Assisted suicide: Mercy or malpractice?

Last week, Maine became the eighth state in the country to legalize assisted suicide. The new law allows doctors to prescribe a fatal dose of medication to terminally ill patients who are expected to die within six months.

The law stipulates that the patient must be of sound mind and must take the medication themselves. It includes a number of steps, such as a second medical opinion and waiting periods, to protect against misdiagnosis or coercion. Similar stipulations exist in other states that allow for assisted suicide.

Oregon became the first state to legalize assisted suicide — also frequently called “aid in dying” — in 1997. The issue spurred significant controversy in the 1990s, in large part from the actions of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a medical pathologist who helped about 130 terminally ill people end their lives. He spent eight years in prison for second-degree murder stemming from one case…

Opponents believe there is too much risk of people being manipulated in choosing assisted suicide, either by family members or insurance companies. The American Medical Association says the practice is “fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer.” Some doctors who support the principle have concerns about its practice, such as the availability of life-ending drugs and the lack of scholarly research on the topic.

There are also fears that existing laws could be expanded until they resemble euthenasia laws in the Netherlands, where assisted suicide is permitted for patients as young as 12 and for those with psychiatric disorders. A number of religions forbid assisted suicide in all cases.

Read more at Yahoo News…

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