Pros and Cons of Legalizing Physician Assisted Suicide


When a terminally ill cancer patient made public her wish to end her own with the assistance of a physician in Oregon, one of the states that allow physician-assisted suicide, this ignited a debate between two opposing sectors, the proponents and opponents of the Act.

Physician-assisted suicide or death is a practice permitted in some countries and in a number of states in the U.S., with California joining with the California End of Life Option Act in 2016. Unlike euthanasia, PAS is an act where a person who wants to end life will be counseled by a doctor about lethal doses of drugs and prescribing the lethal drug. However, this is a very controversial issue and will remain such in the years to come.

List of the Pros of Physician-assisted Suicide

1. Dignity in Death
Proponents of PAS posit that every human being has the right to die with dignity and should not be deprived of this especially people who are terminally ill and who do not want to be remembered by their loved ones as frail and weak. For them, PAS gives these patients the right to choose when their lives will end and be with loved ones in their last days instead of dying in the hospital.

2. Ends Pain
There are illnesses like cancer that are debilitating and cause so much pain and suffering on those who suffer from these medical conditions. Supporters of PAS agree that by letting these people end their suffering is the ideal thing to do.

3. Health Care Cost Reduction
Some proponents say that taking care of patients who do not have chance to recover from their illnesses entails expenses. For those who do not have the capacity to pay for their care and who want to undergo PAS should be allowed not only to give in to their wishes but also to cut on government costs.

List of the Cons of Physician-assisted Suicide

1. Against Hippocratic Oath
Critics of this Act claim that it is the duty and responsibility of the doctors to save lives and PAS goes against this. Being involved in the death of a person even if it is this person’s will violates the oath made by the doctors. Moreover, not all doctors feel right with having to do this and even if they have the right to refuse, the fact that they might be asked to do so can have a negative impact on them.

2. Open to Abuse and Misuse
According to opponents, if physician-assisted suicide will be legalized, it will be easier for this Act to be abused and misused since not all patients are in their right minds when they are in pain.

3. Direct Ending of Life
It is the view of Catechism that PAS is an intentional act to end a person’s life and this has ethical issues. Even if the illness of the person is incurable, it is the basic duty of every individual to care for each other. This is also the same for dying patients. Sick people should be provided with basic care such as water and food and agreeing with PAS is against these teachings.

With the legalization of PAS in California, the controversy has again been stirred. Both proponents and opponents have valid points on the issue and the decision lies on the people as to whether PAS does more good than harm.