Understanding The Euthanasia, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

The term euthanasia was deduced from the Greek terms eu which entails good and thanatos that is equivalent to death. It was coined by W.E.H Lecky who was a historian back in the year 1869 (Ragoonath 1). Euthanasia Research and Guidance Organization (1) stated that Euthanasia is aid with a decent death whereas Lacewing (1) specified that the procedure is done for patients who are suffering from an irredeemable and painful disease and irreparable coma. It also refers to the act of a third party, typically a doctor to intentionally end an entity’s life (“Irish Council for Bioethics” 1). Ogunbanjo and Bogaert (1) stated that the word euthanasia has three definitions which include 1) quiet and easy death, 2) the means of acquiring it, and 3) the action inducing it.

Types of Euthanasia

The customary difference between active and passive euthanasia needs critical assessment due to the conservative principle that passive is acceptable while active is outlawed (Rachels 1). According to the author (1), active euthanasia is more humane compared to the other one. Euthanasia Research and Guidance Organization (1) defined both Active and Passive Euthanasia wherein the former is a cautious deed to stop the life of a dying individual to shun further sorrow and the latter is the measured discontinuation of existence provision apparatus or termination of any life-maintaining therapeutic technique, authorizing the normal demise of the person.

A person who wants to undergo voluntary euthanasia should give consent to the physician whereas non-voluntary euthanasia is given to individuals who are incapable of requesting for the said procedure anymore (“Irish Council for Bioethics” 1). This usually happens when patients are in severe condition that is incurable and only their behalf can come up with the final decision. Kappel (2) pronounced that both passive euthanasia and assisted suicide refer to assisting someone to commit suicide. This is done by assisting someone in the consumption of drugs and lethal doses.

The Irish Council for Bioethics (1) also discussed their definitions for voluntary euthanasia wherein it is the deed of a third person, which purposely ends the being of a patient, with that person’s approval, while non-voluntary denotes to the condition where the patient is incapable to request for euthanasia and a different person makes the judgment on his/her behalf, usually based on formerly expressed desires. The authors also discussed assisted suicide which is a condition where a patient takings his/her own life founded on evidence, supervision and/or medicine provided by a physician while physician assisted suicide is a situation where a doctor delivers the evidence, guidance and/or medicine with which a person can take his/her own life.

Lacewing (1) on the other hand classified euthanasia as involuntary, non-voluntary, involuntary, active and passive. He stated that involuntary euthanasia is done to people who do not want to die while non-voluntary refers to the euthanasia that applies to individuals who are incapable of expressing their choices and decisions. Voluntary euthanasia happens when the person wants to die and the third party would grant his desire.

The argument Rachel (6) established was “The important difference between active and passive euthanasia is that, in passive euthanasia, the doctor does not do anything to bring about the patient’s death. The doctor does nothing, and the patient dies of whatever ills already afflict him. In active euthanasia, however, the doctor does something to bring about the patient’s death: he kills him. The doctor who gives the patient with cancer a lethal injection has himself caused his patient’s death; whereas if he merely ceases treatment, the cancer is the cause of the death.”

Euthanasia and double effect should not be deemed as similar because the latter is caused by providing cures meant at relieving discomfort and other signs when the treatment may also convey some hazard of shortening life (Maughan 1). Similarly people who die because they refused to take the medicine prescribed by their physicians is not also considered as euthanasia. Sanbar (1) had his own discussion on the classifications of euthanasia whereas he labeled active euthanasia as mercy killing which is an illegal act in the United States because according to the law, one who deliberately finishes the human life of another commits a killing. The author also added that this form of euthanasia is only acceptable in dying animals but not in humans. This reason makes anyone disallowed to end a life regardless of the unbearable discomfort and sorrow of an ill person; however suicide is not illegal in the said country. In addition, passive euthanasia is legal in the United States and allows the patient to die naturally due to the incurable disease accompanied by severe pain and suffering.

A clear distinction of voluntary active euthanasia was provided by Ogunbanjo and Bogaert (38) wherein he defined it as controlled and determined appeal for assistance in dying. In this scenario, the third party takes measures like using lethal drugs for self-administration or assisted administration via oral or parenteral route to accelerate the death of the patient. The author also mentioned the word mercitron which is coined by Doctor Jack Kevorkian which means doctor death. The difference between VAE or voluntary assisted euthanasia from PAS or physician assisted euthanasia is that the former includes the actions of providing and directing the drugs whereas the latter would allow the patient to do the final act for his death.

Sanbar (1) also discussed statutory euthanasia which is only authorized in the state of Oregon in the United States. This form of euthanasia permits the patient to take premeditated active procedures to end their lives precipitately (i.e. suicide), aided by doctors. This form is also called as physician-assisted euthanasia which is said to be a preventive measure to avoid further misery and discomfort. There are five types of Right to Die according to Thomas (8) who includes 1) palliative care, 2) assisted suicide, 3) passive euthanasia, 4) active euthanasia, and 5) suicides.

Debates on Euthanasia

Several sectors including medical, legal, moral and religious have contributed to the continuous arguments and misapprehensions regarding euthanasia. Since there is an obvious improvement and growth in the capacities of the health care equipment that are intended for saving and maintaining life, euthanasia has been a matter of consent and choice thus conflicting with the opinions and principles of moral, religious and legal groups.

During the early years of the 21st century, this has been a well-known issue regarding ethics in American culture (Essex 191). There have been conflicts among the opinions of the public, court decisions and approaches from the legal and medical sectors regarding the issue of euthanasia. In fact, some people are trying to connect murder with what they call mercy killing. However, unlike murder, euthanasia has not yet been proven as a crime (Bamgbose 1). The debate has been fired up by various legal and social developments in the society which include the contemporary medicinal technology and obtainability (and usage) of synthetic methods to prolong life, contest laws outlawing euthanasia, growth in the quantity of individuals affected by HIV/AIDS, increasing population of senior people and deteriorating impact of organize religion (Zdenkowski 2).

Data from the Contemporary America was presented by Essex (193) to fully represent the side of Americans about the issue. He discussed that back in 1947 the issue about assisted suicide became a national issue asking the question “Should doctors be allowed to end the patient’s life by some painless means if the patient and his family request it?” In the year 1950, 38% approved the proposal while 55% responded with should not. After 25 years, the responses of Americans have significantly changed wherein the results in the year 1975 was overturned resulting to 50% of respondents agreeing and 30% who believed that euthanasia should not be legalized. As of the author’s time of writing, 70% agreed with the proposal while only 20% answered with should not.

Euthanasia is legally practiced in countries like Netherlands since it has been accepted on its highest courts whereas during the year 1998, there was a failure in an attempt to make it legal and permissible in California. Back in November 1991, votes against the plebiscite proposal of Washington to authorize both physician assisted suicide and voluntary active euthanasia notably won (Brock 10). The Methodist Church (6) stated that the method to death incident which has been specified in their announcement makes euthanasia, in the sense projected by its supporter, both unsuitable and extraneous.

Rachels (1) mentioned the statement of House of Delegates of the American Medical Association dated 4th of Dec. 1973:

“The intentional termination of the life of one human being by another -mercy killing – is contrary to that for which the medical profession stands and is contrary to the policy of the American Medical Association. The cessation of the employment of extraordinary means to prolong the life of the body when there is irrefutable evidence that biological death is imminent is the decision of the patient and/or his immediate family. The advice and judgment of the physician should be freely available to the patient and/or his immediate family.”

The Australian Psychological Society (2) discussed that the arguments that are pro euthanasia rotate around problems of the patient’s independence, class of existence (and death), avoiding pointless and unavoidable suffering, maintaining a patient’s self-respect in the dying procedure, the use of refined health technology to extend life for its own sake, the necessity for legal protections for current preparation, amendable measures to provide quality reassurance for current run-through, and replying to altering public and proficient outlooks about euthanasia whereas the arguments that are not in favor of this procedure cover the issues about respect for the life of human and that the person about to be euthanized may not be fully aware of the prognosis. These in turn will result to conflicts of interest which may be predisposed by probable errors in diagnosis, incompetent medical practitioners and wrong choice of medications.

The issue on right to die is said to be different in terms of legal consequences according to Thomas (4) which may conclude that certain presently have no lawful significance, several are a defilement of shared regulation, various are a desecration of decree, some may have pledged concerns, certain may effect in public act such as quarantine, several are presently sheltered by legislature, and certain may be secured by the constitution of the U.S. Ogunbanjo and Bogaert (38) discussed that the ethical points include considering active as a sin of commission and passive as omission or in layman’s term, killing versus letting the patient die.

Death with Dignity Act of Oregon

Reports from Oregon.gov (par. 1), the Death with Dignity Act was enacted on 27th of October 1997 to permit fatally ill Oregonian locals to conclude by the intentional self-consumption of fatal medicines, specifically recommended by a doctor for that purpose. This act has a requirement to the Oregon Health Authority for the collection of records of the patient and the doctors who participated in the enactment of act to come up with a yearly statistical report. Along with other information provided on the website of the state of Oregon, the history of the Act was also provided. DWDA (1) was an initiative of the locals that was delivered by voters in November 1994 with 51% who agreed with the proposal. In November 1997, after the delay of the implementation due to the denial of the United States Supreme Court, the DWDA was included on the ballots for general election as permitted by Oregon House Bill 2954. After this measure, the act was retained by 60% votes.

Walters (2) discussed that the act has no signal of misuse and the process is in the patient-doctor connection. The author also added that Oregon has selected to recognize the exercise and control it, guaranteeing that protections against misapplication are in place and that the procedure is recounted on in order to be supervised.

Requirements for the prescription of lethal drugs were also indicated on DWDA wherein the patient should be an adult or 18 years above, a local of the state of Oregon, competent and capable of doing health care choices, and identified with severe incurable illnesses that will result to his demise in the span of six months. Once the patient passed all the requirements, a prescription will then be issued by a licensed doctor in Oregon. Steps were also indicated on DWDA requirements (1-2) including “1) the patient must make two oral requests to his or her physician, separated by at least 15 days, 2) the patient must provide a written request to his or her physician, signed in the presence of two witnesses, 3) the prescribing physician and a consulting physician must confirm the diagnosis and prognosis, 4) the prescribing physician and a consulting physician must determine whether the patient is capable, 5) if either physician believes the patient’s judgment is impaired by a psychiatric or  psychological disorder, the patient must be referred for a psychological examination, 6) the prescribing physician must inform the patient of feasible alternatives to DWDA, including comfort care, hospice care, and pain control and 7) the prescribing physician must request, but may not require, the patient to notify his or her next-of-kin of the prescription request.”

The records provided by Oregon Public Health Division (1) revealed that as of as of 29th of February 1997, prescriptions for fatal medicines were printed for 114 people during 2011 under the requirements of the DWDA, compared to 97 in 2010. Since 1997, DWDA (2) reported 596 deaths from 935 patients who got prescriptions from the division. In 2011, 144 patients were prescribed with drugs wherein 25 of those did not consume the medicine and perished due to their sicknesses. All these prescriptions during the year 2011 were written by 62 physicians.

Dunn et. al (2) discussed the meaning behind the patient’s request wherein they found out in the observation and assessment of the patients in Washington and Oregon that hopelessness was a reason behind their desires to follow the act of Death with Dignity. Aside from this, patients have also lost the quality of life, independence and they want to control death leading to the increase of number of people who are reported to have undergone the Oregon’s act. The authors also cited the reports coming from the State Health Division of the state in the year 2007 wherein patients’ concerns include lessening capability to partake in happenings that make life pleasant (86%), losing independence (100%) and loss of self-esteem (86%).

Death with Dignity Act in Washington

Just like Oregon, the State of Washington faces controversy because of its Death with Dignity Act. Yardley (par. 4) informed that the Death with Dignity Act was approved in November 2008 with 58% to 42% votes from the respondents. Due to this, Washington became the second state in the United States to permit assisted suicide. According to Patients’ Rights Council (par.3) the Initiative 1000 or Death with Dignity Act would categorize a fatal drug overdose as a medicinal treatment choice. It would permit a physician to aid a long-suffering commit suicide if the patient has a complaint that is probable to cause death in six months. This description is same with Oregon’s DWDA.

According to the institution (par. 4), under Section 8, the assisted suicide does not necessitate that household members be informed when a physician is going to aid a significant other commit a suicide. In addition (par. 5), the assisted suicide advantage has no protections for the enduring after the medicine is written. This means that the patient does not have to be competent when asking for the prescription and assisted suicide should be done in private while another individual is present during the consumption of drug. Under Section 4 (par. 7), if the long-suffering does take the medications in a public dwelling, any legislative unit can make a right contrary to the deceased individual’s estate to mend charges associated to the demise and also to recuperate lawyers’ charges connected to imposing the claim.

Kingsburry (par. 2) reported in 2008 that Booth Gardner who became Washington State’s governor for double terms was initiating a ballot proposal to prescribe fatal amounts of drugs to fatally ill persons who want to undergo euthanasia procedures. The author also mentioned that the proposal of the former governor was personal after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease more than a time ago. The report (par. 3) also revealed that over 80% of American grown-ups approve with Gardner. Yardley (par. 1) reported that a female patient that was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer was the first person who underwent the Die with Dignity Act in Washington in 2009. According to the reporter (par. 2), Linda Fleming who was 66 years of age attained the Stage 4 of the said disease.

Montana and Assisted Suicide

Associated Press (par. 1) reported that, nothing in the regulation prohibits the persons from searching for physician-assisted suicide was announced by the Montana Supreme Court. After this announcement, the state became the third in the United States that allow patients to undergo physician-assisted suicide. The report (par. 3) stated that just like in Oregon, the physicians are allowed to prescribe drugs to patients that are mentally competent and who are suffering from terminal diseases.

Conclusion

Euthanasia is indeed a controversial procedure ever since. It might or may not be ethical according on the opinion of a group or individuals. This procedure may be helpful to those who are requesting for it because it will help them get over the severe pain and suffering due to a terminal disease. However, in the views of moralists and religious people, physicians or any third party have no right to take someone’s life. To end, the advantage and disadvantage of this procedure solely depends on the person who is viewing it. Since there are states and nations that have already approved and implemented euthanasia on their patients, it may be an indication that the process is indeed helpful. On the other hand, the continuous debates and fights against euthanasia are also indicating that the procedure is not acceptable and corrupt.

Works Cited

Associate Press. 2009. P Mont. court: State law doesn’t prevent assisted suicide. 2009 Web. 2 May 2012. <http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2009/dec/31/montana-high-court-state-allows-assisted-suicide/>.

Bamgbose, Oluyemisi. “Euthanasia: Another Face of Murder” International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. 48.1, (2004): 111-121. Web. 2 May 2012. Brock, Dan. “Voluntary Active Euthanasia” The Hastings Center Report 22.2 (192): 10-22. Web. 2 May 2012.

Dunn, Patrick, Bonnie Raegan, Susan Tolle 1998, The Oregon Death with Dignity Act: A Guidebook for Health Care Professionals. PDF file. 2 May 2012. <http://www.ohsu.edu/xd/education/continuing-education/center-for-ethics/ethics- outreach/upload/Oregon-Death-with-Dignity-Act-Guidebook.pdf>. Essex, Keith. “Euthanasia.” The Master’s Seminary Journal (2000): 191-212. Web. 2 May 2012.

Euthanasia Research and Guidance Organization 1996, “Glossary of Terms Concerning End of Life Issues”. Doctor Grayson. Web. 2 May 2012. Irish Council for Bioethics. n.d. Euthanasia: Your Body, Your Death, Your Choice? n.d. Web. 2 May 2012. < http://www.bioethics.ie/uploads/docs/Euthanasia.pdf>.

Kappel, Klemens. 2001. The Morality of Euthanasia. 2011. Web. 2 May 2012. <http://www.staff.hum.ku.dk/kappel/tekster/pdf/The%20 morality%20of%20euthanasia.pdf>.

Kingsburry, Kathleen. 2008. A New Fight to Legalize Euthanasia. 2008. Web. 2 May 2012 <http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1807401,00.html>.

Lacewing, Michael. n.d. Euthanasia. n, d. Web. 2 May 2012. < http://cw.routledge. com/textbooks/philosophy/downloads/a2/unit3/moral-philosophy/Euthanasia.pdf>.

Maughan, Tim. 2003. Euthanasia. 2003. Web. 2 May 2012. <http://admin.cmf.org.uk/pdf/cmffiles/22_euthanasia.pdf>.

Ogunbanjo, G.A. and Knapp van Bogaert n.d., Voluntary active euthanasia: Is there a place for it in modern day medicine? PDF file. 2 May 2012. <http://www.ajol.info/index.php/safp/article/viewFile/13451/64249>.

Oregon Public Health Division Act 2011, “Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act‐‐2011”. Public Health Oregon. Web. 2 May 2012.

Oregon Public Health Division Act 2011, “Death with Dignity Act History”. Public Health Oregon. Web. 2 May 2012.

Oregon Public Health Division Act 2011, “Death with Dignity Act Requirements”. Public Health Oregon. Web. 2 May 2012. Oregon Public Health Division Act 2011, “Death with Dignity Act “. Public Health Oregon. Web. 2 May 2012.

Patients’ Rights Council. 2011. Analysis of Washington Assisted Suicide Initiative (I-1000). 2011. Web. 2 May 2012. <http://www.patientsrightscouncil.org/site/analysis-washington-state/>.

Rachel, James. “Active and Passive Euthanasia.” The New England Journal Of Medicine. 292 (1975):  78-80. Web. 16 Sep. 2008. Ragoonath, Kenneth n.d., A New Testament View of Euthanasia. PDF file. 2 May < http://www.caribbeanevangelical.org/pdfs/euthanasia.pdf>.

Sanbar, Sandy. n.d. Classification of Euthanasia. n.d. Web. 2 May 2012 <http://www.ablminc.org/Editorial_Classification_of_Euthanasia_SSS_06.pdf>.

The Australian Psychological Society 2008, Psychological Perspectives On Euthanasia and the Terminally Ill. PDF file. 2 May 2012. <http://www.policyarchive.org/handle/10207/bitstreams/363.pdf>.

The Methodist Church 1974, “The Methodist Statement on Euthanasia”. Methodist. Web. 2 May 2012. Thomas, Kenneth 2005, The “Right to Die”: Constitutional and Statutory Analysis. PDF file. 2 May 2012. <http://www.policyarchive.org/handle/10207/bitstreams/363.pdf>.

Walters, Dick 2004, The Oregon Death with Dignity Act: Six Years of Data. PDF file. 2 May 2012< http://www.patientchoices.org/articles/Oregon_DWD_6%20yrs_7.11.04.pdf>.

Yardley, William. 2009. First Death for Washington Assisted-Suicide Law. 2009. Web. 2 May 2012 <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/23/us/23suicide.html>.

Yardley, William. 2010. Report Finds 36 Died Under Assisted Suicide Law. 2010. Web. 2 May 2012 <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/05/us/05suicide.html>.

Zdenkowski, George 1996, Human rights and euthanasia. PDF file. 2 May 2012. http://www.hreoc.gov.au/pdf/human_rights/euthanasia.pdf>.

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