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Physician Assisted Suicide Laws Should Not Be Implemented

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/14/2015 Category: Health
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 309 times Debate No: 78679
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
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Hi! I am not against the principle of physician assisted suicide, however I think its implementation has/will do more harm to patients. Specifically, I am talking about Oregon-style laws that have been held in such high regard by those in the pro-assisted suicide community. I believe they should be reversed in Oregon and other states, and not passed in the rest.

Here are some definitions:
Physician Assisted Suicide Laws- Laws that allow physician's upon patient request, to provide options for patients to end their life (the difference between physician assisted suicide and euthanasia is important- in PAS the patient self-administers the lethal treatment (pushes button, etc.))
Implemented- to be used passed into law.

The rounds will go like this:
Round 1: Pro explains debate and lays out some definitions relevant to all side, Con accepts
Round 2: Pro case, Con case+refutations
Round 3 : Pro refutes and concludes, Con refutes and concludes

Please no trolls. Thanks!


I accept to argue against the topic and that physician assisted suicide laws should ,in fact, be implemented in the U.S.

I am looking forward to an enlightening debate.
Debate Round No. 1


Hey! A lot of my research is from a debate chart my team made for a parliamentary tournament about a year ago. Most of the research I cite is my own, but because it was a little while ago, I may also be citing my teammates research (although it is also sourced). Big thanks to them. Right then, down to the debate.

As I mentioned in my opening, I am not arguing whether or not it is someone's right to take their own lives- I have no moral problem with suicide (though I myself would never take such an action). The real crux of this debate is whether or not the current laws (based off the laws passed in Oregon [Death with Dignity Act] and several other states) should be continued to be implemented.

Point 1: Mistakes
Oregon-style laws require the patient to be terminally ill, usually with a certain number of months to live (6 or less for Oregon). However, if a diagnosis or a prognosis is incorrect, we may lead a person with a non-fatal condition, or someone with many years of quality living left to kill themselves.
Here some enlightening facts:
a)"Studies show that only cancer patients show a predictable decline, and even then, it's only in the last few weeks of life. With every disease other than cancer, there is no predictability at all (Lamont, 1999; Maltoni, 1994; Christakis and Iwashyna, 1998; Lynn, 1997). Prognoses are based on statistical averages, which are nearly useless in predicting what will happen to an individual patient. Thus, the potential effect of assisted suicide is extremely broad, far beyond the supposedly narrow group its proponents claim. The affected group could include many people who may be mistakenly diagnosed as terminal but who have many meaningful years of life ahead of them." Source: Disability Rights, Education, and Defense Fund Organization Position Paper "Why Assisted-Suicide Must Not Be Legalized" (I quote this source many times, so I will post a link at bottom of debate)
b)"Erica Riel testified against physician-assisted suicide at the public hearing on January 29, 2013, before two Senate committees. Erica had been diagnosed with a terminal illness three times by Vermont doctors, only to learn later that that was untrue.." Source: Doctors Often Misdiagnose the Terminally Ill, Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare

Point 2: Insidious Financial Incentives
The United States's health care system is organized by profit-driven HMOs (health maintenance organizations), who shell out a huge amount of money to care for terminally ill and chronically ill patients. There exists a massive interest for them to push the patients (directly or indirectly) towards assisted suicide. This is easier than one might think- using PAS as a justification for removing other end of life care options can drive a patient to choose PAS as their only choice. Additionally government run organization such as Medicare often run on very tight budgets, giving them an incentive as well.
a)A 1998 study from Georgetown University"s Center for Clinical Bioethics underscores the link between profit-driven managed health care and assisted suicide. The research found a strong link between cost-cutting pressure on physicians and their willingness to prescribe lethal drugs to patients, were it legal to do so. Source: Daniel P. Sulmasy, M.D.; et al. "Physician Resource Use and Willingness to Participate in Assisted Suicide," Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 158, May 11, 1998, p. 978., quoted from Disability Rights, Education, and Defense Fund Organization Position Paper "Why Assisted-Suicide Must Not Be Legalized"
b) "That year [the year Oregon passed the Death With Dignity Act], the Oregon Medical Assistance Program (OMAP) ranked over 700 health services and terminated funding for 167 of these services. Four years later, when the assisted suicide law went into effect, OMAP directors put lethal prescriptions on the list of "treatments," categorized as "comfort care." At the same time, OMAP slashed Medicaid funding for more than 150 services crucial for people with disabilities, people with terminal illnesses, and older adults, while further trimming already limited funding for in-home support. In the same year, OMAP attempted, but failed, to limit the funded doses of a powerful pain medication and successfully put barriers in the way of funding for a path-breaking anti-depressant." Source:Disability Rights, Education, and Defense Fund Organization Position Paper "Why Assisted-Suicide Must Not Be Legalized"
c) A Specific Example: "Wagner, a 64-year-old great-grandmother, had recurring lung cancer. Her physician prescribed Tarceva to extend her life. Studies show the drug provides a 30 percent increased survival rate for patients with advanced lung cancer, and patients' one-year survival rate increased by more than 45 percent. But the Oregon Health Plan sent Wagner a letter saying the Plan would not cover the beneficial chemotherapy treatment "but ... it would cover ... doctor-assisted suicide." Source: Disability Rights, Education, and Defense Fund Organization Position Paper "Why Assisted-Suicide Must Not Be Legalized"

Point 3: There is Not a Need for Legislation
Under current rules and laws, people do not have to die in pain. It is legal for patients to require care to be withdrawn, and it is legal for doctors to give sufficient painkillers to ensure comfort for the dying patient, even if such action may hasten death.
In fact there is a relevant Supreme Court case to this issue: In Vacco vs. Quill, the Supreme Court ruled "the distinction between letting a patient die and making that patient die is important, logical, rational, and well established: It comports with fundamental legal principles of causation". Essentially, though the end result is the same in both worlds- patient relief from pain and suffering is possible under both scenarios, the physician assisted suicide law carries too many unnecessary risks to justify implementing.

In Conclusion, such laws as the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, while on the surface may seem perfectly reasonable, are unwise and cause much more harm than they do go. Such laws have no place in our country, and so I have come to the conclusion that physician assisted suicide laws should not be implemented.



bman7720 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


mapleleaf173 forfeited this round.


bman7720 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by mapleleaf173 1 year ago
Ok! No worries. If nessacary, we can always just start a new debate where we left off, or post arguments in the comments. Just let me know.
Posted by bman7720 1 year ago
My argument is going to be a bit delayed than usual as I am starting a job soon and working on getting all that situated! But I will post ASAP.
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