Analysis of the Physician Assistant Suicide Debate Essay

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Medical science, beginning in the last half of the twentieth century, began to achieve the remarkable ability to prolong life. In most cases, this is beneficial; however, in regards to prolonging the dying process, sometimes indefinitely, this is frequently viewed by patients and their families as cruel, rather than life-giving, and they petition the courts for the right to die. Despite the legitimacy of this position, a variety of forces have repeatedly endeavored to limit the rights of individuals in shaping the dying process for themselves and their loved ones. This is a particularly problematic area for health professionals and the following examination of the issues that this entails demonstrates that the most ethical position for …show more content…
While the courts have upheld a state's right to institute such a law, the highest court in the land has also upheld the rights of states to institute laws prohibiting physician-assisted suicide. Also, in 1997 the US Supreme Court in the decision in Vacco v. Quill upheld the constitutionality of state statutes that prohibit physician-assisted suicide (Feinberg, 1998). The Court rules that these statutes do not violate equality under the law (Feinberg, 1998). Singer (2002) describes the opposition to the right to die movement as basically originating in religious terms. He states that such opposition starts from the position that God has put human beings on earth for a purpose, and "they see suicide as something like desertion from the military, except that the suicide is disobeying orders from the Supreme Commander" (p. 16). During the Middle Ages, it was assumed that God enjoyed viewing the sufferings that He inflicted on people, who were presumed to be sinners beyond redemption. Undoubtedly, this sentiment originated in a displaced rationalization for the sadistic pleasure that certain Church officials gained in inflicting the tortures of the Inquisition. Surely, we have moved beyond a concept of the Divine that presumes that by thwarting the pain inflicted by disease, we are denying God some sort of perverted pleasure. In rebuttal to criticisms of his position on right to die issues, Singer states an

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