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Facing Life While Fighting For an End
Every one of us will stare down the face of death at some point in our lives; however, some will face it in much more unpleasant circumstances then others. We all have a right to choose what we want to do with our bodies. We even have the right to decide that we no longer wish to endure the pain and suffering of a terminal illness. Terminal illness is when someone is suffering from something that will eventually take their life regardless of any medical interventions. In this paper I will discuss the point in which a person has a right to decide if they want to die and what processes are ethically moral in aiding them in seeing their wishes come to fruition. Medicine has created more ways to cure or to minimize a person’s suffering from diseases that were once fatal or painful. Medical technology has given us the power to sustain the lives of patients whose physical and mental capabilities cannot be restored, whose degenerating conditions cannot be reversed, and whose pain cannot be eliminated.
As medicine struggles to pull more and more people away from the edge of death, there are pleas for relief outpouring from the tortured, deteriorated lives that all of us be merciful and give them the relief they need. (C Andre, and M Velazquez, KND). When a person is faced with the end of their life, it is said that we should agree that the absence of pain and the pride of the person should be taken into great consideration. When a terminally ill person is no longer capable of intellectual pursuits, is in constant pain and must rely on others for all of their needs, Mill feels that it is a more dignified choice to end the suffering, therefor fulfilling the “absence of pain” principle (pain including one’s inability to seek higher pleasure through intellectual pursuit) (J Conley, April 2010). Doctors are at the epicenter of controversies regarding end of life issues and face so much scrutiny from both sides of opposing groups. Some doctors believe that it is okay to assist the patient in their wish to end their suffering by simply discontinuing any and all lifesaving interventions.
Other doctors believe that every effort must be made to save the person’s life until there is nothing else left to do. Once the doctor has reached this point they will place patients under hospice care and the patients are given medications to treat their pain such as morphine. The doses are in such high amounts that the patient is no longer coherent and able to make decisions on their own. They will usually expire within days following their first does due to how the medication slows down the heart and breathing. Supporters of the utilitarian ethic believe that the benefits of assisted suicide outweigh the costs. They argue that assisted suicide allows terminally ill patients to avoid needless pain and misery in their final days. They believe that it will allow a patient to maintain control over the timing and manner of their death verses having to face an unsure timeline and suffer for what could be far longer and harder than a physician may give. The utilitarian believes that this would ensure that they would die with a sense of dignity.
Post importantly it would insure that an individual’s right to self-autonomy would be honored at the end of life (M. Levin, KND). If you look at the views of a deontologist they would oppose this method because deontologists are all about duty. While both deontologists and utilitarian’s would typically do the same thing, Deontologists act out of duty, and would make their decision only once they see that the patient is on their last leg and is unable to respond for themselves, while the utilitarian acts out of a means to provide a sense of peace. When you are a utilitarian people may view you as irrational and emotional and not take you serious, while a deontologist may come across as a bit crude or even heartless. The downside to being in such a place to make these tough decisions can bring about certain issues such as: individuals feeling pressured to terminate their life because of a misperception of their diagnosis or prognosis; because of depression; or because of a concern for the burden they place on others and the depletion of their assets. Some individuals may feel pressured to end life by selfish family members or caregivers. This is why it is so important for the professionals to handle each case as though it is so sensitive.
Each patient must be thoroughly analyzed to make sure that they meet the proper criteria for end of life intervention. Life is about growing and learning, however, sometimes we are very limited to what we are able to do. This has no bearing on the quality of life and in no way should be used in ones decision to end their life nor should doctors look at limitations as a good reason to end life. The only times someone should be allowed to choose death over life is if they are unable to live a life that is rich and full of opportunity in spite of their illness. Meaning, that the illness is causing too much pain or that the illness in not allowing them to enjoy certain activities that they normally love doing. Then and only then the person should be able to choose what they want to do. Let me clarify this a little further. As we get older we will all eventually not be able to enjoy certain activities that we were once were able to, this alone would not be a reason to want to take your life, because your quality of life has not been interrupted.
What would be a good reason is a person confined to a bed, being taken care of twenty-four-seven by a loved one or care giver and doctors have said that the chances of healing are not there. We will all stare down death in the face at some point. However, life is not about dying, but about living. If a person cannot live a life rich and full of meaning due to a terminal illness, they have the right to choose to live or die. If those rights are infringed upon the person withholding one’s personal rights should face dire consequences. Life is hard as it is, but then to be dyeing and living it in pain and suffering would be unimaginable and more inhumane then having it ended with the assistance of a medical professional on an at will basis.
Ituriguy, July 5, 2008. The Decision To End One’s Own Life Is A Fundamental Human Right. Retrieved March 10, 2014 from www.opposingviews.com Wikipedia, KND. Utilitarianism. Retrieved: March 24, 2014 from www.wikipedia.com C. Andrea and M. Valdez, KND. Assisted Suicide: A Right or A Wrong? Retrieved: March 24, 2014 from www.scu.edu J. Conley, April 2010. Kantian vs. Utilitarian Ethics of Euthanasia. Retrieved: March 24, 2014 from www.wp4dying.blogspot.com M. Levine, KND. PHYSICIAN-ASSISTED SUICIDE: LEGALITY AND MORALITY. Retrieved: March 24, 2014, from: