rise of advanced technologies in the medical field, especially those that sustains life, has brought issues in the ethics and morality of those involved in the field of medicine. Most significant to these issues is the practice of Euthanasia on patients diagnosed to have no chance of surviving and regaining life after any treatment has been implemented. In view of the issues on Euthanasia, this paper aims to present a discussion of this medical practice by analyzing the stands and views of Ned Cassem, James Rachel, Sidney Hook, and Leon R. Kass. This paper also aims to explain the meaning of "good death" as mentioned by Ned Cassem.
On many medical books and dictionaries, "euthanasia" or "mercy-killing" is defined as ending a life of a terminally ill patient by ways such as removing life support machines or stopping treatments that somehow prolongs life. The basic reason why euthanasia is performed on terminally ill patients is to end their prolonged suffering. There are two basic types of euthanasia: passive euthanasia and active euthanasia. Passive euthanasia is the act of discontinuing artificial life support treatments, thus allowing a natural death to take place. This process is sometimes referred to as "pulling the plug." Active euthanasia on the other hand is the direct killing of a patient either by himself, also known as "self-deliverance," or by another person, as in the case of a physician assisting suicide.
Active euthanasia is currently morally forbidden because the intentional killing of a human life is considered as murder. It is forbidden also because it violates the very duty that doctors have to patients -- which is the preservation of life.
The practice of euthanasia leads to many issues and controversies regarding its morality and legality. Many are concerned whether it is morally permissible to end a person's life in the practice of medicine.
Ned Cassem, a psychiatrist and a Jesuit priest, who heads the Optimum Care Committee at Massachusetts General views that patients who are candidate for euthanasia are entitled to have a "good death."
Optimum Care Committee is a group of doctors and nurses who helps terminally ill patients and their families cope up with the thorny issues of euthanasia. Their concern is in the psychological aspects that would bring the patients or their families when euthanasia is necessary or applicable. They also patiently talk of the issues that would help a patient's family come up to any decision on matters relating to euthanasia.
In the article "Ending a Life," Ned Cassem defines "good death" as "...one in which the person was able to depart with maximum acknowledgement of the importance and meaningfulness of their having been among us." (Stein, Charles. Ending a Life.)
Here, Cassem is concerned in making the dying person feel his worth in the life he lived and for the people he is about to leave. As with the author's understanding of the meaning of "good death" every time the doctors and nurses often say "It was a good death." Or "It was a beautiful death," Stein said that a good death seems to be one in which the dying put their affairs in order, come together with their family and friends, and resolve lingering conflicts.
For Cassem, a good death involves the presence of human relationship. Whether from a faithful spouse or primary caregiver of 50 years, or the new face and name of the attending nurse, emotional care is as essential as physical comfort. A kind smile or a sobbing embrace is often as pain relieving as any drug or surgical procedure, depending upon the degree of emotional distress affecting the physical well being of a person. Cassem demonstrated this when he tried to know something about an elderly woman who was bitter in life. Through some conversations, Cassem then realized that the woman was a former Olympian. This then made her known in the hospital as the former Olympian.
THE DIFFERENT VIEWS ON EUTHANASIA
In the article "Ending a Life," Ned Cassem and his Optimum Care Committee support the practice of euthanasia. They provide consultation to patients and families by giving them moral support on making decisions regarding ending a life. This service of Cassem and the committee somehow exercises compassion to involved parties.
As with Cassem, in the article "In Defense of Voluntary Euthanasia" by Sidney Hook, Hook argues that euthanasia is compassionate. Based from his life-threatening experience, in which he vividly…