13 Pros and Cons of Legalizing Physician Assisted Suicide


Physician assisted suicide or euthanasia has always been hotly debated. There are many who support a person’s right to decide whether one wants to live or die when one is suffering from an incurable disease or is in a state of unbearable pain and there is no hope for recovery. On the flip side, there are many who believe that physician assisted suicide is morally and ethically wrong, it can be misused and the state or the law cannot grant a person the right to die. Right to life and right to die is another context altogether as physician assisted suicide doesn’t imply abetment or actually committing suicide in any random scenario. It only pertains to medical conditions or incurable diseases. Here are the pros and cons of legalizing physician assisted suicide.

Pros of Legalizing Physician Assisted Suicide

1. Prevent Suffering of Others
When people suffer from very serious health ailments, the pain can become unbearable. There are many incurable diseases and innumerable patients reach a stage when one or more organs fail and they would inevitably succumb, it is only a matter of time. In such cases, physician assisted suicide can reduce the pain and suffering of the patient. One can put an end to all the unbearable agony and do so medically. Physician assisted suicide is not gruesome, not painful and it is not erratic or random as normal suicides. It is surefire, painless and well monitored.

2. Gives Choice
Legalizing physician assisted suicide will allow people to decide if they want to endure their pain or if they wish to die. This is morally questionable because the state or the law of the land cannot decide the method of death for an innocent ailing person. But from a personal perspective, it may be heartening and satiating for a patient to know that it is their choice to decide if they would live or die.

3. Affordability
Medical treatments aren’t always affordable. Serious health ailments and chronic or incurable diseases in particular can financially destroy a family. In such scenarios, patients can decide to opt for physician assisted suicide, get respite from the condition and save the family or the kin from the financial meltdown.

4. Give a Dignified Death
Legalizing physician assisted suicide would allow people to opt for death in a dignified way. Most patients suffering from incurable diseases or chronic ailments will suffer and suffer to become a pale shadow of who they were. From physical deterioration to numerous psychological impacts, one has to deal with the many side effects of serious medical conditions. Hence, it is better to allow the person to die with dignity.

5. Saves Resources
Ailing people who have little or no chance of recovering take up lots of time and resources. While life cannot be weighed in terms of resources but doctors and nurses can spend their time to cure those who can be cured instead of getting tied up with medical cases that cannot be helped. Legalizing physician assisted suicide can address this issue.

6. Preserve Organs
Many patients suffer organ damage as their health deteriorates. This diminishes the chances of organ donation. Physician assisted suicide will help preserve the organs and thus can be helpful for those in need of such transplants.

7. Decrease Suicide
Many patients decide to take their own lives and in the process go through a horrifying experience. Such suicides are also unsuccessful in many cases, leaving a traumatic experience in the psyche of the ailing and the family or friends. Legalizing physician assisted suicide will negate this possibility.

8. Gives Another Option
When patients are in a coma or are unconscious and have no chance of recovery, life support or unending treatment is unwise. The family can decide if they would to opt for physician assisted suicide.

Cons of Legalizing Physician Assisted Suicide

1. Immoral and Unethical
Doctors or nurses or any medical practitioner cannot, morally or ethically, allow a person to die. This is a direct violation of the Hippocratic Oath.

2. Devalue Life
Legalizing physician assisted suicide tends to trivialize the value of life.

3. Can Become Misused
Euthanasia can be misused in many ways. Family and friends may get to decide which the patients may not want. There can be myriad abuses of the provision and there could be several legal loopholes which will put the doctors, nurses, healthcare facilities or institutions and certainly the families and friends in trouble.

4. Removes Hope from a Situation
It is possible that families as well as doctors would opt for physician assisted suicide in cases where the chances of recovery have not become negligible. People may want to cut costs. Doctors may make recommendations that are not in the best interest of the patients. Effectively, one may give up hope.

5. Gives To Much Power to Doctors to Decide
Doctors get undue power and may get to decide the life and death of patients, especially in cases where patients cannot decide for themselves.

It is possible that insurance companies and government policies will not back experimental or risky treatments, which otherwise may save the lives of patients.