure that the right decision, the one they believe will bring about the best kinds of overall consequences, is to hasten their own deaths? John Stuart Mill states that everyone desires happiness. Although, people who choose PAS desire to be happy, they feel that in order to accomplish this, they require one essential thing: their health. For them, it is no longer possible to lead a life that is “more active than passive” (Mill). Even spending time with family members becomes difficult. Mill explains that a pleasurable life is one that is rich in enjoyments—one which allows humans to cultivate their minds and their abilities. However, a patient who has lost the physical and mental ability to pursue the things she loves is no longer living a life that engages the senses and the mind. Loss of motor skills is just one of many limiting factors caused by terminal illnesses that prevent people from performing simple tasks. Knitting, painting, using a computer, walking—all amusements that seem easy to an able-bodied person—become extremely challenging for patients whose illnesses have taken a toll on their physical health. Mill also states that tranquility and excitement “seem to

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