The Moral Dilemmas of Physician-Assisted Suicide

Topic: Medical Ethics
Words: 825 Pages: 3


  1. Physician-assisted suicide is a controversial topic because of the moral dilemmas associated with the termination of life. Moreover, language and wording are often mixed, increasing prejudice and misunderstanding in both social and professional circles.
  2. According to the American Medical Association language, physician-assisted suicide (PAS) is the act of providing a patient with the information and a means to end their own life (“Physician-assisted suicide,” n.d.).

Technical Aspects

Topic Sentence: In order to analyze this issue in more detail, the various technical aspects of providing PAS and the specifics of interpreting this act need to be examined thoroughly.

  1. Supporting detail 1: Although there is precise wording from the American Medical Association, PAS is sometimes used as an umbrella term. Dugdale et al. (2019, p. 747) state that “alternative terms include but are not limited to death with dignity, doctor-prescribed death, right to die, and physician-assisted death.”
  2. Supporting detail 2: However, while euthanasia is characterized by the direct discharge and administration of a lethal drug, PAS merely creates the conditions for the termination of life by the patient themselves (Dugdale et al., 2019).
  3. Supporting detail 3: Thus, in the case of PAS, the healthcare provider does not end the patient’s life independently but only assists in the suicide, which is an essential point for understanding the nature of this process (“Physician-assisted suicide,” n.d.).

Public Policy

  • Paragraph Transition: One of the characteristic factors distinguishing PAS from other formulations of end-of-life care is its legal status.
  • Topic Sentence: Physician-assisted suicide is a medical and legal term explicitly stated in law, which should shape how it is treated.
  1. Supporting detail 1: Although euthanasia is exceptionally close to PAS in meaning and end result, it is illegal throughout the United States (“Physician-assisted suicide fast facts,” 2022).
  2. Supporting detail 2: PAS is available in the District of Columbia and ten states, thanks to a 1997 Supreme Court decision allowing states to self-identify physician-assisted suicide (“Physician-assisted suicide fast facts,” 2022).
  3. Supporting detail 3: However, the legislation and perspectives of other countries often differ significantly, such as in the case of Germany and Canada, which introduces general confusion in the analysis of this process and its characteristics (Mukhopadhyay & Banerjee, 2021).

Supporting Arguments

  • Paragraph Transition: Nevertheless, adhering to the official language, taking into account U.S. law, and considering guidelines on physician behavior, it is possible to analyze PAS in more depth.
  • Topic Sentence: Such a viewpoint highlights several major arguments for physician-assisted suicide advocating patients’ rights and provisions.
  1. Supporting detail 1: One of the most prominent arguments for PAS is respect for patient autonomy as a fundamental principle of healthcare, which should include the right to end one’s own life (Sulmasy et al. 2018).
  2. Supporting detail 2: Advocates of the procedure also often emphasize the need to relieve the individual with fatal and incurable illnesses from suffering, thereby alleviating the patient’s plight (Dugdale et al., 2019).
  3. Supporting detail 3: Finally, PAS is referred to as a safe medical termination practice because the individual’s death occurs in a medical setting, allowing for a high level of individual awareness and an easier, gentler death (Dugdale et al., 2019).

Arguments Against

  • Paragraph Transition: Nevertheless, despite the arguments put forward that ostensibly advance the interests of patients, there are many opponents of the initiative.
  • Topic Sentence: Opposition to PAS, for the most part, focuses on the lack of defense arguments, the disruption of the established patient-physician relationship, and the undermining of the foundation of the healthcare field (Pies & Hanson, 2018).
  1. Supporting detail 1: Although capable individuals have the right to decide to commit suicide, the right to suicide is not a legally established norm, and no definition of suicide involves help from another person (Pies & Hanson, 2018).
  2. Supporting detail 2: The suicide of even one person has a negative moral impact on society because the very existence of PAS encourages people to think of ending their own lives as a readily available alternative to suffering (Sulmasy et al. 2018).
  3. Supporting detail 3: The very essence of PAS, in many ways, contradicts the purpose of medicine as a healthcare field designed to treat and provide healing to those in need (Sulmasy et al. 2018). Such actions cannot be aligned with the concept of killing people or letting them die without supervision.

Opinion and Conclusion

  • Transition: Thus, the issue of physician-assisted suicide is multi-component, complex to analyze, and encompasses various legal, moral, and ethical issues.
  • Statement of Opinion: Nevertheless, despite a considerable number of arguments on both sides, from my perspective, the legalization and spread of PAS is unacceptable, as it does much more harm than good to society. In this context, it is preferable to develop means of assistance than to provide an opportunity to die, which can be taken advantage of by people for whom this initiative was not intended in principle.


Dugdale, L. S., Lerner, B. H., Callahan, D. (2019). Focus: Death: Pros and cons of physician aid in dying. The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 92(4), 747.

Mukhopadhyay, S., & Banerjee, D. (2021). Physician-assisted suicide in dementia: A critical review of global evidence and considerations from India. Asian Journal of Psychiatry, 64, 102802.

Physician-assisted suicide. (n.d.). American Medical Association. Web.

Physician-assisted suicide fast facts. (2022). CNN. Web.

Pies, R. W., & Hanson, A. (2018). Twelve myths about physician-assisted suicide and medical aid in dying. HCP Live. Web.

Sulmasy, D. P., Finlay, I., Fitzgerald, F., Foley, K., Payne, R., & Siegler, M. (2018). Physician-assisted suicide: why neutrality by organized medicine is neither neutral nor appropriate. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 33(8), 1394-1399.

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