Ethical, Moral and Religious Issues Surrounding Euthanasia Essay

Ethical, Moral and Religious Issues Surrounding Euthanasia Essay

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Miriam-Webster's online dictionary defines euthanasia as "the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy". In contrast to euthanasia, the definition of assisted suicide is "suicide committed by someone with assistance from another person". Although the distinction between the two is subtle, the end result is the same- death. When discussing physician-assisted suicide (hereafter referred to as PAS), both terms are used interchangeably. The public and medical community remain deeply divided on this issue, citing moral, ethical, or legal issues. Advocates state that the terminally ill who are deemed medically competent have a basic right of autonomy; that is, they themselves decide when and how they will die. Opponents state that it is a violation of the Hippocratic Oath to knowingly provide the terminally ill lethal doses of medications, or write prescriptions for medications that will certainly end their lives. These are questions that cannot easily be answered. This paper will discuss some of the ethical, moral and religious issues surrounding this subject, as well as some ways to resolve the controversy.
The public remains deeply divided on PAS, citing moral or ethical issues. A 2008 article in the Hastings Report state that, when surveyed, approximately two-thirds of the population of the United States approve of it as an option for terminally ill patients with intractable suffering (Quill & Greenlaw, 2008). A 2014 article in Nursing magazine gives many reasons why patients choose PAS. One of the reasons given is the fear of the unknown. They state that many patients at the end of life are frigh...

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...nstructions. According to the Journal of Nursing Law (2011), Healthcare professionals who provide education and detailed information regarding end-of-life decision making can support their ethical obligation to prolong life and to end needless suffering (Friend, 2011, p. 3-4).
In conclusion, PAS should simply be a part of good medical care. Something done with great thought and care. It would be a last-resort option only if the mentally competent patient requests, and if all other last resort options have failed. As healthcare providers, we have a moral and ethical duty to advocate for our patients. Often this means putting our own views and judgments aside and ensuring that the patient's wishes are complied with. In this case, it simply means that the patient would be allowed to spend their final days without needless worry, and die with pride and dignity.

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