Euthanasia has long been a contentious debate among Americans, because of its end result: death. The Washington v. Glucksberg case of 1997 resulted in the ban of assisted suicide on June 26, 1997, by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (“Washington v. Glucksberg,” 1997, pp. 315-322) Some people in society feel that assisted suicide is an acceptable practice for those suffering from terminal illnesses or other major medical conditions, while others are objectionable based on religious or moral beliefs. They have a strong secure emotional connection to their suffering family member or friend and strive to keep them alive for as long as possible. I believe that it is not the best-case scenario to keep someone suffering from ineffable discomfort, prolonging the inevitable. I believe that patients with serious terminal illnesses should have a choice whether or not they would like to pass on from their suffering.
Terminally ill patients and their caregivers may consider euthanasia due to many medical reasons. Dementia, for example, is a condition that impacts the brain causing memory loss and lack of judgment, among other complications. Over time without treatment, it can deteriorate your brain’s main functions and will eventually leave the person in a vegetative state. Eventually, some people with terminal illnesses will be unable to communicate their final wishes and will no longer play a part in their care. Patients that reach a nonverbal state will be left to suffer the pains and discomfort caused by their ailment. For instance, a terminally-ill patient that depends on a machine to regulate their heartbeat, blood flow, and her respirations for an extended period. The patient now complains that the tubes, pricking needles, and various complicated machines keeping them alive are overwhelming and stressful; the wants to move on from the pain and be free from the torment. This is a good example of a direct and passive act of performing euthanasia on a patient; when the patient is actively dying and wants to end their suffering.
“Euthanasia has several forms –voluntary (death at patient’s will), involuntary (death at other’s will when patient is unconscious or not competent to decide), direct (giving patient direct lethal drug to die), indirect (providing treatment which can expedite patient death), active (death is brought about by an act), and passive (letting someone die either by withdrawing or withholding treatment). (Srivastava, 2014) Overall, it depends on the patient’s medical condition and their desires or the wishes of the patient’s relatives when the patient cannot communicate properly. Euthanasia is a complex decision that involves the patient, family, and members of the healthcare team, and affects everyone differently. End of life care can cause a highly emotional response with friends and family of the terminally ill patient. Extreme emotion and an unwillingness to see the patient die can cause family to request that doctors make all attempts to keep the patient alive against the patient’s will.
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