Strindberg Project

Euthanasia

By johnsonmarkus

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Each and every organism lives only for a certain period of time; death is inevitable regardless the form of one’s life. Death does not regard religion or culture, and thus, it is the final stage of life. Many people live in fear of death due to the knowledge that death is a must, and there is no known way to prevent it from happening. Death can, therefore, be said to be the permanent end of vital bodily functions in all living organisms, where the physical movements cease to function. Euthanasia refers to the practice of deliberately ending life of an individual to relieve suffering and pain. There are different laws governing euthanasia in different countries. The House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics in Britain defines euthanasia as deliberate intervention undertaken to express intention of ending life, to reduce obstinate suffering (Fisher, 2003). In the Netherlands, for example, euthanasia is believed to be the termination of life by a doctor at the discretion of a patient.Euthanasia is classified in different ways, which include non-voluntary, voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary euthanasia is lawful in some countries and U.S. states. Non-voluntary euthanasia is against the law in all countries and in fact considered as a murder (Reamer, 1998). Many argue that the death of a person is an illustration of euthanasia only if death is intended by another human being. Religious affiliations differ much on the same. Most religious organizations do not advocate for euthanasia and provide tangible reasons for the same.Proponents of euthanasia argue that an individual has a right to die; everyone has discretion in choosing time of his/her death. This argument stems from various arguments including those of philosophers. John Stuart Mill, for example, insists that the exercise of any law and its ability to hold an individual with an obligation is only justified if its purpose is to prevent harm or infringement of another person’s right. The proponents clearly use this argument, and state that no law can prohibit a person from choosing to die; they posit that just as the law cannot prohibit religious orientations or sex before marriage, as they do not violate other’s rights or cause harm, terminally ill patients’ desire to end their life should be allowed. Proponents insist that an individual has a right of getting assistance to commit a suicide, for example, when a terminal illness suffer from constant pain; it may be through a suicide, physician-assisted death or decline of medical treatment (Remmelink et al., 1991).ANA Board of DirectorsIn articulating the responsibilities and roles of registered nurses, ANA has continued to give the best guidance and expert advice to nurses concerning end-of-life decisions. The organization has also endeavored to demystify the ethical dilemmas surrounding the end of life choices. In the nursing profession, the position of the Congress on Nursing Practice and Economics together with the Center for Ethics and Human Rights Advisory Board regarding euthanasia is remarkably clear. They recognize that it is an issue regarding quality of life.According to ANA (2001), nurses have an obligation to provide compassionate end-of-life care and to relieve pain. In addition, they should give concerned relatives comfort when crucial decisions are being made at the bedside. As nurses endeavor to provide quality end-of-life care, it is not ethical and permissible for nurses to do acts of commission or omission when administrating medicine to terminally ill patients. During nurse training courses, it is required by the board that nurses get well prepared academically on the importance of compassionate and comprehensive end-of-life care to patients. This should be understood well during internship. Counseling should be done properly to a patient and his/her immediate and close family members. Additionally, nurses are tasked with providing humane and appropriate care to patients. Nurses actively participate in measuring and assuring the accountable and appropriate use of interventions to minimize unjustified or unwanted treatment and a patient sorrow (ANA, 2001).Dying is a part of the ordinary process of living where nurses’ responsibilities to provide the end-of-life care are deepened by the situation. They are finally grounded in the basics of nursing ethics and are practiced all the time. A nurse as counselor provides terminally ill patients with all needed information regarding end-of-life care. This is done in order to honor the patient`s autonomy. This helps to prepare persons and families for making decisions that may lie ahead. The proponents also state that an individual’s life and body are in his/her possession and he/she can dispose of them in the way he/she wants. Sue Rodriguez, a Canadian citizen, died of Lou Gehrig’s disease in 1994; she took her case before the Canadian Supreme Court requesting permission for legal euthanasia. In her argument, she asked who had a right over her body if she couldn`t give consent to her own death; she demanded, “Whose life is it anyway?” Since then, countries have enacted laws, such as Australia’s Euthanasia Laws Act of 1997, allowing euthanasia. Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act of 1997 was passed by a margin of 51% to 49%. In 1997, another ballot measure sought to repeal the act, but the measure was defeated by a margin of 60% to 40% (Pappas & Demetra, 1996).Since then, statistics indicate a rising trend of euthanasia acceptance. For example, 9% of all deaths in the Netherlands in 1990 were as a result of euthanasia. The Netherlands also has a trend of cases involving euthanasia, in which doctors upon request killed 1,040 patients and provided 400 patients with the means to kill themselves. In the State of Oregon 129 people were killed as a result of euthanasia during 1998-2002 with 265 people being prescribed lethal drugs within the same period. The sanctity of life argument and the inviolability of life are some of the refutations of a right to die (Ethical Rights, 2010).The second argument in the euthanasia debate is a patient’s suffering and end-of-life proposal. End of life refers to the period upon establishing a terminal illness that cannot be cured. Proponents offer euthanasia in the patient’s self-determination context, regarding palliative care and other medical responses. The proponents argue that in circumstances of making end-of-life decisions, for example, in case with patients suffering from the last stage of cancer, euthanasia should be granted to the patient. They insist that, in many instances, a patient suffer from unbearable pain and deserves a relief from it upon request. They also state that it is clear in some cases that patients live their last days and, therefore, it is within their discretion to decide not to wait or waste resources in a futile attempt, yet death is inevitable. The proponents argue that alleviating suffering is an ancient and fundamental goal of medicine, conversely, if a patient affirms that his/her suffering is unbearable he/she should be assisted in alleviating pain using euthanasia (Danish Council of Ethics, 2006).They also argue, in the line of compassion, that dying individuals not only suffer unbearably from the physical health issues but also from the unbearable reality that they will die soon; the pain and torment of expecting death justify their request for euthanasia. The case of Bob, who was diagnosed with cancer, illustrates end of life and patient’s suffering. Bob foresaw the possibility of a horrible end of his life, he lost half his weight, he was coughing blood and he was suffering from extreme pain. He had lethal medicine and a loaded gun, but since he was too weak, he asked his wife, relatives and friends to assist him but none agreed in fear of prosecution. The reality of the end of life and need for euthanasia is widespread; a 2002 survey indicates that 65% of people support euthanasia of suffering patients, 67-90% of terminally ill individuals would wish to receive support for euthanasia if there is a need, and in 2001, a Journal of the American Medical Association indicated that 57% of medical personnel supported end-of-life requests. The lack of a scale to measure suffering and quantify it as unbearable is a likely refutation of the patient request to stop his/her suffering. Religious groups also argue that the end of life is a human mystery which science should not use as justification; God takes life when He wants (Kohl & Marvin, 1974).The Hippocratic Oath and the prohibition against killing form another prominent view on euthanasia. Those who advance the theory oppose euthanasia stating that doctors have a duty to heal not to kill. The opponents particularly refer to the statement, “I will never give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it…nor will I make any suggestions to that effect…”. Patients’ consent or human agreement cannot deprive life of its dignity and doctors swear to safeguard the purity and holiness of life. Statistics indicate the oath is the most revered and the calling to safeguard life is prominent and foremost. The oath is likely to be refuted on the basis that it is outdated and fails to embrace the fact that the medical profession is not only about preservation of life but ensuring its dignity as well (National Institute of Health’s History of Medicine, 2006).The role of the government in this issue features prominently in the argument against euthanasia. The government has a role to play, through either medical policies or incentives, given that palliative care is always within the limits of resources and finances. They argue that government intervention would render euthanasia needless, since the end-of-life decisions would be easy to manage. Equipment and support would ensure that terminally ill patients will be provided with everything they require. They argue that this would contribute towards relieving pain and enhancing the quality of life during a patient’s last days. Statistics indicate a rise in Medicare and Medicaid spending (an average of $12 billion per year). Opponents of euthanasia insist that government involvements through interventions that prolong life such as End-of-Life Bill are better options than euthanasia. This argument may be, however, devoid of any usefulness in case of medical futility (oag.state.md.us, n.d).Another argument pertains to healthcare spending implications. Euthanasia reduces the costs in futile situations; its proponents argue that a majority of terminal illnesses require exceptional equipment during palliative care, which are few and compete against those who require them and have chances of survival. It is a form of freeing up resources to where they can be more useful. Baby K case indicates a clash of euthanasia and resources use. The decision to continue futile care only resulted in the repetitive diversion of medical equipment since Baby K would die anyway (Gurney & Edward, 1972).Euthanasia also contends with the social issues of abuse. These are legitimate concerns since no law immune for abuse exists so far. The vagueness of limits alarms social groups. There is evidence that in the Netherlands 4,941 patients were treated with lethal drugs without their consent and 2,300 were killed without their consent or knowledge. There are also religious arguments, in which opponents of euthanasia refer to a religious belief of the sanctity of life and that life belongs to God, only He can take it away. A man receives life and has no authority over it; the Roman Catholic Church argues that human agency excludes authority of ending life (Brody & Baruch, 1975).Living wills form another facet of euthanasia; they entail an individual’s directive of medical preference, while still mentally competent. This issue forms the remedy of the contentious issue of who will decide and as such it alleviates unnecessary opposition. A Slippery Slope argument forms a decisive voice in the euthanasia debate. Its proponents focus on the consequences of legalizing euthanasia. They agree that euthanasia is ethical in some instances. They would, thus, legalize euthanasia if the patient is suffering unbearably; there is medical assessment to this effect and the patients` autonomous decision favors euthanasia. The argument may receive refutations from the religious groups on grounds that no man has authority over his/her life (Danish Council of Ethics, 2006).ConclusionIn conclusion, it is clear that individuals generally desire to have a right of deciding when to die; there is also a need to look at the issue of prolonging life if suffering makes it unbearable. Compassion demands doing the most dignified things that take away pain and the Hippocratic Oath cannot bind a physician to this since its construction is narrow. Government intervention, on the other hand, is essential but it is not sufficient to nullify euthanasia if treatment is futile; palliative care should conversely help those who have chances of survival. It is also clear that euthanasia can be misused, but better legislation can solve this problem, and finally, living wills can solve the dilemma of who decides when to euthanize, thus, eliminating the complexity of the problem. Given the reasons, euthanasia is a valid medical decision despite the refutations; it is, however, pertinent to rethink its position within various institutions and refine thought beyond laws for a better outcome (Apple & Jacob, 2004).ReferencesApple & Jacob (2004). A duty to kill? A duty to die? Rethinking the euthanasia.American Nurses Association. (2001). Nursing’s agenda for health care reform.Washington, DC: Nursesbooks.org.Brody, B. (1975). Voluntary euthanasia and the law. In Kohl, Marvin. BeneficientControversy of 1906". Bulletin of the History of Medicine Cumberland-Samford Law Review.Danish Council of Ethics. (2006). Arguments for and against euthanasia. Retrieved on 8th April, 2013 from http://etiskraad.dk/upload/publications-en/euthanasia-and-conditions-of- the-dying/end-of-life/kap3_3.htmEthical Rights. (2010). The Right to die with dignity-euthanasia. Retrieved on 8th April, 2013from http://www.ethicalrights.com/submissions/human-rights/83-the-right-to-die-with-dignity-euthanasia.htmlFisher, C. B. (2003). Decoding the ethics code: A practical guide for psychologists. ThousandOaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.Gurney, E. (1972). "Is there a right to die – a study of the law of euthanasia"?Kohl, M. (1974). The morality of killing. New York: Humanities PressNational Institute of Health’s History of Medicine (2006). Does euthanasia and physician- assisted suicide violate the Hippocratic Oath? Retrieved on 8th April, 2013from http://euthanasia.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=000198Oag.state.md.us (n.d). Palliative care and end-of life counseling. Retrieved on May 16, 2012 from http://www.oag.state.md.us/Healthpol/Hospice_and_Palliative_Care_Workgroup_Report. pdfPappas, D. (1996). "Recent historical perspectives regarding medical euthanasiaPhysician assisted suicide". British Medical Bulletin.Remmelink, J. et al. (1991). Medical decisions about the end of life: Report of the committeeto study the medical practice concerning euthanasia. Hague: SDU Publishing House.Reamer, F. G. (1998). Ethical standards in social work: A review of the NASW code of ethics.Washington, DC: NASW Press.
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Published: September 26, 2022, 12:54 am