Moral and Ethical Problems of Euthanasia

Topics: Euthanasia, Medical ethics, Death Pages: 8 (2941 words) Published: July 27, 2008
In the USA, the drama that was watched by many countries came to an end. On March 31, in a hospice in the state of Florida, Terri Schiavo died. She was in a coma for 15 years, because of an irreversible defect of the brain. Her husband said Terri did not want to live in a helpless condition, and through courts he achieved that the patient be disconnected from a life-support system (Wikipidia). PINELLAS PARK, Fla. - With her husband and parents feuding to the bitter end and beyond, Terri Schiavo died Thursday, 13 days after her feeding tube was removed in a wrenching right-to-die dispute that engulfed the courts, Capitol Hill and the White House and divided the country. Cradled by her husband, Schiavo, 41, died a "calm, peaceful and gentle death" at about 9 a.m., a stuffed animal under her arm, flowers arranged around her hospice room, said George Felos, Michael Schiavo's attorney (Chachere). Before thinking about questions concerning euthanasia, I would like to say some words about general problems in medicine, from the moment it started, till now - days of technical progress, undoubtedly, captured medicine. The basic task of medicine is a treatment of the patient and easing his/her suffering. During the hundreds of years till now, millions of physicians from different nationalities and creeds engaged in these noble actions. Graduating from medical schools, they all give a Hippocratic Oath and follow it in their work. There are a lot of sick people, and there are a lot of diseases. Among those diseases, there are absolutely easy, or very acute, and sometimes incurable deceases. But the medical science developing from year to year achieves enormous successes, and what seemed inconceivable yesterday becomes real today. Recently, many forms of oncological diseases were considered cureless, but now people who are suffering from those diseases are free from them, because of achievements of medicine and pharmacology. The problem of euthanasia has arisen not today and not suddenly. The chronology begins in extreme antiquity, and already then it caused numerous disputes among physicians, lawyers, philosophers and so on. The attitude to deliberately accelerate the approach of death, even with the purpose of the termination of the patient’s suffering, never was unequivocal. “Francis Bacon (1561~1626) who was an English philosopher said, "A doctor has two duties consisting of restoring a patient's health and reducing a patient's suffering," and used the term "euthanasia" (from greek euthanasia, eu - it is good, thanatos - death). This term means a beautiful, favorable and peaceful death, so it sounds soft and gentle” (Kudo). Though the idea of euthanasia has been long debated, since of Hippocrates’ time and till now traditional medical ethics include an interdiction: "I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect"(Hippocratic Oath). However, since recent time, doctors in increasing frequency have a readiness to resort to this practice, at least when the patient himself/herself asks for death. How should we react to this tendency? Is it a clearing of out-of-date interdictions or it is a certain permissiveness, which is simultaneously incorrect from the moral point of view and is dangerous in practice? It is necessary to say that the term euthanasia complicates unequivocal interpretation and it causes a terminological mess. Approach to the problem of euthanasia changes with changing definitions of the term. “There are various kinds of euthanasia, such as active and passive euthanasia. There can be euthanasia in cases where we are certain the person does not want to die (involuntary euthanasia) and in cases where we are certain he does want to die (voluntary euthanasia). There can also be euthanasia where here is a doubt whether the person wishes to die or not (nonvoluntary euthanasia)” (Russel 278) Passive euthanasia is expressed when the medical...
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