Euthanasia: An Ethical Dilemma

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The ethical debate regarding euthanasia dates back to ancient Greece and Rome. It was the Hippocratic School (c. 400B.C.) that eliminated the practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide from medical practice. Euthanasia in itself raises many ethical dilemmas – such as, is it ethical for a doctor to assist a terminally ill patient in ending his life? Under what circumstances, if any, is euthanasia considered ethically appropriate for a doctor? More so, euthanasia raises the argument of the different ideas that people have about the value of the human experience. Philosopher, Ezekial Emanuel, asserts that the ethical belief in the 19th and 20th century in the United States are reminiscent of those today, both in terms of content and ferocity. Emanuel adds that interest in euthanasia arose historically and predictably from (1) economic recession or movements of Social Darwinism; (2) doctors who engaged in a struggle with society over their medical-authority and profession; and (3) terminating life-sustaining practices become part of standard medical practice, and there is a desire then to extend this to active euthanasia. Arguably, all three situations met by the end of the 20th century. The rise of managed care, the increase of health care costs, and the growing number of uninsured patients place economic and political pressures on individuals (and governments) to find a cost-containment resolution. Additionally, since the late 1970s, the medical profession has faced the dominating principle of patient independence as a challenge – first to medical paternalism and then extending even to the principle of beneficence. More so, the usage of the Internet and other global media has expanded the ability of patients to access an... ... middle of paper ... ...(Prometheus Books 1991). MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO, CATO MAIOR DE SENECTUTE (1873). Michigan v. Kevorkian, 447 Mich. 436 (1994). PLATO, DE RE PUBLICA, GR., AUSZ (Rick Barbaric 1976). Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973). SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS, BASIC WRITINGS OF ST THOMAS AQUINAS (Hackett Publ'g 1997). SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS, SUMMA THEOLOGICA (Hayes Barton Press 1999). SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS, TREATISE ON LAW (St Augustine PressInc 2009). Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702 (1997). Secondary Sources CRAIG PATERSON, THE CONTRIBUTION OF NATURAL LAW THEORY TO MORAL AND LEGAL DEBATE CONCERNING SUICIDE, ASSISTED SUICIDE, AND EUTHANASIA (Universal-Publishers 2010). DAVID HUME, ON SUICIDE (Penguin UK 2005). PAUL CARRICK, MEDICAL ETHICS IN THE ANCIENT WORLD (Georgetown Univ. Press 2001). SUSAN M. BEHUNIAK & ARTHUR G. SVENSON, PHYSICIAN-ASSISTED SUICIDE (Rowman & Littlefield 2003).
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