The issue on Physician Assisted Suicide is once again part of a controversial debate. Eight hours were spent during the 2016 Legislative Session between the House of Delegates Judiciary Committee and Health and Government Operations Committee for the first major public debate attended by doctors, religious leaders and the public, all have different takes on PAS.
In the United States, only five states have legalized PAS or the Death with Dignity Act. These are Vermont, Virginia, Oregon, Washington, Montana and California. Today, it is called the End-of-Life Option Act. Proponents and opponents of the Act have their own significant reasons on why they have different stands on the contentious topic.
List of Pros of Legalizing Physician Assisted Suicide
1. Compassion and Free Choice.
Supporters of legalizing physician assisted suicide claim that writing a prescription for death-inducing drugs to patients who are terminally ill and have lost autonomy is a compassionate thing to be done by physicians. Moreover, this gives dying people the choice to put an end to their pain and suffering. Also, it is but human to fear suffering and being helpless as well as help someone die.
2. No Suicide Involved.
Advocates for physician assisted suicide say that there is no suicide involved in this Act, making it acceptable. They claim that this is a better option to help a patient end the pain since terminally ill patients given only six months to live are given the option to get lethal drug prescriptions as opposed to letting these patients take their own lives by hanging or self-inflicted gunshots.
3. Death with Dignity.
As the previous term used for PAS, cancer patients who have been suffering and have no chances of living are given the choice to die with dignity, at a time they wish and without having to be too much of a burden to their loved ones, something they feel themselves.
List of Cons of Legalizing Physician Assisted Suicide
1. Negative Effect.
Critics of the legalization of physician assisted suicide claim that if this practice will be legalized in most states, it will just become the norm and more people will be taking this as the easiest way out without really having to think about it thoroughly. This is already evident with the increasing number of terminally ill individuals and those who have debilitating medical conditions who have committed PAS in the states where it is legal.
2. Innocent and Intellectually Disabled Die.
Opponents of the Act say that with legalizing it, numerous people will die without being given the opportunity to decide for themselves. These are the babies born with defects, intellectually challenged people, comatose patients, cancer patients and chronologically ill patients who might not be in the fight frame of mind when the decision is made.
3. False Representation.
Activists against the legalization of physician assisted suicide posit that by making it legal, people will be fooled that this is the only option and will be urged to give up easily on their medical conditions when there have been instances where wrong prognoses were made by physicians themselves.
The issue on physician assisted suicide legalization will always remain a contentious topic not only in the U.S. but also in other parts of the world. Whether there are few benefits to look forward to, legalizing it in all states is far from happening in the near future.