Euthanasia – The Final Choice in Life

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Euthanasia has long been a contentious debate among Americans, because of its end result: death. The Washington v. Glucksberg case of 1997 resulted in the ban of assisted suicide on June 26, 1997, by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

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(“Washington v. Glucksberg,” 1997, pp. 315-322) Some people in society feel that assisted suicide is an acceptable practice for those suffering from terminal illnesses or other major medical conditions, while others are objectionable based on religious or moral beliefs. They have a strong secure emotional connection to their suffering family member or friend and strive to keep them alive for as long as possible. I believe that it is not the best-case scenario to keep someone suffering from ineffable discomfort, prolonging the inevitable. I believe that patients with serious terminal illnesses should have a choice whether or not they would like to pass on from their suffering.

Terminally ill patients and their caregivers may consider euthanasia due to many medical reasons. Dementia, for example, is a condition that impacts the brain causing memory loss and lack of judgment, among other complications. Over time without treatment, it can deteriorate your brain’s main functions and will eventually leave the person in a vegetative state. Eventually, some people with terminal illnesses will be unable to communicate their final wishes and will no longer play a part in their care. Patients that reach a nonverbal state will be left to suffer the pains and discomfort caused by their ailment. For instance, a terminally-ill patient that depends on a machine to regulate their heartbeat, blood flow, and her respirations for an extended period. The patient now complains that the tubes, pricking needles, and various complicated machines keeping them alive are overwhelming and stressful; the wants to move on from the pain and be free from the torment. This is a good example of a direct and passive act of performing euthanasia on a patient; when the patient is actively dying and wants to end their suffering.

“Euthanasia has several forms –voluntary (death at patient’s will), involuntary (death at other’s will when patient is unconscious or not competent to decide), direct (giving patient direct lethal drug to die), indirect (providing treatment which can expedite patient death), active (death is brought about by an act), and passive (letting someone die either by withdrawing or withholding treatment). (Srivastava, 2014) Overall, it depends on the patient’s medical condition and their desires or the wishes of the patient’s relatives when the patient cannot communicate properly. Euthanasia is a complex decision that involves the patient, family, and members of the healthcare team, and affects everyone differently. End of life care can cause a highly emotional response with friends and family of the terminally ill patient. Extreme emotion and an unwillingness to see the patient die can cause family to request that doctors make all attempts to keep the patient alive against the patient’s will. I believe that it is necessary to afford the right to euthanasia to a patient when they are capable of making the decision for themselves.

Permitting euthanasia will allow patients to protect themselves from a prolonged and painful death when they are no longer able to communicate, when family members refuse to let go. It would be best to get it over with and spare the loved individual from any more pain. In a magazine article, Nursing 2015 Issue: Volume 45(3), a lady describes her father as being diagnosed with dementia and forgetting who he was. She stated, “Can you medicate away the sheer terror I frequently saw on my father’s face when he forgot who he was, where he was, what he was doing, and who the people around him were? Once a voracious reader, he struggled to read a children’s book; then he could no longer read at all. He could neither participate in conversations nor follow his beloved Mets play a game on TV. He couldn’t play with his grandchildren or even recognize them. Everything that made my father who he was, was gone, with zero chance of cure or recovery.” (Humphrey & Warsh, 2015, p. 8) A group effort between family and friends is needed when determining the fate of the terminally-ill. “ Family life has a common good-reciprocal love, care, and support between family members.

Groups of friends too share in the common good of their inter-personal relationships built upon a sense of mutual regard.” (Bowie, Paterson, Sorell, 2008, p. 167) Deeply held religious beliefs can also be a deciding factor with euthanasia. Concerning suicide itself, rather than one dying to end their torment from their medical conditions, the Bible teaches important lessons on refraining from suicide, even when the chance is given or just by desire. For instance, Job asked for his death when Satan made sure that all of his children were dead, stripped Job of all of his vast wealth, and put an unknown number of diseases on him, thus, leaving Job on a pile of ash and completely covered with scabs. “May it please God to crush me, to give his hand free play and do away with me! This thought, at least, would give me comfort (a thrill of joy in unrelenting pain), that I never rebelled against the Holy One’s decrees. But have I the strength to go on waiting? And why be patient, when doomed to such an end?”1 (Barry, 1997, p. 290) Most of the time, there are those who agreed with the idea of euthanasia just by their morals and empathy, instead by religious factors.

“In the studies by Asai et al. and Tanida et al., an overwhelming majority (85%) stated they based their views on secular ethical principles. Only 3% of the respondents stated that their opinions had been influenced by a religious ethical approach.” (Gielen, van den Branden, & Broeckaert, 2009, p. 309) Euthanasia has long been a contentious debate among Americans, because of its end result: death. Although it is considered unconstitutional in all but a few states in America, other people consider assisted suicide as an escape from prolonged death that other families may strive for their dying loved ones with terminal illnesses. I think that anyone that is suffering from a terminal illness or any other untreatable medical condition, should have a say whether they want to end their life. However, not only does the ill patient’s choice matter, but the emotional connections and desires from the relatives have an effect.

They can also choose to perform euthanasia if the patient is incapable of deciding their fate. The other factor that can still determine the terminally-ill’s decision is their religious belief. Euthanasia is varied greatly, depending on the religion practiced. Most individuals who were surveyed on the prospect of euthanasia stated that they would do assisted suicide by their own ethics rather than by religious factors. (Gielen, van den Branden, & Broeckaert, 2009, p. 309) To me, it would be immoral to leave a person to suffer unnecessarily. It is just a waste of time, money for the family, and effort for the doctors to take care of the individual for long periods of time.

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