Is physician-assisted suicide ethical?

California recently joined Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana in legalizing physician-assisted suicide. Death, like taxes, is inevitable. But should we be able to turn to doctors to help us die?

Guy Micco

Guy Micco (Peg Skorpinski photo)

In a new piece on the health-related website Berkeley Wellness, Guy Micco — clinical director emeritus of the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program and former director of the campus’s Academic Geriatric Resource Center — explores the complex ethical and legal issues surrounding physician-assisted suicide.

Micco, in a Q&A, discusses who qualifies for physician-assisted suicide, arguments for and against the practice, and what we’ve learned from the experience of Oregon (the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide). And he looks at ethical questions the practice raises.

“There are strong arguments on both sides,” observes Micco, former ethics committee chair at Alta Bates Medical Center, in Berkeley. “I voted for the first California ballot measure for assisted suicide, in 1992, but I definitely had misgivings…. I’m especially concerned about the arguments made by the disability community.”

Read “Is physician-assisted suicide ethical?” on Berkeley Wellness.

Related information: “Doing his best in the place between life and death,” (2004 Berkeleyan profile of Guy Micco)