Bioethics is a controversial topic that many people in the general public chose to ignore or for them it’s not even on their agenda’s. Healthcare professionals don’t have the luxury of shying away from this subject area either. The term bioethics is an all-encompassing word that can cover many topics from designer babies, medical testing on animals, cloning of organ parts, stem cell research, and late term abortions. Assistant suicide is one of these hot topics that people generally stay away from. However, for all of us to create a more compassionate and moral society, ethicists must be able to operate in a world that allows for the processing and the flow of ideas and free thought concerning moral responsibility that can be conveyed without unnecessary criticism and or disagreements.
Assistant suicide is defined as the conscience intentional act of killing oneself with the help of a medical professional, physician or individual in a relatively quick and painless way. The term “assisted suicide” is a controversial concept and can bring up unsettling images or thoughts in one’s mind. Many medical professionals prefer the term “physician aid-in-dying” (PAD) because it has a less negative overtone to it. The difference between PAD and Euthanasia can be confusing for the casual reader. For example, in a PAD technique the medical physicians provide the patient with medications that will control the time and day they want to end their life. Before this can occur, the individual requesting this procedure must meet strict criteria guidelines and they must take the medication on their own without aid from the physician or medical personal. On the other hand, Euthanasia is the process in-which a physician administers the medication to the patient because these candidates are usually too ill to complete the process themselves (Jaret, 2016).
The PAD procedure is currently being debating in the medical community. The argument over PAD breaks down into two major concepts.
- Firstly, the belief that it is an ethical and a moral obligation for medical professionals to do everything in their power to limit the suffering that a patient/individual might have towards the final stages of their life. PAD is an escape from an unnecessary painful slow death. The individuals that argue for PAD usually sight the respect for one’s autonomy, meaning that a person should have the right to choose their time of death.
- Secondly, another ideal which PAD is argued upon is the compassion strategy. This approach views suffering on an emotional level more than a physical level. Patients who are at the final stages of life (if terminally ill) lose their independence and go through a loss of one’s self.
These main points for many that are considering PAD is compassion and the right to choose how they want to leave this life. Many who oppose this concept especially those within the religious and medical sectors believe strongly that these ideals of “self – suicide” is a contradiction to the physicians Hippocratic Oath, which is Latin for “first, do no harm”. An added argument for those opposed to the PAD process is some believe that this debate creates a slippery slope that could eventually lead those who are considering “assisted suicides” to utilize the Euthanasia process. Many within vulnerable populations or are considered impoverish concerning their medical situations may be convinced or coercion to choose assisted suicide for the sake of easing the financial burden on their families or saving the healthcare system time and money (Starks, Dudzinski & white, 2013).