Assisted suicide is a highly controversial practice and illegal in most jurisdictions around the world, although the number of countries that have decriminalized it is increasing. Public debates as well as legislative proposals and court judgments are often confounded by a failure to carefully distinguish assisted suicide from other end-of-life practices. Hence, this contribution will first seek to clarify the concept of assisted suicide. Next, the practice itself is briefly discussed, followed by a summary of current laws and regulations, and a cursory review of various sociocultural traditions and religious tenets in different countries around the world that appear to influence the ongoing practices and public opinions. In the last two sections, the ethics of assisted suicide is analyzed. Four sets of arguments (focused on pragmatics, consistency, rights, and benefits) favoring this practice are discussed first. In the final section, three sets of arguments against legalization (focused on pragmatics, the role of physicians, and the sanctity or inviolability of human life) are reviewed.
- Assisted suicide
- Physician-assisted suicide