As our country considers new legislation on patients’ rights and healthcare, physician-assisted suicide will undoubtedly join the conversation.
Physician-Assisted Suicide, or PAS, occurs when a doctor provides a patient with the means to commit suicide by prescription medication.
It’s currently legal in California, Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Colorado, Montana, and Washington, DC.
This isn’t just an ethical issue, it’s a feminist one.
Most “right-to-die” legislation includes provisions to protect a patient’s autonomy in this decision — such as minimum age of 18, a terminal diagnosis with six months or less to live, multiple requests for assisted suicide, and a mental evaluation.
When Montana legalized PAS, it was determined by the State Supreme Court (Baxter v. Montana), which mentioned “competent” and “terminally ill” in its ruling, but failed to define these terms or specify patient protections. With so little regulation, a patient might be more easily pressured into thinking suicide is her best, or only, choice.
Ethical reservations about PAS include this concern, that external pressures could push patients toward an unwanted suicide.
And several cultural norms in the United States indicate a woman may experience more external pressure than a man to hasten her own death.
So this isn’t just an ethical issue, it’s a feminist one. Here are 10 reasons why: