First Advisor

Albert Spencer

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Philosophy and University Honors




Assisted suicide -- Government policy, Assisted suicide -- Moral and ethical aspects, Right to die, Euthanasia




Internationally, there are varying laws regarding physician-assisted suicide (PAS) and active euthanasia. In the United States, PAS is legal in Right to Die states like Oregon. These states necessitate that patients seeking PAS be terminally ill, often with 6 months or less left to live. There are also countries that allow for active euthanasia, with the majority of these countries also requiring that the patient be terminally ill. Belgium and the Netherlands are two countries that do not necessitate terminal illness in their criteria, but instead utilize the category of unbearable or constant suffering, which has, controversially, led to the phenomenon of individuals being granted active euthanasia for existential and psychological suffering. This essay contains a literature survey that examines key arguments in both articles from the 1970s and from the 2000s to highlight the emergence of two distinctive branches in the PAS/active, voluntary euthanasia debate. These distinctive models of criteria diverge in the balance between autonomy and humanitarian-relief of suffering, as well as the justification for termination of life facilitated by medical doctors, as demonstrated in Oregon and The Netherlands and Belgium. Therefore, Right to Die models of PAS exercised in states such as Oregon should not be extended to scenarios where the patient is not terminally ill without major reconstruction.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Persistent Identifier