To die with dignity should be a given. Death will present itself to everyone eventually and presumably no one in their right mind would choose not to die with dignity. That being said why is it that so many people who would choose to die a good death are no allowed to. For some people no death is a good death, but that is silly because as everyone knows death is inevitable. No one can escape this fact. The controversy herein lies within the circumstances people who are suffering or lingering with a terminal illness that debilitates them such that they have no quality of life are not afforded the comfort of dying with dignity.
It seems that this high merit is available to our beloved pets, but not our beloved family members. Aunt Bessie is forced to endure unrelenting pain from here incurable pancreatic cancer. No amount of pain medication is available to treat her pain and allow her to maintain consciousness. She knows her time is limited and she does not feel she should have to wait out the inevitable in such a terrible state. At the same time the family pet Bassett hound is found to have a mass in her intestines. She cannot eat and barely moves as she is in so much pain.
The veterinarian has given the option of putting her to sleep or euthanizing her to put her out of her misery as she is suffering so. This sits well with most people. Aunt Bessie requesting euthanization though is out of the question. Why is the question that this paper will attempt to answer and why this is wrong will also be addressed? Euthanasia Defined Euthanasia can bring about different feelings to people depending on the context in which it is used. Mention that good old dog and it is good as they no longer suffering.
Change the identity to a person and it is not so easily swallowed. No matter how it is interpreted the true meaning of the act is the same in either circumstance. “Originating from the Greek terms “eu” (happy or good) and “thanatos” (death), euthanasia means literally “happy death” or “good death. ” (Le Baron Jr. , 1999). Breaking that definition down even further is subdivisions in the definition are voluntary/involuntary and active/passive: “Voluntary euthanasia is a death performed by another with the consent of the person being killed.
Non-voluntary euthanasia is the provision of euthanasia to an incompetent person according to a surrogate’s decision. Involuntary euthanasia is euthanasia performed without a competent person’s consent. Passive euthanasia involves allowing a patient to die by removing her from artificial life support systems such as respirators and feeding tubes or simply discontinuing medical treatments necessary to sustain life. Active euthanasia, by contrast, involves positive steps to end the life of a patient, typically by lethal injection” [ (Le Baron Jr. 1999) ] Euthanasia brings tranquility to death. In euthanasia the suffering prior to death is limited and death is entered more peacefully as opposed to lingering with pain and suffering.
Presumably most people would want to end their journey in life without pain and suffering. A more compassionate death is a more desirable death. However to know what euthanasia actually means requires more exploration into the depth of this term. Practical Problems Euthanasia can bring about bad feeling to some people. After all when the term is used it is in relationship to death.
In our culture and to numerous people death or speaking about death is taboo. This is an unfortunate fact. What is most unfortunate is that death is inevitable and therefore discussion regarding it should be more open. Essentially the problem with euthanasia is this taboo associated with it. Ethically euthanasia is an appropriate and well warranted act of kindness and consideration. Support of euthanasia will be provided within the context of this paper, and the potential negative issues will also be brought up. Ethics Argument For The ethical principles that can justify euthanasia are many.
This is because the premise of euthanasia is based upon the idea of caring. This idea of caring is inherent to most care givers and is the key principle in euthanasia. Such acts of caring resonates through theses ethical principles and frameworks: Respect of persons, Virtue ethics, Utilitarian, Rights based ethics and ethics of caring. These frameworks or principles although many will all show supportive qualities for euthanasia. Respect of Persons In respect of persons the support of euthanasia is found in that the principle here is that individuals are afforded autonomy and able to make their own decisions.
When a person chooses not to suffer at the end of their life this is an autonomous decision. “Respect for persons generally means respecting a client’s autonomy” (Ethical Principles, 2011). That person in the eyes of this principle is just in making that call. The respect of person principle sustains this in its foundation. “The principle of respect for persons affirms the primary importance of allowing individuals to exercise their moral right of self determination. To violate their ability to be self-determining is to treat them as less than persons. (Bennette-Woods, 2001). Therefore, this principle is then supportive of euthanasia when decided upon by an individual. Virtue Ethics With the act of euthanasia people are seeking the good by allowing a good death. Suffering is not permitted to go on until death. Rather death is allowed to happen prior to a lengthy battle with pain and suffering. Virtue ethics is doing good and for the right reason. Forcing people to live with pain and suffering would not be characterized as good. So presumably then allowing for euthanization is good.
Because it is done in response to alleviate further pain or suffering it satisfies the right reason aspect. In another view the dying patient is taking a virtuous stance. “Some dying patients consider it virtuous to spare friends and family the ordeal of witnessing a slow process of degeneration” (van Zyl, 2002, p. 19). This again satisfies the criteria for virtue ethics. Utilitarian In encompassing the utilitarian ethical frame work consideration must be made for the balance of the greatest good. Allowing a person to die a “good death” will promote the greatest happiness for both the person and for those remaining behind.
Sure there will be unhappiness in that there is a loss with the person dying, but the greatest happiness will be in knowing that the person is no longer suffering and that the pain of their disease is not torturing them any longer. This satisfies part of the balance. The other part is on behalf of the individual who is suffering. There is much good in ending a life from pain and suffering. A “good death” is much more desirable then a death of unrelenting pain and suffering. Therefore the balance of the greater good is established here and the utilitarian frame work is established. Right Based Ethics
The right to die is an inevitable right. “Advocates of euthanasia argue that people have a right to make their own decisions regarding death, and that euthanasia is intended to alleviate pain and suffering”. (Nargus, 2012) It is of the belief of many that all people hold this one true right. Dying is ultimate natural right. “The patient has the right to make the decision about when and how they should die, based on the principles of autonomy and self-determination” (Nargus, 2012). This alone substantiates the use of rights based ethics and upholds this as an ethical point for euthanasia.
Ethics of Caring This is the final ethical stance that will be used to persuade the positive perspective of euthanasia. To care is the essence of this ethical principle. To care would be to not allow suffering with pain at the end of life. Compassion is a must in the ethics of caring and allowing pain and suffering to continue cannot be construed as compassionate. “The ethic of care demands that we maintain conditions under which caring can flourish”. (Bennette-Woods, 2001) How better to show a sense of caring then by stopping suffering, stopping pain and allowing for a good death.
Ethics of caring is the basis for most nursing philosophies and can be equated to most nursing principles. Care is not just in the physical sense, but the emotional sense as well. Care is delivered when euthanasia is allowed. Ethics Argument Against The arguments proposing that euthanasia be allowed were provided and supported. Now a few counterarguments will be analyzed and provided. Kant’s original ethical framework intent was clearly against the use of euthanasia, but a newer vision of Kantian ethics could also be supportive of the act.
However, the argument against it in this framework will be what is focused on. Nonmaleficence framework can also be argued against euthanasia. This theory bases itself on doing no harm and depending what is perceived as harm is how this argument can be made. Kantian Ethics “A moral action is one that is performed solely for the purpose of meeting a moral obligation, and the action itself can only be judged moral in light of the intention behind it”. If the intention produces death it cannot be a good intention. Death although now relieved of suffering is the outcome.
With Kantian ethics the end result is not at question. The person no longer suffering perspective is not of any value. The point is euthanizing a person is morally wrong and the outcome (alleviating pain and suffering) has no bearing in the matter. This is why this argument was not used in the pros. The outcome has to matter. Nonmaleficence Ethics “The principle of Nonmaleficence states that we should act in ways that do not inflict evil or cause harm to others. In particular, we should not cause avoidable or intentional harm. (Bennette-Woods, 2001)
While some people feel that causing an earlier death as with euthanasia is harmful not everyone shares this view. “Professional organizations have invoked professional obligations as an argument against support and participation in assisted suicide and euthanasia”. [ (Ersek, 2004) ]. For those that do this could certainly be understood as argument against euthanasia. However, for others the harm is noted in the continuance of a life of suffering. Catholic Moral Tradition Each human life is considered sacred and deserving of a right to life.
This is the position that the Catholic moral tradition stands behind. According to the Roman Catholic perspective, we are not obliged to ward off death at all costs, but we should not deliberately intervene to bring death about (Euthanasia a Catholic Perspective, 1987)”. The church goes on to say that” the end of human life is not subject to a person’s free judgment” (Euthanasia a Catholic Perspective, 1987). This theory protests that as in birth; death can only be implemented by God. However, even the church has come to make exceptions or loop holes that allows for euthanasia to happen. In the double effect principle medication can be given in large doses to relieve pain.
The patient will succumb to death as a result of this medication, and that is ok. As long as the intention is to relieve pain, not cause death the Catholic moral traditions is receptive to this. It seems as if the church has struggle d with this issue in the past and the best that they can deliver is this double effect doctrine. (This was actually developed in the 15th century). . Final Justification “A slow, painful, undignified death is a fate that most of us would not wish on our worst enemies” (Dyer, 1999) yet this fate are often offered to people, loved ones and family members.
This categorically should not be. Euthanasia theories have been presented and supported both for and against the act. What it comes down to is how individuals understand things. Some religious factions are adamant that this act is strictly forbidden. This author does not share these views. There is no argument that it is wrong to kill someone. However, there has to be availabilities for exceptions. When an act is done for all the right reason it then becomes a just act. When a person is deemed terminal and is some way suffering then this would create such an “except”.
This is only one of an infinite number of “except” possibilities. Each case presenting itself must be evaluated for its ethical morality. Evaluation can be accomplished by using the previous theories presented in favor of euthanasia. Should the case lend itself to these proposed theories then it is indeed a just act. Pets are not made to suffer a miserable final existence (associated with the love of them) neither should people. Loved ones, family, friend or foe no one deserves to die suffering when a good death is an option.
Courtney from Study Moose
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