Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia. Michael Wassenaar, PhD February 16, 2012. Goals. Identify arguments on both sides of ethical debate Understand significant ethical distinctions Practice respectful conversation. 2. Withholding/withdrawing life support.
Michael Wassenaar, PhD
February 16, 2012
Identify arguments on both sides of ethical debate
Understand significant ethical distinctions
Practice respectful conversation
“[W]hen a patient refuses life-sustaining medical treatment, he dies from an underlying fatal disease or pathology; but if a patient ingests lethal medication prescribed by a physician, he is killed by that medication.”
Is it ever morally acceptable to administer a drug that may hasten the patient’s death?
Does this count as assisted suicide?
Principle of double effect: there is a morally significant difference between A-E1 and A-E2.
Administration of IV morphine
Suicide: Intentionally ending one’s own life
Assisted suicide: Clinician assists patient to perform an act that is intended to end his/her life
Euthanasia: Clinician acts intentionally to end a patient’s life
“Should physician-assisted suicide be allowed in some situations?”
Yes: 45.8% No: 40.7% It depends: 13.5%
Oregon Death with Dignity Act passed in 1994, implemented in 1997.
Lower rates than rest of nation (?)
Killing is not always murder (e.g. self-defense, warfare, capital punishment).
Respects the patient’s autonomy.
Relieves the patient’s suffering.
Safeguards can mitigate abuse.
It is not our right
Corrupts traditional role of health provider
Clarify the Request
Determine the Root Causes
Affirm Your Commitment to Care for the Patient
Address the Root Causes of the Request
Educate the Patient About Legal Alternatives for Control and Comfort
Consult With Colleagues
Source: Endlink Resources for End of Life Care Education. http://endoflife.northwestern.edu/eolc_physician_assisted_suicide_debate.cfm