Societal acceptance of physician-assisted suicide rises as more states consider laws
Six states and the District of Columbia allow some degree of physician-assisted suicide, and laws are under consideration in 16 other states. Upstate psychiatrist Ronald Pies, MD, explains how acceptance of physician-assisted suicide is growing in America. Physician-assisted suicide involves prescribing a lethal medication to a patient who wishes to end his or her life. It differs from euthanasia, which is also called mercy killing and involves the participation of someone else who administers the medication, usually by injection, that will cause death. Pies is a professor of psychiatry and a lecturer on bioethics and humanities at Upstate. He is also the editor-in-chief emeritus of the journal Psychiatric Times. He says a misconception exists about the reasons people seek physician-assisted suicide. It's not necessarily because a person is in horrible pain at the end of life. Rather, most of the people in Oregon and Washington who sought physician-assisted suicide were afraid of becoming dependent upon others or had anxiety about dying. He goes on to explain how laws and acceptance of this practice are different in Canada and Europe. To read some of Pies' writings on the topic, click here and here.