Essay Sample on Personal and Communal Ethical factors in Euthanasia

Published: 2023-08-23
Essay Sample on Personal and Communal Ethical factors in Euthanasia
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Euthanasia Literature review Ethical dilemma Social issue
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1551 words
13 min read

Sometimes, ailing persons undergo a lot of pain and families, nurses, or the victims opt for euthanasia. It is the process of deliberately ending one’s life to relieve them of the pain they are undergoing in the sickbed. The moral behind euthanasia is still a debate and most people have different opinions. For instance, some people view euthanasia as murder. Most of such people are believers in religions that view euthanasia as murder. Euthanasia is murder; the only difference is the motive behind the killing. Therefore, opponents of euthanasia explain that it is sinful and deprives one of the chance to live. They believe that there is hope for a dying person to revive again and live like normal. However, supporters of euthanasia argue on the grounds of relieving pain and saving accumulating hospital costs for someone who is dying. In either case, this paper presents an annotated bibliography of the ethics of euthanasia.

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Kantian Ethics of Euthanasia

Supporters of euthanasia argue that everyone has the right to die. Therefore, inducing death allows one to die peacefully and with dignity, unlike the compromising cases of rape, murder, accidents, or long-term illness. Therefore, supporters maintain that it is a better way of dying since, eventually, every man shall die. Some patients opt for this process as a way to waive the burden off their families. Also, patients with terminal illnesses opt for euthanasia as an opportunity to donate organs to those who need them more. Whereas such patients choose the right to die, they give chances for those with organ failures the right to live.

Conversely, opponents argue that euthanasia only transfers the pain and suffering from the victims to their respective families. Those left behind suffer the loss of a loved one. Sometimes, the patient could be the breadwinner in the family. Therefore, dying means the family will be in complete agony. The United States Constitution articulates that every human has the right to life. Thus, euthanasia is considered as an unnatural way of death that is unlawful. The state laws give medical professionals the obligation to save lives rather than ending it. As a result, cases of euthanasia have appeared in court on many occasions and are considered as murder despite the victim’s approval.

Kantian ethics of categorical imperatives are ascribed to one German theorist Immanuel Kant. He constructed a moral law posed to cover all humans irrespective of their desires. Mostly, the ethics are in favor of human life preservation and against suicide, murder, or euthanasia. In Kant’s view, every human has the right to live. Kant states, "It is impossible to think of anything at all in the world, or indeed even beyond it, that could be considered good without limitation except goodwill." Therefore, Kant explains that the goodness of an action is determined by the moral motive behind it and the duty of the role player. Universalizability is part of Kant’s categorical imperative, alluding that its applicability determines the rightfulness of action to all people. In Kant’s view of humanity, he proposes that people cannot be used as a means to the end but the ends itself. Therefore, medical officers cannot use patients to prove their services or please a majority by [practicing irrational acts like euthanasia. Instead, they have to be the best by offering quality healthcare to every patient aimed towards saving lives rather than ending. Nonetheless, Kant’s formula of autonomy proposes that it is in one’s rational will that action is taken. Therefore, in response to euthanasia, it may only be conducted if the patient supports it.

Annotated Bibliography

Harriss, I. (2005, September). Ethics and euthanasia: natural law philosophy and latent utilitarianism. In 12th Annual Conference of the Australian Association for Professional and Applied Ethics, Adelaide (pp. 28-30).

Harriss (2005) discusses the ethical ‘complexities’ of euthanasia with more emphasis on the ‘natural law theory.’ The natural law theory is based on some non-democratic principles that are fixed and arise from above irrespective of whether it is from God or any other superior force in which people believe. The ‘complexities’ of the natural law arise from the historical theories that are either ‘Aristotelian’ or ‘Cartesian.’ The ‘natural law’ opposes the utilitarian theories, thus the need to discuss it more. As such, the individual pain of a person remains an issue that is understated in public dilemmas and debates that require legal and philosophical viewpoints. Whereas utilitarian theorists argue for the short-term effects of such actions as euthanasia, the natural law looks into the long-term effects. For instance, if the government withdraws its intervention in such life matters, there will be the autonomy of euthanasia that brings the rise to a free market. Therefore, the natural law presents mitigation to such occurrences for free euthanasia. ‘Aristotle’ describes time as the movement of an object within a space. It is forward moving of an object whose description does not match that of a living being. Aristotle’s theory is only for inanimate objects. However, human beings move forward and backward with the desire that revolves around their pasts, present, and future. Therefore, a dying individual’s want is unsatisfied in Aristotle’s theory. Nonetheless, the discriminative nature of the natural law deprives humans of the autonomy to make choices as they submit to the already formed laws either by God or other bodies of power.

Quaghebeur, T., Dierckx de Casterlé, B., & Gastmans, C. (2009). Nursing and euthanasia: a review of argument-based ethics literature. Nursing Ethics, 16(4), 466-486.

Quaghebeur et al. (2009) describe nursing ‘viewpoints’ on euthanasia. The viewpoints generally revolve around the ‘involvement’ of nurses in the process of ‘mercy killing.’ Here are specific principles that guide the participation of nurses in euthanasia. They include victim ‘autonomy,’ which implies seeking the consent of the patient and their approval or choice to die in this manner. The second principle is non-maleficence, which entails actions that do not impose harm on the victim. Therefore, a nurse will have to ensure that the patient is exposed to as little pain as possible. If euthanasia is the only way to relieve the pain, then it is acceptable. The third principle of ‘beneficence’ implies what positive outcome is presented at the end of euthanasia. For instance, the victim hopes to relieve the family of the expenses they accrue to cover the hospitalization bill. However, suffering the loss is a negative outcome of the process, hence confusing. Lastly, the principle of justice presents the moral law involved in euthanasia.

Ferrante, C. (2013). Playing God: The Ethics of Euthanasia. H-SC Journal of Sciences, 2, 1-3.

Ferrante (2013) presents the ethics of euthanasia based on the ‘religious’ beliefs of people and the ‘patient’s personhood.’ In his view, Ferrante argues that euthanasia ethics are far beyond the religious fears presented by the opponents. He more now discusses whether the medical limits of doctors are surpassed in the euthanasia process. For instance, the doctor’s oath portrays that one will ‘do no further harm’ to their patients. However, in the act of euthanasia, it is quite confusing as to whether the doctors break this oath or typically ‘play God.’ Moreover, Ferrante describes the four types of euthanasia, including passive euthanasia that implies omitting a necessary treatment process that ends up killing the patient. Active euthanasia involves intervening in a patient’s treatment process to kill intentionally. Contrarily, voluntary euthanasia implies killing by the patient's consent, while involuntary euthanasia entails deciding the patient’s death since they cannot speak for themselves.

Materstvedt, L. J., Clark, D., Ellershaw, J., Førde, R., Gravgaard, A. M. B., Müller-Busch, H. C., ... & Rapin, C. H. (2003). Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide: a view from an EAPC Ethics Task Force. Palliative Medicine, 17(2), 97-101.

Materstvedt et al. (2003) present a historical review of ‘euthanasia’ and ‘doctor-assisted suicide.’ For the first time in history, the democratic government legalized euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide in 1996, even though on certain conditions. The law was enacted under the Rights of the Terminally Ill Amendment Act of 1996 in the Northern Territory of Australia. The bill was only valid for one year until opponents of euthanasia came to light. As of 2001, other countries like Dutch, Belgium, and entire Europe began legalizing euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide.

American Medical Association (2020). Euthanasia. Retrieved from

The American Medical Association (2020) provides the limits within which all medical professionals should act. ‘Mercy killing’ is permitted within the code of ethics and legal in America. A few conditions are attached to the legalities. The medical professions are obligated to keep the patient’s company at all times during the stay in the hospital. In so doing, they must discern the patient’s ‘autonomy’ in ending life. Any additional support asked by the patient must be considered, including the right to see love ones and have their last moments. Any assistance with the writing of the will and involvement of family lawyers must also be availed. Thus, effective communication is central to the application of euthanasia.


Conclusively, the ethics of euthanasia keep varying from one theorist to another. Supporters do so given relieving the patient’s pain. Contrarily, opponents do so in view that it is a denial of life. Therefore, it is uncertain whether euthanasia is purely legal. Various countries differ in their laws with Australia outstandingly against it. However, the United States government and European countries support euthanasia on conditions of the patient’s autonomy.

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