The Importance of Autonomy and a Right to Die in the Defense of Physician-Assisted Suicide and Voluntary Active Euthanasia
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Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia have both come under fire and achieved support in the past few years as policies like Oregon's Death with Dignity Act have been implemented and information on the practice of euthanasia in the Netherlands has come to light. For many, these two procedures that deal with end of life care have been cast in a negative light since they involve the death of a patient at the hands of our medical system and, for many, this seems counter-intuitive. However, I will make the claim that this is not the case and that both physician-assisted suicide and one very specific form of euthanasia are morally defensible practices. By giving a thorough background of ethical theory, especially the manner in which it is applied to the field of bioethics, I will show that we have a claim to a right to die. Also, that we are autonomous beings and that this choice is ours and ours alone. I will go one step further and not only claim that we these procedures are defensible but, due to our right to die, we are entitled to such treatments. Since we have a right to die, I will show that it is our moral duty to provide these services to those persons that are undergoing unbearable suffering due to terminal illness.