Analysis of an Ethical Dilemma
One very debatable ethical dilemma in today’s society is euthanasia. Euthanasia, like any other medical treatment should be seen as a choice. As a society, there are obligations to the sick that should be up held, but morally and legally may not be supportable. There are many aspects that go with this choice besides the obligation. There are also stakeholders to consider as well as social values, morals and religious implications.
Euthanasia is Greek for good death which translates into English as easy death or mercy killing. It was accepted by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Three Asian religious traditions accept euthanasia: Buddhism, Shintoism, and Confucianism. It was rejected by the 3 main monotheistic religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. It has its supporters and opponents in all countries. Two types of patients are involved in euthanasia: (a) a patient in a persistent vegetative state who is awake but is not aware of self or the environment. Such a patient has no higher brain functions and is kept alive on artificial life support (b) patient in terminal illness with a lot of pain, psychological suffering and loss of dignity. The patient may or may not be on life support.
There are different types of euthanasia. Active euthanasia, an act of commission, is taking some action that leads to death like a fatal injection. Passive euthanasia, an act of omission, is letting a person die by taking no action to maintain life. Passive euthanasia can be withholding or withdrawing water, food, drugs, medical or surgical procedures, resuscitation like CPR, and life support such as the respirator. The patient is then left to die from the underlying disease. Sometimes a distinction is made between normal nutrition and hydration on one hand and medical nutritional support involving intravenous and naso-gastric feeding on the other hand. Euthanasia can be by the patient or by the health care giver. Euthanasia can be voluntary when the
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