Should Doctors be Allowed to Perform Euthanasia
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Every time the word ‘euthanasia’ is mentioned to many it seems like a simple word which means a mercy killing or good death. Legislation of most countries and states provide different statutes to this issue, killings of the injured or hopeless living animals and human beings are included. However, this discussion is going to focus on euthanasia of human beings, the arguments for and against mercy killing, the various comments on the reasons for and against mercy killings and the position on euthanasia.
Euthanasia should be an option of terminating a patient’s life in dignity in cases where a patient is suffering from an excruciating pain that is making his or her life completely unbearable. There are situations where the mercy killing may be the appropriate way to help a patient to end his or her life instead of suffering in pain. Many of these cases are done on request by a patient on accepted suggestion by a medical practitioner to a patient in consultations with the family and friends (Almagor, 2008, p. 95).There are three facts about the patient’s right to die instead of suffering. First of all, it is a fact that euthanasia is never a voluntary choice but is a remedy of last resort. Subsequently, it is also a common fact that most patients would prefer to die rather than to live a life full of destitute and this is evident when most patients would request their doctors to end their lives through a needle injection so that they die as soon as it can happen and lastly, the fact is that doctors do mention euthanasia to their patients only as an option among other options but not as a suggestion. According to statistics conducted in Netherlands by Doctor Kimsma, euthanasia is an option to most of the patients who are diagnosed with critical illnesses which are unbearable. Out of all Kimsma’s patients who had undergone through euthanasia, 80% of the patients asked for it, while 10% were from a request by the family and the remaining 10% were suggested by the Doctor. On the other hand, Kimsma’s statistics on his patients whom he conducted euthanasia to, were 100% men (Almagor 2008, p95). The evidence on euthanasia according to doctor Kimsma’s study reveals that most of his patients who had undergone through euthanasia were suffering from critical illnesses like cancer (Almagor 2008, p. 95).
Ethics and law accept the practice of euthanasia. It is ethically accepted to cause a painless demise to a person with his permission and support of his relatives and friends. It is ethical to relieve a patient from a lifelong pain by assisted suicide on request which is less painful if done by a mere lethal injection by a physician. On the other hand, most countries and states’ law has allowed the act of mercy killing as a last resort to help patients. It is an ethical fact that such kind of suicide is morally permissible. Therefore, it is also accepted that the victim can be assisted to terminate his or her life just like the moral suicide (Summer 2011, p. 20). Similarly, it is a fact that legal status can not consider voluntary euthanasia as illegal if moral suicide is permissible, voluntary euthanasia is conducted when doctors give suicide assistance by offering a lethal medical injection to a suffering patient leaving the doctor irresponsible for killing as the death is caused by the medication (Summer 2011 p. 20). Ethical and legal statistics on euthanasia according to Emmanuel et Al. (1998) survey on the 16% of physicians who were found to have participated in PAS concerning whether the assisted suicide is ethical and legal, 53% of the physicians had a view that the act is ethical, while 24% considered it as immoral act, and 40% thought they might be prosecuted (Bryant 2003, p. 419). It can be concluded that it is legal to continue with the practice of euthanasia since moral suicide cannot be criminalized.
Several arguments against euthanasia have also come up. This is a religious believe that life is a gift given to mankind by God. In this view of sanctity of life, it is considered to be very sacred (Chambliss, 2011, p. 96). Therefore, no human being for whatever reason or situation is allowed to take another person’s life. The fact that no man can give life to another man is a conclusive argument in Christianity that it is only God who is the provider of life. Statistically most religions that exist in the world today, like Christianity, Buddhists, Hindus among other religious believes, all preach on existence of human beings and respect for life of others.
Subsequently, another argument against euthanasia is the medicinal ability to cure pain and suffering. Since mercy killing is an option of last resort to ending the patients’ pain and suffering, it is possible that medical practitioners can use the power of medicine to help their patients to alleviate hopeless life and lifelong pain from critical illnesses instead of euthanasia (Chambliss, 2011, p. 96). Records indicate that some of the critical illnesses like the terminal illness can be cured through aggressive use of medication and palliative care which can help to reduce the number of patients going through euthanasia (Chambliss, 2011, p. 96). The argument against euthanasia is valid since the use of medication can help the patients to overcome their pain and suffering.
Euthanasia is a simple word that is raising complex questions and giving conflicting responses as some people hold the view that euthanasia is a solution to hopelessness. While the others have an alternative view that it should not be practiced. All the opinions for and against euthanasia are based on various reasons that call for different comments. To begin with, one reasons for mercy killing is to end suffering and pain caused by some critical illnesses like cancer, which make life useless and unbearable. Indeed, in reality a sickness may cause a suffering that is long lasting, that is why relatives and friends may wish the victim to die to relieve him or her from suffering. In my opinion, it is just to end a person’s life with dignity if the situation is turning worse and the suffering is becoming irreversible. Another reason for mercy killing is that it is viewed as ethical and allowed by the law to do so as a way of assisted moral suicide. Patients may wish to cut their life short if life is hopeless. But how are they going to execute the act? I guess in a painful way. So, in my view, it is right for a doctor to assist by offering a lethal injection which kills without the patient’s undergoing through extra pain and suffering. In contrast, there are reasons against euthanasia, like many religious traditions which are in total disagreement with the practice of mercy killing. Religions are institutional groupings with a common belief for the positive ending however the situation is. Therefore, it is not acceptable by religious traditions to give up living until life is taken by God and not by any other human being. However, in my thinking, no one is allowed to cut short another person’s life. But in cases where life is full of pain, destitute and unending hopelessness, euthanasia may be appropriate. The other reason against euthanasia is that there is a medicinal ability to cure or to reduce pain and suffering of patients by aggressive use of medicine and palliative care. Even though the use of medicinal power has helped some of the patients to reduce pain or even to recover, then the question is, what about the rest of the patients whom the medication does not help? In this case I can recommend that euthanasia should be the option of last resort where the medicinal power can not produce positive results.
After analyzing both the arguments for and against euthanasia I have a position that mercy killing should be practiced. Doctors are guided by the professional ethics not to harm their patients and all the cases of mercy killings are arrived at after thorough analysis of the options available for a positive result that may help the patient. Secondly, the patients are the ones who do request for mercy killing which is not fulfilled till some counseling is done to help them to come up with an informed decision with the help of their relatives and friends.
In conclusion, euthanasia refers to a mercy killing; this is primarily done in medical facilities with the help of medical practitioners. There are several reasons which support the act of mercy killing. The major reason is that it is a way to end a life long suffering and pain of an individual or patient. The second reason is that it is ethically right to offer an assisted suicide which is also allowed by the law. In contrast, other arguments against mercy killings are that life is a gift from God and should not be terminated by another person; another reason against euthanasia is that medicinal power can be used to provide relief from pain instead of euthanasia. Lastly, in my opinion, I would take a position that doctors should be allowed to practice euthanasia since it is an act that is done professionally only on request by the patient in agreement with the family and relatives. In addition, doctors are not held responsible for the assisted death of their patients.
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