Discussion: Brittany Maynard Case
The Brittany Maynard case refers to a 29-year-old woman diagnosed with terminal brain cancer who chose to end her life through physician-assisted suicide in 2014. However, the decision raised some issues about the ethical and legal implications of physician-assisted suicide since it is professionally unethical according to medical code of ethics in contrast to personal position, physician-assisted suicide seem to be acceptable. Therefore, as physician it is essential to have clear reflection on both professional and personal positions before performing physician-assisted suicide. thus, the paper compares the professional and personal position on Brittany Maynard case.
The ethical implications of physician-assisted suicide, as seen in Brittany Maynard’s case, are of great concern to the medical profession. The primary worry is that this practice could violate the fundamental principle of protecting life and relieving suffering, as well as potentially endanger vulnerable populations (Barsness et al., 2020). However, I believe that everyone has the right to make a personal choice when it comes to their life and death, and that death should be a peaceful and dignified experience.
Professional code of ethics and regulations state that physicians should not engage in activities that deliberately end a patient’s life, as supported by the American Medical Association’s Code of Medical Ethics which states that physicians should not participate in physician-assisted suicide. Likewise, the World Medical Association’s Geneva Declaration stipulates that doctors “shall retain the highest respect for human life from the moment of conception, even when threatened” (Barsness et al., 2020).” Furthermore, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners and the American College of Physicians, also prohibit any form of physician-assisted suicide. However, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) argue that physician-assisted suicide may be a compassionate way to relieve a patient’s suffering, particularly in cases where the patient is suffering from a terminal illness and there is no possibility of recovery (Smith,Torres & Burton, 2020). Thus, despite some arguments in favor of physician-assisted suicide, it is unethical according to the medical code of ethics.
When personal and professional positions come into conflict, it is essential to have self-reflection on the issue, consider the ethical implications of any decision, and evaluate how it will affect the patient’s quality of life. It is also essential to consider the legal implications and weigh any potential decision’s potential risks and benefits (Smith,Torres & Burton, 2020). Furthermore, it is necessary to seek out other healthcare professionals’ opinions and perspectives and consider the ethical codes and regulations governing the medical profession. Therefore, it is critical to make a choice that is in the patient’s best interests and to honor their preferences.
Brittany Maynard case raised ethical and legal questions about physician-assisted suicide. Professional codes of ethics and regulations prohibit physicians from engaging in activities that deliberately end a patient’s life. However, personal positions may differ and individuals may choose to end their life in order to relieve suffering. Therefore, it is essential for healthcare professionals to consider the ethical implications of any decision, evaluate the risks and benefits, and seek out other healthcare professionals’ opinions before engaging in physician-assisted suicide.
Barsness, J., Regnier, C., Hook, C., & Mueller, P. (2020, November 3). BMC Medical Ethics. BioMed Central. Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://bmcmedethics.biomedcentral.com/articles
Smith, M. A., Torres, L., & Burton, T. C. (2020). Patient rights at the end of life: The ethics of aid-in-dying. Professional Case Management, 25(2), 77-84.