Assisted suicide editing

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I need help adding information about how assisted suicide effects nursing 

Running head: ASSISTED SUICIDE 1


Assisted Suicide


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Assisted suicide remains a controversial issue that has been debated for decades. There are various ethical and legal perspectives on this issue that have elicited different public concerns. The aim of this paper is to examine the different perspective on assisted suicide in the United States and other countries. It looks at the historical context of legalization of assisted suicide in the country, and the current stance on legalization from the opinions of experts within the field alongside public opinion. It provides the different legal and ethical stances on the topic. The paper shows the intricacy surrounding the topic and the need for further research to explore the issue comprehensively before allowing its implementation nationwide.

Assisted Suicide

Assisted suicide is a controversial issue that has been debated for many years. The issue is complex and presents ethical and legal concerns with different public opinion concerns. The issues raised by this issue are central to the physicians’ role. The American Medical Association (2016) states that it transpires when the physician provides unnecessary means/information to facilitate the patient’s decision to terminate their life. Discussions on this topic hold varying views on the ethics and legal framework that assist in dying. This paper explores the diverse perspectives without taking a position. It looks at its terminology, legalization history in the United States, and the arguments for and those opposed to aid in dying. It explores the legal and ethical considerations of euthanasia and public opinion regarding the practice.  

Assisted suicide is commonly identified as physician-assisted suicide or aid in dying, alongside several other terms. Aid in dying or physician-assisted suicide has been carefully distinguished from euthanasia in the United States. Euthanasia is described as mercy killing, whereby an incurably suffering patient is administered a lethal medication. In the United States, euthanasia is considered illegal, but countries such as Canada, Colombia, Belgium, and Luxembourg regard voluntary euthanasia as legal (Duglade et al., 2019). In countries like the Netherlands, this practice is decriminalized. Some countries are still in the process of legalizing physician-assisted suicide. Despite the move, the issue of physician-assisted suicide remains a highly contested issue with different perspectives on the issue. 

Legalization of Physician-assisted Suicide

The push to legalize euthanasia in the United States began in the 1900s. Advocates for the practice were for the forceful implementation of the practice, which by then was being secretly practiced in the country (Dugdale et al., 2019). Jacob Appel’s work demonstrates the traces of this move during this period showing that the eugenics movement strongly influenced the discourse on euthanasia. During the same period, opponents of this practice countered the practice using practical rather than moral or religious arguments. However, the public discourse on legalizing euthanasia waned for several decades when efforts to legalize the practice failed. Afterward, several attempts were made to legalize euthanasia in the public limelight, including pathologist Jacob Kevorkian’s advertisements in Detroit area newspapers as a death counselor in the 1980s (Dugdale et al., 2019). Following several decades of back and forth in the move to legalize the practice in the U.S., Oregon became the first to pass legislation supporting physician-assisted dying. Washington legalized the practice in 2008, a decade later. The practice was decriminalized by Montana a year later, and Vermont legalized it in 201xxx (Dugdale et al., 2019). Other states that have legalized physician-assisted death include California in 2015, Colorado, Colorado in 2016, the District of Columbia in 2017, Hawaii in 2018, and Maine and New Jersey in 2019.         

Public opinion on the practice has shifted over time. In the 1980s, public opinion was essentially against assisted suicide, with only around 30% of people in favor of it. Since then, public opinion has shifted, with most people in favor of allowing assisted suicide in some instances. Recent statistics show that nearly 65 percent of Americans support assisted suicide for terminally ill patients (Emmanuel, 2017). Over time, the change in public opinion could be due to increasing awareness of the medical, psychological, and social problems that terminally ill patients face.

Ethical Considerations

Ethically, assisted suicide is a difficult concept to grapple with. On the one hand, many people believe that a person should have the right to choose how they want to die and that it is a decision that should be respected. This right to die is often referred to as the right to autonomy. From the perspective of patient autonomy, the patient has the right to make decisions over their life. In healthcare settings, patients are entitled to determine the type of medical interventions they should elect or forgo (Fontalis et al., 2018). Patient autonomy is a principle that significantly influences contemporary U.S. medical practice. It serves as a justification for informed consent only after the patient has been provided with a thorough explanation of the benefits and risks so that they can go ahead and make decisions regarding treatment or participation in medical research (Fontalis et al., 2018). This logic is extended to the practice of physician-assisted suicide, which renders the patients accustomed to making their health decisions throughout life and needing the right to control the circumstances of their deaths.      

The right to physician-assisted suicide gives patients the prerogative to make decisions concerning their lives without others interfering. Those supporting assisted suicide argue that it provides a humane way of dying, allowing a person to die with dignity and without the pain and suffering that comes with a terminal illness. They argue that the right to end one’s life is an important right that should be respected. They point to the fact that individuals should have the right to choose how and when they die (McKinnon & Orellana-Barrios, 2019). Furthermore, proponents argue that the core of medicine is to relieve the suffering of patients from illness and disease; hence, the practice of physician-assisted suicide is an extension of this practice. They describe it as one option among several possibilities for the care of dying patients. Although the laws proposed by each state vary, they suggest various safeguards to mitigate abuses and to offer a structure for an act that some individuals will do anyway, more dangerously (McKinnon & Orellana-Barrios, 2019). The safeguards include informing the patient about all available end-of-life options, ensuring the patient is requesting assisted suicide autonomously, and the patient is not coerced to make the decision and can ingest the lethal medication on their own.     

On the other hand, some argue that assisted suicide is unethical because it takes away a person’s right to live and could lead to abuse. They also argue that it goes against the principle of beneficence, which states that doctors should not do anything that would harm a patient. They assert that the practice violates the sanctity of life, as it goes against the idea that life is a gift from God that should be respected and preserved. They also point to the potential for abuse, as some individuals may be coerced or manipulated into taking their own lives (Sulmasy et al., 2016). Proponents also indicate that they may be concerned regarding the practice’s impact on family members, as well as the potential for abuse of the system by those seeking to end the lives of their family members for financial gain.

Legal Considerations

From a legal perspective, assisted suicide can be a complicated issue. In the U.S., this practice is considered illegal in most states, with a few exceptions, as mentioned initially. As mentioned above, assisted suicide is legal under certain conditions in states such as Oregon, Washington, and Montana. In the states where assisted suicide is legalized, the dying patient should be able to make an informed decision regarding their death. They should have an attending physician willing to prescribe lethal medication. In addition, the patient needs to make two oral requests for the medication within the written request presented within 15 days (Dugdale et al., 2019). In addition, several court rulings have addressed the issue, though they have not been consistent. In 1997, the United States Supreme Court ruled that individuals have the right to refuse medical treatment, including life-sustaining treatments. This ruling has been interpreted by some courts to include the right to assisted suicide. In addition, several other laws govern assisted suicide, including laws prohibiting euthanasia and the sale of drugs to end one’s life (Dugdale et al., 2019). Some laws govern who can assist in suicide and the conditions under which it can be done. The legal implications of assisted suicide are also complex and may require further examination to justify the legalization of the practice throughout the nation.

Considering this perspective, the ethical and legal considerations of assisted suicide are complex and varied, with each perspective drawing significant arguments in favor of and against assisted suicide. On the one hand, assisted suicide can be seen as a moral decision, as it allows individuals to decide how they want to die. On the other hand, it can be seen as immoral, as it goes against the Hippocratic Oath and could lead to abuse (McKinnon & Orellana-Barriors, 2019). In addition, assisted suicide could lead to a devaluing of life, as it could be seen as a “quick option” for those suffering from terminal illnesses or other difficult circumstances.

In conclusion, assisted suicide is a complex issue with ethical, legal, and public opinion concerns. The ethical and legal considerations of assisted suicide remain intricate and highly contested. Ethically, it is difficult to make a definitive statement about assisted suicide, as it is a personal decision that should be respected. Legally, assisted suicide is illegal in most states, although some exceptions exist. Public opinion of assisted suicide has changed over time, with most individuals in favor of it in some instances. Finally, the ethical implications of assisted suicide are complex, as it can be seen as both a moral and immoral decision. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to pursue assisted suicide is a personal one and should be respected. Supporters of assisted suicide argue that individuals should have the right to choose how and when they die, while opponents argue that it violates the sanctity of life. In addition, the legal landscape is complicated, as assisted suicide is legal in only a few states, and several court rulings have addressed the issue. Ultimately, the debate over assisted suicide will continue, as both sides have strong and compelling arguments.


American Medical Association. (2016). Opinions on caring for patients at the end of life. AMA Code of Ethics.,it%20may%20foreseeably%20hasten%20death.

Emanuel, E. (2017). Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide: focus on the data. The Medical Journal of Australia, 206(8), 339–340.

Dugdale, L., S., Lerner, B., H., & Callahan, D. (2019). Pros and Cons of Physician AId in Dying. The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 92(4), 747-750.

Fontalis, A., Prousali, E., & Kulkarni, K. (2018). Euthanasia and assisted dying: what is the current position, and what are the key arguments informing the debate? Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 111(11), 407–413.

McKinnon, B., & Orellana-Barriors, M. (2019). Ethics in physician-assisted dying and euthanasia. The Southwest Respiratory and Critical Care Chronicles, 7(30), 36–42.

Sulmasy, D. P., Travaline, J. M., Mitchell, L. A., & Ely, E. W. (2016). Non-faith-based arguments against physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia. The Linacre Quarterly, 83(3), 246–257.

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