Terry Schiavo the Case of Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

The direct harm the other individual ultimately determines the rightness or wrongness of the individual's actions and decisions.

Applied in the Schiavo case, deontology then considers the decision to deprive Schiavo of the feeding tubes that sustains her life as not a permissible act. It is true that with Schiavo's death, both her husband and family will not be aggrieved or directly harmed with her death; instead, both parties will feel relief with the eventual decision to 'end' Schiavo's physical suffering. Her death will not cause any detriment to the lives of her husband and family, making Schiavo's death ethical, to the extent that it relieved Schiavo from the physical suffering she experiences, and her family from worrying about her condition and the continuous financial burden they experienced as a result of her prolonged hospitalization. However, despite these arguments, the decision to discontinue her life support was made by her family -- thus rendering the decision as a violation of Schiavo's right to determine her own fate and a disrespect for her autonomy as an individual, whether she is capable of mobility and human interaction or not.

Utilitarianists, meanwhile, would subsist to only half of the position or arguments presented by deontologists. They would agree that indeed, Schiavo's family would experience relief, both emotionally and financially, from her death (considered as her 'freedom' from the life support system). Unlike the deontologists, however, utilitarians would further argue that Schiavo's death is permissible in that the decision benefited the patient herself by providing her with physical relief as well, considering the fact that while she is still biologically alive, the live that she lived has been far from the kind of life humans would want to have and aspire for. Thus, because the end result of the decision benefited both family and the patient, Schiavo's death is considered ethical.

Further into the case, what made Schiavo's case extraordinarily complicated is the fact that technology through the life support system determined that she is still alive, although "living" based on one's ability to move about and interact was not determined physically. Technology made medical decision-making more difficult, for medical practitioners had to reconcile issues regarding human life, as determined epistemologically, metaphysically, and biologically.

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