Research Rewrite: Nina

Distinguishing Euthanasia and
Physician Assisted Suicide

When speaking of incurable diseases and the suffering of patients with mental disorders, two options are made available. The first being euthanasia, the second being physician assisted suicide. Euthanasia is a method of the painless killing of a patient who is suffering a painful or incurable disease. The procedure is take place is a hospitable area and the patient is instructed by doctors and other medical professionals of the results of the procedure. In physician assisted suicide, if approved by a doctor and several other medical professionals, a patient does not necessarily have to suffer from an incurable disease to have approval of participating in the procedure.

Next, the biggest difference is the process of which both procedures occur. In euthanasia, once the patient is diagnosed with the terminal disease, if the doctor suggests or offers euthanasia as an alternative from suffering, the patient will make their decision. If the patient decides to prolong the procedure, he or she will than have to inform their family and complete counseling following up to the procedure. Then, the day of the procedure a drug know as pentobarbital is given to the patient by either IV or injection. Pentobarbital eventually makes the patient unconscious in one to two minutes and shuts down the brain and heart functions.

Next, there are three forms of euthanasia, voluntary, non-voluntary, and involuntary. Voluntary euthanasia is done with the patients consent, and the patient understands his or her decision. Non-voluntary euthanasia is when the procedure is conducted on someone who was unable to consent due to their current health condition. In that scenario, another appropriate person, on the patients behalf can make the decision.

Lastly, involuntary euthanasia is when the patient or a person is able to give consent but doesn’t and is forced to go through the procedure against their will. To complete the procedure, there are two options the patient has active and passive. Passive euthanasia is when a medical professional offers strong doses of medication which will eventually become toxic to the patient. Active euthanasia is the use of a lethal substance to end a patients life. Active euthanasia is commonly argued and countered against moral, ethical, and religious reasoning.

On the other hand, in assisted suicide is more self reliant procedure. An individual will be administered a strong prescription of drugs.The patient has to sign a total of six to seven times a consent form for the procedure from the day they sign for the procedure to the day of. The reason for many signatures is so the patient doesn’t feel as though they have to proceed in the operation after changing his or her mind. Alongside the paper work, yet another form is asked to be signed 48 hours prior to the operation.

Next, the day of the procedure the participant is given a bottle of prescription pills authorized by a doctor. With a physician alongside him or her, the participant is instructed to take the pills which will slowly put the patient into a deep coma. The patient is allowed to decide when he or she is ready to take the prescription drug.

Another means of difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide is the state of where each procedure can be performed. Active human euthanasia is legal outside the U.S in countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Columbia, and Canada. Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands. In the U.S, assisted suicide is legal in Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Hawaii, Colorado, and California. Retrieved from”>Death by Dignity law.

This law allows terminally ill, qualified adults voluntarily request and receive a prescription drug to hasten their death. One of the most important elements when discussing assisted suicide is the state of mind the patient is in when making the decision. All states that have an active Death with Dignity law require that the patient has no history of extreme mental illness and is competent to make decisions. Though many who believe this counters the right to choose death at your own call, physicians and other medical professionals would not want patients applying for assisted suicide based on a drive of emotions.

What Makes a Person Want to Die

In the mix of Euthanasia and Assisted suicide taking part of how patients choose to die. We should move our focus to why people choose to voluntarily proceed with either procedure. Whether it be because of mental illness or incurable diseases. Individuals believe that they should have the right to choose death for it is a right for people to decide their own fate, not doctors and other medical professionals.

For example, Robert Schwartz, a man who was tested positively for AIDS and suffered many health complications due to his diagnosis. he then decided to take part in the Death by Dignity law to stop his pain and suffering. Through out his journey, not only did his health complications take part in his decision but his personal life and relationships embeded a huge toll onto is final decision . Further down the road of his journey to death, he demonstrated signs of emotional distress, leading to depression. He faced emotional down falls with his lover who would lie, and steal from him during the long road of his process. Depression played a huge role in his decision to pursue death over life. Although Robert made his decision, through out the process the more his lover disappointed his lover made him, the more hopeless he felt.

This shows exactly how much of a toll depression has on a persons decision to choose death. If we allow people to choose death due to depression, we will be regulating suicide and eventually not accept programs such as mentoring and psychology as an option for coping or help. As mentioned earlier, the Death by Dignity Law is active in only 5 states in the U.S. If someone has the resources to choose death, and it is an option. More will be willing to take that route.

Physician assisted suicide was introduced to the United States in 1997, in Oregon. Citizens were made aware of the law and since then, 991 patients have ended their lives with a strong prescribed medication given under law. Many of those who participated were not diagnosed with a terminal illness. Though it seems as though many are choosing to die rather than live, the reason can be supported by the idea of utilitarian ideal. Humans have a say in their moral destiny and can choose death over life and vice versa if their decision means they would be happy. But if we allow for anyone to choose death, even when death isn’t the utilitarian alternative, we will make suicide a solution for anyone.

Another cause of assisted suicide besides illness and depression, is due to the option of suicide being available. If we allowed for assisted suicide in teens and other adults it will cause of number of mass suicide in teens because the option to die is available. This will occur because no one will look to the first alternative options of IPT and CBT when the outcome they want is at the tip of their fingers. The slippery slope argument is that we want to respect the wishes of those who want to be assisted in their suicide, but if we allow euthanasia for the elderly and not the youth, it wont be utilitarian because the respect of other peoples wishes will be denied. Yet to allow this can lead to mass assisted suicide in teens, young adults, and in elders.

Physicians Approve Assisted Suicide

Physicians argue that if patients are eligible for assisted suicide, it will contribute to the utilitarian ways of the rights of human beings. But, if encourage individuals to choose when they die with no legitimate reason all because it is “utilitarian” is morally unethical. This will lead to a number of people asking for assisted suicide due to a drive of emotions only because the option is available.

This practice not only affects the person pursuing the procedure, it passes on the suffering to other similar people, who will fear they are the next person to be seen as having a worthless life. Physicians will counter this argument that their jobs are to be healers and ease pain. Although assisted suicide may help relieve a patient of pain and suffering, the role of a healer is incompatible and would cause more harm than good.

To continue, there was a survey handed out my mail in Washington D.C directly to Physicians. Of the 1600 survey mailed, only a select 1139 replied to the questions asked. The physicians were ask how many request they have received from citizens for assisted suicide, how many of them had families, and to report if they have had any prior experience in assisted suicide. After the survey was completed, it was reported that of the ones who responded, reported that over 140 people on average have applied for assisted suicide. But, nearly only only 10 to 12% of medical professionals have completed the procedure.

Physicians would continue to argue that Physician Assisted Suicide (P.A.S) is like autonomy and bodily integrity as a marriage or relationship. Patients can determine what they want to commit to and when. On the contrary, this would be giving doctors and specialist the choice of whether or not you are eligible to receive P.A.S. Professionals and legislatures will have the power to choose who lives and who dies. We have the right to pursue life, not to pursue death.

Yet another physicians obligation to assisted suicide is that their job is to assist in helping people die more comfortably by easing the pain through a series of painless options for the procedure. In contrast, the physicians job is to tell the patient whats wrong and offer options of healing. Physicians are not operating the procedures because patients have six months, and even a forty-eight hour reassurance period up to the day of the procedure to decide if P.A.S is a remaining option.

Most conversations that surround abolishing the law in places where assisted suicide is legal has been introduced. In Oregon, one of the seven states in America where assisted suicide is legal show fear of the opponents of law who want to abolish the Death with Dignity law. Many are astonished that they will have to face chronic, agonizing, pain rather then the option of assisted suicide. Though facing this dilemma will rise questions about the fate of ill citizens, assisted suicide is a profit driven system. Meaning, insurers and physicians are doing what is the ” cheaper” option rather than a series of expensive treatments and medicine. So, if an insurer were to deny someone of assisted suicide, the only fatal measure is clinics losing money from unperformed operations.

Lastly, we cannot forget that not only are humans given euthanasia. but our very own animals are as well. But , why is it that we are more acceptable to end the suffering of animals by inducing death, but expect human beings to push through their pain and live as long as they possibly could? This is simply because, we are not animals. In this video by Advokate Life and Education Services, we are taught to not let our animals suffer and to give them the best option possible.

As humans we cannot detect animals and their feelings, therefore when humans hear that an animal is suffering or dying, we make the journey easier for them and induce a heavy sedative to end the suffering. On the other hand, when human suffer from incurable diseases or are diagnosed with depression for say, we are taught to value life over death. Therefore, modern medicine is considered more suitable for human beings rather than assisted suicide or euthanasia.

The weight of being diagnosed with depression or an incurable disease results in weary thoughts and takes a toll on the patient. If P.A.S or euthanasia is a common response to handling these issues, we will teach others who suffer that suicide is the appropriate response to curing themselves.



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Diekstra, R. F. W., & DIEKSTRA, R. F. W. (1995). Dying in dignity: The pros and cons of assisted suicide. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 49(1), S139-S148. doi:10.1111/j.1440-1819.1995.tb01917.x

Gopal, A. A. (2015, June 01). Physician-Assisted Suicide: Considering the Evidence, Existential Distress, and an Emerging Role for Psychiatry. Retrieved from

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