Assisted Suicide, mercy killing, euthanasia; whatever you call it or however we justified it is killing by all means. Euthanasia is a practice of ending a life to release an individual from an incurable disease or intolerable suffering. It is an action which brings intentional death to a patient. In the case of the elderly cancer patient, the family and the patient does not know whether or not to commit euthanasia. The author response in this case, is that the elderly cancer patient should not go for euthanasia, since she has a biographical life. He came to the right conclusion, even though he did not have a valid argument. The author should have advised the patient not to commit euthanasia by using the three main arguments against euthanasia, which are the Bible from a Christian prospective, the effective pain management, and the fear of abuse if euthanasia were legalized.
Case History: A seventy one-year-old Christian woman developed cancer in her kidney. Physicians helped her by removing the kidney. However, now the cancer has spread to other parts of her body. The physicians say that she needs dialysis, since her second kidney is now failing. They believe that dialysis might keep her alive for six to nine months. Without dialysis, she would probably survive a couple of weeks. An experimental drug that might have some effect on her cancer is coming onto the market.
The new drug might help her fight the cancer, if she could survive for six months. Despite her insurance policy, she is sending a tremendous amount of money from her life savings. Her son thinks death is unavoidable and wants to avoid dialysis. He thinks bankrupting the family for a long shot is meaningless. Her daughter is a Christian who feels bad about not doing everything she can to help her mother.
The question that is presented at the end of this case history is what should one say to guide this family on whether or not the elderly cancer patient should go for euthanasia? Author’s Response: According to the article “James Rachels and the Active Euthanasia Debate” by J. P. Moreland, the elderly cancer patient should not go for euthanasia. The author would defend his answer by stating that the personal biographic life of the elderly cancer patient is enough to prevent her from committing euthanasia. The author believes that the desire to die is rational only if one’s lost his/her biographical life. He defines one’s biographical life as “the sum of one’s aspirations, decisions, activities, projects, and human relations”.
This means that a person biographical life is the interests that are important and worthwhile from the point view of the person himself. He argues that “the fact that something has biological life, whether human or non-human is relatively unimportant”. What is important from his point of view is someone who has biographical life. He adds that all kinds of animals have a biographical life, since they have thoughts, emotions, goals, and cares. As a matter of fact an animal with a biographical life has more value than human with biological life. He believes that in the case of the elderly cancer patient, even though she has cancer, she still has thoughts, emotions, goals, cares, and human relations.
The author argues that since she never told her children how she felt about terminal care, shows that she still has cares, thoughts, and emotions. Having a daughter and a son also show that she has human relationships. The author argues that since she is a Christian her goal in life should be to praise Christ. According to the author, since she has thoughts, emotions, goals, cares, and human relationships, therefore she has a biographical life. He also believes that her biographical life is more than enough to give value to her life. Author’s conclusion: The author concludes that the family of the elderly cancer patient and the patient herself should not commit euthanasia.
His conclusion was based on one main premise, which is that the elderly cancer patient has a biographical life. Criticizing the author’s argument: The author believes that the desire to die is rational only if one’s lost his/her biographical life. This means if one lost his or her biographical life, they have the right to commit euthanasia. I disagree with the author on that people might have the right to euthanasia. The three most common arguments against euthanasia are the Bible from a Christian prospective, the effective pain management, and the fear of abuse if euthanasia were legalized.
One of the biggest arguments against euthanasia is the religious argument, which was not mentioned by the author. Most religious groups especially Christianity goes against euthanasia. The practice of euthanasia is wrong because it violates the principle that life is given by God. God doesn’t approve of “hands that shed innocent blood”. Life comes from God. It is God’s decision to give life and to take it away. In the Bible, “shedding innocent blood” is called murder.
The death of King Sol is an example of euthanasia. Saul did not want the philistines to find him alive. He knew they would torture him. He asked his solider to kill him. When the solider refused, Sol fell on his own sword and died. Sol committed suicide, but he did it to avoid suffering. He murdered himself and therefore was guilty of sin. Not all suffering is bad. Even though one may not always understand why he/she suffers, some good can come from it.
The apostle Paul understood this. He had a “thorn in the flesh” he asked God to remove, but he realized afterward that it was for his good. Suffering, and relating to Jesus Christ’s suffering on the cross, a part of preparation for meeting God. It says in the Bible, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God and you are not your own? For you were brought at a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are Gods.
Therefore, the human being is merely a steward of his life, which is a gift from God, which only God could take away. Many Christians who believe in euthanasia justify it by saying that the God whom they worship is loving and tolerant, and would not wish to see them suffer. They do not see their God as being unforgiving as refusing them the Kingdom of Heaven if they speed up the end of their life to avoid unbearable suffer.
It is mentioned in the Ten Commandments “do not kill”, it didn’t mention any exceptions to the general rule. The Bible made it clear that there is no such thing as merciful killing. Besides, human beings are not God and they should not play God’s role. Who are we to decide when to end a life? Christians believe that Jesus can be found in those in needs, and by helping others who may be in pain or poverty, human beings are acknowledging Christ’s presence. However, by killing another human, people are not respecting the fact that God is present and miracles can happen. Essentially, God is the creator of life, and it is up to him to decide when a person should die, not up to us.
The best response to patient in pain is not to kill them, but to make sure that the medicine and technology currently available to control pain. According to a 1992 manual produced by the Washington Medical Association, Pain Management and Care of the Terminal Patient, “adequate interventions exits to control pain in 90 to 99% of patients.” Therefore, there is no need for euthanasia since pain can be controlled and eliminated. Dr. Seale, president of the Act Right to Life Association mentions that the problem is that uninformed medical personnel using inadequacy methods often fail to bring patients relief from pain that today’s advanced techniques make possible.
Jack Kevorkian, called Dr. Death, argues that mercy killing is necessary because patients with terminal illness experience uncontrollable pain. He also argues that the only way to relieve the pain is to eliminate the patient. It is obvious, that it is better to eliminate the pain insisted of eliminating the patient. The social and mental pain suffered by ill patients may exceed the physical pain they experience. Dr. Seale says, “Failure to remember this complexity is one of the most common reasons why patients fail to achieve adequate symptomatic relief”. Effective pain control therefore requires a team of effort of doctors, nurses, and counselors to address the total pain a patient is suffering. There are several approaches to effective pain management.
Proper administration of an opioid, particularly morphine, has been proven to provide effective pain management in the majority of patients with severe pain. Many methods other than opioids are available. Some patients may benefit from radiation therapy, nerve blocks, and non-pharmacological methods. Despite our ability to control pain through medicine and technology, there are some patients who suffering due to beliefs and practices, which disrupt proper pain management.
Poor pain assessments by physicians, patients’ failure to report pain, and patient hesitance to take drugs, are some barriers that prevent proper pain management. While there do exist some barriers to the implementation of the medicine and technology, effort are being made to remove those barriers. Instead of trying to legalize the killing of patients in pain, the public should be making sure that doctors are tough how to use effective pain management.
The most common argument against euthanasia other than pain control treatment and religion argument is the fear of abusing the Law if euthanasia were legalized. According to David, a writer at Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, in 1973, euthanasia was legalized in the Netherlands. Since that time, doctors and nurses have been involved in killing people who were not ready to die. In 1990, nine percent of all deaths in the Netherlands were carried out by doctors. Half of these were cases where patient was killed without his knowledge. People with mental illness, permanent disability, and even simple old age can now find death as a legal solution for their problems.
Legalized euthanasia raises some dangerous situations in which doctors could find themselves better off financially if a serious ill or disabled person chooses to die rather than receiving a long term care. Many doctors become at a finical risk when they provide treatment for patients. How can we possibly be sure that euthanasia when legalized will only take place with the patient’s consent, and that their death was not the action of a foul doctor or family.
Proof of wrongdoing would be hard to find, which means allowing murder to happen with no prosecution. Euthanasia can be highly abused if legalized. A movement has developed in the US on the legalization of physician-assisted suicides. Dr. Jack Kevorkian attempts to convince people about the goodness of his proposal to legalize “doctor- assisted death” in his book Prescription: Medicaid. But eventually he wasn’t successful because some opponents of euthanasia have feared that the increasing success that doctors have had in transplanting human organs may lead to abuse of the practice of euthanasia.
The author came to the right conclusion, which is that the elderly cancer patient should not commit euthanasia. His argument is not considered valid, because of two reasons. First, because he used only one premise, which is that, the elderly cancer patient has a biographical life. Second, because he did not use any the three main arguments against euthanasia, which are the Bible from a Christian prospective, the effective pain management and the fear of abuse if euthanasia were legalized. These three arguments make it clear that euthanasia is morally and ethically wrong. Conclusion: The case history of the elderly cancer patient is becoming to be very common in today’s world.
The author concludes that in the case of the elderly cancer patient, the family and the patient should not think of committing euthanasia, since the patient has a biographical life. The author should have had more premises before reaching this conclusion. The author should have argued that Euthanasia is morally and ethically wrong. Doctors should stop euthanasia, because human beings are warned in the Bible not to kill, and if they do so, with whatever intentions, there will be consequence, which are not considered.
By allowing euthanasia to be legalized people are opening the door for doctors, nurses, and others to abuse the system. Moreover, by legalizing euthanasia, people have made an exception to the law against murder. In times of suffering human beings often learn the most, and for that reason they should not give in to pain and suffering as euthanasia allows us. Modern medicine has the ability to control pain. A person who seeks to kill him or herself to avoid pain does not need legalized suicide but a doctor trained in relieving pain. We should not get rid of people to whom problems happen, but we should deal with the problems to find a solution.
A request for assisted suicide is typically a cry for help, which is in reality a call for counseling, assistance, and positive alternatives as solutions for problems. In times of suffering a person may feel like committing euthanasia, but if we put our trust in God, all will end well. We should leave it to God to control life and death. People, as humans, understand so little, and their judgment can be distorted in times of suffering. God knows what is best for His creation, even if it means one has to suffer before dying.
Courtney from Study Moose
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