Assisted suicide IS A HUMANE ACTION

Our medicine has advanced and therefore people are living longer. At the same time there are more people dying in the hospitals from chronic diseases and from old age (Raus, Sterckx, & Mortier, 2011).  Some people do not want to continue living this way and they choose to take options that end their own life. Assisted suicide is one of these options.  Assisted suicide is what happens when a medical professional helps a person to commit suicide by giving them the drugs needed to die by themselves when the person asks for it (Hendry, et al., 2012).Physician assisted suicide is very controversial and it is only allowed in the Netherlands, In Oregon in the United States and Belgium. It is possible to do it in Switzerland but this is not a positive right it can only happen because there is loophole in the Swiss law that allows it. In this paper I am going to talk about the reasons that people want to commit assisted suicide and the arguments both for and against allowed people to do so. Assisted suicide is a humane thing to allow and this paper will show this. I will then make a concluding statement about the future.

Many reasons for assisted suicide? Reasons against assisted suicide:

There are many reasons that people say that others should not commit assisted suicide.  As part of the Western law there is something called reverence for Life (Boer, 2007). This argument is sometimes used in Canada. People argue that it is not the doctor’s role to take the life of patients. The doctor’s role is to help people and to save lives. Another one of the reasons that people believe that assisted suicide is wrong is because it goes against religion. For example some theologians even argue that human suffering is a good thing because it helps to brings us closer to understanding God (Boer, 2007). Also many people say that if assisted suicide is allowed then it can become a slippery slope. There is a risk that people will start to value life much less and that people might start to abuse this system. People who are vulnerable will be killed even though they do not have to die or even really want to (Boer, 2007). Some people argue that continuous sedation allows for people to take drugs until they actually die. This way they don’t feel any pain and no laws are broken. Because of this some courts have decided that assisted suicide is not necessary.  This is the argument of the United States Supreme Court so it is an important argument (Raus, Sterckx, & Mortier, 2011). Continuous sedation is a kind of palliative care. Palliative care is not about curing the disease. It is about making the patient more comfortable as much as possible so that they do not suffer towards the end.  If palliative care is good then it can stop a person from suffering a physical pain before death.

Supporting assisted suicide

Even though the idea that suicide is against God is a good argument for religious people on the surface it does not take into account the people who do not believe in God. In secular countries we cannot make laws based on any one religion so using religion to prevent assisted suicide is wrong.  Buchanan (2013) talks about the death of his religious father and what pain he experienced at the end. He does this so people know that he is qualified to speak on what a slow death can do to the person who is dying and to their families.  Then he talks about the fact that the current Christian ideas about suicide are not the same as the beliefs that the early Christians had about suicide.  None of the suicides in the Bible are talked about in bad way. This is because the early Christian people actually believed that martyrdom was a good thing so they went out of their way to be executed by the Romans. They wanted to stop this practice so Augustine wrote that it was wrong. Therefore bans on suicide became part of the Church law in the 6th century and then part of the European and American laws (Buchanan, 2013). This shows that the law against suicide in the Western world is wrong according to secularism. Additionally many patients want to commit assisted suicide because they want to have control over the time and place that they die, not only because they are afraid of the pain. Continuous sedation does not help them with this part. Also there is also risk that continuous sedation could be abused just like physical assisted suicide (Boer, 2007).

According to polls in Canada that were taken in 1995, 65 % of people support assisted suicide. This is similar to another poll that was taken in 2010 that show that 67% of people support assisted suicide (Editors, 2010). Therefore we can say that there is a majority support for assisted suicide. One of the reasons that people look to physician assisted suicide is that when a doctor prescribes the medication it is less likely to be painful or hard to do. It is easier to take a pill and know that it will do the work rather than trying to commit suicide in another way. Many people who want to commit suicide are in a great deal of pain. They have terminal conditions and they have no way or hope of getting better.  They know that their future will just be decline. They are concerned that their quality of life will continue to get worse and that they will completely and slowly lose functions. They want to have a good quality of death. They don’t want to be in a position to put a burden on their families.  They also have financial considerations. End of life care can be expensive because of the cost of hospital stays and medicine. People say that they don’t want to leave their loved ones with burden of their expenses.

Physician assisted suicide is a hard choice to make because it means that the person has reached the complete end of their options. They may be suffering from a terminal illness and want don’t want to suffer or they want to control how and when they die. Many of the arguments about why people should not commit assisted suicide are built around a moral system like Christianity or the expectations of doctors. People believe that killing yourself is a sin and you should not do it. They also believe that doctor’s role is not to harm people. The last argument is that there is the risks of a slippery slope where we start letting people die very easily. The arguments against these points are convincing because they show that suicide was never traditionally a sin and that it is wrong to have a Christian law in a secular country. They also show that there is risk with continuous sedation which people try to use as a substitute for physician assisted suicide. Ultimately the debate over physical assisted suicide is far from over, because of the strong feelings that both sides have. Even though many people support it, it does not seem like it will be made into a law anytime soon.




Boer, T. (2007). Recurring Themes in the Debate About Euthanaisa and Assisted Suicide. Journal of Religious Ethics, 35(3), 529–555.

Buchanan, P. (2013, September-October). Waiting around to die. The humanist, pp. 1-4.

Editors. (2010, march 29). Our stake in this life and death decision. Macleans, pp. 1-3.

Hendry, M., Pasterfield, D., Lewis, R., Carter, B., Hodgson, D., & Wilkinson, C. (2012). Why do we want the right to die? A systematic review of the international literature on the views of patients,carers and the public on assisted dying. Palliative Medicine, 27(1), 13–26.

Raus, K., Sterckx, S., & Mortier, F. (2011). Is Continuous Sedation at the End of Life an Ethically Preferable Alternative to Physician-Assisted Suicide? The American Journal of Bioethics, 11(6), 32-40.


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