So, what is physician-assisted suicide? Physician assisted suicide is when a doctor chooses to aid a patient in the process of killing himself or herself. This so called "mercy killing" gives the patient a chance to escape potentially long-term suffering and misery resulting from terminal diseases and conditions that are hurting and or slowly killing the patient. This method of death also gives the individual a chance to decide when to end his or her life, by committing suicide in a peaceful manner rather than waiting through prolonged and continuous periods of suffering from the disease that it is killing him or her. Generally, in America, the practice of physician-assisted suicide is illegal and physicians are liable to face the loss of medicinal practice and imprisonment.
"Darkling I listen; and, for many a time.
I have been half in love with easeful Death,.
Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,.
To take into the air my quiet breath;.
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,.
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,.
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad.
In such an ecstasy!.
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain-.
To thy high requiem become a sod.".
- Ode to a Nightingale. John Keats, 1795-1821.
A look back through early civilizations to the Egyptian era, the study of medicine was viewed in high regard. In the 5th Century B.C.E., the Greek physician Hippocrates developed a level of professionalism for physicians. This oath, still is used today and is known as the Hippocratic Oath, was set up and designed for physicians to practice medicine with the obligations of the promise to help patients with professionalism and with proper conduct and does not permit the concept of assisted suicide. In contrast, there have been other physicians who believe strongly in "mercy killings," which is what is meant by the term physician assisted suicide, today.