Withholding Life-Sustaining Care
Life-sustaining care plays a vital role within the medical field. Medics are responsible for determining whether patients deserve this care. The family also plays a vital role in most instances while deciding whether to provide this care to a patient or not. A heated debate has been held across the globe on whether withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining care is morally right. The question that most people ask is whether this practice helps the society in any way. In some countries, this practice has been banned altogether. In others, the practice remains hanging.
Majority of the people involved in this debate acknowledge the fact that deciding to withdraw this care from children and adults is not a simple decision. Each person regardless of his/her body condition has a right to live. This argument has been used by euthanasia’s adversaries in defending their position. They use this argument to prove to euthanasia’s proponents that this practice does not have moral support. This paper critiques the argument for the permissibility of voluntary euthanasia like the one that is administered by medics in Holland.
Family members and medical practitioners usually engage in a discussion before this practice. The argument here is that there are instances where the patient depends on life-sustaining care only for survival. It is very important to evaluate this process critically since if every patient in a life-sustaining process is given euthanasia, the world would experience a crisis. Some patients have regained consciousness after being in life-sustaining care for long and even lived normal lives.
Despite these cases being few, doctors note that these are rare situations and not always expected. It is unethical to apply the right to life selectively since everybody who is alive ought to be left to live until the natural death strikes them (Hurst and Alex 1). The implication of this is that nobody is allowed to decide who should receive help from medics and who should not. It simply means that individuals ought to remain patient as the correct life process takes its natural course. Everybody deserves the right to medical treatment as well as a chance to recover.
According to euthanasia’s proponents, the definition of euthanasia in Greek implies good death. To them, euthanasia is not killing. Instead, they consider it as a compassionate act towards the patient since their condition is just like death. The patients depend on life-sustaining care to live. Those in support of the practice go on to argue that instead of witnessing a loved one endure pain such as the pain that is suffered by cancer patients, it is better to administer euthanasia on them instead of a life-sustaining care treatment.
Doctors may claim otherwise in the event where a patient is able to determine whether a life-sustaining treatment ought to be terminated. Most euthanasia cases are performed without the consent of the patient and this makes euthanasia morally impermissible. Nobody would like to die an unnatural death. Since the patient is not able to make a decision on whether euthanasia should be administered on them or not, it can be interpreted to imply that the practice is against an individual’s will.
The claim of some states like Holland is that it is constitutional to withdraw a life-sustaining treatment because the practice is legalized by the state. Holland is one of the few states in Europe where euthanasia is legal. The critical aspect is that euthanasia was being practiced by doctors in collaboration with family members even before its legalization (Materstvedt et al. 2-5). A study conducted in 2002 reveals that over 2% of deaths in Holland are caused by euthanasia. Simply put, for every thirty deaths, one is caused by euthanasia. Individuals who suffer this death usually endure the effects of a powerful tranquilizer which makes the patient unconscious. This is followed by the administration of a drug that discontinues breathing.
According to the opponents of euthanasia, people ought not to be forced by the government to endure such an experience. There are those who relate humans to animals. These claim that humans do not leave animals to endure pain when suffering from fatal sicknesses. Therefore, humans should also not be left to endure it. This idea can be translated to mean selfishness because it depicts a situation where some individuals cannot allow others to continue living although through life-sustaining treatment. Some people believe that euthanasia can be controlled by government organizations. This is important since there are people who fear that without proper checks, the lives of individuals could be in danger.
Although each patient may choose when and how to die, there are unique moments when doctors and family members should administer euthanasia. This is because most patients are incapable of making individual decisions and this is when doctors and family members get involved. However, this is a part where nobody has the right to decide whether to terminate a life except the sick person. Euthanasia is not a wrong practice if the patient had written a will including it while sober.
The inability of the families of the patients to pay the medical bills incurred in keeping the patients in life-sustaining care is another reason that proponents give to support euthanasia in some countries like Holland. When a patient is allowed to continue this treatment even when it is almost clear that eventually he/she will die is putting their family through unnecessary suffering (Wachter 1). Therefore, the family has the right to make a decision to end his/her life. This might serve as a genuine ground on which euthanasia may be administered in any country.
Ultimately, other options and treatments ought to be explored including sanatorium and analgesic care. Usually, there are other options that can be discovered and these should be explored by doctors first rather than opting to administer euthanasia. Another point that should be considered is that almost everything is overdone by the people once legalized. The government might be unable to control this practice fully.
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Hurst, Samia A., and Alex Mauron. “Assisted suicide and euthanasia in Switzerland: allowing a role for non-physicians.” BMJ: British Medical Journal 326.7383 (2003): 271.
Materstvedt, Lars Johan, et al. “Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide: a view from an EAPC Ethics Task Force.” Palliative Medicine 17.2 (2003): 97-101.
Wachter, Maurice AM. “Euthanasia in the Netherlands.” Hastings Center Report 22.2 (1992): 23-30.