Euthanasia ethics homework help

 

Euthanasia refers to the deliberate act of ending someone’s life to relieve suffering, which is also called mercy killing. Doctors sometimes perform euthanasia when requested by patients who have terminal illnesses and are in a lot of pain. Those supporting euthanasia argue that people should be allowed to die in dignity without pain and they should also allow others to help them do so if they cannot manage on their own.

Euthanasia ethics homework help

Euthanasia ethics homework help

Types of euthanasia

 

There are seven types of euthanasia which include:

  • Active euthanasia- it is whereby a physician directly and deliberately causes a patient’s death. The physician does not directly take a patient’s life, they just allow the patient to die. Even if the physician does not actively kill the patient, they are sure that the patient will eventually die due to their inactivity. It is usually brought about by an act, for example when a person is given an overdose of painkillers.
  • Passive euthanasia- it is when death is brought about by an omission, it is simply letting a person die through for example withholding treatment by not carrying out an operation that would prolong a person’s life or switching off a machine that is keeping a person’s life so they can eventually die from their disease.
  • Voluntary euthanasia- occurs when a patient requests death.
  • Non-voluntary euthanasia- is when the patient is unconscious or unable to make a meaningful choice between dying and living. For example, in the case whereby the patient is of extremely low intelligence or in the case of a very young baby, the physician can decide on their behalf. In cases where the child is mentally and emotionally able to make the decision but the law does not regard them as old enough to take such a decision. This, therefore, requires an appropriate person or physician to decide on their behalf in the eyes of the law.
  • Involuntary euthanasia- occurs when the patient who chooses life ends up being killed. It is the killing of the patient without their consent which is also referred to as murder.
  • Indirect euthanasia- it is the act of providing treatment to reduce the pain that has the side effect of speeding up a patient’s death. Some people view it as morally acceptable because the primary motive is not to kill.
  • Patient assisted euthanasia- refers to a situation whereby the patient who is going to die needs help to kill themselves and ask the physician to help them out. This may involve getting drugs for the patient and placing them within the patient’s reach.

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Ethics of euthanasia

The ethics of euthanasia include the following:

  • Autonomy- it means that the patient has the final decision-making responsibility for his treatment. This means that a physician cannot impose decisions on treatment on a patient for whatever reason, except in situations whereby the patient is not able or in a position to decide for themselves. Euthanasia violates the principle of autonomy hence contradicting the claim of the right to die. Allowing euthanasia doesn’t mean that a patient is allowed to choose when and how to die but rather it means that the physician is allowed to cause the death of the patient. This means that it is not an individual who enjoys the right but it is another who is granted the right to transgress. The patient is therefore forced to rely on the decision of the physician because he is inherently vulnerable due to his position in the medical hierarchy.
  • Non-maleficence- states that it is the physician is obliged not to cause any harm to the patient. This principle supports moral values like – do not cause pain or suffering, do not kill, do not incapacitate or cause offense, or deprive others of the good things of life. It simply requires the physician to act and make decisions that benefit the patients without causing them any harm.
  • Beneficence- it obliges the physician to act for the benefit of the patient while supporting moral values to protect other people’s rights, remove conditions that might harm others, and help people with disability. Euthanasia is not an act of beneficence even though in some cases it may have benefits. Regardless of palliative care, some kinds of suffering go beyond the capacity of the patient to cope with the others. This prompts the family members and the healthcare system to choose euthanasia. The patient also may end up choosing euthanasia because they do not want to be a burden to their family members.
  • Justice- it is a very complex ethical issue that requires fair treatment of individuals to the equitable allocation of healthcare resources.

 

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the arguments for and against euthanasia

 

In the recent past, there have been euthanasia arguments. Some of those arguments include:

For

  • Rights-based argument- Supporters of euthanasia argue that a patient has the right to decide when and how they are going to die. This is based on the principle of autonomy and self-will. Autonomy states that a patient has the right to make decisions regarding their lives so long as it does not cause harm to others. They seem to relate autonomy to the right of an individual to control their own body regarding making decisions on how and when they are going to die. They also argue that it is part of our human rights to make our own decisions and also the right to a dignified death.
  • Beneficence- it is believed that euthanasia will do better than harm in relieving a patient from their pain. Advocates of euthanasia state that the basic moral values of society, mercy, and compassion require that no patient should be allowed to go through unbearable pain, therefore mercy killing should be applied.
  • Difference between active and passive euthanasia- advocates of euthanasia claim that both active and passive euthanasia are the same in that none is morally worse than the other. In their view, active euthanasia should be allowed just as passive euthanasia is allowed. They also argue that active euthanasia is more humane than passive euthanasia because it relies on a quick and painless lethal injection whereas passive euthanasia results in a slow painful death.

Against

  • The sanctity of life- is central to society’s view of the sanctity of life. It can have both secular and religious basis though the underlying ethos is that human life must be respected and preserved. Christians view life as a gift from God who also takes it away. Islam religion also believes that God gives life and causes death. Withholding of treatment or shutting down of a lifesaving machine is only allowed when it is futile which is seen as a natural cause of death.
  • Euthanasia is seen as murder- Society generally views euthanasia as an action whose primary motive is to cause death in spite of the patient’s consent.
  • Abuse of autonomy and human rights- it is believed that patients’ requests for euthanasia are rarely autonomous because most terminally ill patients may not be of sound mind. They also argue that the act of euthanasia contravenes the right to life.
  • The role of palliative care- it is believed that pain and suffering experienced by patients can be relieved by palliative care hence making euthanasia a futile measure.
  • The rights of vulnerable patients- those against euthanasia believe that if it becomes an accepted practice, euthanasia may give rise to situations that may undermine the rights of vulnerable patients. It may include forcing patients who are receiving costly treatment to accept euthanasia.
  • The doctor-patient relationship and the physician’s role- euthanasia undermines the doctor-patient relationship by destroying trust and confidence built in such a relationship. Naturally, a doctor’s role is to save lives and not end them. This is viewed as undermining the objectives of the medical profession.

The legal position

Euthanasia is illegal in most countries and in most cases, the law seems to be against it. The law states that killing another person is murder or manslaughter even if the other person requested to be killed.

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 Advantages of euthanasia

  • Euthanasia is used as the last resort when all other options are futile- euthanasia is different from suicide even if both involve termination of life. A doctor cannot support termination of life where there is no pain or suffering involved. The goal of euthanasia is to end the pain and suffering of a lengthy death, especially in cases where suffering is included.
  • The right to die is a personal choice- in life people have the right to make choices for themselves without any interference from the government. Someone with a terminal illness may wish to end their life on their own terms. Incorporating death with laws can help to make this a possibility. The decision of life and death should remain in the hands of the patient.
  • It gives more control over the final decision in life- normally the end of a person’s life is the beginning of a financial journey for their relatives and friends. In case of debts, the family members become responsible for settling complex financial issues. With euthanasia as an option for a relative with a terminal illness, there can be planning to make the transition easier for everyone. Having more control over the final decision of life the burden can be reduced for everyone.
  • The patients can avoid the issue of caregiver guilt with euthanasia- some patients with terminal illness feel shame and guilt regarding the case of a caregiver. Such patients may feel like they are becoming a burden to people which affects how they relate to them. Helping someone find the peace they need through euthanasia can be a process of emotional healing that can help everyone push through grief with greater consistency.
  • Death is still going to happen- the way a person dies is not that important to the rest of society. Therefore, euthanasia should be debated rightfully without dictating an outside sense of morality on them. Since they are already working towards an end-of-life scenario, death is bound to happen anyway.

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Disadvantages of euthanasia

  • In most cases prediction of a terminal illness is rarely accurate- in most cases, most of the patients diagnosed with a terminal illness live much longer than what the doctors recommend. We cannot expect a miracle in every medical situation but we need to take an open approach to such cases.
  • Sometimes euthanasia medication doesn’t deliver on its promised result- some patients regain consciousness after taking lethal medication meant to kill them. Therefore, the legalization of euthanasia is not always a guaranteed outcome. In scenarios whereby the patient gains consciousness while on lethal drugs places both the patient and the doctor are in a hard place as they try to figure out whether to continue treating the disease or to try to help that person by injecting them with the lethal drug again.
  • The option of euthanasia could allow people to choose death for other reasons apart from illness- some patients choose euthanasia not because of their illness but because do not like their “new normal”. Only a few of them want to end their lives because they cannot persevere the pain anymore.
  • In most cases euthanasia avoids the benefits of palliative care- euthanasia seems to take away what remains of a patient with a terminal illness instead of trying to make their lives better. Euthanasia seems to give patients the impression that their doctors are giving up on them which should not be the case.

What is the role of nurses when patients request euthanasia?

 

American Nurses Association supports recommendations that nurses:

Remain objective when discussing end-of-life options with patients who are exploring medical aid in dying.

Have an ethical duty to be knowledgeable about this evolving issue.

Be aware of their values regarding medical aid in dying and how these values might affect the patient-nurse relationship.

  • Have the right to conscientiously object to being involved in the aid in the dying process.
  • Never abandon or refuse to provide comfort and safety measures to the patient who has chosen medical aid in dying. Nurses who work in jurisdictions where medical aid in dying is legal to have an obligation to inform their employers that they would predictively exercise a conscience-based objection so that appropriate assignments could be made.
  • Protect the confidentiality of the patient who chooses medical aid in dying.
  • Remain objective and protect the confidentiality of health care professionals who are present during the aid in dying process, as well as the confidentiality of those who choose not to be present. • Be involved in end-of-life policy discussions and development on local, state, and national levels, including advocating for palliative and hospice care services. Furthermore, research is needed to better understand the phenomenon.
  • Nurses provide quality palliative care to patients and support the family which enables them to experience peaceful death.
  • Nurses also have a duty to clarify the patient’s request which makes them understand the result of their choices.
  • Nurses also assess the patient to try and understand the background regarding their request.
  • Nurses help to determine whether the patient has decision-making capacity by investigating the following; – whether the patient has unmanaged pain

– If the patient has other uncomfortable symptoms

– Whether they are experiencing psychological distress

– If the patient is experiencing spiritual suffering

 

  • Evaluating if the patient’s symptoms have been fully managed with appropriate interventions and attending to them. this requires consultations with the physician and other healthcare personnel.
  • Nurses collaborate with the patients to determine a short-term plan e.g., a new symptom
  • management plan.
  • Collaborating with the patients to come up with a long-term plan e.g., consultation with additional resources
  • Nurses also provide additional information as required by the patient regarding the options about palliative sedation, withholding or withdrawing life-supporting therapies, and or hastening death. Nurses have a duty to provide such information and ensure that another care provider can access the information.

Conclusion

 

Euthanasia is a very complicated and controversial issue it is very difficult to come to an agreement where there are several factors interacting in an individual’s case. A patient who has decided to end their lives, euthanasia becomes the most logical option. In cases where the patient is terminally ill and decides to use euthanasia, the principle of autonomy is the most important. This is because it prohibits other people from interfering with the patient’s choice or imposing their values on the patient. In contrast, only a few countries have legalized euthanasia or assisted suicide. however, many arguments have been brought forward concerning euthanasia, and the few that have been outlined provide a glimpse into issues and controversy surrounding euthanasia.

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