Do Terminally Ill Patients Have a Choice in Their Life?

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Do Terminally Ill Patients Have A Choice In Ending Their Life? Carol Kimmel
Axia College of University of Phoenix
Under what conditions if any is euthanasia morally justified? Do individuals have the right to die or be kept mechanically alive by machines? Do doctors have a moral obligation to use every possible medical procedure to keep terminal patients alive or can they let the patient die with dignity? Dying has become a problem and to answer these questions without having any legal issues the terminally ill patient needs to have on file a living will regarding his or her end of life choices.

According to (Gupta, Bhatnagar and, Mishra, 2006), euthanasia is defined as “a deliberate act undertaken by one person with the intention of ending life of another person to relieve that person’s suffering and where the act is the cause of death.” In other references, “euthanasia is derived from the Greek word meaning good death or commonly referred to as mercy killing.” (Building a Christian World View,1988, p. 428). There are two types of euthanasia. Passive euthanasia requires no steps to prolong the life of the terminal patient. Passive voluntary euthanasia is referenced to a patient who is in a vegetative state with little or no hope to gain consciousness in order to make decisions on their own. Active euthanasia involves human intervention to shorten life. An example of this is referred to as physician assisted euthanasia. This involves another person to intervene by injecting drugs into a suffering patient to shorten life and eventually kill the patient. Another definition of physician assisted suicide according to (Tucker,Steele,2007) is “ a medical practice that involves a physician assisting a terminally ill, competent adult in dying by writing a prescription for a lethal dose of a drug that will be self administered by the patient.” There are many cases that have focused national concerns on euthanasia. The most notable of all cases is that of Karen Ann Quinlan. She overdosed on drugs and went into a comatose state. Her parents requested to have the respirator removed but the courts refused. One year later the case went to the Supreme Court and the court overturned the decision. The family was able to remove the respirator. She went on to live nine more years in a comatose state and eventually die of pneumonia. This case led New Jersey and other states to enact the living will legislation. The case of Terry Schiavo brought attention to the moral ethics at the end of life. Much of this case is a debate over whether or not Terry Schiavo’s condition was in a permanent vegetative state. According to (Grossenbacher, 2007) the American Academy of Neurology’s definition states that “persistent vegetative patients do not have the capacity to experience pain or suffering.” Terry Schiavo’s feeding tube was disconnected only for her to die slowly of dehydration. This case opened up many debates on “a patient’s right to die that touches upon medicine, law, ethics, and religion.” (Grossenbacher, 2007, p. 419-27). Many people today are opposed to active euthanasia because of moral and ethics beliefs.

Opponents of active euthanasia deny that individuals have a right to die with dignity by means of mercy killing. Christians are very much opposed to any issue of euthanasia. They argue that “God has forbidden people to take an innocent human life. God’s commandments declare killing such persons deliberately to be morally wrong. God alone should determine when a person’s life on earth is over. We do not have absolute ownership of our own lives. Our lives belong to God.” (Building a Christian World View, 1988, p.433). Christians believe that divine healing is possible for the terminally ill. Permitting the mercy killing of any patient constitutes taking another person’s life and in God’s eyes this is murder. God is the only person whom can determine when a person will die. Another ethical argument opposing assisted suicide comes...
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