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The Issues Regarding Euthanasia

Introduction

Various issues arise within the healthcare sector that requires good decision-making to address them without causing harm to individuals. As a result, most healthcare issues require an ethical approach to determine the way forward to protect the reputation of healthcare professionals (Figueroa et al., 2019). One of the key healthcare issues that have received unending debate is euthanasia. Euthanasia is considered the planned action taken to terminate the life of terminally ill patients to get rid of their suffering (Goligher et al., 2017). The process of ending the patients’ life is complex as it entails analyzing several factors to avoid potential lawsuits and conflicts that may arise. Healthcare professionals must observe the local laws, the patients’ wishes and beliefs, and their mental and physical health before ending their lives (Evenblij et al., 2019). The paper provides my philosophy regarding euthanasia, how the position aligns with a biblical worldview, and an analysis of the opposing side to my position.

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My Philosophy Regarding Euthanasia

I believe that euthanasia is humane and is the best way to end the suffering of terminally ill patients. Patients with terminal illnesses tend to have no cure for their conditions, forcing them to undergo much suffering, gradually increasing their chances of death. Consequently, the patients become unable to complete their day-to-day tasks and become dependent on their friends and family members for all forms of support. This makes euthanasia necessary for terminally ill patients, as it entails inducing death devoid of pain (De Lima et al., 2017). However, several reasons fully support my philosophy to reveal why it is crucial to assist terminally ill patients who are willing to end their lives.

Respects the Autonomy of the Patients

Medical ethics requires healthcare organizations to observe the rights of patients to avoid physician paternalism. Some physicians still have practices and attitudes which compel them not to honor patients’ choices and wishes. Patient autonomy normally implies the patients’ freedom to make choices regarding the care they require to overcome their health issues. Healthcare providers must educate patients on how to make their decisions, but they should not make decisions on behalf of the patients (Spence et al., 2017). Healthcare professionals should always respect patients’ autonomy in all their actions to create outstanding relationships that allow patients to visit healthcare facilities to acquire the needed services. Patients feel satisfied and willing to reveal their medical conditions when they find out that their decisions will be considered. Patients feel contented when they are provided with an opportunity to decide and choose the desired services they need to address their conditions (Geest & Satalkar, 2019). A large fraction of patients with terminal disorders value to terminate their lives by permitting physicians to assist them. Consequently, the patients choose their dying process and destiny without any influence from other people.

Individuals have the right to avert unbearable suffering and exercise control over the way they want to die. Respect should be shown on how people choose to die and live their lives to achieve good coexistence. The patients are offered a chance to make decisions when they are conscious of revealing their preferences and choices. Patients are considered experts regarding their lives, spiritual situations, and wellbeing and thus play a crucial role in a collaborative process of making decisions by revealing their demands and preferences. The patient-physician partnership entails situations where patients may choose recommended but undesirable treatment options or the physicians offering futile and harmful treatments. However, the decision and self-determination of a patient are considered final, hence the need to show respect to avert unnecessary disagreements (Geest & Satalkar, 2019). Consequently, patients’ wishes and preferences supersede rational and reasonable medical findings and considerations, particularly on the potential outcomes and burdens. Patients ought to be permitted to assume responsibility for their dying process, devoid of being forced by anyone. Therefore, euthanasia is largely geared at respecting patient autonomy to maintain and build strong physician-patient relationships and avert potential lawsuits.

Relief of Suffering

The invention of medicine has dramatically helped in relieving patients’ suffering from diseases. Patients with terminal disorders undergo a lot of suffering because their conditions cannot be treated, despite the progress made in medical invention. Some terminal diseases include advanced dementia and cancer, which cause unbearable suffering to the patients forcing them to consider ending their lives. The patients also suffer from depression and stress due to their conditions which further worsen their health conditions, making it hard to recover. The unbearable suffering that patients undergo tends to be grave and uncontrollable, a situation that adversely affects their bearing capacity. Consequently, the suffering compels patients to lose the sense and meaning of life, thus beginning to recognize the insignificance of living (Ahlzen, 2020). These sentiments further generate feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, numbness, and fatigue, which coerce the patients within the end-of-life stages to express a plea for death.

The need for euthanasia allows suffering patients to overcome their pain and respect their desires for death. The decision to allow patients with terminal illnesses to continue living implies that they proceed being subjected to more distress and pain, which negatively affects their quality of life. The dying patients become highly dependent on others, weak and helpless, lose mobility, and experience physical discomforts. As a result, the patients continue to suffer and generate more stress and problems for their families and friends. Relatives and colleagues usually have a hard time providing support to dying patients, which creates financial challenges and emotional issues. Therefore, ending the patients’ lives overcomes their suffering and allows friends and relatives to have a sigh of relief despite the loss of their loved ones (Geest & Satalkar, 2019). This makes euthanasia an act of humanity to allow patients to die with dignity to overcome unbearable and agonizing life.

Safe Medical Practice

The support in dying is considered by all advocates as a safe and secure medical approach where healthcare professionals achieve successful and ethical death through suicide than it can be attained by other means. The Hippocratic Oath taken by healthcare specialists requires them to treat patients to the top of their ability and teach medicine’s secrets while avoiding the administration of poison to the patients. This discloses the role of health professionals in advancing the patients’ lives and further ensuring that they address their needs to keep them contented. However, the dying process that the terminally ill patients undergo through euthanasia cannot be considered at the provision of poison as it is a safe medical procedure geared at overcoming suffering. The main group of drugs utilized for euthanasia is barbiturates which slow down the nervous system and brain activities (Fontalis et al., 2018). Some other medications yield less severe respiratory challenges and muscle relaxation to calmly terminate the patient’s life. In the United States, barbiturates are categorized as class B drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act and should be used under the physician’s prescription.

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Aid in dying has become one of the highly utilized alternatives for ending the lives of terminally ill patients. Most states within the U.S. require doctors to observe several safeguards to avoid abusing the patients during the process of dying, thus defining their roles and duties. This aims to prevent harm to the patients and allow them to end their life peacefully without pain and trouble. The safeguards provided by the states revolve around avoiding coercion to the patients and choosing two witnesses to approve that the patients are seeking euthanasia. Additionally, the safeguards entail ensuring that the patient is capable of ingesting the medications and educating the patient on all possible options related to euthanasia to make the desired choice (Spence et al., 2017). Therefore, the entire process is safe and respects the dignity and values of an individual to evade causing harm to others.

Declining Public Stigma on Suicide

The augmented suicide cases across the globe have necessitated numerous pieces of research which have established that a significant fraction of people engages in suicide due to intolerable life situations. The hard and unbearable living conditions make it indispensable for people to commit suicide as they fail to comprehend the meaning of life. This has forced the public to appreciate that suicide is a normal issue leading to a reduction in stigmatization. Surprisingly, suicide is not a crime in most states in the U.S., coercing the public to avoid humiliating other people or affected families. The leading cause of suicide has mental disorders, where people with bipolar complications and depression have highly committed suicide (Spence et al., 2017). Terminally ill people choose to end their lives to overcome unendurable suffering, although they cannot commit suicide due to weakness. As a result, they select healthcare specialists to assist them in ending their lives.

A Time When it is the “Right Thing to do”?

There are various times when euthanasia is considered the right thing to do to achieve the anticipated positive outcomes. This is focused on emphasizing the advantages of the humane act of ending the lives of terminally ill patients. One of the key times when it is the right thing to do euthanasia is when the ailing patient is financially unstable, thus becoming unable to afford the needed medications to reduce the symptoms of their conditions. Most terminal illnesses have no cure, a situation that forces patients to undergo huge expenses to increase their life expectancy. This forces patients to sell nearly all properties to cater to their health and create more financial demands from their relatives (Evenblij et al., 2019). As a result, if the dying patients cannot afford the necessities required to support their lives, they can choose to undergo euthanasia to avoid inflicting more financial challenges to their families.

Secondly, when the patients are unable to withstand the pain and suffering of terminal diseases, then they can choose euthanasia. This acts as the best time to end the patients’ lives to prevent them from undergoing more suffering, which may further worsen their lives. The quality of life and wellbeing of an individual is crucial to ensure people live a happy life and recognize the meaning of life. However, if individuals undergo unending suffering, they lose the significance of life and choose to terminate their lives (Tuffrey-Wijne et al., 2018). Therefore, it is understandable and rational for patients to engage in euthanasia to end their suffering and avoid living a miserable life.

Thirdly, euthanasia is carried out when patients provide their consent to engage in the process. This acts as the right time because the patients are willing to end their life and adherence to their decision is not illegal but demonstrates respect to their rights. Lastly, when terminally ill patients with mental challenges become unconscious with untreatable and unbearable suffering can be compelled to undergo euthanasia, especially when their families cannot be traced (Mehlum et al., 2020). In this case, the healthcare professionals make decisions on behalf of the patients because they cannot make rational decisions regarding their health and how they want to die. This will help the dying mentally ill patients to overcome their anguish and die peacefully.

Aligning the Position with a Biblical Worldview

Several verses in the Bible support euthanasia for terminally ill patients due to its humane nature and ability to help the patients overcome their suffering. People should not be allowed to continue suffering from unbearable pain, which arises from their health conditions. As a result, patients must be permitted to die with dignity to fasten their impending and inevitable death (Mehlum et al., 2020). Most faith religions abide by ancient traditions and the considerations of the last journey of physical life to avoid causing unnecessary conflict. However, contemporary medical technology has created room for faith leaders to reassess some of the religious philosophies to match the needs and demands of the people. Judges 9:52-54 NIV says that:

52 Abimelek went to the tower and attacked it. But as he approached the entrance to the tower to set it on fire, 53 a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull. 54 Hurriedly he called to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and kill me, so that they can’t say, ‘A woman killed him.” So his servant ran him through, and he died (BibleGateway, 2021).

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Based on these verses, Abimelek, who was fatally wounded, requested his armor-bearer to kill him to overcome the humiliation of being slain by a woman (BibleGateway, 2021). This relates to the decision by terminally ill patients to ask healthcare specialists to end their lives to save them from the indignity of dying from unbearable pain.

According to 2 Samuel 1:6-9 NIV, the Bible says:

6 I happened to be on Mount Gilboa,” the young man said, “and there was Saul, leaning on his spear, with the chariots and their drivers in hot pursuit. 7 When he turned around and saw me, he called out to me, and I said, ‘What can I do?’ 8 “He asked me, ‘Who are you?’ “‘An Amalekite,’ I answered. 9 “Then he said to me, ‘Stand here by me and kill me! I’m in the throes of death, but I’m still alive (BibleGateway, 2021).

According to the verses, Saul, who was mortally injured, requested the Amalekite to kill him since he was within the throes of death (BibleGateway, 2021). Relating the Bible verses to euthanasia, it is evident that terminating the lives of dying patients usually aids them overcome their distress like Saul.

Arguments against Euthanasia for Terminally ill Patients

Despite the positive impacts related to euthanasia, it has received unending criticism that makes it hard to be fully legalized within the country and across the globe. The opponents of euthanasia claim that it encourages an increase in suicide. Assisting terminally ill people to die is capable of generating suicide contagion where people consider suicide as the best thing to do to overcome their troubles (O’Rourke et al., 2017). An increase in suicide cases reveals a helpless and unfocused society that does not care and support its residents to boost their quality of life. Secondly, the opponents of euthanasia hold that it creates a slippery slope (Fontalis et al., 2018). Once the physicians learn how to accelerate patients’ deaths, they are most likely to engage in illegal business. The doctors are most likely to avoid observing the safeguards and considerations of euthanasia to protect the patients. As a result, the doctors may end up not protecting the patients’ dignity and autonomy and instead turn it into a profitable business.

Lastly, there are various alternatives to euthanasia, which can be used to achieve outstanding results and avoid ending the lives of terminally ill patients. One of the vital alternative treatments is the use of palliative care to avert killing the patient to overcome their symptoms. Palliative care provides adequate options to release the intolerable suffering associated with end-of-life stages. This entails continuous deep sedation, where sedating drugs are administered to terminally ill patients until death (O’Rourke et al., 2017). As a result, the opponents of euthanasia consider it murderous, hence should not be practiced.

Additionally, various verses in the Bible disclose why euthanasia should not be adopted as it goes against the religious teachings. Exodus 23:7 NIV, says that “7 Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.” This verse prevents people from engaging in intentional killing of innocent individuals to avoid being punished during the judgement day (BibleGateway, 2021). Additionally, Psalms 24:1 NIV says that “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” The verse claims that it is wrong to take away our lives because they belong to God (BibleGateway, 2021). Therefore, people should consider avoiding suicide and protecting their lives.

Conclusion

From a critical point of view, the pros of euthanasia on terminally ill patients surpass the associated cons; hence countries should consider legalizing it. Euthanasia helps patients overcome their suffering, respects patient autonomy, and remains appropriate due to the deteriorating public humiliation of suicide. Additionally, euthanasia is a safe medical practice that safeguards the safety of the patients by establishing guidelines that prevent any harm that may lead to lawsuits. Some of the biblical teachings support euthanasia as it protects patients’ dignity and assists them in overcoming unbearable suffering. To overcome the cons related to euthanasia, doctors should always focus on respecting patients’ preferences and avoid causing harm by keeping the dying process safe and secure to achieve a peaceful death. Ending the lives of terminally ill patients creates a sigh of relief to family members through reduced financial demands and emotional pain, allowing them to move on and smoothly engage in day-to-day operations without stress.

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References

Ahlzen, R. (2020). Suffering, authenticity, and physician assisted suicide. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, 23(3), 353-359. Web.

BibleGateway. (2021). New international version (NIV). BibleGateway.com: A searchable online Bible in over 150 versions and 50 languages. Web.

De Lima, L., Woodruff, R., Pettus, K., Downing, J., Buitrago, R., Munyoro, E., Venkateswaran, C., Bhatnagar, S., & Radbruch, L. (2017). International association for hospice and palliative care position statement: Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 20(1), 8-14. Web.

Evenblij, K., Pasman, H. R., Van der Heide, A., Hoekstra, T., & Onwuteaka-Philipsen, B. D. (2019). Factors associated with requesting and receiving euthanasia: A nationwide mortality follow-back study with a focus on patients with psychiatric disorders, dementia, or an accumulation of health problems related to old age. BMC Medicine, 17(1), 1-12. Web.

Figueroa, C. A., Harrison, R., Chauhan, A., & Meyer, L. (2019). Priorities and challenges for health leadership and workforce management globally: A rapid review. BMC Health Services Research, 19(1), 1-11. Web.

Fontalis, A., Prousali, E., & Kulkarni, K. (2018). Euthanasia and assisted dying: What is the current position and what are the key arguments informing the debate? Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 111(11), 407-413. Web.

Geest, S. V., & Satalkar, P. (2019). Autonomy and dying: Notes about decision-making and “completed life” euthanasia in The Netherlands. Death Studies, 45(8), 613-622. Web.

Goligher, E. C., Ely, E. W., Sulmasy, D. P., Bakker, J., Raphael, J., Volandes, A. E., Patel, B. M., Payne, K., Hosie, A., Churchill, L., White, D. B., & Downar, J. (2017). Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia in the ICU. Critical Care Medicine, 45(2), 149-155. Web.

Mehlum, L., Schmahl, C., Berens, A., Doering, S., Hutsebaut, J., Kaera, A., Kramer, U., Moran, P. A., Renneberg, B., Ribaudi, J. S., Simonsen, S., Swales, M., Taubner, S., & Di Giacomo, E. (2020). Euthanasia and assisted suicide in patients with personality disorders: A review of current practice and challenges. Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation, 7(1), 1-7. Web.

O’Rourke, M. A., O’Rourke, M. C., & Hudson, M. F. (2017). Reasons to reject physician assisted suicide/Physician aid in dying. Journal of Oncology Practice, 13(10), 683-686. Web.

Spence, R. A., Blanke, C. D., Keating, T. J., & Taylor, L. P. (2017). Responding to patient requests for hastened death: Physician aid in dying and the clinical oncologist. Journal of Oncology Practice, 13(10), 693-699. Web.

Tuffrey-Wijne, I., Curfs, L., Finlay, I., & Hollins, S. (2018). Euthanasia and assisted suicide for people with an intellectual disability and/or autism spectrum disorder: An examination of nine relevant euthanasia cases in The Netherlands (2012–2016). BMC Medical Ethics, 19(1), 1-21. Web.

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