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Euthanasia is a big health controversy that has been discussed for many decades. People hold differing beliefs and opinions in regards to euthanasia. The term euthanasia basically means the practice of willingly terminating a person's life in order to relieve the person of any suffering or pain. Taking of the person's life is usually at the express instructions of the person. There are two different kinds of euthanasia involuntary and voluntary euthanasia. According to Jochemsen and Keown (1999)
voluntary euthanasia involves the patient having requested that their life be taken in case they suffer from an incurable disease which is causing them too much suffering and pain. Involuntary euthanasia occurs when a doctor or physician makes the decision to terminate a patient's life because the patient cannot recover and keeping them on life support will not have any positive effect.
Euthanasia does contradict with the basic moral principle of life that killing is wrong. When viewed from a religion point-of-view euthanasia is considered to be murder, and this violates one of the commandments. The upholding the sanctity of human life is the laws principle purpose. So euthanasia can also be considered to be illegal under the law. What makes euthanasia so controversial is the fact that it pits suffering, pain, and dying patients against religion, legal tradition, and medical ethics.
The moral dilemma for euthanasia is not new. The term euthanasia was derived from the Greek word which means good death. With the advancements in technology made in medicine today, it is very hard for a patient to achieve good death. This is because there are new treatments that have been discovered for treating the diseases that were considered incurable in the past. With this said, it should be noted that there are still diseases that are degenerative and incurable at the moment. These diseases will make the patient to have a diminished life quality.
Forms of euthanasia
There are two distinct forms of euthanasia, passive or active euthanasia. Passive euthanasia is performed by withdrawing all life supporting means from the patient. Passive euthanasia is tricky because there are many ways that a patient's life can be supported. Some of the ordinary means are nutrition and water. This two are a basic human necessity, and they should never be withheld no matter the situation. Each patient case should always be treated separately depending on the complexity of the patient's illness. The basic form of passive euthanasia is withdrawing and withholding all treatments that are dangerous, burdensome, and will not guarantee a positive outcome Campbell, 1999.
This means the patient should not be placed under any life supporting equipment.
Withdrawing treatment for a patient as their condition worsens is equivalent to letting the patient have a natural death. This is not equivalent to directly killing the patient. In passive euthanasia, it is considered to be the disease that causes the patient's death and not the doctor who withdrew the treatment.
Active euthanasia involves directly or intentionally terminating a patient's life. The termination can either be voluntary or involuntary. The majority of people who advocate for active euthanasia have ignored the Lord's commandment of "Thou shall not kill." Their main objective is to quickly eliminate the patient's pain and suffering by using any means necessary. Active euthanasia should not be considered to be assisted suicide. There is a major difference. Assisted suicide involves the physician telling the patient which drugs they can take in order to terminate their life. The patient may be suffering and in pain, but they are not terminally ill. Active euthanasia is performed on terminally ill patients and involves injecting the patient with a drug that will stop all bodily functions Sklansky, 2001.
Assisted suicide is illegal and is considered to be murder, and a physician who assists their patient to commit suicide is guilty of murder according the U.S. laws.
Legalizing euthanasia would considerably reduce the cost of healthcare in America. This is because a terminally ill patient would not have to be kept in life support for the rest of their life, yet the doctors know for sure that the patient will not recover Asch & DeKay, 1997.
This will reduce the amount of money the patient's family spends on healthcare and ensure the hospital facilities are put into good use. Instead of a patient suffering for the rest of their life, euthanasia will provide relief to the patient and eliminate their constant suffering. There have been cases where a patient has requested for euthanasia, but the request is denied by the courts. The patient's request had been based on the fact that they will never recover, they are accumulating huge bills in the hospital, and there is emotional suffering by the family members.
A patient should be given the choice to live or not. Insisting that a patient has to live no matter their health state goes against their rights. Euthanasia should be permissible with the patient's consent when they are of sound mind. It does not mean that since euthanasia has been legalized all patients will ought for an unnatural death. Patients should be given the liberal choice of deciding what should happen to them in case they are terminally ill and cannot recover from the illness. This decision should not be denied by others. For as long the patient's decision does not conflict with the rights of others, their option for euthanasia should be followed.
Advantages of euthanasia
Euthanasia eliminates a patient's pain and suffering ensuring that the patient who is dying does not have to undergo extreme suffering. Using euthanasia, a physician is able to speed up the patient's dying process and thus eliminates the torture that a patient would undergo if they physician was to let him/her attain a natural death. The patient's rights are respected. There are patients who willingly choose to undergo euthanasia instead of having many lifelong medical treatments which do not improve their quality of life. Administering euthanasia ensures that the patient's right to choose is obeyed.
For a patient whose organs had not been severely affected by the disease, their organs can be harvested and used for patients who need transplants. This way the patient, who chooses death, will also save another person's life in the process. If the patient is not allowed to die, the disease might affect all their body organs, and this would make the organs unusable for transplants.
The patient's family does not suffer economically. Healthcare is expensive and having a terminally ill patient would put a strain on the patient's family finances. Having the option for euthanasia a family can discuss with the physician, and in case the patient's condition will not improve no matter the treatments given then the family can opt for euthanasia. This way the amount of money they would spend supporting the patient could be used for other family needs.
Disadvantages of euthanasia
When analyzed from the religion perspective, euthanasia is not permissible and religious groups would not allow it because it devalues a person's life. Moulton, Hill, and Burdette (2006)
argues religion does not allow for anyone to take their life or another person's life no matter the situation. In cases where the patient has been affected mentally, it is difficult to determine for sure if they want euthanasia. In such a situation, the physician or family members will have to make the decision for the patient. This would lead to involuntary euthanasia, which might be against the patient's wishes. Legalizing euthanasia could lead to more deaths caused by family members, especially for the patients who cannot voice their desires. This would also be used to remove the unwanted person's in society because they have deformities, or are insane.
Euthanasia will forever be a controversial subject. There are many considerations…[continue]
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