Argument for Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide

Cover letter

This evaluation argument endeavors to persuade society to embrace euthanasia. Every human being deserves a less painful and dignified death when that time comes. Euthanasia is a justified relief from painful but incurable ailments. It also saves the medical industry a lot of resources that would have otherwise been used in not only prolonging painful lives, characterized by endless pain but would eventually be lost.

From a scholar’s perspective, euthanasia seems a simple issue. However, it took me a lot of souls searching and courage to discuss my intention to write this essay with my peers, many of whom were of the opinion that such a controversial topic should be left to rest. It also touched on my spiritual being, especially, during the process of reviewing relevant literature, some of which was in direct contravention of my spiritual beliefs. But reading a number of anecdotes and case studies on terminally ill persons invigorated my will to develop this essay. I also drew additional motivation from friends who equally believe that human beings should, when their time comes, die in a dignified and less painful manner.

The literature in this paper is just a tip of the ice as there are volumes of articles, books, and peer-reviewed journal entries that will widen previous perceptions and clear misconceptions surrounding this topic. Beyond these sources of information, more guidance from professionals is required to facilitate in-depth research into this controversial topic.

Despite being an ethical issue that most people would rather not comment on, choosing to write on this topic has opened my eyes to alternative health care solutions. I have also learned to appreciate the plight of severely ailing patients and appreciate their need to end life through any means necessary. This has, therefore, been a very useful exercise to me.

Thank you.

Many people believe that the latest medical technology can offer solutions to most ailments, including terminal and irreversible ones. However, euthanasia, as assisted suicide is commonly referred to, is not considered as one of the possible solutions to such ailments. This assertion is further reinforced by the notion that medical innovations over generations have improved tremendously making it possible to prolong life (Buse 7). Those who argue for euthanasia explain that life belongs to an individual. In this regard, the individual has the right and liberty to end it. While euthanasia is a moral dilemma, it can sometimes be necessitated by other factors such as the burden of the cost of sustaining terminally ill patients who largely depend on expensive healthcare for sustenance. Yet, the need for assisted suicide cannot be merely seen in the light of the individual’s rights and the burden it imposes on relatives. This implies that euthanasia is necessary as a solution to medical problems.

State and Federal authorities have the responsibility to protect the dignity of life. However, life belongs to an individual, and, as such the individual is within their constitutional right to determine when to end it. While this seems impractical, there are certain ways through which it can be practiced. Professionals within the health care sector seem to agree that patients have the right to decide the nature of medication they receive. As such, patients have the right to refuse any medical solution that does not cure their condition, including life-prolonging healthcare for irreversible ailments (Kleinman 1221; Bowie and Bowie 216). Failure to grant that demand amounts to a violation of the patient’s basic human rights. In addition, the patient has the liberty to choose how they should be treated. Proponents of this thought argue that a patient has the right to end life if personal dignity is lowered by sickness or through any other cause (Kleinman 1224). Proponents argue further that doctors as well as other professionals within the medical field do not have the right to force a terminally ill patient to take life-prolonging drugs, which do not necessarily alleviate the patient’s suffering. Such patients have the right to refuse medication and request to be allowed to die. When analyzed vis a vis a scenario where a patient is suffering from an extremely painful and incurable condition such as Lou Gehrig’s disease, then that patient has the right to decide to end their suffering through euthanasia (CNBC News para 4).

Terminally ill patients depend on life-supporting care. This type of treatment is very expensive. The cost of drugs, therapies, supportive medical technologies equipment, and other medical facilities leaves family and friends financially strained. Suffice to state that such care is only for to support of life since the conditions being treated are medically incurable. The patient’s family is compelled to devote vast amounts of family financial resources to meet the cost of medical bills. Equally, the patient’s loved ones spend a lot of time attending to terminally ill patients, at the expense of other responsibilities (Johnstone 253). As such it takes a heavy toll on both the patient, while the patient’s relatives also suffer seeing loved ones endure painful and incurable ailments. Additionally, the healthcare sector is also not spared from this burden. While the sector is morally and legally duty-bound to protect human life, such resources would be more profitable if dedicated to curable ailments (Johnstone 259). Taxpayers are also unnecessarily burdened. Governments dedicate a lot of financial and human resources to treating such patients even when it is obvious that they will be dying sooner.

The need for euthanasia cannot be limited to a patient’s individual rights as well as the cost burden on family members. There are other instances where mercy killing is in the best interest of the patient. Some ailments such as Lou Gehrig’s disease are too painful and thus intolerable. Under this condition, the patient lives under extreme pain which can not be alleviated using painkillers. While the patient life is not immediately threatened, it is however significantly shortened (Malik 3). As such, willing patients, suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease deserve to be assisted to die since living is an extremely painful experience. Additionally, the plight of patients in the vegetative state needs to be considered. Under this condition, a patient is technically brain dead and does not have a chance to come back to full wakefulness and awareness. Such patients slowly slide towards full death. Keeping them alive is therefore of no value (Jennett and Plum 734 – 737). Under these two circumstances, euthanasia is the most appropriate medical solution for ending personal suffering

The controversy surrounding euthanasia revolves around the fact that death is seen as a cure for certain medical conditions. Amidst the growing debate on the dignity of life arises the question of whether a terminally ill patient lives a dignified life. Furthermore, the question of the right to life as well as the rights of the patient to choose the kind of treatment they receive also arises. While there are no conclusive answers to these questions, it is imperative to note that there are some instances when the plight of the patient has to supersede any moral issue. Such situations include when a patient endures irreversible pain or is in a vegetative state. In these two conditions, ending suffering and misery through any means overrides any ethical notions about life. As such euthanasia is a viable alternative healthcare solution.

Annotated Bibliography

Bowie, Bob & Robert Bowie. Ethical Studies: Euthanasia (2nded) New Jersey: Nelson Thornes.2004

A book on ethics with a scope ranging from study methodology, theoretical issues linked to religious perspectives and contemporary ethical issues.

Buse, Anne-Kathrin. Euthanasia: Forms and their Differences. GRIN Verlag, 2008.

An overview of the various forms of euthanasia, the current ethical, religious and moral issues surrounding this controversial topic.

CNBC news. “The Fight for the Right to Die.” CNBC Canada. 2011

This news article highlights the legal debate in parliament about Sue Rodriguez diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease in 1991. She wanted to be granted the right to euthanasia. Thought denied, the debate created public awareness on this issue.

Johnstone, Megan-Jane. Euthanasia: Contradicting Perspectives (5th ed). Elsevier Health Sciences, 2008, pp. 247-262

This article targets nursing students and aims to equip them with knowledge on contemporary medical issues like abortion, euthanasia child abuse para-suicide human rights and how to handle them.

Kleinman, Irwin. “The Right to Refuse Treatment: Ethical Considerations for the Competent Patient.” Canada Medical Association Journal. 1991. 

The article argues on the rights of patients in modern healthcare. The rights to accept or refuse treatment are dwelt on in detail.

Jennett, Bryan and Fred Plum. “Persistent vegetative state after brain damage: A syndrome in search of a name”. The Lancet 1 (7753): 734–737. 1972. Doi: 10.1016/S0140- 6736(72)90242-5. PMID 4111204

The article deals with vegetative state in regard to ill patients. It identifies the various definitions of this state including the legal and ethical issues surrounding it.

Malik, Nariman. “Lou Gehrig’s Disease: A Closer Look at the Genetic Basis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis”. Pediatrics. 3 (3). 2000. Print

This article deals with, in great detail, Lou Gehrig’s history. It also focuses on the disease and its basic characteristics and effects on patients

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