Ethical Evaluation of Euthanasia

Introduction

Euthanasia refers to the intentional discontinuation of one’s life through a lethal injection. Often carried out by a physician, the process remains one of the most disputable issues surrounding the medical field’s ethical and professional standards. Euthanasia can occur either through an active form or passive form. Active euthanasia refers to putting an end to a person’s life while acting on their request. On the other hand, passive euthanasia includes the fastening of a patient’s death through withholding support or treatment that would have an extended life. Though both forms of euthanasia have different ethical and legal implications, they all lead to gross violation of ethics and professional standards of caregivers.

Whether euthanasia is morally or legally correct or wrong depends on the perspective of the decision-maker. The decision to rule if a patient should choose how they want their life to end or if they have a right to choose what state they would decide to die in is delicate. The decision requires an understanding of the beliefs, morals, and practices of the given population. For these reasons, the federal has left it for each state’s legislature to rule out physician-assisted dying as either legal or illegal based on the traditions of its citizens (Miller et al., 2019). Different states have populations with diverse beliefs and practices; only eight states in the USA have legalized passive euthanasia, while none have legalized active euthanasia

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Proponents of euthanasia advocate it as a depiction of compassion suitable for a patient in deep pain or misery emanating from a particular incurable disease. In this case, euthanasia is considered a compassionate act to terminate life rather than let the patient live in unbearable agony. The proponents also advocate that society has procreative beneficence to eradicate the mentally and physically unfit members of society. The procreative beneficence view is guided by the Social Darwinism social theory that might today be used on infants born with critical spinal Bifida or Down syndrome. Another ethical issue for euthanasia is the economic necessity of the procedure. Proponents of euthanasia hold that with the rising cost of social and medical care, the cost of caring for the critically ill might turn out to be very high. Therefore, legalizing euthanasia would release enough funds to enhance healthcare services to other members of the population.

One of the significant opposing points on euthanasia is the sanctity of life, which draws on religious and secular bases. The underlying values of respect for human life remain preserved as demanded by different religious groups. Christians view life as a gift from God that should be individually guarded. Opposing euthanasia states that it is an abuse of human rights and autonomy (Banović et al., 2017). According to Kant and Mill, the principle of independence forbids intentional termination of conditions vital to support one’s freedom leading to the loss of life.

Individuals requesting euthanasia are mostly terminally ill and may not be making rational decisions. Legalizing euthanasia might have a significant impact on vulnerable patients as it might bring forth conditions that undermine the rights of vulnerable patients (Terkamo-Moisio et al., 2016). Such conditions include coercion to accept euthanasia due to increasing treatment costs. Euthanasia is unworkable in the world today as the majority of schemes rolled out in Britain assume that doctors would execute it. On the contrary, doctors are trained to preserve life instead of terminating it (Shibata, 2017). Only a few doctors might be willing to undertake the procedure due to fear of being labeled patient executors and damaging the caregiver-patient relationship.

Conclusion

Euthanasia, commonly referred to as physician-assisted death, is one of the most debatable topics in health today. Different nations have drawn other guidelines on euthanasia based on the citizen’s social and religious backgrounds. Euthanasia, as it stands, is against the fundamental obligation to preserve and care for life. Furthermore, palliative care specialists advise that its possible to eradicate pain without any need to terminate life. Notably, both passive and active euthanasia achieve the same goal; end life. Acts of either willingly omitting or committing to end life are against Anglo-American law and should be considered illegal and unethical.

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References

Banović, B., Turanjanin, V., & Miloradović, A. (2017). An ethical review of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. Iranian journal of public health, 46(2), 173-203.

Miller, D. G., Dresser, R., & Kim, S. Y. (2019). Advance euthanasia directives: A controversial Case and its Ethical Implications. Journal of medical ethics, 45(2), 84-89.

Shibata, B. (2017). An Ethical Analysis of Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide: Rejecting Euthanasia and Accepting Physician Assisted Suicide with Palliative Care. Journal of Legal Medicine, 37(1-2), 155–166.

Terkamo-Moisio, A., Kvist, T., Kangasniemi, M., Laitila, T., Ryynänen, O.-P., & Pietilä, A.-M. (2016). Nurses’ attitudes towards euthanasia in conflict with professional ethical guidelines. Nursing Ethics, 24(1), 70–86.

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