Mercy Killing

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The applied moral issue of euthanasia, or mercy killing, concerns whether it is morally acceptable for a third party, such as a physician, to end the life of a terminally ill patient who is in intense pain. I will go further into the facts of this in my paper.

The euthanasia controversy is part of a larger issue concerning the right to die.
Staunch defenders of personal liberty argue that all of us are morally entitled to end our lives when we see fit. Thus, according to these people, suicide is in principle morally permissible. For health care workers, the issue of the right to die is most prominent when a patient in their care is terminally ill, is in intense pain, and voluntarily chooses to end their life to escape prolonged suffering. In these cases, there are several theoretical options open to the health care worker. First, the worker can ignore the patient's request and care can continue as usual. Second, the worker can discontinue providing life-sustaining treatment to the patient, and thus allow him to die more quickly. This option is called passive euthanasia since it brings on death through nonintervention. Third, the health care worker can provide the patient with the means of taking his own life, such as a lethal dose of a drug. This practice is called assisted suicide, since it is the patient, and not technically the health care worker, who administers the drug. Finally, the health care worker can take active measures to end the patient's life, such as by directly administering a lethal dose of a drug. This practice is called active euthanasia since the health care worker's action is the direct cause of the patient's death. Active euthanasia is the most controversial of the four options and is currently illegal in the United States. However, several right to die organizations are lobbying for the laws against active euthanasia to change.

Two additional concepts are relevant to the discussion of euthanasia. First, voluntary euthanasia refers to mercy killing that takes place with the explicit and voluntary consent of the patient, either verbally or in a written document such as a living will. Second, nonvoluntary euthanasia refers to the mercy killing of a patient who is unconscious, or otherwise unable to explicitly make their intentions known. In these cases it is often family members who make the request. This would be done against the wi...

... middle of paper ..., and not enough on other intrinsic goods, such as justice and rights. Accordingly, Rachels offers a revised utilitarian version: active euthanasia is permissible since it promotes the best interests of everyone (such as Jack, Jack's wife, and the hospital staff). Rachels also argues that the golden rule supports active euthanasia insofar as we would want others to put us out of our misery if we were in a situation like Jack's. The categorical imperative supports active euthanasia since no one would willfully universalize a rule which condemns people to unbearable pain before death. Rachels closes noting an irony: the golden rule supports active euthanasia, yet the Catholic church has traditionally opposed it.

My thoughts towards Euthanasia is simply I believe that for people that are in great amount of pain or are suffering unbearably and don’t have any chance of recovery, can make the choice to continue living or to die. I know if I were in that situation I would like to know I have the choice. In situations were the patient is unconscious or unable to make the decision I think that the family should be able to make the choice for the patient.
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