Should Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Legal in Every State?

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Physician-Assisted Suicide, or PAS, consists of a terminally ill patient requesting to end their life on their own terms rather than letting the diagnosis determine their time of death. Patients are requesting to die with dignity instead of living their last moments in agony. Some can say that Physician-Assisted Suicide should not be an option.

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One can argue that human dignity and life are sacred or that doctors have a specific role in keeping their patients alive, but should anyone have a say so in how you choose to live or die? With the rising costs of healthcare, suffering through a painful diagnosis, and laws that protect the patient and the person administering the lethal medication; Physician-Assisted Suicide should be legal in all 50 states.

People are diagnosed with terminal illnesses every single day. One of the first conversations a Physician will have with a patient is palliative care options which begin at the time of diagnosis. This offers the patient a care option when there are no known cures for their illness. In severe cases, the Physician might directly request that the patient is put in hospice. While palliative care offers hope for a cure, hospice may be suggested if the patient has a terminal illness which would lead to death in a shorter amount of time with only a treatment plan specialized for maintaining a patientr’s comfort.

Both options are extremely expensive since most insurance companies do not cover all services rendered under palliative or hospice care. Many insurance plans cover some palliative care services, such as pain management. But they tend not to cover services delivered by registered nurses, social workers and chaplains. Many Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance plans offer scant or no coverage of home visits, coordination of care, wound care, social and spiritual counseling, 24-hour hotlines, advanced care planning and family support(para 14). While palliative care reduces the number of hospitalizations and frequent trips to the emergency room, the average cost for receiving this service is $95.30 per day (Ollove). If a patient is put directly on hospice, Medicaid will pay all expenses while Medicare pays for most services. Those on Medicare are still responsible for paying room and board if they are in a nursing facility, emergency care, and any medication attempting to cure their illness (Fay). All these additional costs to pursue care quickly add up. If the alternate option of PAS was legal, that number would drop drastically. The most well-known medication for induced death is known as Seconal. When prescribed under the Death with Dignity law, this medication can cost upwards of $5,000. Due to an increase in price, alternate mixtures have been developed in order to cut costs. The phenobarbital/chloral hydrate/morphine sulfate mix has been found to produce a similar effect and has lowered the cost of PAS from $5,000 to $500 (FAQS).

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