Ethical Stance on Euthanasia
Euthanasia is one of the most talked about issues related to biomedical ethics today. This paper will discuss the ethical findings on the topic of euthanasia from a philosophical point of view. The paper examines the moral views of philosophers and then will end with an argument as to why euthanasia should be allowed in United States. Ethical Stance on Euthanasia
There are many people that have their opinion on whether one should be able to end their own life when they are suffering from a terminal illness. Some believe that they should have the right to end their own life when they are terminal or that their quality of life will never be the same. Others feel it is unjust to take your own life. There are many ethical positions on the topic of euthanasia that philosophers have been arguing about for many centuries. With all the moral and ethical positions, the question still remains, is euthanasia morally justified? Euthanasia Defined
There are different forms of euthanasia that we must define before we can answer the question of whether these methods are justifiable means to end of life treatment. Active, passive, voluntary, involuntary, and non-voluntary are all methods of euthanasia. Active Euthanasia
When most people think of euthanasia they are referring to active euthanasia. Most people are also referring to voluntary euthanasia as well which we’ll define later. Active euthanasia is the practice of ending the life by the deliberate administration of drugs. Injecting a patient, with patient’s consent, with a lethal dose of medication would be an example of euthanasia. Other examples of treatments that could be used to deliberately terminate a patient’s life could by the use of lethal gas or the use of prescription medication. Passive Euthanasia
Passive euthanasia is the withholding or withdrawing of medication or treatment what could prolong life. This form of euthanasia implies the intent of allowing a natural death to occur without the health care provider’s interference. In most of passive euthanasia cases, the patient is simply not given any form of treatment that would extend his or her life. An example of this would be radiation treatment for terminal cancer. Voluntary Euthanasia
When a patient personally requests that euthanasia takes place, either by active or passive forms, they are fully aware of the consequences from their actions. Again, when most people refer to euthanasia it is this type of request of end of time means. Involuntary Euthanasia
Roy et al. (1994) states that involuntary euthanasia is carried out against the wishes of the patient. Another way of saying this is the person who is killed, expressed an exact wish to the contrary. Because this is basically carrying out a murder, involuntary euthanasia will never be accepted as a morally justifiable means of terminating a life. Non-voluntary Euthanasia
When the patient is killed made no request and when consent of the patient is unavailable, usually due to the person being comatose, this is referred to as non-voluntary euthanasia. The end of life decision is usually made through the consent of loved ones. A Question of Ethics
A being that is capable of acting with reference to right and wrong is defined as a moral agent (“Ethics in PR,” n.d.). Ethics in PR (n.d.) goes on to say, when something or someone is deemed a moral agent, it does not necessarily mean that they are successfully making moral decisions. It means that they are in a category that enables them to be blamed. If someone is unable to be blamed, then they do not have rights. Being a moral agent means that they can be held responsible for their decisions and behaviors, whether they are good or bad.
Halliday (2000) states that:
A moral agent must be a living creature, as they must be able to comprehend abstract moral principles and apply them to decision making....
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