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Palliative Care represents an approach that aims at improving the quality of life of patients and their families experiencing the problem in association with life-threatening illness. This is through prevention and relief of the suffering process by means of early identification of the illness and impeccable assessment and eventual treatment of pain and other related problems. Palliative care offers crucial development to patients by affirming life and regarding death as a normal process. The medical process also performs the vital role in relieving the patients from the pain and other distressing symptoms. Palliative care practices neither hasten nor postpone death. This is through offering significant support system to patients in the process of pain until death. Palliative care also enables the health personnel to address the issues of the patients and their families in relation to the suffering. In the contemporary world, several arguments are in place to understand the effectiveness of the palliative care in enhancing the support systems for the consumers. Some argue against the physician-assisted suicide while other experts support the notion with the aim of improving the quality of life. Physician-assisted suicide refers to the context in which the physician facilitates the death of a patient through the provision of vital information to enable the victim to execute the life-ending act. With several significant arguments in favor of palliative care, it is appropriate to note, excellent palliative care is preferable to physician- assisted suicide."
Reasons Against Physician-assisted Suicide
Palliative care entails provision of health care activities to patients knowing that the condition of the victims is incurable while physician-assisted suicide is the enabling of the execution of the end-life act by the patient whose condition is incurable. Suicide is a wrong act within the society hence should not prevail in the context of medicine[footnoteRef:2]. Physician-assisted suicide enables the patient to terminate his suffering because of the incurable illness. This occurs after consultation between the relatives and the physician. Physician-assisted suicide sums up to murder that is a vice in the society. Even the Christian's Holy Book (The Bible) condemns murder or suicide. This argument draws from the notion that murder is illegal in The Bible and relevant constitutional acts. For instance, it one of the Ten Commandments by Moses to the Israelites indicates, "Thou shall not kill." This makes it illegal to commit suicide or participate in the execution of the life-ending act from the biblical perspective. It is also under clear illustration from the constitutions that citizens have the right to life. This makes it a criminal offence to kill or participate in the killing of any citizen under the protection of the constitution. Since murder (physician-assisted suicide) is illegal in relation to biblical and secular perspective, it is unethical to practice the act in the profession of medicine. It is necessary to allow the patients; no matter their condition to enjoy, the life rights hence should not execute life-ending actions. This makes it vital to practice excellent palliative care in preference to physician-assisted suicide in attempts to improve the quality of lives of patients. [2: Dyck, Arthur. Life's Worth: The Case against Assisted Suicide. Eerdmans, 2002.]
Physician-assisted suicide is incompatible with the healing goals of the profession of medicine[footnoteRef:3]. Medicine refers to the art and science of healing. Medicine is scientific in nature because of the adoption of knowledge through critical study and experiments. Medicine is also an art because of the skillful acts by doctors and other medical practitioners in handling the patients. Medicine aims to achieve three vital goals: save lives, relieve suffering, and enhance the dignity of all the patients regardless of the conditions of the illness. This indicates that excellent palliative care promotes the goals of the medicine profession while physician-assisted suicide is contrary to the expectation of the profession. Palliative care improves the quality of life of the patient thus enables the profession of medicine to promote dignity of the victim. Individuals who commit suicide usually come out as cowards within the context of the society. This is because they are afraid to face their challenges and encounters in life. This notion makes patients who participate in physician-assisted to be cowards. These patients suffer degradation of dignity. Degradation of dignity illustrates that medicine profession fails to meet its goals of improving the dignity of all patients regardless of their conditions. Medicine profession also aims at saving lives not executing lives. This argument makes it essential to apply excellent palliative care rather than physician-assisted suicide. [3: Lynn, Joanne, Janice Lynch Schuster, and Joan Harrold. Handbook for Mortals: Guidance for People Facing Serious Illness, 2nd ed. Oxford Univ Press, 2011]
In the presence of appropriate palliative care, it is unnecessary to practice physician-assisted suicide within the profession of medicine[footnoteRef:4]. Physician-assisted suicide aims at reducing the amount of suffering by the patients whose conditions seem to be incurable. Palliative care performs the role of minimizing the amount of suffering to patients whose conditions seem to be incurable. Since the two practices perform a similar role, it is vital to adopt the most appropriate practice either biblically or secularly. Palliative care seems to the most appropriate practice because of the minimal side effects such as degradation of the dignity of the patients. This makes physician-assisted suicide unnecessary in the profession of medicine. [4: Lynn, Joanne, Janice Lynch Schuster, and Joan Harrold. Handbook for Mortals: Guidance for People Facing Serious Illness, 2nd ed. Oxford Univ Press, 2011]
Poor care and/or unrecognized psychological needs provoke requests for deaths or physician-assisted suicide[footnoteRef:5]. Execution of physician-assisted suicide is an expression of failure by the medical practitioners to meet the requirements of the medicine profession. Proper health care and recognized psychological needs should enable medical practitioners to minimize the suffering experience of the patients. Palliative care would address this issue effectively and efficiently in comparison to physician-assisted suicide. Excellent palliative care indicates that medical practitioners meet the requirements of the profession: saving lives, improving dignity of the patients, and minimizing the extent of suffering regardless of the condition of the victim. Since physician-assisted suicide is an expression of incompetent in relation to medical practices of the doctor, medical practitioners should not participate in the termination of life of the patients under any circumstance. Standards governing medical practices promote the execution of excellent palliative care in attempts to improve the quality of health in relation to patients under the care. [5: Dyck, Arthur. Life's Worth: The Case against Assisted Suicide. Eerdmans, 2002]
Palliative care promotes the dignity in the medical practitioners since it proves their competence in dealing with all patients. Physician-assisted suicide lowers the dignity of the medical practitioners because it the practice damages physicians by desensitizing them to human needs. Participation of the medical practitioners in the suicide is an expression that they have the capacity to terminate lives. Life is a sacred need among the human race. Execution of the physician-assisted suicide makes practitioners less sensitive to life than palliative care. These practitioners view life like any other commodity hence termination of the human need at will. Excellent palliative care illustrates respect for life as vital human need. This makes excellent palliative care preferable medical practice to physician-assisted suicide.
Physician-assisted suicide leads down a slippery slope to indiscriminate killing of the ill, weak, and disabled, among others[footnoteRef:6]. Some patients take long duration to respond to the medical prescription. This does not mean that their condition is incurable. Physician-assisted suicide would exploit this opportunity to terminate the lives of these patients without value judgment. This reflects an act of indiscrimination within the profession of medicine. Excellent palliative care offers equity in dealing with patients. Medical practitioners provide effective and efficient health care practices to patients regardless of their condition. The act indiscrimination within the medical profession minimizes the effectiveness of physician-assisted suicide. Excellent palliative care appeals to most medical practitioners because of the equity in dealing with patients. This makes it preferable health practice to physician-assisted suicide in saving lives, minimizing suffering and promoting the dignity of the patients. [6: DeGrazia, David, Thomas A. Mappes, and Jeffrey Brand-Ballard. Biomedical Ethics, 7th ed.
New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011
Reasons for Physician-assisted Suicide
Despite overwhelming reasons against physician-assisted suicide, some proponents adopt several arguments to support the practice within the medicine profession. One of the main arguments for the physician-assisted suicide is that it protects patients who do not want to suffer lingering, painful deaths in the name of palliative care. This argument borrows from the biblical perspective in relation to appropriate suicide missions. For instance, in the New Testament, Judas commits suicide to avoid adverse suffering after betraying Jesus. This attempt allows Judas to adopt the easiest approach to evade his suffering that might have had a negative influence in his life. In the Old Testament, Moses had problems with the Israelites on their way to the Promised Land. The Israelites wished that Moses should have left them to be killed by the Egyptians rather than suffer in the wilderness. This is an expression of an act of suicide…[continue]
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