Ethical Perspective on Assisted Suicide
Ethical Perspective on Assisted Suicide
Moral and ethical debates attempted to resolves controversial issues but never seem to end with everyone agreeing. Often these ethical and moral debates are complex and involve opinions persuaded by religion or customs and have legal implications to consider. Physician assisted death is one of these very complex and controversial issues that all people will never agree on. Many questions arise in the debate of physician assisted death such as patients’ rights, physicians controlling the right if someone lives or dies, a patience’s mental state, a family member’s rights, religious beliefs of the parties involved and the law.
Philosophers attempt to explain the different theories that people will use to argue their belief systems in terms of logic and reasoning. For example, some people may take the position of a deontologist who would argue that it is our moral duty to support and sustain life therefore assisted suicide should not be allowed. Unfortunately, this very emotional thought provoking debate is not a “black and white issue,” as most ethical arguments are not. In the situation of physician assisted death I disagree with the deontologist point of view that it is immoral for a physician to assist a patient in suicide.
I believe as some relativist due, that as long as the patient is fully capable of making this decision and the patient is in a constant state of agony, then the patient has the right to make the choice to live or die. A relativist believes that morals are only relative to that particular society and if physician assisted death was considered moral in that group then it would be considered a moral act. Neither theory is without flaws as some deontologist even share my point of view and some relativist can be very extreme in what they feel is relative to being morally right or wrong.
The bottom line is that people will probably never completely agree on this subject. Ethical Perspective on Physician Assisted Death Physician assisted death is also referred to as PAD. Physician assisted death is the more politically and ethical term versus physician assisted suicide. There is also a difference that should be made known between euthanasia and PAD. In a situation of euthanasia the physician administers the lethal does by injection to the patient ending the patient’s life. In physician assisted death the doctor write a prescription for a pill that the patient oluntarily administers themselves that will end their own life. Physician assisted death is now legal in two states, where Organ passed the law in 1994 and Washington state passed the law in 2008. That means in forty eight states it is against the law to assist the patient either directly or indirectly in ending the patient’s life. If a physician even provides information to the patient that would facilitate their death the doctor can face criminal charges and lose their medical license.
Many people are familiar with the radical doctor Dr. Jack Kevorkian who used the method of euthanasia. Dr. Kevorkian is responsible for euthanatizing over 130 people some of which were either clinically depressed or terminally ill. Dr. Kevorkian created a huge debate across the United States that gave rise to many questions such as to the legality of the constitutional laws and ethical perspectives. Laws that are passed don’t not always represent a societies ethical views and vice versus a, some ethical standards are against the law.
If everyone had the perspective of relativists, then the laws would vary from city to city. For example, every other city could be for physician assisted death or against it creating a checkered board effect of laws that very from city to city. This because the relativist believes that morals are only relative to what the society believes. Dr. Kevorkian was tried in a Michigan court on four of assisting suicide and was convicted of one count which has videotaped and released to the popular television show “60 Ethical Perspective on Physician Assisted Death
Minutes. ” Another doctor by the name of Derek Humphry’s whose wife died a slow agonizing death by cancer started a foundation in his wife’s memory, called the Hemlock Society to provide information to dying patients on how to take the “final exit. ” (Howard Ball 2012) Medical technology has advanced over the years and has allowed us to live healthier and more active life styles. However, with medical advancement came the ability to prolong life and at times keeping patients alive beyond what I feel God has called them to live.
At the point in life when a person is being kept alive by a machine breathing for them and intravenous nutrition being given, one has to ask themselves is this “has medical treatment gone too far by interfering with a natural part of dying. ” It seems medical technology has crossed the line at times because it is no longer a matter of improving the quality of life but prolong a natural death. There is a moral dilemma that is taken place where doctors are making billions of dollars by providing long term health care to patients beyond what nature has called for.
During the twenty century medical technology advance to point of creating an epidemic where people could live longer lives but it didn’t always guarantee a quality life. Without being able to take care of oneself or enjoy the life they worked hard to create many people feel they don’t want to live a life of suffering. Many people feel they have lost their dignity and don’t want their friends and family to remember them in a feeble state of being. This brings up the question of what is happiness and considered quality of life.
I believe the deontologist perspective takes away a human beings right to choose how a person wants to live. A deontologist will argue that life must be sustained because it is our moral duty but isn’t it our moral duty to end a human beings suffering or to let people die a natural Ethical Perspective on Physician Assisted Death death? In fact some deontologists do believe that morals are obligations based on religious beliefs and they don’t support sustaining life in every situation.
For example, if a woman was pregnant and the baby was going to cause the death of the mother then they may believe it is acceptable to terminate the pregnancy to sustain the life of the mother. Yet others could argue “who is to say what is natural,” and when someone should die. Many people who support legalizing patient assisted suicide believe it is the patient’s right to die with dignity but other would insist that society has a moral obligation to preserve life.
The relativist would state if the society believes it is moral to condone patient assisted suicide then for the society it is morally correct. “The view of ethical relativism regards values as determined by one’s own ethical standards, often those provided by one’s own culture and background. Rather than insisting that there are moral absolutes, moral claims must be interpreted in terms of how they reflect a person’s viewpoint; moral claims are then said to be “right in a given culture” or “wrong for a given society. (Mosser, K 2010) Those that argue against physician assisted death will argue it is our duty to protect and preserve all life. People will argue their points of views using logic, reasoning and provide supporting evidence. However, in the case of ethical debates there often is not any evidence to support a claim on either side of the issue. Consequently, as much as people will try to argue their point of view with reasoning and logic their emotions can get in the way and make it difficult to persuade the other person.
Many times the family is involved in the case of physician assisted death and each family member may have different ethical beliefs then the patient. This can make the decision even more painful as we taken into consideration the effects our decisions Ethical Perspective on Physician Assisted Death have on other people. Philosophers attempt to explain how people will argue their point of view by providing different ethical theories as with relativism and deontology. The deontologist believes that it is our moral duty to protect and preserve life and that physician assisted suicide is an immoral act. Rather than looking at the consequences of an act, deontology looks at the reason for which an act is done, and the rule according to which one choose to act. Deontology doesn’t deny that acts have consequences; rather, insists that those consequences should not play a role in our moral evaluation of such acts. ”(Mosser K 2010)
Under the deontology theory a person would claim that it is wrong for a physician to assist a patient in committing suicide because the result is death and we are to preserve life not assisting in taking their life. Deontology and Ethics 2013) This theory would provide that there is no reason good enough to go against ones moral and civic duty even if it means allowing someone to suffer in pain, which ignores the patients’ rights. The terminally ill patient not only wants to live with having their quality of life and having dignity but they also want to die with dignity. The terminally ill patient has few options such as suicide or living in extreme pain. Some patients are too ill to even get out of bed to be able to commit suicide.
Terminally ill patients that are suffering should not be made to feel demoralized for wanting to end their suffering. If the patient has paid into a life insurance fund all their life the company mostly likely will not pay their loved ones death benefits if they commit such an act. The problem is patient assisted death is not recognized as a medically necessary procedure. There is also a great stigma that comes along with committing suicide that the families have to live with after their loved one has died. I belief in the individual autonomy Ethical Perspective on Physician Assisted Death
Many family members feel disgraced that their loved one acted against their religious beliefs. (Lois Snyder, JD, and Daniel P. Sulmasy 2001) Family members can find themselves in court fighting again other members of their family to keep their loved ones alive. Going to court can be an emotionally painful process and doing so puts the patient through more emotional agony. Many families will break apartment because their ethical views differ so greatly. Roman Catholic Church has been the one biggest contesters of physician assisted death.
Ethical arguments are based on beliefs systems that are learned through culture and religion therefore are only relative to that person or society. The One of the issues with relativism is that is a person’s beliefs can be too extreme and farfetched. Under the law of relativism any belief system relevant to that person would be considered ethical even murdering someone. Many doctors and nurses struggle with their feeling on patient assisted death because their morals and ethical views tell them it is wrong to assist a patient in death but they have great sympathy seeing their patients in pain and they want to help.
Also, doctors take the Hippocratic Oath which states that doctors will never harm their patients but I argue the facts that prolonging death is harming the patient and takes away their constitutional right to choose death. Many religions believe as deontologist do in that is against their religion to assist someone in procuring their own death but that is exactly it the issue that it their belief system and not everyone’s. The constitutional represents the Liberty Due process clause that says it is a fundamental right for terminally ill patients to die with dignity by the assistance of a medical professional.
Lawyers have argued the fourteenth amendment which allows a doctor to remove life support as the last dying will and testament of the patient yet a physician cannot medically assist a patient in ending the life of a terminally ill person who is verbally requesting it. (Howard Ball 2012) Ethical Perspective on Physician Assisted Death Moral and ethical debates spark heated debates and cause controversial issues and never seem to end with everyone agreeing. These ethical and moral debates are complex and involve opinions persuaded by religion or customs nd have legal implications that must be consider. Physician assisted death a very complex and controversial issues that all people will never agree on. There are a lot questions that arise in the debate over physician assisted death such as patients’ rights, physicians controlling the right if someone lives or dies, a patience’s mental state, a family member’s rights, religious beliefs of the parties involved and the law. It seems that both theories have their flaws. The relativist can be too extreme in their view points because anything can be considered moral if the society feels it is relative.
While the deontologist view point is too constrictive and only takes into consideration that a person’s morals are their obligation and a duty to others. The deontologist would ignore the right of the patients even if they were suffering to conform to their obligations and moral duties. I am partial to believing that the patient has a right to choose if they want to live or die under certain circumstances. I believe that morals and ethics are not built on one theory alone but on many parts of theories that consist of logic and reasoning.
People will continue to understand the different ethical theories that explain why certain societies believe the way they do. Some people may take the position of a deontologist who would argue that it is our moral duty to support and sustain life therefore assisted suicide should not be allowed. Unfortunately, this very emotional debate has many dynamics, as most ethical arguments do. In the situation of physician assisted death I disagree with the deontologist point of view and feel it is immoral to take away a patients right to end their own suffering.
I believe to a certain extent as some relativist believe, that as long as the patient is fully capable of making Ethical Perspective on Physician Assisted Death this decision and the patient is in a constant state of agony, then the patient has the right to make the choice to live or die. The relativist believes that morals are only relative to that particular society and if physician assisted death was considered moral in that group then it would be considered a moral act.
Each theory has flaws. Some deontologist share my point of view and some relativist can be very extreme in what they feel is relative to being morally right or wrong. The bottom line is people will probably never completely agree on this subject. As our society evolves and continues to become more liberal in their ethical views on controversial topics such as gay marriage, abortion and personal liberties more states will continue to pass laws support physician assisted death.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 6 October 2016
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