Researcher ORCID Identifier


Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department


Reader 1

Brian Duistermars

Reader 2

Donald McFarlane

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2022 Jordana C Deighton


Whilst modern medicine has increased longevity, the rise in life expectancy has brought about new struggles, namely that of aging and age related disease. Thus, humanity has been presented with a new problem: at what point is death preferable to aggressive life-prolonging treatment in the face of inevitable death? And if so, what right do individuals have to control the circumstances of their death? In the West, traditionally, individuals who seek to end their own lives in the face of terminal illness opt for forgoing artificial hydration and nutrition. Driven by an increase in desire for autonomous dignified death, a new method, physician assisted dying (PAD), has increased in popularity. Due to its novelty, previous studies have concentrated primarily on demographics of PAD or the ethical implications of PAD legislation - fearing possible eugenics-complications for vulnerable societies. Currently, there does not exist a review which contemplates PAD as an option for the critically ill and contrasts it with that of forgoing life sustaining treatment. This includes an investigation into demographics opting for PAD, PAD drug classes and their physiological action in inducing death, and an analysis of case studies . PAD offers a succinct and decisive opportunity to end one's life, without the fear of enduring the extended dying process and unforeseen psychological and physiological changes of forgoing treatment. Contrary to what one might assume, PAD in fact promotes thorough decision-making and preparedness for death through encouraged patient autonomy. These encouraging prospects suggest that patients considering death should be offered multiple options in order to make an informed decision as to which plan is most appropriate for their circumstances. I propose that awareness and acceptance of PAD as a form of humane end of life care should be exemplified. In this way, palliative care givers can continue to support patients in attaining a life which is consistent with patient goals and values.