Table of Contents
Fuhrman (p.46) defined Euthanasia is a medical practice which involves the painless termination of a patient's life on request by the patient or a close relative with the purpose of ending the suffering of the patient. It is also referred to as mercy killing. This also applies to the animals where the veterinary profession regards it as part of its responsibilities as applied to the animals population. Therefore this medical practice is based on the humane reasons, in the case the patient or the animal is in great pain with no signs of favorable outcome then the medical profession suggests that the responsible physician or the veterinary officer should carry out Euthanasia.
Euthanasia can be easily done by offering the patient with drugs which enable painless process of dying, medical innovations have availed some special type of machines which can enable the disabled patients to self-administer some kind of medication as one way carrying out Euthanasia (Gibbs, & DeMoss, p.46). The idea of doctor-assisted has also been used in reference to suicide. History goes back to the ancient times. There have been cases with many historical accounts of people suffering some kind of horrible injury being highlighted either in the battle or some other circumstances; such like patients request the physicians to poison them as a faster means of ending their suffering.
Currently Euthanasia is a term which is reserved only for the death which is related to the medical causes, but not a philosophical concern. In most cases euthanasia is typically performed through the cooperative efforts between the medical professional such as the physician or the doctor and the patient; however it is possible for it to be administered by the medical professional alone where they are allowed to administer the final medications to terminate the patient's life. This type of Euthanasia is recommended by many as a way to end suffering to those patients with terminal illness. Other ways of implementing the passive euthanasia may involve not feeding the patient or a complete withdrawal from administration of the fluids which are necessary to keep the patient hydrated.
Strong arguments have been made against all forms of Euthanasia on the grounds that the legalization of one form of it will lead to other cases of involuntary euthanasia. Basing on the terms of the procedural distinctions, two types of euthanasia have emerged; active and passive Euthanasia. The two types are differentiated due to the fact that passive euthanasia is where there is no interference to the patient's imminent death, while the active euthanasia is the deliberate act of administration of medication poison or practices which have the direct intent of causing the patient's death. Passive Euthanasia has been legalized in most places (Gibbs, & DeMoss, p.94).
The human rights activists have made passive euthanasia and the patient's right to die in the cases of terminal illness to be a hotly debated topic all over the world. This has seen western countries such as Albania, Belgium, Netherland, Switzerland and Luxembourg and the Oregon states of U.S legalizing Euthanasia.
Religions typically provide the values and the moral standards, in some cases the ethical codes are also provided. These ethical issues in most cases deals with human life interference due to medical practices such as abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, torturing, the animal rights, and the corporate fraud. Euthanasia is a special kind because it deals directly with the human life, the religious groups attach intrinsic value of life by sanctifying it, and therefore, the legalization of Euthanasia could lead to severe conflicts between the doctors and t he religious activists. The liberalization and advancement in medical technology implies the possibility of a long time debate on the ethics behind euthanasia which is likely never to be settled, this due to the fact that few moral debates have ever returned the universal agreement.
Thesis statement; Painless death is preferable to some patients who have a prolonged, and fatal illness or a permanently debilitating medical condition which will possibly lead to death of the patient.
Documented cases of Euthanasia
Eluana Englaro was an Italian woman born in 1970 at Lecco, she was involved in a car accident in 1992, her vegetative state led to a long court battle between the pro-Euthanasia groups and the anti-Euthanasia groups, especially after her father requested for her feeding tube to be removed and allow her to die painlessly. In 2008, 17 years later the Milan Court of Appeal ordered the suspension of her feeding to dehydrate her to date (Luchetti, p.334). The nuns taking care of her were determined to continue her treatment which made her father to transfer her to another hospital in Udine, the feeding tube was removed on 2 Feb 2009 and she died four days later.
The decision by the court to grant Euthanasia to Eluana Englaro was highly criticized by the Catholic Church. The Italian Parliament was also against this action citing the reasons that it could plunge the country into a constitutional crisis. This even extend to a conflict between the president of the republic and the prime minister, where the prime minister came up with an amendment to allow Eluana to be continued with the feeding because she showed signs of recovery, the president refused to sign giving the reasons that it could have led to a constitutional crisis.
The Roman Catholic Church has continuously criticized this decision which caused Eluana's death citing her humanity as worth respect. According to the catholic head for the Pontifical Council for the family, Eluana deserved to be treated with respect. The case of Eluana Englaro was a unique one since it lasted for seventeen years with her under the vegetative state, this was attributed to the fact that Italy is dominantly a Catholic state where sanctity to life was highly respected (Luchetti, p.333).
She was born in 1963 in Pennsylvania; she collapsed in the hall way at St. Petersburg. The firefighters transported her to Humana Northside Hospital where she underwent treatment. She was diagnosed with Electrolyte imbalance. This was attributed to her attempts to loss weight by drinking liquids only.
Terri was put on the feeding tube for several years and her husband Michael moved her from hospital to hospital with the hope of rescuing her from the cardiac arrest. In May 1998 Michael, her husband filed petitioned to have her feeding tube removed in order to carry out Euthanasia due to her persistent vegetative condition which had lasted for years. This sparked a series of legal fights between her husband Michael and her parents; this was extended to include the Department of Children & Families and even former U.S president Bush who was by then the Legislature for Florida. Finally Terri Schiavo died at the Pinellas Park Hospice in 2005 where she had been surrounded by the police who were instructed to ensure that no food or water was to be given to her. Her parents were against her death citing that it was very painful.
This case drew worldwide public attention and even rose to the state as well as federal legislation, the pro-life groups cited with her parents, the Catholic Pontiff by then, Pope John Paul II also reaffirmed that the role of the health care-givers was to provide both food and water even to the terminally ill patients in such vegetative states, in the echo of the popes statement her parents took the standpoint of the Catholic church in arguing for her continued care under the feeding tube. Terri schiavo's case was even the most interesting one with the parents denying petitioning any motion which could seek to have her be given Euthanasia (Gibbs, & DeMoss, p.72).
Dr. Jack Kevorkian
This was one of the well-known physician-assisted suicide cases in the American history, Dr. Jack Kevorkian is the American pathologist who was reported to have illegally assisted in the death of over 100 patients in the United States, and he was consequently convicted of the second-degree murder which was the worsened in the late 1990s. He was released from prison in 2007since then he turned into a pro-Euthanasia activist. Dr. Kevorkian has been a regular figure appearing at various universities and on the Television talk shows where he promotes his beliefs and the theories that a patient's has the right to die.
It has been a common believe that in most cases, mercy killing is done with the assistance of the medical doctor. This has been termed as a criminal act; however there are several reported cases where a family member or other non-medical personnel is involved in ending the life of a person, under the request of the ill person. In some cases, this can be done by the removal or disconnection of the life-sustaining devices. In some cases the act is committed by the administration of a fatal overdose of the prescribed medicines. If convicted of the offence, the person who is involved in the illegal performance of mercy killing can be sent to the prison as the case of Dr. Jack Kevorkian in the United States.
Christian's point of view
From a religious point of view, they believe that mercy killing is an act that is against one of their core beliefs as a religion, under the bi9blical teachings, taking of the life of another person or yourself, be it under the patient's request to die or not, is brutality against the human beings and should not be allowed to. They realize and understand that such patients may be suffering from very serious and incurable illnesses which make them experience a lot of pain (Gibbs, & DeMoss, p.106). The Christians admit to absolutely having empathy towards what they are experiencing, but they cannot interfere because they think that it is the test administered to them by God, according to them this tests may be very difficult and perhaps almost unbearable sufferings, but still advice the patients to accept since it is God's wish. To them, mercy killing is no different than committing suicide or murder.
The Christians believe that Mercy killing is morally incorrect and should be forbidden under the state law. Therefore this act is a homicide and since anybody who commits the murder to another human cannot rationalize his action under any circumstances. Human life in general deserves the exceptional security and protection (Fuhrman, p.103). Advanced medical technology should be there to make it possible for the enhancement of human lifespan and the quality of life. The Christians even initiate projects to ensure that the care and the rehabilitation centers become the better alternatives to support the disabled or the terminally ill patients who are approaching death to live a pain-free and better life.
On the other hand the anti- Euthanasia activists believe that the Family members may be involved in influencing the patient's decision into euthanasia in order to fulfill their personal gains such as the wealth inheritance issues. These is because there is no way that the doctors or the general public can be really sure if the decision towards the assisted suicide is voluntary or forced by other people who are ill driven. Even the doctors themselves cannot have a clear prediction of the period of death and whether there is the possibility for remitting or recovering with other means of advanced treatments. These activists believe that the implementation of Euthanasia would result into many unlawful deaths which can as well be survived. Legalization of euthanasia would favor the law abusers by empowering them, this will increasing the level of distrust that the patients will have towards the doctors (Fuhrman, p.127).
Arguing from the medical view point, the activists hold the view that Mercy killing will result into the declined medical care which will cause the victimization of the most vulnerable groups in the society. It is clear that there is a possibility for mercy killing to transform itself from its original meaning of the right to die to the ill driven meaning of the right to kill.
In addition to the above reasons, there are some aspects where there is a greater possibility for the mishandling of Euthanasia. There is no means in which one can assess whether a disorder of mental nature can be taken as the terminal illness of the mind and therefore qualify for mercy killing. In some cases it is not possible to measure the level of pain on a scale so there is no proof as to when the pain threshold is below optimum and the way the patient perceives the circumstances may not be worthy of living. There is no means of how the public can determine whether the wish to die is the result of the unbalanced patient's thought process or when there is the logical decision in mentally ill patients. The individual can also choose the assisted suicide as an option to avoid the pending conflicts in life.
In most cases the Legalization of Euthanasia for one group of people would consequently result into fatal cases where it will inevitably be stretched over time to include other groups, this can put at risk the generations of the elderly, frail and emotionally vulnerable as the collective pressure grows to favor the requests for early deaths. It is advisable never to underestimate the strains which are felt by the elderly people and the terminally ill persons, this also influenced by the increased media reports of the scarce resources available for such cases, and the increasing costs of high tech medicine which is needed to treat these groups (Fuhrman, p.85).
However am of the opinion that the Legalization of Euthanasia is a means of improving on the medical care since it will help to alleviate the suffering of the terminally ill patients. It would be very inhuman and unfair to leave the terminally ill patients to endure the unbearable painful death. It is therefore advisable in some cases where the individuals are suffering from the incurable diseases or when they in conditions which effective treatment can no longer affect their quality of life, it is therefore justified if the patients in such cases are given the liberty to choose the induced death.
I believe that the motive of euthanasia is specifically to aid the patients in dying painlessly and therefore it should be considered as a medical scheme and be accepted by law. The type of killing in an individual attempt to defend oneself is far different from the mercy killing; in this case the law should be applied accordingly.
Euthanasia is applied to the patients in line with the theory of dealing with the tormenting situation in a way which helps the terminally ill patient to die peacefully out of the compromising situation. The doctors are justified in their attempt to provide advanced medical and the emotional care to the patients, therefore a doctor does and should always prescribe the medicines which will relieve their patients from suffering even if the kind of medications given can cause very gross side effects. This means that the doctors should give the first priority to means that will help them relieve their patients from agony and I therefore admit that distress should be the doctor's priority even if when it negatively affects the patient's life expectancy.
Euthanasia is the natural extension of the patient's rights since it allows him or her to decide whether there is value in life under suffering and the painless death for long lasting relieve. Forceful Maintaining of the life support systems is against the patient's wish and it is considered as unethical by law as well as the medical philosophy which gives priority to the patients. The medical philosophy gives the patients the right of discontinuing the treatment if it is unsuitable hence the right for the patient to shorten his or her lifetime is also granted in order to help the patient to escape the intolerable and very painful process of dying. Basing on the same philosophical argument, the patient should be empathized since the pain of waiting for death under suffering is frightening and traumatic.
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According to me, the family heirs whose aim is to misuse the euthanasia rights for the wealth inheritance can be easily identified and laws should be enacted to sentence them similarly as it applies to other criminal cases. From the ancient times the same practices have been evidenced where even in the absence of the legalized mercy killing, the relatives of the patient can maliciously withdraw the life support systems which could lead to the early death of the individual patient. In medical terms this can be taken as the passive type of euthanasia. Passive euthanasia is practiced where there isn't any active attempt to cause the death of the patient, instead the concerned parties are passively waiting for the death without the patient's consent, this has happened in most cases without any concern of the church of the law enforcement agencies so it is questionable as to why the eye brows are raised only in a few cases.
In my conclusion, I therefore infer that though euthanasia has been banned worldwide, passive euthanasia is still practiced openly and it has always been practiced out there and it can be referred to as the passive killing and worse of the law will never prohibit it. It is evident that there is disrespect and the overuse of the passive Euthanasia has always existed and will continue to be practiced by the surrogates who have the false motives. There are some cases where the concerned people don't need the law to decide on the fate of the patient's life. The legal restrictions in the modern time leave both the incurable patients and the pro euthanasia activists helpless when it comes to whom to approve the practice of euthanasia as the good will gesture towards the patient's dignity. In addition, the health escalating health care costs are and will always be the concern for the family irrespective of the legalization of Euthanasia.
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In view of all this my Thesis statement; Painless death is preferable to some patients who have a prolonged, and fatal illness or a permanently debilitating medical condition which will possibly lead to death of the patient, is thus justified.