Reasoning About Physician-Assisted Suicide: Analysis of Comments by Physicians and the Swedish General Public
Clinical Ethics 2009 March; 4(1): 19-25
Two questionnaires directed to Swedish physicians and a sample of the Swedish population investigated attitudes towards physician-assisted suicide (PAS). The aim of the present work was to analyse qualitative data from these questionnaires in order to explore how respondents reason about PAS. Data were analysed in two steps. First, we categorized different kinds of responses and identified pro and con arguments. Second, we identified general conclusions from the responses. The data reflect the differences in attitudes towards PAS among the public and physicians, with the former mainly in favour of PAS and the latter mainly against. There was, however, considerable agreement about what requirements must be met before PAS could be considered ethical. Many arguments against PAS concerned the professional role of physicians, which indicates that it may not be assisted suicide as such that many PAS opponents disagree with, but rather that it is handled by physicians in the regular health-care system.
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