RELG-326: Medical Ethics

Document Type

Student Paper

Publication Date

Fall 10-9-2018


Economic Policy | Health Law and Policy | Health Policy | Religion

Description, Abstract, or Artist's Statement

This essay features an assessment of the various factors which play into the argument for legalization of physician-assisted suicide (PAS) in the United States for increased patient autonomy. Arguments for legalization of PAS as a means of end-of-life care remain separate from voluntary euthanasia. National legalization of PAS, for this fundamental principle of hospice care, is necessary to allow a choice to those in their final stages of life of how they wish to leave. If the values of PAS advocates are maximization of autonomy and minimization of suffering, then it follows that the chronically depressed, as well as patients of other chronic mental illnesses, who are competent individuals would be ideal candidates for the PAS procedure. It matters not what laypeople or physicians feel toward PAS, nor the stance of any religious group, but rather the feelings of the patients involved in the process themselves. If legalized in the United States, the law surrounding PAS would best be modeled after that of Oregon’s DWDA, which would protect and safeguard patients who seek PAS from scenarios bordering euthanasia. Economically speaking, national legalization of PAS in the United States would save both money and resources for terminally ill patients. Individuals who qualify for PAS under a law surrounding its legalization, modeled after that of Oregon’s DWDA, should be afforded a choice on whether or not to pursue PAS as an end-of-life measure.