Limits to Life-Sustaining Treatment

6. Provide the patient the means to kill herself/himself


"Physician-Assisted Suicide (PAS)" is much discussed these days.

It is often associated with the name of Jack Kevorkian (sometimes known as "Dr. Death.")

It is less well-known that the state of Oregon has passed a statute legalizing PAS -- under carefully circumscribed conditions.

Notice especially the three examples to the right - they correspond roughly to the previous three stages in this list

  1. is a matter of withdrawing ordinary treatment (cf. #3)
  2. is a matter of direct killing (cf. #4)
  3. is a matter of indirect killing (cf. #5)

Do you discern any morally significant differences between these three?


  1. place the respirator so the switch is within reach and instruct patient how to turn it off
  2. place a fatal dose of cyanide within reach
  3. place a fatal dose of morphine within reach

Created by Glenn C. Graber
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