A Case of Doctor-Assisted Suicide vs. Utilitarianism

Kate Cheney was aged 85 when she was administered with a prescription that was to kill her. In an approximate period of about 22 years, she was battling with terminal cancer in which she sought assisted suicide. The disease was already reaping her apart with pain, and the form of assisted suicide would be a way of relieving her the entire burden she had. However, physician-assisted suicide would have some difficulties, which would not be conducive to Kate. The first that that would happen to her was that she would experience dementia, which was raised by her mental competence. That condition was to be possible because her age would not have allowed the drugs to work effectively without effects.  In this regard, the doctor opted to refer Kate to a psychiatrist rather than prescribing the legal drugs. The doctor did that because it was a requirement of the law. In this regard, there is a question of whether or not the intended actions of both the doctor and the patient adhere to the theory of Unitarianism (Abumere, 2019). This ethical theory differentiates right from wrong by considering the actions that will cause more good than harm. In a hospital case, utilitarianism is the conventional approach to moral reasoning as it justifies the actions of doctor-assisted suicide. 

When Kate was going to the physician, her daughter Erika accompanied her. As notified by the doctor, they had to go to that psychiatrist to test the memory of Kate. The psychiatrist realized that Cheney had a loss in the short-term memory, which means that she might not be capable of making her legal decisions. On the same note, it seemed that her daughter was also interested in assisted suicide more than Kate did (Chung, 2017). The psychiatrist did the report and later indicated that although Cheney was interested in participating in assisted suicide, she did not push for it as with the case with her daughter. Besides, the doctor indicated that she did not have the full capacity to weigh the options and the advantages of assisted suicide (Chowkwanyun, 2019). Despite all that, the doctor did not support Kate’s decision

The case brought many controversies on the interpretation of the law. Some advocates of legalizing the procedure were quick to note that refusal, as portrayed by Kate and her daughter should be a part of the way the law should operate. They would want that the action is taken at the first gesture of the patient. However, that was not the end of Kate’s story. Kate was content with the verdict of the psychiatrist, but her daughter was not willing to accept that (Hedegaard, 2018). Therefore, she sought to fight another doctor who would not interfere with her mother’s right to die. She was on the opinion that the psychiatrist was a roadblock to her mother

Kate took the matter into her hands and demanded a second chance, as stated in the Kaiser Permanente, who was Kate’s HMO. In the second chance, a clinical psychologist rather than an MD psychiatrist would examine her mother. Fundamentally, the results would not change. The second doctor still found out that Kate had memory problems, which would be difficult to identify if she supported assisted suicide (Abumere, 2019). In the assessment, she would not remember a time she was diagnosed with memory problems, which proved to be an essential factor in determining the verdict. In the report, the doctor indicated that the familial pressure would be the main reason for recommending the assisted suicide. Her daughter was the representation of the family members who thought that they were helping her mother. In this sense, the doctor indicated in his report that Kate Cheney was allowed to kill herself and supported the lethal prescription to be used. 

The doctor had been cleared up, which seemed to be the right decision on the side of the family members. On the other hand, Kate was not aware of what she wanted because the memory was falling short. Now, the final decision was left to an administrator who was working for Kaiser. His name was Robert Richardson, and he decided to be critical. When Doctor Richardson interviewed Kate, she found out that she was not under pain. She would have wanted to take the pills because she feared that at some point, she would be afraid of attending to her hygiene. It meant that she had accepted to die rather than cause more mental pain to herself and those of the people around. After the interview, the doctor was satisfied and gave a green light for the assisted suicide to take place. It would be prudent to state that at this point, Cheney and her family members were content with the outcome of the two doctors. She had permission to take the pills. 


Although the permission to take the pills was granted, she did not receive the pills right away. At on instance, she asked to die after her daughter had to help her to shower. She had experienced a little accident with a colostomy bad in which she was unable to shower. However, she changed her mind and avoided taking those pills at that time. After a while, she went to a nursing home for one week to give her family rest in caregiving (Abumere, 2019). It was during her stay at the nursing home that Kate pushed to have wanted the pills. It did not take long before she returned home and asked to take the pills. The family members were called up to bid their farewell then Cheney took the poison (Bastiampillai, 2019). She died by the side of her daughter. Fundamentally, she died at her request, but various issues were raised from the assisted suicide

From the precedent, the issue of shopping doctors and the protective guidelines would appear as a way of redefining killing and promoting utilitarianism a medical act. People have already accepted it despite the warning that the issue has raised in the past. Advocated for that law will keep pushing for its legalization is all of the states without worrying about the impact that it would bring. The question is how the nation will respond to terminal illnesses in the future. Instead of finding better medical care, they will be condemned to their death in the name of assisted suicide. In this regard, the assisted killing should be a reserve to the terminally ill that seems to be facing extinction.