Physician Aid in Dying



The end of life care is one of the most contentious issues inmedicine (Wang et al., 2015). This is due to ethical issuesassociated with it, particularly when the aid of a physician in dyingis required (Emanuel et al., 2016, Herx, 2015). There have beennumerous debates on the morality of physician-assisted suicide forpatients in vegetative state. This paper argues that there areinstances where physician aid in dying is acceptable.

  1. Arguments for physician aid in dying

The cornerstone of medical ethics is patient autonomy. An individualor his family has the authority to make a decision about their healthwithout coercion from a third party. This argument has been used tosupport changes in laws that allow assisted suicide (Cohen-Almagor,2015, Gamondi et al., 2014).

Statistics indicates that end of life patients who do not request foraid in dying from medical workers suffer more compared to otherpatients. Consequently, assisted suicide has been advocated as ameans of reducing suffering (Ganzini et al., 2014). For example,questions have been raised on whether there is a need for a patientwho will die in the next three months to continue suffering.Shortening the painful dying process will also reduce the economicburden associated with the end of life care (Cohen-Almagor, 2015).

  1. Counter arguments.

Nonetheless, there are several arguments against physician aid indying. According to the Hippocratic Oath, medical workers should notdo harm. Additionally, it has been opposed due to issues related tothe potential risks among venerable populations, mainly the disabled(Battin et al., 2007). The majority of the arguments against mercykilling are based on religious beliefs and values which emphasis onthe sanctity and preservation of life (Nicole et al., 2013).

  1. Rebuttal

Statistics indicates that majority of people in the United States andother parts of the world, as well as medical workers, supportphysician-assisted suicide (Maessen, et al., 2014, Sercu et al.,2012). Therefore, relevant legislations are justified.


Battin, M. et al., (2007). &quotLegal physician-assisted dying inOregon and the Netherlands: evidence concerning the impact onpatients in &quotvulnerable&quot groups&quot. Journal ofMedical Ethics (10) 591-7.

Cohen-Almagor, R. (2015). An argument for physician-assisted suicideand against euthanasia. Ethics, Medicine and Public Health, 1,pp 431-441.

Emanuel, E. et al. (2016). Attitudes and Practices of Euthanasia andPhysician-Assisted Suicide in the United States, Canada, and Europe.JAMA. 316(1):79-90. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.8499.

Gamondi C, et al. (2014). Legalisation of assisted suicide: asafeguard to euthanasia? Lancet, 384(9938):127.

Ganzini, L., Harvath, T.A. &amp Jackson, A. (2014). &quotExperiencesof Oregon nurses and social workers with hospice patients whorequested assistance with suicide&quot. The New England Journalof Medicine. 347 (8): 585.

Herx, L. (2015). Physician-assisted death is not palliative care.CurrOncol. 22(2): 82–83.

Maessen, M. et al., (2014). Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicidein amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a prospective study. Journal ofNeurology, 261(10), 1894-1901.

Nicole, S. et al. (2013). Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide in SelectedEuropean Countries and US States: Systematic Literature Review.Medical Care, 51(10), pp 938-944.

Sercu M. et al. (2012). Are general practitioners prepared to endlife on request in a country where euthanasia is legalised? J MedEthics, 38:277.

Wang, S. et al (2015). Geographic Variation of Hospice Use Patternsat the End of Life. J Palliat Med. 18(9):771-80. doi:10.1089/jpm.2014.0425.