Euthanasia Paper

Topics: Euthanasia, Medical ethics, Death Pages: 5 (1902 words) Published: June 14, 2012
Is it moral?

The term euthanasia comes from ancient Greek and it means “easy death” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Compared to the ancient times in which this word originated, it seems much harder in today’s society to achieve this epitome of a good death. In the ancient times, people died due to diseases that doctors could not cure, and their lives were ended earlier because it was considered cruel to watch a person die a slow and painful death. Today, thanks to the great advancement of technology, more and more diseases are becoming easier to cure and create a better living environment for the person affected. However, there are still many patients who have incurable diseases and disorders that disallow them to have a happy existence. Euthanasia is defined as “the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). This “mercy killing” epitomizes an ethical predicament. There are some diseases that hamper the basic facilities of some people, causing them to painstakingly live day to day or be on life support. Other diseases cause major weakness in a person’s mental capabilities, which can cause severe depression and other psychotic disorders. For these reasons and several others, people may request euthanasia, and because of their basic human rights, they believe their requests should be respected. However, euthanasia contradicts one of the rudimentary principles of morality, killing is erroneous. In the perspective of the secular society, euthanasia goes against one of the principal laws that it is to endorse the inviolability of human life. In the religious community, euthanasia violates one of the Ten Commandments for the Jewish and Christian traditions, “Thou shalt not kill.” However, can euthanasia truly be considered murder? That would solely depend on which type of euthanasia one is referring to. There is involuntary and voluntary euthanasia. Involuntary, which would occur if the person did not have a living will and they suffered from a coma or a vegetative state, is murder, whereas voluntary is more like suicide (Truog, and Berde 353-360). Due to the aforementioned conflicts, many countries have not legalized euthanasia. However unpopular this form of treatment is, Oregon, Washington, Montana, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg have all legalized euthanasia or assisted suicide (""). The difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide is which party ends it. With euthanasia, the physician or nurse is the one to act last, as in they give the patient the lethal shot. In assisted suicide, the doctor simply hands the patient the drugs to take and leaves it up to them to complete the task, so it is in their hands that they die. This then brings up another question, is it morally appropriate for a doctor or nurse to knowingly kill their patient, or does it go against their Hippocratic oath? Doctors take the Hippocratic oath once they earn their doctorate in medicine. This oath binds them to practice medicine ethically, but it does not state what ethically means in terms of the patient’s well being. Some would argue that euthanasia and assisted suicide is against the oath as the doctor’s are supposed to help the person to the fullest extent, which would ideally be a cure for whatever ails the patient. Others would debate that once a doctor has done all they can do and the patient is more or less at a stand still with their suffering and it is causing that patient to lose their quality of life, it should be the physicians responsibility to make that person feel as content as possible, even if that means death. One doctor, Dr. Cox, went against his Britain’s law that said euthanasia was illegal in 1992. He chose to give in to his patient’s pleads for death as he knew there was nothing he could do to help his patient any longer. Dr. Cox...
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