Topics: Euthanasia, Medical ethics, Death Pages: 14 (4624 words) Published: July 30, 2011
Running head: Euthanasia

Euthanasia: Perspectives on the Issue
Angela Long
Irina Fonaryuk
Nancy Zoro
Suzanne Bridges
Dawn Drury
Lillian Amador
Talia Reed
Pacific Lutheran University
Table of Contents
❖ IntroductionPage 3
❖ History of EuthanasiaPage 3
❖ Legal Aspects of EuthanasiaPage 5
❖ ProsPage 7
o Self-Determination, Individual Autonomy and Quality of LifePage 7 o Preservation of Dignity Page 7
o Social and Legal Arguments Page 8
o Changing Professional Attitudes Page 9
❖ ConsPage 9
o Religious Perspectives Page 10
o ANA Position on Euthanasia Page 10

o Slippery slope Page 11

o Euthanasia as a health care cost containment Page 12 ❖ Nursing Implications of Euthanasia Page 12 o As a Profession Page 12

o Nursing Education Page 13
o Nurse as an Individual Page 14
❖ Conclusion Page 14

Euthanasia: Perspectives on the Issue
The debate over euthanasia and physician assisted suicide is a multifaceted issue that surges throughout political, religious, and social circles. Currently in the United States, physician assisted suicide is only legal in Washington and Oregon states. It is crucial that nurses understand the various aspects of this topic, and are able to formulate an educated opinion on the issue. This paper will examine the various aspects of euthanasia, including pros, cons, and nursing implications, in order to assist student nurses in formulating their own opinions on this highly charged topic. In order to examine this issue, it is first necessary to define its various aspects. Passive, or inactive, euthanasia involves stopping life support, or ending life-promoting treatments (such as dialysis or tube feedings). Active euthanasia is when life is purposefully ended, as in a physician administering a lethal dose of a medication. Physician assisted suicide is a type of active euthanasia where the patient ends his life with medication prescribed to him by his physician. History of Euthanasia

Being able to understand the issues surrounding euthanasia requires an understanding of its history. History holds many lessons to be learned and it can be a vital aspect of any ethical discussion. Euthanasia has been a historical fact since Ancient Greek and Roman times (Westendorf, 2008). The majority of Spartans and Athenians believed that in order to make the state fit and functional, those who were ill, elderly, or deformed could end their lives or have others end it for them (Emanuel, 1994). It was thought that this was for the good of society. There were a minority of physicians who opposed euthanasia as part of the Hippocratic Oath and had pledged “never (to) give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor…….make a suggestion to this effect” (Emanuel, 1994). In this respect, the physicians believed that death was a part of life and to cause premature death was cowardly.

The early modern discussions of euthanasia included Sir Thomas More’s idea of an early 1500’s Utopian society (Emanuel, 1994). Sir Thomas More believed that in a Utopian society suffering should be alleviated; and is not a part of a perfect society. In the 17th century, Francis Bacon argued for the belief that a physician is not just to restore health, but to also alleviate pain (Emanuel, 1994). Even though many people of this era were proponents and voiced interest in euthanasia it did not have a major impact on medical practice at that time.

The 19th century saw many advances in medicine including the discovery of anesthesia. Morphine, ether, and chloroform were used by physicians to relieve pain. Many physicians of this era believed that anesthesia should be used to alleviate the...
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