Ethical Perspectives On Physician Assisted Suicide Term Paper

Length: 4 pages Sources: 4 Type: Term Paper Paper: #87927259 Related Topics: Euthanasia, Population, Christian Ethics, Terminal Illness Published September 21, 2022
Excerpt from Term Paper :

Euthanasia

Euthanasia can be defined as the process of helping a person end his own life. It can be desired by a person who is perhaps in pain already or expects to be in pain in the coming future due to some terminal illness. It is a concept that goes against the traditional Western code of medicine based on the Hippocratic Oath and Christian ethics, which shaped Western society sine the time of the Middle Ages. In todays post-Christian culture, there is more debate about the ethics of euthanasia. Physician-assisted suicide has actually been legalized in several states, such as Oregon and California (ProCon, 2022). The primary reason for social support for euthanasia today in some states is that voters see it as a way to end the suffering of an individual who is resigned to dying and wants to die as peacefully as possible on his or her own terms (Buiting et al., 2009). Thus, euthanasia can be seen in negative terms by those who oppose it for ethical reasons, and it can be seen in positive terms by those who support for different ethical reasons. It is ultimately a controversial and divisive topic.

The difference between passive and active euthanasia is that the former involves taking life-support away from an individual while the latter involves giving the individual a life-ending intervention, such as a chemical that will kill. Passive euthanasia has more support among physicians than active euthanasia, which some still associate with Dr. Kevorkian, aka Dr. Death (Vaughn, 2012). The reason more physicians tend to support passive euthanasia than active euthanasia is that there is more ethical justification for passive euthanasia within the Western tradition of ethics. There is no moral obligation, for instance, in Christian ethics to provide life support that is viewed as extraordinary or overly burdensome (Holmes, 2007). Physicians therefore tend to see passive euthanasia as more acceptable within the context of the Hippocratic Oath, as death is a natural and inevitable phenomenon and the purpose of medicine is not to delay the inevitable but rather to help the person return to health when possible. However, some physicians do support active euthanasia, as they see it from a different ethical perspective, namely the perspective of Ethical Egoism in which a persons autonomy is seen as the most important factor in making decisions (Holmes, 2007).

My beliefs regarding euthanasia are that it should not be pursued actively but that passively it can be accepted. I believe that we have traditional standards and principles that we should follow and that when we do not follow them our society becomes chaotic and unstable. The issue of suicide is one that our standards and principles…is not permitted. Euthanasia is not legal in my state of Kentucky, which prohibits what are called mercy-killings and any other attempt to end a persons life other than to allow the natural progression of things to take place. This can be contrasted with Oregons Death with Dignity Act, which permits active euthanasia. In Oregons state law, the requirements that must be met for euthanasia to take place are these: The person must be: 1) 18 years of age or older, 2) capable of making and communicating health care decisions for him or herself, and 3) must be diagnosed with a terminal illness that will lead to death within six months. So it cannot be a case of a person who is 18 walking in and saying that he wants to die because he is depressed. There has to be a terminal condition with a prognosis of six months. No such requirements exist in my home state because in my state euthanasia is not permitted, period.

Euthanasia is thus a topic that many people disagree about; some states have legalized it, with conditions needing to be met, of course, as can be seen with the Oregon Death with Dignity Act. Other states continue to prohibit the practice. Ethical systems offer different perspectives on the topic, but traditionally in the West it has not been supported…

Sources Used in Documents:

References


Buiting, H. et al. (2009). Reporting on euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in the Netherlands. BMC Med Ethics, 10(18), 10-18.


Holmes, A. (2007). Ethics: Approaching moral decisions. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.


ProCon. (2022). Historical timeline. Retrieved from https://euthanasia.procon.org/historical-timeline/


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