Euthanasia: Right to Life vs. Right to Die
Type: Research Paper
Subject: Ethics and Law
Subject area: Nursing
Education Level: Masters Program
Length: 6 pages
Referencing style: APA
Preferred English: US English
Spacing Option: Double
Title: Euthanasia: Right to life vs right to die
Instructions: Attached are a rubric and directions. Each portion of the rubric must be included in the paper in order for me to receive points. A minimum for six references need. Thank you for your help.
Euthanasia is a health action regarded as a good death which has triggered debate across the world. It encompasses different dimensions including physician-assisted, involuntary, voluntary, passive, or active death (Van Niekerk, 2016). The request which is made by either an individual or a third party to end life prematurely has triggered fierce debate related to the role of this practice in the modern healthcare. In fact, the debate cuts across dynamic and complex aspects including religious, legal, ethical, cultural, social, human rights, health, and economic aspects in the civilized society (Pereira, 2011). In this paper, its argument of the issue is from opponent and proponents perspectives and highlights the plights of their caregivers as well as the sufferers. Therefore, the objective of the paper is to focus on euthanasia as a subject from human rights and medical perspectives with help of the recent legal litigations and judgments. In my opinion, euthanasia should be allowed under strict conditions.
Medical treatment is an action which people undertake to save their lives. However, it raises an eyebrow when the medical treatment is used to help to end life (Pereira, 2011). Despite the widespread outrage over the subject, the procedure is always used to facilitate the death of patients. Euthanasia or mercy killing is a medical practice meant to end a life of a patient; thus relieve such a person from the pain of an intolerable suffering or incurable disease like Alzheimer’s disease (Yao, 2016). Indisputably, when patients are dying, they experience intolerable pain and suffering. It is a clinical experience for medical professionals to observe the pain many patients experience at their dying stage because they dying patient may experience spiritual disorder or treated without dignity. Although this should not be the case but people have used these factors to call for the relevant authorities to legalize euthanasia. Nonetheless, the researcher should seek better options.
The Greek Orthodox Church has affirmed its position on the debate by objecting to legalizing euthanasia or any action which abet death (Yao, 2016). The Buddhists have highlighted different opinions given about the practice of ending patient’s suffering but no justification to end human life. The Roman Catholic and the Evangelic churches have also pronounced itself on the matter by affirming that euthanasia is a crime because to them life remains sacred. Nonetheless, suffering is an existential and medical problem beyond physical pain because it is influenced by different factors, such as spiritual, cultural, and psychological factors (Yao, 2016). Without a doubt, physicians can handle the physical symptoms but not suffering from a patient. Despite the opposition, it is important to allow patients in intolerable pain to die with dignity through a voluntary active euthanasia.
Voluntary Active Euthanasia
This is a euthanasia form which is valued as passive because nothing can be done actively to kill a patient. This is against the medical code of ethics (Yao, 2016). However, there is nothing strange which can be done to deter the dying process, especially where the efforts to restore health through life-support systems is clearly futile. Ethicists have questioned the dignity of death. To these ethicists, terminating life-support machine is a passive euthanasia while introducing a foreign agent to facilitate death is active euthanasia (Yao, 2016). In both cases, the describable and observable actions are the direct cause of death. The objection and opposition to euthanasia are based on different reasons. For example, the religious groups and other cultures bestow their value on human life because they prohibit murder. This makes their opposition a common element instead of law or statutory. These groups view the medical professions as saviors of life and any contrary action surmounts to being killers because they abuse their professional code when administering voluntary euthanasia.
Death with dignity
The support for voluntary active euthanasia is pegged on the rights of humans. For instance, people have the right to life and they should also enjoy similar right when it comes to terminating their lives to allow them to die with dignity (Yao, 2016). It is no secret that some medical conditions attract intolerable pain and suffering; therefore, any unnecessary prolonged effort would be a punishment to the patient because palliative care can never offer a solution. For example, intractable terminal pain denies the patients their dignity. Through the medical advancements and practices, the professionals can prolong patients’ life leading to a concomitant prolongation of intolerable, pointless, and unnecessary suffering. The healthcare system and the families undergo an enormous pressure to spend fortunes on patients with little or no chance of survival because such patients are irrevocably destined to succumb. Yao (2016) argues that it is not inhumane to relieve such patients of pain by assisting them to end their lives if they request.
Indisputably, the arguments raised by the critics of euthanasia are genuine but can be addressed through legislation and regulations. For example, the regulations should address the aspects of ending one’s life because the physicians can exploit the vulnerable patients.
Argument for assisted suicide
The rights of human life are practically acceptable in any democracy. In fact, it defines the importance of democracy in the society. In a democratic society, the right to commit suicide should be guaranteed to citizens because it is a price the democratic space should offer. People have the right and play a role in being born. Nevertheless, people can enjoy the right to decide for how long they can survive (Yao, 2016). Having the right to suicide rarely implies that it is moral to execute the right. It is important for the medical professional to assist an elderly aged 85 and suffers from terminal cancer to commit suicide when such a patient asks for assistance (Van Niekerk, 2016). Indisputably, such a person has the right to ask the doctor for an assisted death because of the intolerable suffering.
The situation would be different for a patient aged 40 who has dependants including children and wife and has embezzled company resources. Such a patient should not be allowed to enjoy the right to die because of the impending consequences. This implies that to have a right never mean that it is right or prudent to execute it (Van Niekerk, 2016). The case would be different for terminally ill individuals who are aware that they may rarely survive beyond six months; thus, making the prospects of cure or relief futile. Because of the intolerable pain and irreversible dependent of life-support, terminating their lives would be prudent, respectful, and humane as it relieves pain (Jordan, 2017). The medical profession is expected to promote health and relieve suffering not prolong life. Therefore, terminally-ill individuals have the right to die and the medical profession is guaranteed the duty to assist such a patient to die with dignity.
The utilitarian ethical theorists have weighed into the debate and support the happiness of an individual. The utilitarian believe that mercy killing could result in a greater happiness to the suffering individuals, especially the terminally-ill patient (Jordan, 2017). However, the utilitarian approach allows the physician-assisted death when certain conditions are met. However, when the family members are against the practice, the utilitarian can push the decision to them if mercy killing can lead to a greater happiness.
The critics of euthanasia argue that if allowed or legalized, a certain quota of the population will be eliminated, especially the patients with debilitating diseases. This is against the culture of protecting lives in a civilized society. These patients can be handled using palliative care which can relieve them of distressing pain and support them. Palliative care is a creative and compassionate care meant to serve patients awaiting their death (Jordan, 2017). Physicians are under oath to protect life and any effort to help patients to die violates their code of ethics. Therefore, euthanasia is murder and the relevant stakeholders should seek for solutions to the issues associated with containment of costs instead of killing an individual. The physician has no right to terminate the life of a patient even if such people sights agreements.
Euthanasia has also raised legal, ethical, and social challenges because many people feel it is unethical (Yao, 2016). For instance, the practice is casual in nature and if permitted, many people might abuse it to avoid simple troubles. Similarly, the families may put pressure on patients to accept to die because of the cost implications. This implies these families would use it as an excuse for heavy medical expenditures (Jordan, 2017). Similarly, the religious groups hold that God is the only superhuman being who hold key to human life. In fact, life is precious and sacred; thus, doctors should not meddle with it. The politicians have also raised their voices on the debate by arguing that such practices would affect the society because other people in the deplorable situation would get the opportunity to request for termination.
The Kantian approach is against mercy killing because it would introduce a new acceptable universal behavior regarding murder (Jordan, 2017). Although the Kantian approach could not value the divine command, it is against creating a universal law.
Kurt Lewin’s Change Model
This theory is based on three steps including unfreezing, changing and refreezing (Hussain et al., 2016). According to Lewin, change requires a creation of a perception which demonstrates the significance of pursuing the change (Connelly, 2016). Based on this case, euthanasia has experienced resistance and support in equal measures thus demonstrates the significance of applying the Lewin’s model to understand it.
In this step, preparing the society and convincing the opposing views to accept euthanasia is necessary. It is important for the opposing groups to be patient with the handling euthanasia. Many people oppose the mercy killing should be understood and helped to overcome strong emotions regarding doubts, uncertainty, and denial because terminally-ill individuals suffer intolerable pain (Pereira, 2011). Given this situation, it is important for them to be in the shoes of the patients to feel their pain. Nonetheless, it would be prudent to engage them to allow them to understand the idea regarding legalizing euthanasia.
Implementing change requires the support of all stakeholders. Countries like Netherlands and Belgium have legalized euthanasia and the implementation was drastic (Pereira, 2011). This has saved the country significant resources and patients from experiencing intolerable pains. However, these countries have introduced strict legislation to support the medical practice.
With the applicable laws, the implementation of euthanasia has been possible in many countries. These countries have made legislative provisions to cover and protect the actions, thus stabilizing the implementation. Nonetheless, the stakeholders continue to make adjustments to support the physician-assisted suicide. Therefore, restoring dignity, relieving pain, and improving quality of life are incomparable to any other fatal injections. It involves giving people control of their lives. The academic institutions offering medical programs should advocate for medical ethics courses to allow the medical students to understand the standards set for practicing euthanasia (Hussain et al., 2016). The private and public sectors should be more attentive to palliative care units to enhance handling of chronic diseases. This will make it a duty for health facilities to establish the palliative units to handle patients feeling lonely, painful and suffering. Therefore, these facilities should take care of the spiritual, psychological, and social aspects when handling patients with chronic pain; therefore, help patients to die with dignity without feeling socially isolated.
Euthanasia is a hot topic which continues to attract diverse opinions among different stakeholders. Although some groups believe euthanasia is humane and provides an opportunity for an individual to overcome intolerable pain. The proponents believe it allows patients who are terminally ill to die with dignity. However, the religious, legal, ethical, and personal views provide distinct arguments regarding euthanasia, where the religious, legal, and political groups arguing against the issue. This makes euthanasia a religious, emotional, and practical debate.
- Connelly, M. (2016). Kurt Lewin’s Change Management Model. Retrieved from http://www.change-management-coach.com/kurt_lewin.html
- Hussain, S.T., Lei, S., Akram, T. et al. (2016). Kurt Lewin’s Change Model: A Critical Review of the Role of Leadership and Employee Involvement in Organizational Change. Journal of Innovation and Knowledge. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j,jik.2016.07.002.
- Jordan, M. (2017). The Ethical Considerations of Physician-Assisted Suicide. Dialogue and Nexus, spring, 4, 1-7.
- Pereira, J. (2011). Legalizing Euthanasia or Assisted Suicide: The Illusion of Safeguards and Controls. Currency Oncology, 18(2), e38-e45.
- Van Niekerk, A. (2016, October 25). We Have a Right to Die With Dignity. The Medical Profession Has a Duty to Assist. The Conversation. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/we-have-a-right-to-die-with-dignity-the-medical-profession-has-a-duty-to-assist-67574
- Yao, T. (2016). Can We Limit a Right to Physician-Assisted Suicide? National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, 16(3), 385-392.