Should Assisted Suicide Exist?

Essay by teecie April 2008

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Living one's life is not easy but given the debates hounding assisted suicide, ending's one life is not easy, either. Ending one's life through assisted death is an issue of moral, legal, emotional, and ethical nature.

To begin with, the use of terms such as "assisted suicide," "euthanasia" and other related terms is already complex. Thus, it is important to define some terms. The Journal of Hospice &Palliative Nursing) (2004) describes several euthanasia-related terms.

Definition of termsTermDefinitionEuthanasiasomeone other than the patient performs an act (eg. administering a lethal injection) with the intent to end the patient's life.

Active euthanasia1the deliberate action to end the life of a dying patient to avoid further suffering.

voluntary active euthanasiaan act of bringing about the death of a person at his or her request.

involuntary active euthanasiaan act of killing a person who, while competent, opposes to being killed.

non voluntary active euthanasiaan act of killing a person who is incapable of making an informed request.

Withdrawing/withholding life-sustaining therapypreviously referred as "passive euthanasia," honoring the refusal of treatments that a patient does not desire. Examples of such treatment are life-sustaining or life-prolonging therapies such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, and artificially provided nutrition and hydration.

Assisted deathterm that denotes either or both: assisted suicide and active voluntary euthanasia.

Assisted suicidemaking means of suicide (eg. providing pills) available to a patient with the knowledge of the patient's intention to kill himself or herself.

Physician-assisted suicide (PAS)2an act of self-destruction committed by a patient with the assistance of a physician. A common example is that of a physician giving a patient a prescription for a lethal amount of medication that the patient later ingests to bring about death. PAS is called suicide because the patient deliberately ends his or her own life. It is...