Last updated on: 7/29/2009 | Author:

Do Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide Ensure a Good Death?

PRO (yes)


Dan Brock, PhD, Director of the University Program in Ethics and Health at the Harvard Medical School, wrote in an article titled “Voluntary Active Euthanasia” in the Mar.-Apr. 1992 issue of The Hastings Center Report:

“One last good consequence of legalizing euthanasia is that once death has been accepted, it is often more humane to end life quickly and peacefully, when that is what the patient wants. Such a death will often be seen as better than a more prolonged one. People who suffer a sudden and unexpected death, for example by dying quickly or in their sleep from a heart attack or stroke, are often considered lucky to have died this way.”

Mar.-Apr. 1992 - Dan Brock, PhD


The Royal Dutch Society for the Advancement of Pharmacy wrote in its 1994 report titled “Administration and Compounding of Euthanasic Agents”:

“A clear general conclusion may be drawn as concerns the lethal action of the euthanasic agents recommended by the KNMP’s [Royal Dutch Society for the Advancement of Pharmacy] Task Force: the administration of thiopental [a drug that causes unconsciousness] followed by a muscle relaxant–provided the latter is properly administered–causes immediate death without any problems…

Intravenous administration is the most reliable and rapid way to accomplish euthanasia and therefore can be safely recommended.”

1994 - Royal Dutch Society for the Advancement of Pharmacy

CON (no)


Bill Toffler, MD, National Director of the Physicians for Compassionate Care Education Foundation (PCCEF), is quoted in a June 18, 2006 San Francisco Chronicle article by Matthew Yi titled “California Looks to Replicate Oregon’s Assisted Suicide Law”:

“In many of the cases, the death lingers for hours. It’s not a dignified death. It’s not pretty to watch somebody struggle with breathing or having irregular, shallow breathing for hours and hours on end.”

June 18, 2006 - William L. Toffler, MD


Russel Ogden, MA, Criminology Instructor at the Kwantlen Polytechnic University, wrote in a Dec. 1997 Policy Options article “Oregon’s Measure 16: A Bitter Pill”:

“There is paucity of research into the dosages and types of drugs necessary to cause death and no pharmaceutical company has developed a sure-fire suicide pill… In the course of my own research I have heard horrific stories of patients taking massive quantities of drugs that have been fatal with other persons and yet they have either survived or suffered through lingering deaths. Risks include vomiting the drugs, coma, psychosis and even de-cerebration where the patient is brain dead but still breathing. Sometimes these protracted deaths elicit friends or partners to resort to smothering with pillows or asphyxiation with plastic bags. One physician reported to me that he took the recourse of holding shut the mouth and nostrils of a comatose patient.”

Dec. 1997 - Russel Ogden, MA