Opting out : an argument for physician-assisted suicide.

Date of Award


Document Type



Caspersen School of Graduate Studies

Degree Name

Master of Medical Humanities


The review of the literature on physician-assisted suicide will be discussed in Chapter One. In 1997, physician-assisted suicide was first legalized in the United States in Oregon. Since then, two other states, Washington and Vermont, have enacted laws. ... Chapter Two will provide a more in depth discussion on the relevant laws in participating states. Chapter Three will address the ethical issues which separate those who believe physician-assisted suicide is a basic human right and those who believe physician-assisted suicide is always wrong and should never be legalized. The ethical discussions surrounding physician-assisted suicide include: a patient's right to choose death over suffering; how laws should be written so there will be no abuse; a physician's obligation to uphold the Hippocratic Oath; the slippery slope or risk-of-abuse arguments questioning whether physician-assisted suicide will evolve into non-voluntary euthanasia; the alternative to physician-assisted suicide which is higher quality palliative care. Physician-assisted suicide is an emotional topic; most people feel strongly one way or the other with very little middle ground. ... This paper will argue in support of physician-assisted suicide laws as a human right...-- Excerpts from introduction.