Physician-Supported Suicide: Reflective Journal Template
|What are the key points of contention on this topic?
The critical point in the scenario is whether physicians should be legally allowed to help patients die when battling terminal illnesses without the possibility of recovering. The Death With Dignity Act mandates the practice as long as the patient voluntarily agrees to physician-supported suicide. Patients should be allowed to decide as long as they are competent to decide. On the one side of the debate, supporters argue that the law is ethical since patients have the right to be free from pain and suffering. On the other hand, opponents suggest that no person, whether a physician, patient, or family, should decide when a person dies. They suggest that people might make uninformed decisions to escape reality.
|What side of the argument (stance) do you have on this topic?
I support the law, suggesting the need to free patients from pain and suffering when they no longer have any hope for recovery.
|What strong points does the other side of the topic have?
The other side of the debate argues that no one has the right to decide when and how a person dies. They also claim that the law can be misused to cause the death of people who could otherwise recover with continued treatment.
|What were the three most important things you took away from the topic?
1. Patients have the right to live free from pain and suffering, even if it means ending their lives when they no longer have any hope for recovery
2. Physicians have the professional knowledge and experience to advise terminally ill patients and their families
3. The law gives patients enough time to make an informed decision regarding the end of life care when terminally ill.
Which ethical theory would you apply on this topic to defend your stance?
The scenario relates to the Death with Dignity Act, which allows physicians to help terminally ill patients to end their lives, such as using lethal doses of medication. The law relates to the ongoing debate on physician-assisted suicide. The physician provides the necessary means to facilitate patient death (Sulmasy et al., 2018). From different perspectives on the issue, the most ethical stance is to allow physician-assisted suicide. I feel that patients should have the chance to die with dignity. Many terminally ill patients suffer for weeks or months while receiving treatment without hope of recovery. They suffer excessive pain regardless of their desire to end it through death. Thus, when patients can make voluntary and informed consent to die, physicians should be allowed to provide the means to end their lives.
Rule utilitarianism is the most appropriate theory in the physician-assisted suicide debate. The theory suggests that an act is ethical if it conforms with the rule(s) that cause the greatest happiness or good. The theory adheres to the idea that an action’s correctness is determined by adherence to a rule that leads to the greatest happiness or good (Abumere, 2019). From the scenario, the rule in question is the Death with Dignity Act, which allows physician-assisted suicide. Since the practice leads to the greatest good or happiness, the act is ethical. A terminally ill patient and family experience pain and suffering during the treatment, denying happiness. Therefore, allowing the patient to end the suffering is for the greatest good, making the act ethical.
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. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-018-4424-8
Abumere, F. A. (2019). Utilitarianism. Introduction to Philosophy: Ethics.