Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Fall 2018

Department 1

First Year Seminar

Department 2

Religious Studies


The role of a physician is to provide care for those who seek their assistance. Lisa Yount attributes the most ancient statement about this activity to the Hippocratic Oath. Many doctors, in fact, still take this oath, part of which reads, “I will [not] give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to that effect,” (8). This vow is still widely considered to be the ultimate statement of the physician’s moral creed (Yount 8). Debate over whether active physician assisted dying is an extension of healing ability or a violation of their moral code is a longstanding argument. As medicine has developed, legal systems around the world have attempted to meet the needs of the patients in end of life care, but the practice of active physician assisted dying remains illegal in most parts of the world. Passive physician assisted dying is a generally accepted legal option for patients in extreme suffering, or terminal cases based on the intent to relieve pain. Due to its legal status and its shared intent with active physician assisted dying, it presents a strong pretense for the legalization of active physician assisted dying. Arguments posed against the legalization of active physician assisted dying are founded on hasty assumptions of extremity that can be disproven. Critics are worried that patients will be forced to make hasty decisions to end their lives, will be vulnerable to a pressured request for death even if they are unwilling to die, that physicians will end lives of patients who could have been adequately alleviated otherwise, and that regrettable societal consequences will result from people losing the ability to distinguish between permissible and impermissible forms of death. Active physician assisted dying should be legalized for all suffering persons because it is an extension of the physicians healing abilities in correspondence with a person’s right to die.


Written for FYS 150: Death and the Meaning of Life.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License.