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Physician assisted suicide takes place when a physician plays a role in facilitating the death of a patient by offering the necessary means and the information needed by the patient to engage in a life-ending act (Loretta and Kenneth 56). It can be comprehended that some patients may be facing the severe compulsion like terminal and unbearable illness, and they may be compelled to make to choose death instead of life. Physician assisted suicide is not a new-fangled concept in American history; suffering is always associated with human existence and requests by patients to end sufferings have been witnessed, since the advent of medicine. A study by Appel (630) reveals that 57 percent of practicing physicians have received requests from patients to engage in physician assisted suicide. Nevertheless, giving physicians the permission to be involved in assisted suicide only poses as a source of potential harm than good. Physician assisted suicide is not consistent with the role of the physician as a healer (Susan and Arthur 100). In addition, making physician assisted suicide legal will increase the complexities associated with controlling life-ending acts and result in more serious harm to the society. The proposed public policy law to improve the life of Americans is that physician assisted suicide should be illegal in all 50 states. This is because the implementation of the law will oblige the physicians to consider numerous alternatives that can be adopted in place of the assisted suicide, which forms a basis for making physician assisted suicide illegal in all the 50 states. In addition, implementing the law will require the physicians to respond to the needs of the patients uncompromisingly by adopting multidisciplinary intervention such as; pastoral support, hospice care, counseling the family members and specialty consultation (Rosamond and Battin 125). In addition, dying patients will be offered with adequate emotional support, comfortable care and sufficient pain control. Apart from the identified alternatives, implementing the law will facilitate medical research in prolonging the life of patients suffering from a terminal illness (Susan and Arthur 145).
Problems in the Society That the Law Will Correct /Improve
The implementation of the law will serve to address a number issues associated with the administration of care to a dying patient. The most significant problem that the law will correct and improve is the problem associated with doctors having too much power, and they can sometimes engage in wrong and unethical acts. An undisputable fact is that members of the society and patients wholly trust the opinions and suggestions provided by physicians (Loretta and Kenneth 89). In cases where a doctor concludes that there is absolutely no cure for a given illness, patients and family members are highly likely to believe the suggestion. This is a significant problem for two primary reasons. First, doctors are normal human beings and can make mistakes during their duties. A wrong diagnosis goes a long way to result in the suicide of a person that could be probably saved. Secondly, physicians can decide basing on their own will to hearten and dampen prospects of a recovery from illness (Susan and Arthur 47). For instance, a doctor who holds the view that there is a shortage in medical personnel and resources to be allocated towards the care of elderly people will always have a “no hope” mindset. The basic argument is that decision-making capacity in relation to matters of life and death should not be vested with the physicians. Therefore, implementing the law will reduce the power of the physicians in determining patient deaths and compel physicians to adopt other alternatives when administering care to a dying patient. Physicians have an obligation of relieving pain and suffering and promoting the dignity of dying patients. In addition, the right to palliative care is recognized uniformly (Appel 625).
The second problem in the society that the law will correct and improve is the abuses associated with loosening of the assisted suicide laws, which could increase the levels of non-critical patient suicides and abuse of privileges. Suicides are a common phenomenon, and patients suffering from psychological and emotional illness exploit this loophole in loosing suicide laws to convince physicians to aid them terminate their lives. Implementation of the law would tighten the suicide laws in all states and eliminate the common view that people have a right to commit suicide as they wish. This would help in adding value to human value through eradication of the rampant cases associated with physician assisted suicide. Therefore, implementing the law is an effective strategy to preserve life, reduce cases of suicide and protect the honor of the medicine profession (Loretta and Kenneth 100).
Law: Physician Assisted Suicide Should Be Illegal In All 50 States
The law requires that physician assisted suicide in all the 50 states be illegalized, implying that no medical personnel will be required to engage in life termination-practices of patients irrespective of their requests to end their lives. Physicians should consider other alternatives to assisted suicide to make sure that the dying patients receive comfortable care and the required emotional support. The law will be implemented at the federal level, implying that it will override the state laws, forcing all the 50 states to illegalize the practice of physician assisted suicide. Its implementation will also be incorporated in the ethical standards for the medical profession, implying that doctors must prioritize issuing of comfort care and ignore patients’ requests to terminate their lives.
Breaking the law by medical personnel implies that he/she will have violated the ethical code of professional conduct; as a result, one’s license will be revoked with immediate effect, with no chances of future reinstatement to public service. In addition, engaging in the practice will be a violation of federal laws; as such, the medical personnel, who practices assisted suicide, will be convicted of murder charges.
Effects of the Law
The first significant benefit associated with the implementation of the law is that it will uphold the honor of the medical profession. Medical personnel take the Hippocratic Oath, implying that they are barred from inflicting harm to the patients. Engaging in assisted suicide is an instance of violation of the oath (Appel 633). Therefore, implementing the law offers an opportunity to strengthen the patient-doctor trust, which in turn reassures the patients that the physicians are there to help them instead of inflicting harm. Weakening the oath is likely to affect the trust that patients put on their physicians. Therefore, implementing the law serves to preserve life and the honor associated with medical professional practice.
The second benefit associated with the implementation of the law is that it will relieve the pressure on medical doctors by the government and insurance firms to avoid the heroic measures. Healthcare insurance providers are constantly faced with the challenge of ensuring that their premiums are down. In order to achieve this, insurance providers are forced to cut costs and make difficult decisions (Loretta and Kenneth 105). Currently, many medical doctors are prohibited from giving patients specific tests and performing particular operations, despite the view by the doctors that such tests and operations are truly necessary. This implies that illegalization of assisted suicide eradicates the pressure on medical doctors by the insurance providers to engage in another set of medical procedures instead of adopting the life sustaining medical practices. This serves to eliminate the power over human life on the insurance providers (Appel 635).
The third benefit associated with the implementation of the law is that it will open opportunities to further medical research, because doctors will be forced to embark on the life-sustaining alternatives. In addition, the law provides room for miracle recoveries due to advances in medical technology (Appel 634).
A significant disadvantage associated with the implementation of the law is that it will increase the healthcare costs and insurance premiums. The expenses associated with sustaining a dying patient are relatively high; such funds could be invested in savable patients. With the bankruptcy levels of Medicaid, Medicare and government health programs increasing, it is essential to consider anything that can result in a reduction in the total costs (Loretta and Kenneth 125).
The benefits far outweigh the costs because human life and integrity of the medical profession is at stake. An increase in healthcare costs is not of significance, if the healthcare sector is on the verge of its collapse, due to diminishing trust between the medical personnel and the patients.
Support for the Law
Religious organizations, such as the Catholic Church, will support the implementation of the law because they prohibit suicide and deliberate taking of human life. The most fundamental commandment observed by many religions is “Though shall not kill”. Almost every religion is against taking of human life (Appel 634). Christians hold the view that God does not put us in a situation that do not have the capability to handle and that God offers support to people in suffering. As such, engaging in physician assisted suicide is an instance of degrading the value of the human life.
The second interest group that is likely to support the law is the pro-life organizations, such as the American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians. Pro-life organizations are usually against the termination of human life for whatsoever reasons (Appel 629). The American Medical Association has opposed to the legalization of PAS on accounts of its potential abuse, and emphasizing on the role of the physicians in healing, rather than taking human’s life.
The proposed law states that physician assisted suicide should be illegal in all 50 states. With the increasing cases of PAS and organizations rising against the legalization of PAS, there is the likelihood that the law will find its way to the federal laws to regulate the professional practice of medical personnel.