Euthanasia Analysis

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Euthanasia Analysis


Euthanasia (or mercy killing) is defined as the intentional act of ending an individual’s life in order to relieve them from their suffering (Boudreau and Somerville 1). Euthanasia has numerous moral and ethical implications in all its forms. For this paper, we avoid the categorization of the forms of euthanasia such as active or passive and voluntary or involuntary euthanasia and instead focus on the analysis of euthanasia on a purely ethical standpoint. Euthanasia is a complex issue that has split personal, legal, political, religious and ethical opinions all over the world, but the people mostly affected are those in physical pain who seemingly have no way out but to end their lives and consequentially their suffering. This essay discusses arguments for and against euthanasia and concludes that euthanasia can be harmful to the parties involved and therefore not ethical.
Any issue that deals with life and death inevitably invokes the argument of morals and ethics. Supporters of euthanasia argue that everyone has a right to decide their fate when it comes to death and allowing a person to continue suffering while something can be done is unethical. The opponents of euthanasia on the other hand argue that human life is sacred and equates euthanasia to murder which is unethical. This dilemma raises a number of ethical questions. Is it right to terminate the life of a terminally sick individual experiencing severe pain? Are there circumstances where euthanasia is justifiable? Is there an ethical difference between terminating a life and letting a person die? We address these questions by discussing some of the opposing positions linked to the ethical issue.

Euthanasia Opposers
Those who are against euthanasia argue that it is against the right to life, which is a critical component in human laws, in most countries’ constitutions and also to a physician’s duty or oath to preserve human life. This means that even if a terminally ill patient has agreed to it, it is not within a physician’s jurisdiction to decide whether a patient lives or dies (Naga and Maryyan 31-39). Furthermore, there is a risk of dismissing the sanctity of life by assuming that the life of people with terminal diseases is worth less than that of others if we accept and adopt the right to dignified death. Individuals who may be burdensome to their families may be pressured to terminate their lives. This may in turn lead to the disposal of the severely sick from society.
Another argument against euthanasia is concerned with the relaxed approach to the process in the future. If permitted, regulation will be difficult and thus create a loophole for people to misuse to avoid heavy medical bills that are necessary in complicated medical cases. This applies to healthcare institutions too whereby there’s a risk that providers may be biased towards encouraging euthanasia as a cost cutting measure for patients under several circumstances. This is a slippery slope that may lead to the acceptance of inpulsive assisted killing (Rietjens et al. 271-283) and also act as an impediment to medical research (Shaikh, and Kamal794-797).
Additionally, many religions believe that life is sacred and that the only being with the right to take life is God. From this standpoint, humans should not interfere with the precious gift of life. Politically, despite euthanasia being a personal decision, it will inevitably have an impact on a society that is easily influenced by trends. People in less deplorable circumstances may be tempted to end their lives in a similar method.

Euthanasia Advocates
The ‘right to die’ school of thought argues that people with incurable and devastating conditions should be permitted to die with dignity (Math and Chaturvedi 899–902). This may include people with chronic illnesses and not necessarily terminal for example people with extreme mental conditions. Euthanasia allows patients who are unable to undertake physical, social and emotional tasks to end their state of unending suffering and pain and die with respect, dignity, peace and comfort. It would be unethical for such a person to continue living in such pain as it goes against the basic societal moral values of mercy and compassion. Euthanasia in this context can be a solution to defend the right to life by upholding the right to a dignified death.
Euthanasia proponents argue that a person preserves the right to decide how and when they should die, grounded on the basis of self-determination and autonomy (Bartels and Otlowski 532-555). Autonomy deals with a patient’s right to decide on matters concerned with their life as long as it does not harm others (Rathor et al. 230). This relates to the notion of the right to control your own body and make decisions on the manner in which to die as part of our human right to a dignified death. Another argument related to the right to die with dignity is the patient’s best interest. On these grounds, euthanasia is justified if it upholds the best interests of the patient (Kure).
With euthanasia, terminally ill patients have the opportunity to save other lives through organ donation. By prolonging their pain and suffering, their organs may deteriorate beyond repair which is a wasted opportunity to help out patients in need of organs. This ensures right to die for the terminally sick and right to life for the organ recipients.

Moral Theory
As stated above, the arguments for euthanasia are rooted in the respect for an individual’s right to self-determination and autonomy. This refers to the essential right to make decisions based on their view of what is right and good for themselves and has priority over the self that is part of a larger relationship with society. One requirement for autonomy is the patient’s need to be mentally and legally competent, free of duress, coercion or bias. With respect to terminally sick persons, there are doubts as to whether these conditions can be met (Boudreau, and Somerville 1), therefore making euthanasia unethical.
Furthermore, since we live in a communal world, our decisions are influenced by our relationship with other people which may affect the autonomy of these choices. The debate on whether euthanasia is ethical must also consider the outlook of patient relations, which is currently not the case. The effect of euthanasia from the health care providers and its impact on society must also be evaluated. Despite euthanasia being justifiable to the individual, there is a risk of potential harm to medical institutions, societal values and law in the future, meaning it cannot be vindicated(Pesut et al. 152-167). Moreover, from a utilitarian perspective, euthanasia is ethically unjustified since it is not possible to assess whether the consequences of legalizing euthanasia would lead to maximum good (Praskwiecs 37-40).

Euthanasia has been a polarizing topic that has sparked moral and ethical debate globally. The opposers main argument is the right to life which euthanasia by definition contradicts. The supporters of euthanasia argue for the right to die with dignity and end the suffering of a person in pain. The arguments here are based on the individual’s autonomous decisions and right to have control over their life and death. However, it is illogical to base this on autonomy since euthanasia has societal impact beyond one individual and thus cannot be justified ethically. Instead, other options such as palliative care which involves active, creative and compassionate care for the terminally ill should be looked into.

Works Cited

Bartels, Lorana, and Margaret Otlowski. “A Right To Die? Euthanasia And The Law In Australia.” Journal of Law and Medicine 17.4 (2010): 532-555. Print.

Boudreau, J. Donald, and Margaret Somerville. “Euthanasia And Assisted Suicide: A Physician’s And Ethicist’s Perspectives.” Medicolegal and Bioethics (2014): 1. Web. 15 Dec. 2020.

Kure, Josef. “Everything Under Control: How And When To Die – A Critical Analysis Of The Arguments For Euthanasia.” Euthanasia – The “Good Death” Controversy in Humans and Animals (2011): n. pag. Web. 15 Dec. 2020.

Math, Suresh Bada, and Santosh K. Chaturvedi. “Euthanasia: Right To Life Vs Right To Die.” The Indian journal of medical research 136.6 (2012): 899–902. Print.

Naga, Bilal S. H. Badr, and Majd T. Maryyan. “Legal And Ethical Issues Of Euthanasia : Argumentative Essay.” Middle East Journal of Nursing 7.5 (2013): 31-39. Web. 15 Dec. 2020.

Pesut, Barbara et al. “Nursing And Euthanasia: A Narrative Review Of The Nursing Ethics Literature.” Nursing Ethics 27.1 (2019): 152-167. Web. 15 Dec. 2020.

Praskwiecs, Beth H. “Ethics.” Plastic Surgical Nursing 20.1 (2000): 37-40. Web. 15 Dec. 2020.

Rathor, MohammadYousuf et al. “Attitudes Toward Euthanasia And Related Issues Among Physicians And Patients In A Multi-Cultural Society Of Malaysia.” Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care 3.3 (2014): 230. Web. 15 Dec. 2020.

Rietjens, Judith A. C. et al. “Two Decades Of Research On Euthanasia From The Netherlands. What Have We Learnt And What Questions Remain?.” Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 6.3 (2009): 271-283. Web. 15 Dec. 2020.

Shaikh, M.A., and A. Kamal. “Beliefs About Euthanasia Among University Students: Perspectives From Pakistan.” Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal 17.10 (2011): 794-797. Web. 15 Dec. 2020.