End of Life Medical Issues: Voluntary Active Euthanasia

End of Life Medical Issues: Voluntary Active Euthanasia

Introduction

Douglas (2015) defines suicide as a self-inflicted act that cause significant bodily harm to the point of death. Mental complaint for instance, bipolar or also termed as personality disorder, depression, schizophrenia, as well as alcoholism and other drug abuse factors are linked to suicide cases (Dennis, 2009). Due to this view, which is shared by several technocrats as well as the society at large, the act of suicide is viewed as unethical, inhuman and in some cases a criminal offence that may lead to punishment to the next of kin or a known associate of helping one commit the act (Dennis, 2009). However, this but a perception of many but not all. In ancient Japanese culture, individuals identified as executives were aided to commit suicide to have a ‘dignified death’. Quill (2001) indicates in his manuscript that this form of death was idolized and seen as a ‘value of life’. Though this is an ancient ideology, currently, there have been an increasing number of Voluntary Active Euthanasia being reported more in particular by patients with chronic disease. From the above statement, there is a controversy developing. On one hand, suicide is an unethical and inhuman act; while on the other hand, it is a relief to individuals who view life as continuous form of agony and death is a solution. It is from this argument that this paper is developed; supporting Physician Assisted Suicide also known as Voluntary Active Euthanasia.

Position Statement

Medical practitioners are bestowed upon with the obligation of offering the best possible medical assistance to all their patients. They take an Oath that binds them to helping patients get better. Kommers, Finn, and Jacobsohn (2004) state that the due to the oath taken by this professional, it is a well shared premise that no harm shall occur to any patient as long as they are in well-known and registered hospitals. Nonetheless, it should be taken to account that this premise is subjective considering that some terminal illnesses are not currently treatable. Under these circumstances, the best medical procedure that can be offered is palliative Medicare. According to Matzo and Sherman (2015), palliative Medicare is the compassionate caregiving of the dying. However, the term compassionate is questioned considering medical laws prohibit physician from providing pain alleviation medicine such as morphine to a particular point. Consequently, the patient is left dying in pain, which is not value for any life. Considering there is no treatment for such an ailment, there patient is going through agonizing pain and the life being lived is worse by the day the only solution is death.

In a YouTube video titled Right to die/The Suicide Tourist, one Mr. Craig Ewert states, “…I have two choices I go on with the procedure and die, or I avoid it and suffer, inflict the suffering on my family then I die…” (YouTube, 2017). The procedure in question is Voluntary Active Euthanasia. In the video, Mr. Ewert is clearly in pain and would like the agony to end for him and his family considering that what he going through is unbearable both physically and mentally. From this example and many more like it death is the only solution and suicide in specific is the way out. This then begs the question what is more inhuman to let an individual like Mr. Ewirt live in agony or die.

Response to Counter Argument against Voluntary Active Euthanasia.

Religious Argument

A study by Engelhardt and Malloy (2008) highlighted that most religious regulation forbid suicide. For the purpose of this discussion Christianity will be particularly used as a case study. In the book of 1 Corinthians 15:26 and Genesis 2:7 life is highlighted as gift from God and death is consequence of sin. Consequently, this would make death an enemy of life.

 

Religiously and in particular, Christianity does not allow suicide for any reason even when logic dictates that it is the best possible option. According to 1 Corinthians 15:26 and Genesis 2:7 respectively death is an enemy as life is a sacred gift from GOD (Engelhardt & Malloy, 2008). This may then translate as Christianity indirectly opposing voluntary active euthanasia considering life is a gift and no man should take away another person’s gift from God. However, the Holy bible offers a testimony about Job, who suffered the agony of a terminal illness to the point of dogs licking his open wounds. In reference to the book of Job 30:23, he asks for compassion from God in the sense that he asks why God allowed him to go through such pain. At this point, the condition Job was in was inhuman and he asks for compassion. This would be taken in the same way when Mr. Ewirt seeking for the same compassion but through death. The gift of life is to Mr. Erwit a curse considering that it would be considered unethical if he asked for death when medical practitioners had a solution. However, in his case unlike that of Job he had no way out other than to suffer and die. Ecclesiastes 8:8, states, “No man has power over the wind to contain it; so no one has power over the day of his death”. In that case, if chronic cancer would kill a patient why not aid them reach the end of the line without the pain.

Legal Argument.

The genesis of the term as well as the sentence laid upon suicide in the legal field was fashioned by Sir Thomas Browned. As stated by Das, Kleinman, and Lock (2003), Sir Thomas derived the word from the term SUI meaning ‘oneself and later branded it as ‘murder’. Subsequently, this would suggest that suicide was judged in the same manner as any case of murder considering it was inhuman (Engelhardt Jr, & Malloy, 2008). Sir Thomas philosophy was adopted by the US legations across all states and from that point on, the act of taking one’s own life was considered a felony (Gorsuch, 2006). However, punishing a dead individual for his own death proved complicated. Over time, the law was crafted to implicate any individual who actively or inactively aided in suicide (Kommers, Finn, & Jacobsohn, 2004). Consequently making voluntary active euthanasia illegal. However, the reason for law is to protect human life by providing proper justice to parties involved. In other words, the law as it is to offer value for life as well as assets. Persons known to suffer from terminal diseases are said to go through excruciating amount of pain. Of the options they have at that particular time, death seems to be the best possible option. According to Quill (2003), it can be argued as illegal to force an individual into a lifetime of suffering when there exists another option to help in their condition.  The subject might be up for discussion; nonetheless, if being alive is considered inhuman the best human act to value life is death and a refusal of this is unlawful.

Medical Oath Argument

Upon completion of medical studies, practitioners are set to recite ‘The Hippocratic Oath’. This pledge is recited to reminded this professionals that they should work under ethical terms. a part of the pledge states that “…I will not give lethal drugs to any individual even when asked to do so, nor will I advise on such an option,…” (Miles, 2005, p.np). Consequently, this would mean that the medical field as a profession is against assisted suicide. Nonetheless, the same oath of conduct may be interpreted to mean a support of the prevailing phenomenon. The same practitioners are bound to offer the most comprehensive, empathetic and humane solutions to their patients. Subsequently, in cases of terminal sickness and agony death fits all the aforementioned billing. Consequently, the physician is allowed to aid in suicide.

Conclusion

Ethics can be defined as doing the right thing given a prevailing circumstance; conversely, unethical would be doing the reverse. Killing is unethical considering both religious as well as legal factions have regulations to preserve life in different capacities. Religious regulations state that life is a gift from God and no man shall take this away right from the Ten Commandments. Additionally, the holy Bible states that no man shall have command over his deaths. Consequently, taking away the option of suicide. However, as an act of compassion values of life is found in death when life goes beyond a particular level of suffering as stated by Job. Legally, the law is placed to protect life by providing justice. However, in Mr. Ewit’s case and many like him justice is in death considering they endure inhuman suffering when they are alive. From the above explanation, it is clear that voluntary active euthanasia is ethical despite death being a consequence.

 

 

 

Reference

Das, V., Kleinman, A., & Lock, M. M. (2003). Social suffering. Berkeley, U.A.: University of California Press.

Dennis, M. (2009). Suicide and self‐harm in older people. Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Vol. 10 Iss: 1, pp.16 – 23

Douglas, J. D. (2015). Social meanings of suicide. Princeton University Press.

Engelhardt Jr, H. T., & Malloy, M. (2008). Suicide and assisting suicide: a critique of legal sanctions. Sw. LJ, 36, 1003

Gorsuch, N. M. (2006). The future of assisted suicide and euthanasia. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.

Kommers, D. P., Finn, J. E., & Jacobsohn, G. J. (2004). American constitutional law: Essays, cases, and comparative notes. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

Matzo, M., & Sherman, D. W. (2015). Palliative care nursing: Quality care to the end of life. New York: Springer Publishing Company

Miles, S. H. (2005). The Hippocratic oath and the ethics of medicine. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Quill, T.E. (2001). Death and dignity: A case of individualized decision making. New England Journal of Medicine, 324,691-694.

Quill, T.E. (2003). Doctor, I want to die. Will you help me? Journal of the American Medical Association, 270,870-873.

YouTube. (2016). Right to die/The Suicide Tourist. Retrieved from YouTube on 4thApril 2017 www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_lR5uSemSE