Should Physician-Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia Be Legalized? - Essay Sample

Published: 2023-01-08
Should Physician-Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia Be Legalized? - Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Euthanasia
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1786 words
15 min read

Assisted death has been a major controversial issue globally based on the moral and ethical implications it has. Various leaders globally, policymakers, and other governmental and nongovernmental dignitaries have raised their concern regarding whether physicians should assist ill patients to die on various circumstances. Euthanasia is the practice where medical practitioners assist an individual to end their lives to relieve them from the pain and suffering of incurable diseases. Euthanasia is, therefore, considered to be an act of mercy killing which is done from a moral duty to relieve suffering on the vulnerable. Euthanasia can take various forms such as active form, passive form, and, voluntary and non-voluntary euthanasia. In an active form, a physician administers a medication that puts to death a suffering person. Passive forms refer to the act of allowing patients to die by avoiding or withdrawing the medication that supports life to that individual. In voluntary euthanasia, the patients make the decision about his/ her death while in a non-voluntary it is the carer who gives consent. This practice has raised controversies with some people supporting the practice when it is done to alleviate the pain that cannot be reversed. However, opposers argue that it is immoral to assist anyone to die as there is more than suffering in life. Despite the controversies raised on both sides, assisted suicide should not be legalized as it is against the morality of pro-life and the basic principles of medical practitioners of treating and preserving life.

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Campaigning to end peoples' lives by supporting assisted suicide does not end suffering, but indeed passes the suffering to other people who may wonder about the purposes of the worthless life. Besides, it should be noted that the people who die from the overdose of drugs do not have freedom of choice whatsoever. Therefore, although the issue of life is considered by some to be an issue of personal concern, human beings are social beings who have social and moral obligations including caring for others and being responsible (Paterson 122). In this regard, supporting assisted suicide eliminates the basic human values such as compassion that should be shown by healthy people to the ones suffering. Besides, assisting suicide can be regarded as an act of disregarding human duties such as caring and helping others while supporting life. Therefore, patients' conditions should be addressed without causing further suffering to other people. However, the statistics conducted by Pew Research Center in 2015 demonstrated worrying concerns where 53% of respondents support euthanasia when the patient has a terminal illness. Another 60% supported the issue when the patient is in deep pain and has no hope of any improvement. These statistics are against the people who opposed mercy killing at 39% and 34% respectively. Despite these findings, it is important to emphasize the importance of human life which cannot be replaced when taken away. Therefore, governments should not legalize assisted suicide but instead do a thorough civic education about the suffering that such an act results to others with similar conditions and even family members and relatives of the deceased.

When patients ask physicians to assist them to end their lives, this facilitates a disrespect to the physician's integrity and even contradicts roles of treating by medical practitioners. It should be noted that the principle responsibility of a physician is not to harm but alleviate pain by promoting life. Therefore, facilitating the death of a patient undermines the basic principles of medical practitioners as well as the personal integrity of the physicians who are supposed to show compassionated actions to the vulnerable, wounded, sick, lonely, alienated, and the afraid. Asking a physician to end the life of a patient is making him/ her take part in a destructive act towards life which violates both professional and personal integrity while leaving both the patient and the physician at a moral confusion regarding the goodness and beauty of a human person. According to Sulmasy et al. (247), physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia both undermine the medical profession since it erodes the trust that patients generally have on physicians and caregivers. This implies that if medical practitioners were allowed by law to engage in such practices, they would be harming patients which could possibly cause distrust with the patients when they are seeking medical attention. Therefore, it can be illustrated that euthanasia is fundamentally not compatible with the role of a physician as a healer. Besides, it would be impossible to control some repercussions which can lead to further societal risks thereby extending challenges to the risky populations.

If laws were passed to allow physicians to assist patients to end their lives, they would be abused by various stakeholders based on their personal interests in the event. It should be noted that handing a lethal prescription to a patient does not consider the accountability of that person regarding the possible consequences. It should, therefore, be noted that some people who are likely to benefit from the death of a particular person financially can take advantage of such a situation and administer the drug to the patient without the consent of the patient. The laws that seek to legalize euthanasia do not consider or require the consent at the time of death, the only consent that is obtained regards the lethal prescription (Gorsuch 123). This distinction can only be made when the person has the power to make a decision regarding the imminent death. Considering the value of life and the fact that such an Act that supports physician-assisted suicide is not a personal or private Act, but involves doctors and patients, it should be considered by all parties including the medicine perspective, law, and society, and moral consideration. When an action is taken that can undermine the medical profession, then it should not be encouraged. Passing laws that facilitate and legalize assisted suicide undermines the profession which is based on human life protection and should, therefore, not be condoned. The integrity of medicine requires the practice to cure not to end a life which implies that the respect to patient autonomy should not outweigh the purpose for the medical professionals in the first place.

Legalizing euthanasia an assisted suicide is an act of devaluing life which offends even people who are not directly associated with the patient. It should be noted that legalizing assisted suicide is like telling the elderly and the disabled persons that their life is not valuable. The medical practitioners who support the issue illustrate the hopelessness that the patient has on life. Besides, the very medical practitioners demonstrate hopelessness with life as opposed to compassion that they should show to their patients. Such an action, therefore, devalues human life which is against the morality of preservation and promotion of human life at whatever circumstances. According to Sulmasy et al. (249), it is illegal to offend other people due to personal decisions whether one does them singly or is assisted. This offense could be in the form of an attack, resentful displeasure, or violation of certain moral and ethical rights. When one is assisted to end their life, this can be deemed by some people to devalue their life against some people who value the life of the victims. Therefore, this is offensive to such people and should not be tolerated. The affected people can have lasting mental and psychological problems. It is fundamental to note that human beings are relational beings under the natural law and every decision made in society and in law should be viewed to promote that relational good. In this respect, euthanasia and assisted suicides are moral questions and actions that have moral consequences and hence should not be legalized.

The arguments pro-euthanasia disregard an important aspect of life regarding the right to protect society from actions that are degrading to human life. Such people point out that assisted suicide and euthanasia is a personal choice which should be embraced on the basis of autonomy. If this was supported, it would imply that patients have a right to terminate their lives. However, it should be noted that this is not a debate about the right to die but the right to assist people to kill themselves. Besides, legalizing the act means giving other people the freedom and legal power to terminate other peoples' lives (Gorsuch 84). Therefore, assisted suicide is not a private act since there is no person that can choose assisted suicide in isolation. Other people are involved in the decision making including the health care providers, relatives, and friends hence the decision has wider ramifications. The cases of specifically autonomous considerations would be in very special conditions where few people would be eligible. An example is a disease that is chronic but not necessarily terminally. However, when the law is passed, it would hardly differentiate such situations on the basis of autonomy. Besides, it should be noted that some considerations to come up with such a law would lead to varying interpretation where the 'right to die' can easily become 'the duty to die.' Therefore, attempts to alter the law to establish clauses that support euthanasia or assisted suicide should not be allowed as social consequences are inevitable as long as the act involves many stakeholders.

It is not all people who are terminally ill wish to end their lives implying that the decision made by family members on their behalf is against their will and right to life. In various instances, there have been instances of tragic cases where people who suffer from terminally illnesses want other people to assist them to end their lives. However, there is also a huge number of people who might lose sight of this and think that everyone wants to end his/ her life. For example, it has been established that a large number of people who have found the richness as well as the purpose of life despite the pain as well as the hardship they go through (Sulmasy et al. 252). Different pieces of research like the survey published in the British Medical Journal in the year 2011 demonstrated that majority of the patients who were completed paralyzed but fully conscious of the situation showed happiness and did not want to die. Therefore, caregivers and relatives of such people would be violating the rights of terminally ill patients. Besides, studies have demonstrated that about 32% of the assisted deaths in Belgium are carried out on request while about 47% of assisted deaths are not reported. Since the establishment of the euthanasia law, the number of assisted deaths has increased by about 25%. This illustrates that making it legal for medical practitioners to assist patients to die will enable others to take advantage of the situation and end the lives of their relatives when they know they will benefit from their death.

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