J. David Velleman's Against The Right To Die

1271 Words 6 Pages
Regarding physician assisted suicide, also known as PAS, J. David Velleman argues that a PAS policy could be harmful to patients and thus, we should not have a policy. In his work, “Against the Right to Die”, Velleman is not arguing for the morality of PAS, but rather against a PAS public policy. His argument focuses on the harm on a patient that PAS can have by adding the burden to opt for PAS. By giving more options, a PAS policy can push a patient to choose death. Without the option of PAS, Velleman says, a patient can continue to live by default. For this case, we assume that patients are fully autonomous, and will always make the right decision given their options. In this paper, I will talk about the assets and faults of Velleman’s argument …show more content…
For example, a patient may want to continue receiving some kind of treatment without the option of physician assisted death. This brings us to the main issue: why is PAS so contested recently? Critics of PAS claim that a PAS policy would increase the likelihood of abuses to the patient, causing more harm than good. Additionally, a PAS policy, no matter how well-intentioned, can open the doors for less beneficial policies. Thus, Velleman’s argument is that choice to live or die is not as good of a situation than living, without having the option to die. Additional options are not always beneficial. A patient may feel the choice to die is a better option than the choice to live whereas if she hadn’t had the option of PAS, she would keep living by default. Velleman argues against a PAS policy for this reason, to prevent an unnecessary burden to those who would benefit from living by default. Thus, Velleman’s argument builds on idea that more choices will not always create a beneficial …show more content…
Many advocators of a PAS policy claim that allowing physician assisted suicide to those who met certain requirements (i.e. the patient is at the end of her life, the patient is suffering uncontrollably, the patient requests aid in dying, etc.), would be promoting the patient’s autonomy and an act of beneficence. If we could not guarantee Velleman’s assumptions, how awful would a PAS policy be? One objection to Velleman’s argument is that these assumptions are not always true. Loved ones may pressure some patients to choose a certain option due to emotional or financial strain on others. This could escalate to abuse of a PAS policy, where a patient feels obligated to choose PAS, even if she would like to live, because others pressure her; thus undermining their authority. Vice versa, a patient whose family pressures her to choose life when it would be the better option to have PAS. Additionally, there is a moral distinction between killing and letting die. Currently, some “physician assisted suicides” are legal such as a doctor forgoing treatment upon a patient’s request or terminal sedation, where medical staff gives the patient pain medication until she dies. Thus, why are some methods of PAS allowed but euthanasia is not? Velleman argues because the option would harm the patient but perhaps it is more an issue of

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