Physician aid in dying is a broader topic than euthanasia in that the latter usually refers to active euthanasia, while physician assistance also encompasses the issue of assisted suicide. Volumes could be and have been written on physician-assisted death. But my purpose here is to address a specific aspect of the topic: the policy implications with regard to proposed legislation on physician-aided death.
Although the title's reference to physician assistance suggests a focus on the role of the professional, what people often take to be most important and at the heart of the topic is the issue of the patient's rights, usually seen as being manifested in four different ways. First is the right to a dignified death, as free from pain and suffering as possible. In crossing national boundaries and preceding the organization of the professions and the creation of societies, this right is viewed as one that ought to be recognized.