In my opinion, Ms. Robaczynski was wrong to disconnect Mr. Gessner from his respirator. I think that her actions can be interpreted as an active killing for a number of reasons. First of all, it is illegal to stop the treatment of the patients in these conditions. The hospital had already started the treatment, and the workers had no right to decide the end of the procedures independently. In this situation, it does not matter if Mr. Gessner was in a fatal condition during Ms. Robaczynski’s actions.
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Secondly, her decision was unsupported by her patient because he or his representatives were not given a chance to express their opinion. While some people commented on the events of the trial, saying that they would have wanted for Ms. Robaczynski to disconnect their respirators in the given conditions, they had no authority to represent Mr. Gessner and his position. Ms. Robaczynski did not consult anyone prior to making a decision, which renders her actions as heedless and immoral.
If Mr. Gessner or the people that were allowed to speak on his behalf asked the nurse to disconnect the patient from the respirator, the situation would have different moral conditions. While Ms. Robaczynski’s actions would have been viewed as wrong from a legal point of view, the perception of her decisions would change from a moral standpoint. On the one hand, according to Fry, Veatch, Taylor, and Taylor (2010), the actions of the nurse would be illegal regardless of the patient’s consent.
The authors argue that treatment withdrawal is an action that can be classified as an active killing. On the other hand, Ms. Robaczynski would have some moral grounds to perform the withdrawal if she received permission from Mr. Gessner. All in all, her actions could be viewed differently from a moral standpoint but not from a legal one.
Fry, S. T., Veatch, R. M., Taylor, C., & Taylor, C. R. (2010). Case studies in nursing ethics. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.