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The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 16, Issue 3, Autumn 2016

Teresa Yao
Pages 385-392

Can We Limit a Right to Physician-Assisted Suicide?

In each US state that has legalized physician-assisted suicide, the law stipulates that it may be pursued only by terminally ill patients with a prognosis of six months or less to live. It appears that this requirement makes euthanasia laws more palatable for the general public. However, this restriction is not justified by the reasoning commonly used to support assisted suicide. The desire to alleviate suffering and uphold personal autonomy should require that assisted suicide be allowed for individuals who do not have a six-month prognosis. The author concludes that a moral contradiction arises for individuals who support limited assisted suicide but oppose unrestricted suicide because acceptance of the former logically leads to acceptance of the latter.