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Ethic and Moral of Euthanasia

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Date added: 19-02-06


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Ethics and morals are basis of actions which are related to humans. Although many people believe that the two are interchangeable, this is not the case. Ethics is based on logic and reasoning, while morality is based on tradition, customs, and religion. While morality differs among different groups of people, ethics is universal. Every individual has their own beliefs, and morals which are based on those beliefs. Ethics cannot be open to opinion, as it is based on logic and science. In the same sense, bioethics cannot be considered the same as bio-morality. Bioethics, is the study of controversial ethical issues usually arising from new situations and possibilities brought about by advances in biology and medicine. Most ethical questions relating to life sciences, biotechnology, medicine, politics, law and philosophy.

Imagine a family member, friend or even yourself in the hospital paralyzed or suffering to the point where you’re in a critical condition. How much pain would you accept for the chance of a few extra weeks? And how would you use the time left if you knew that no such chance remained? It’s hard to live in a world where you always have to rely on someone else to take care of you for the rest of your life. Majority would eventually feel like it’s better to die rather than not being able to even move a finger and constantly cry and suffer from mental and physical pain. The subject of Euthanasia is a warmed fight, in which lines have been drawn between warring social, religious and political gatherings.

Many people want this controversial institution erased from lawful medicine, yet others say that we ought to have the capacity to pick our destinies in extreme cases. Both the administrators of neither the nation nor the general population have been able to find a solution to this debate without causing an intense opposition. Euthanasia derives from the Greek word “ethanoates” meaning “good death”, is the practice of assisted suicide with the intention of relieving pain and suffering. There are two different types of euthanasia, voluntary euthanasia which is everything is conducted with a consent. Involuntary euthanasia is when it is conducted without any consent. For example, the decision will be made by someone else due to the patient not being able to make its own decisions. I believe an action based ethical approach should be sought when determining whether euthanasia is just.

Clyde Haberman presents many cons to euthanasia in the article Stigma Around Physician-Assisted Dying Lingers, one of them being “patients feel like they don’t want to trouble or over burden their families anymore which is why they would want to call it quits, the poor and uninsured will have their lives cut short due to lack of money or the medication might be prescribed for the mentally incompetent or doctors might be moving too fast to bring an end to those going through depression. “”We should address what would give them purpose, not give them a handful of pills,”” (Emanuel 1). But Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel view doesn’t know the pain and suffering a patient has to go through! One who argues that assisted dying should be permitted is a person who believes in dying with dignity. It is also stated that those who want euthanasia tend to be relatively well off and well educated about what they are doing.

Euthanasia evidently only has one end, death. However, it has two ways of being performed; one by the doctor administering a fatal dose of drug to the patient on their request and in assisted suicide, the doctor supplies the lethal drug, but the patient administers it. Immanuel Kant is one of the most influential philosophers in the history of Western philosophy. His theory of ethics was deontological for several different reasons. Kant argues that to act in the morally right way one must act purely, the highest good must be both good in itself and good without qualification. This is something that is highly argued in euthanasia, if patients were given better care and spoken to in a clearer manner there would be fewer ill people wanting to terminate their lives. Often patients receive drastic treatment in spite of their dying wishes, when doctors claim to do everything possible as they have been trained to, without talking through people’s preferences of ensuring that the prognosis is clearly understood.

For instance, a third of American patients with terminal cancer are asked about their goals at the end of life, whether they wish to attend a special event, even if it means leaving the hospital and risking an earlier death. Most oncologists admit that they have never been taught how to speak to a dying patient. If I was in the patients shoes, an ill patient and constantly being reminded about my near death and pain I wouldn’t see the point in living my last few days or months on a hospital bed being a burden to everyone else. In my opinion, this is a good approach to making a decision when it comes to settling the controversy of euthanasia. Most doctors enter medicine to help people slow down the process death, not to talk about how to avoid it. When it comes to mortality, people will always feel dread contemplating. Death has been hidden away in hospitals and nursing homes and has become harder to talk about. Politicians are scared to bring up end of life care just in case they are accused of setting up death panels. But honest and open conversations with the dying should be a part of modern medicine. A better death means a better life.

Kant once stated, it is not the consequences of actions that make them right or wrong but the motives of the person who carries out the action. This could be disagreed upon with the case of “Dr. Death”. This man was a euthanasia proponent and created a suicide machine. There was a button connected to fatal dose of potassium chloride and all the ill patients had to do was press the button and end their lives. Dr. Death had good motives since he didn’t want patients to suffer but the question arises if it is ethical to just create a machine and let people kill themselves?

Individuals that have encountered long excruciating passing’s feel that euthanasia is a good thing. When you watch someone lay in bed in agonizing pain everyday you can only hope for death to come soon. Why must someone suffer because the government or society says that it is morally wrong? Can they snap their fingers and return time to when all was well? Marcia Angell the writer of May Doctors Help You to Die? is for legalizing euthanasia. She claims there are many cases where prolonging the death of a person is harmful. Marcia contrasts voluntary euthanasia and states that “voluntary euthanasia is often the most humane of these options because it allows a doctor, at the patient’s request, to administer a fast painless death”. Other doctors and philosophers also think that euthanasia should be legalized. In her peer reviewed journal Philosopher Assisted suicide and Euthanasia written by Ann Arbor states that “many doctors and philosophers have opposing views on the issue and may seem uncomfortable with legal euthanasia and assisted suicide but the choice is starting to look inevitable during present time of day”. (1-2)

Many arguments that oppose euthanasia are based on the belief that a patient’s life should be preserved due to the possibility of their recovery. However, in the article Majority of Dutch Docs would Euthanize Dementia Patients by Donna B. Smith a Dutch survey conducted in 1991 shows that 86% of Euthanasia cases only shortened the life of the patient by a maximum of 1 week. “The standard time it shortened their life was by a few hours only”(1) This shows that terminal illness is statistically terminal. Also the fact that in the majority of these cases, the patients were in extreme agony, the numbers show you that terminally ill patients are using euthanasia to end the suffering where they would have had near impossible chances of recovery.

An opponent of euthanasia would however say the patient might have a chance to survive and make a miraculous recovery. It is because the numbers are so heavily indicative of euthanasia as an out for terminally ill patients in terrible agony that it must be allowed as an option to end their suffering. One of the big arguments against euthanasia is that it’s irreversible: Once the patient is gone, we’ll never know if their unexpected recovery was just around the corner, or if they might have gone on to lead full and happy lives despite their illness. However, this argument ignores the data so hard it basically punches reason in the face. The fact is, in all nations where euthanasia is legal; it’s for the terminally ill. And, despite what miracles and daytime dramas would have us believe, terminal illness is usually exactly that: the final stop before death.

In Australia the public opinion also supports euthanasia being legalized, it is around seventy-five percent of the populace in Australia that are in favor of doctors giving or practicing euthanasia if requested by a terminally ill patient who is experiencing unbelievable suffering. The article, Suffering and Euthanasia: a qualitative study of patients' perspectives also written by Ann Arbor is based on the responses to the Morgan Poll question: “If a hopelessly ill patient, experiencing suffering with absolutely no chance of recovery, asks for a lethal dose, so as not to wake again, should the doctor be able to give the lethal dose? in 1962 only 47% said “yes” and in 1995 78% responded “yes”. Now only 18% say “no” while the other 8% is undecided.

From this survey the general population have expressed that in a few circumstances voluntary euthanasia should be practiced. Patients with illnesses like cancer should be allowed to choose their season of death. “Cancer is the most common cause of death in Australia, accounting for more than a quarter of all deaths.” (Arbor) There is major pain associated with cancer and it is a severe and intractable form of chronic pain. Patients with advanced cancers often experience multiple symptoms like fatigue, weakness, mental haziness, anxiety and nausea. Many of these symptoms cannot be eliminated and may affect the function of well-being. This can cause a major source of distress to the terminally ill as well as cause extremely unpleasant symptoms, which is rough in the terminal stage. This is where euthanasia would be able to step in and with the request from the patient.

There are many cases, for which euthanasia should be legalized due to the fact that it is better for the person to die sooner than go through a traumatizing experience and have a painful death. In the article, French Woman’s Euthanasia Request Denied by Christophe Scpolaiansky speaks about a 53-year-old woman named Chantel Sébire who lived in Plombieresles-Dijon, near Dijon, France. In 2000, she was diagnosed with Esthesioneuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer of which only 1000 cases have been reported in the past 20 years. “As time progressed, the cancer burrowed through her sinuses, nasal cavities, and eye socket, leaving her face severely disfigured.

She also lost her senses of sight, taste, and smell and suffered severe pain that she refused to relieve with morphine due to its side effects.” (Scpolaiansky) Sébire first gained recognition in February 2008 when she made a public appeal to the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, to allow her to die through euthanasia, stating, ""One would not allow an animal to go through what I have endured."" (Sebire) On March 17, 2008, she lost her case in a French court, with the magistrate noting that while French law does allow for the removal of life-support equipment for terminally ill patients, it does not allow a doctor to take action to end a patient's life.

Euthanasia is quite a controversial topic. People have both opposed and favored assisted suicide for patients who are terminally ill which have raised many questions around the world. However, it seems that an action based ethical approach addresses the concern better, although both teleological and deontological approaches differ, they also go hand in hand. Deontological approach has more short-term results whereas teleological is far more long term.

In the case of euthanasia deontological approach is used to determine what is best for “all” since it is the health care industry and the teleological approach is used clarify that physicians need to speak clearer to patients to both have the same understanding as well as give better palliative care since studies show high success rates. There is no doubt that people will still argue over the rights and wrongs of euthanasia even then, but it is still best to make sure the patient is in the best facility and health environment they could be in during there last moments to live. Therefore, I believe euthanasia should be illegal due to other resources being available to keep the patient in comfort and living longer.

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