The Instigator
Pro (for)
10 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Physician assisted suicide should be legal nationwide.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/12/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 554 times Debate No: 78609
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (2)




This debate will be divided this way:

Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Pro constructive / Con constructive
Round 3: Pro rebuttal / Con rebuttal
Round 4: Closing arguments.

Rules: BOP will be shared. Both sides need to provide specific evidence supporting their position. Round 3 should be for rebuttals (not constructive!). If you accept, please use Round 1 to simply state your position (ex: I am arguing for the con side).
Debate Round No. 1


Physician assisted suicide (PAS) is a controversial practice in which a doctor ends the life of the patient at his or her request. In the United States, PAS is currently legal in Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana, and New Mexico [1]. Oregon was the first state to legalize PAS following the enactment of the Oregon Death with Dignity Act on October 27, 1997 [2]. The other four states, Washington, Montana, Vermont, and New Mexico followed suit with the passage of I-1000 in 2008, the expansion of the Rights for the Terminally Ill Act in 2009, enactment of the Patient Choice and Control at End of Life Act in 2013, and a 2nd District Court ruling [3].

Contention 1: PAS does not disproportionally affect vulnerable groups.

Although a frequently cited British study declares that PAS violates the rights of vulnerable individuals, this study declared competing interests, as two of the authors "gave oral evidence to the Select Committee on the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill on behalf of the Association for Palliative Medicine" and one being a member of that committee [4]. As a result, this study fails to stand in comparison with the various other non-biased studies that show equality in the application of PAS.

Looking at data from Oregon, it is evident that PAS does not affect groups that are considered vulnerable at a higher rate than those that are not considered vulnerable. An analysis of 8 years of data from the Oregon Department of Health showed the following [5]:
  • Individuals who were over 85 made up only 10% of PAS deaths, whereas 21% of the total deaths in Oregon were of those 85 and older.
  • Only 2% of PAS deaths were of individuals with AIDS.
  • Individuals who died by PAS were 7.6 times more likely to have a college degree.
  • No patients who received life-ending medication were found to have a mental illness.

Contention 2: Adequate screening for mental illness prevents the misuse of PAS.

Terminally ill individuals are often concerned about leaving behind family members and may become anxious and depressed. While there have been studies analyzing the rates of depression in those who requested or received aid in dying, these studies have methodological problems, as targeting the desire for death in a PAS-specific manner invokes social and legal constraints [6]. For this reason, research that focuses on PAS in relation to depression rates are unreliable. As a result, scholars encourage those interested in the demographics of those receiving PAS to look into the desire for death as a whole in terminally ill patients [6].

There have been numerous studies conducted with the aim of gauging the prevalence of depression in individuals with terminal illness. For 25% of those with metastatic cancers depression is a major symptom, however "80% of the psychological and psychiatric morbidity which develops in cancer patients goes unrecognized and untreated" [7]. Thus, the key to improving the quality of life with those terminal illnesses is the training of healthcare professional in the identification of depression and providing appropriate treatment. By addressing clinical depression, the likelihood of PAS being abused is greatly decreased.

Contention 3: PAS remains rare even in states where it is legal.

In 2001, deaths by PAS made up 7 out of every 10,000 deaths in Oregon, which decreased since 1999 even though the number of prescriptions for life-terminating medications increased [8]. Washington state saw a similar occurrence, when in the three years since the passage of I-1000, 255 prescriptions had been written for life-ending medications but only 60% of patients chose to use them [9]. The legalization of PAS has not led to a noticeable increase in the number of patients taking life-terminating medications, dispelling the myth that terminally ill patients rushed to end their lives.



Physicians are suppose to help people not kill them and if they do kill them they should be arrested for murder
Debate Round No. 2


Physicians are supposed to act in the best interest of the patient. Should a terminally ill patient, which is defined as "an individual who has been certified by a physician as having an illness or physical condition which can reasonably be expected to result in death in 24 months or less", choose to forgoe treatment that would have minimal positive impact on their quality or length of life, the physician is not obligated to force treatment [1].

A patient who requests life-ending medications is expressing their legal right to explore all options. Should the physician decide that the patient is capable of making a rational decision to end their life and is not suffering from impaired judgement, that physician is not and should not be held liable for fufilling the reasonable request of the patient [2].



jslan forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


To conclude, I will summarize my arguments. First, I stated that PAS does not disproportionally affect vulnerable groups. As a result, there is little to no difference in the individuals who recieve and ultimately end up taking life-ending medications and the general public. Second, I argued that adequate screening for mental illness prevents the misuse of PAS. Onocologists and physicians dealing with terminally ill patients that request PAS need to be trained in the recognition of mental illness in those with life-threatening illnesses. This not only improves the quality of life for the patient, it also ensures that those recieving life-ending medications are making rational and informed decisions. Finally, I showed that despite the legalization of PAS, the number of people taking life-ending medications recieved under PAS remains very low.

I would like to thank my opponent for a great debate!


jslan forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by TheJuniorVarsityNovice 1 year ago
If you want to debate a good con player on this topic, search for the user Lannan13 and he would probably be happy to go con on this. message him if you want.
Posted by sara_ann_dee 1 year ago
I agreed with PRO before and after the debate.
PRO had better conduct because she did not forfeit like her opponent; and when her opponent did forfeit she did not mention it in her argument for the next round and let it go, she was respectful.
PRO did not have any spelling and/or grammatical errors. However, CON forgot to include a "." at the end of each of his arguments.
PRO had more convincing arguments because she used sources, which CON did not. She also developed her arguments through her rebuttals towards her opponent. She was the only side to actually make an argument and a effort in this debate.
Sources to PRO because her sources were reliable and she was the only side to actually use a source.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by lannan13 1 year ago
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture
Vote Placed by TheJuniorVarsityNovice 1 year ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Lol, Complete forfeit. Conduct and arguments go to Katie