The Four Principles Of Biomedical Ethics

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Euthanasia should not be accepted as part of the standard way of dying because it not only contradicts the most respected moral principle of ‘thou shalt not kill’, but also good medical practice. The four principles of biomedical ethics can be used as a framework to help guide moral decision-making in difficult situations including euthanasia. Arguments against the moral permissibility of euthanasia which are based on respecting autonomy and non-maleficence outweigh those related to beneficence and justice. In any case of euthanasia, careful evaluation of the interests of the various parties involved is crucial because ethical principles can be contentious at times and their meanings could be interpreted differently from theory to theory (Robison…show more content…
Nonetheless, the practice of euthanasia could result in subtle pressures from those who are involved in the care of the terminally ill patients, leading to the altruistic choice of accepting it from a feeling of guilt for using scarce resources or being a burden to the family. Moreover, it is difficult to be absolutely accurate about a patient’s prognosis, even impossible to predict death scientifically. Withholding maximum treatment efforts from the terminally ill patients will result in losing the occasional patient who could have been saved, or one who could live substantially longer (Foye, 1972). Doctors have always been associated with saving lives. Administering euthanasia will compromise this role, creating fear and distrust among…show more content…
In the context of euthanasia, helping someone end their suffering may be viewed as doing more good than harm. This is said to be in line with the moral view that no patient be allowed to suffer unbearably, out of compassion and mercy (Norval and Gwyther, 2003). However, it can be argued that a further step in beneficence is the “duty to prevent harm to others” (Pellegrino and Thomasma, 1987), which falls under the principle of non-maleficence. Thus appropriate and optimal palliative care should be the right approach instead of euthanasia. Euthanasia advocates also set forth an argument based on distributive justice to support active voluntary euthanasia. The “rule of rescue” questions whether it is ethical to engage in expensive treatment of terminally ill patients to prolong their lives for a short period when medical funding is limited and gradually decreasing (Gabriel, 2011). This preferential treatment compromises the objectives of the medical profession and is morally unacceptable. The terminally ill patients who are already vulnerable should not be left to feel that they are a burden. They should be treated equally and should not be seen as depriving someone else of a prior right to those resources. Finally, as Beauchamp and Childress note, “the most vital consideration which binds all the four principles together is the character of the doctor who has to treat and care for his patients”
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