Active Euthanasia with parental consent

Topics: Ethics, Morality, Core issues in ethics Pages: 6 (2024 words) Published: April 3, 2014
Case Study: Active Euthanasia with Parental Consent
Euthanasia, the ‘mercy killing’, has definitely been one of the most difficult ethical dilemmas. Euthanasia is defined “an action or an omission, aimed at and causally implicated in, the death of another for her/his own sake” (Foot, 1997, as cited in Robert, 2004, p. 145). Euthanasia differs from murder, because the action causing the death is for the sake of the person to be killed. Someone might say that the person wanted to die anyway, so why ending his or her lives can be wrong? Is active euthanasia –acting to end the life of another- ever a right moral action? It is not an easy debate whether it is right or wrong to help end someone’s life. Some people might argue that active euthanasia is morally wrong, because there is no objective measure of suffering (Robert, 2004). It can, however, be said that active euthanasia can also be justifiable, because it is to end the person’s misery. The purpose of this paper is to debate whether active euthanasia is ever permissible. This will be accomplished by analyzing the case study: “Active Euthanasia with Parental Consent” (Robert, 2004, p. 153) and providing the best possible moral resolution. The paper will then discuss conclusion. Case Analysis

The summary of the case story
Andrea was a nine-year-old girl who had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at the age of thirteen month. After hospitalization 12 times in the past, (8 times in the last year), she was admitted again for the last time for experimental antibiotic treatment to control her pneumonia. Her condition continued to decline and the parents signed ‘no code’ order without discussing it with Andrea. The parents suggested ‘active euthanasia’ to stop Andrea’s and their suffering, however, the physician refused it due to the law. After her heart began to fail, she was progressively deteriorating, despite the continued medical treatment. It took approximately 48 hours for Andrea to take the last breath. The moral agents and major facts of the case

In this case study, the moral agents are the parents and the physician, who are involved in decision-making process for Andrea’s care. Andrea was a nine-year-old child. She cannot be considered as a moral agent because she, as a child, would not have the psychological capacity necessary for full moral agency. However, Andrea should be involved in making decision, allowing her to express her wishes, feelings, and concerns. That is because, she is ‘the patient’ whom the parents have obligation to protect and whom the physician has a primary duty of care. As for the major factors in the case, first of all, Andrea’s medical condition was terminal. The parents wanted her to have active euthanasia to relieve their pain and her suffering, when there is nothing more to be done to help her. The physician agreed on “no code” order, however, he or she refused, despite the parents’ wishes, to consider this option because of the law. Another important fact in this case to consider is that Andrea was never asked how she would have wanted to die at the end. Andrea suffered for about 48 hours, and the parents and physicians could not or did not do anything to hasten her death. The major moral issue raised, each agent’s response, and the moral principles used The major moral issue in this case is whether it is morally permissible to end a dying child patient’s life (active euthanasia) with parental consent. There is a conflict between two agents, the parents and the physician. The parents consented to active euthanasia based on the ‘mercy’ moral principle. They did not want Andrea to suffer at the end of her life. They wanted to do something to relieve their daughter’s distress. On the other hand, the physician chose to refuse active euthanasia. It was not because of any moral reasoning but of the legal obligations. He said ‘no’, simply because the law says ‘no’. But, does the...
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