Legalization of Assisted Suicide

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In the medical field there can be many diverse and controversial topics. One of those topics is weather or not a patient should be able to seek the help of a physician to help end the patients life.

Physician-assisted suicide occurs when a physician facilitates a patient’s death by providing the necessary means and/or information to enable the patient to perform the life-ending act. Each and every human being knows that there will come a time when his or her life will come to an end. How that life comes to an end is what is the unknown.

According to the AMA journal of Ethics Article by Lagay (2001), there are several reasons why some people have an issue with the legalization of assisted suicide. One of those reasons is that it could put pressure on the terminal patients who fear their illness as a burden to those around them, weather that is there family/ caretakers or even themselves. Another big argument against the legalization is that it goes against the vow of due no harm and the basic ethics of medicine.

With the legalization of physician-assisted suicide it would allow terminally ill patients to choose to end their lives at the time they deem appropriate with the prescribed medication from their physician without any legal repercussions for either the patient or the physician. Currently only 8 states have legalized physician-assisted suicide: Oregon in 1998, Washington in 2009, Vermont in 2013, California in 2016, Colorado in 2016, Washington D.C in 2017, and most recently Hawaii in 2018 .

In Oregon and Washington it is called the Death with Dignity Act (DWDA), in Vermont it is the Patient Choice and Control at the End of Life Act, in California, the End of Life Option Act, in Colorado it is the End of life Options Act, in Washington D.C it is the D.C. Death with Dignity Act, and with Hawaii it is the Our Care, Our Choice Act.


At the end of the day the legalization of assisted suicide is controversial and will continue to be. There should be choices for everyone involved in the act of providing an assisted suicide because everyone is affected.

The laws have very specific guidelines that leave no guessing room for patients, physicians, families or any other parties involved. Patients must fully recognize and discuss with their physician all other options in treatment and care. A six-months-to-live diagnosis must be given and certified by at least two consulting doctors.


  1. Elmore, J., Wright, D. K., & Paradis, M. (2018). Nurses’ moral experiences of assisted death: A meta-synthesis of qualitative research. Nursing Ethics, 25(8), 955–972. https://doi.org/10.1177/0969733016679468
  2. Lagay, F. (2001). Physician-Assisted Suicide: Whats Legal and Whats Professional? AMA Journal of Ethics, 3(1). doi:10.1001/virtualmentor.2001.3.1.elce1-0101
  3. Pearlman, R.A., Hsu, C., Starks, H. (2005). Motivations for Physician- Assisted Suicide. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 20(3), 234-239.
  4. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1525-1497.2005.40225.x
  5. Vogelstein, E. (2019). Evaluating the American Nurses Association’s arguments against nurse participation in assisted suicide. Nursing Ethics, 26(1), 124–133. https://doi.org/10.1177/0969733017694619


Cite this paper

Legalization of Assisted Suicide. (2020, Sep 24). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/legalization-of-assisted-suicide/

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