The moral and ethical aspects of medical practice include not only the features of interaction with patients and other interested parties but also deeper nuances. In particular, one of the controversial and acute topics is euthanasia and its acceptability from different perspectives, including both patients’ and healthcare employees’ positions. In addition, religious issues are involved, which makes it difficult to enact uniform legislation on this topic.
From a medical standpoint, euthanasia is associated with a number of restrictions and obstacles, and, despite the freedom of choice as an inalienable right of any citizen, the practice of ending a life is not perceived unambiguously. In general, death is a natural human outcome, and although life is manageable, the choice of how to die is still not possible in many healthcare systems, which is a conservative and outdated practice.
The Right to Choose How to Die
The provision of medical services to people with disabilities is a prerequisite for any healthcare system. However, regarding the issue of assisting patients in their death, obstacles and barriers arise, which are caused by legal, religious, and other conventions. Riddle (2017) analyzes this topic from the perspective of the freedom of choice. In accordance with the study the author conducts, the predominant number of terminally ill patients expresses approval of the practice of euthanasia (Riddle, 2017). In addition to ethical aspects, for instance, the desire to reduce torment and get rid of a protracted and persistent disease, some social issues are raised.
Riddle (2017) describes the desire of patients to help relatives and remove the heavy burden of carers from them. Also, the high financial costs of meaningless help and maintenance of a life that will soon end inevitably are the reasons for euthanasia approval. Moreover, the right to choose death can be regarded as standard and natural freedom. There are no laws prohibiting a person from developing financially, intellectually, and morally. Therefore, limiting an opportunity to die for objective reasons may be considered the infringement of human rights.
The objectivity of the widespread legalization of euthanasia may be due to not only ethical but also legal aspects. Dresser (2017) considers the possibility of physicians’ assistance in death as a patient’s right to interrupt one’s life. The author analyzes the examples of people with irreversible dementia and notes that although at the final stage of this disease, people’s minds are damaged, temporary legal capacity allows them to participate in deciding their fate (Dresser, 2017).
If a patient is able to respond to direct calls and draw conclusions on one’s own, this may be an incentive to take his or her opinions into account. As Rudnev and Savelkaeva (2018) state, tendencies towards a decrease in the significance of religion and an increase in the role of autonomy values contribute to supporting euthanasia as an inalienable right of any person. In the context of an approaching death, a patient can rethink one’s priorities, which, however, should not affect the freedom of choice. Therefore, the right to euthanasia as a natural procedure may be considered an objective and inalienable attribute of a democratic and humane society with a liberal approach to care.
Potential Contradictions and Ambiguities
Despite the approval of the widespread legalization of euthanasia in healthcare, some contradictions impede this practice and may be considered objective obstacles. In the study by Murphy (2017), the author discusses the possibility of obtaining information from physicians and nurses as stakeholders. According to the researcher, the empirical method of data collection is hampered by the inability to engage a large sample (Murphy, 2017). Additional contradictions are due to the interaction of legislation with other life sectors. Murphy (2017) argues that any legalization process “occurs within a specific cultural and social framework,” and conventions in these areas may contradict with laws (p. 337). Religious reasoning is included in the spectrum of the most significant barriers in the context of the issue of euthanasia.
The arguments of people regarding the inadmissibility of physician-assisted deaths are confirmed by representatives of different religious movements, and, as Rudnev and Savelkaeva (2018) state, for a large number of believers, these opinions are dominant. As a result, the idea that no one has the right to terminate life consciously against God’s will is the reason for preventing the legalization of euthanasia in the world medical practice.
When analyzing potentially objective reasons for the ban on euthanasia, one should take into account the peculiarities of the healthcare sector. Parmar, Rathod, and Parikh (2016), who analyze people’s opinions on the possibility of introducing such a procedure into general practice, note that many respondents consider physician-assisted deaths a crime. Potential errors made by medical specialists in diagnosing incurable diseases are an argument that determines the inadmissibility of euthanasia as a common activity. From this perspective, the voluntary interruption of life is perceived as a real threat to people who could live longer. Thus, the aforementioned nuances are reasons for discussing the bias of legalizing euthanasia as an inalienable right of any terminally ill patient.
Real-Life Examples and Justifications
Although death is a natural phenomenon and an inevitable outcome of people’s lives, discussing it as a culture makes it possible to explain the groundlessness of the arguments against euthanasia. Legalization implying unlimited freedom is contrary to both legislative and moral ethics. Weikart (2017) gives an example of the Swiss system in which any person has the right to interrupt one’s life for any reason. This practice cannot be called objective due to the ambiguity of the approach. At the same time, religious arguments against euthanasia may be interpreted distinctively. The interruption of the torment and pain of a patient suffering from an incurable disease can be considered a blessing. Therefore, even strict principles of spirituality may help explain a person’s desire to alleviate suffering for oneself and one’s family.
Regarding the arguments about potential medical errors, this nuance should be considered an unrealistic opportunity in the current conditions of the development of the healthcare industry. Decisions about the incurability of a particular disease are not made by one person on the basis of a one-time diagnosis. As Parmar et al. (2016) state, the decision-making process lies largely with physicians, and this responsibility encourages medical professionals to use the latest developments to identify and predict ailments. In case a particular diagnosis is confirmed by numerous clinical studies and approved at general meetings, the objectivity of such an opinion cannot be questioned. As a result, possible arguments against euthanasia are an individual rejection of the issue and cannot be involved as a common public opinion.
Although human life is manageable, the choice of how to die is not always available, which is a restriction of freedom and a conservative practice that explains the importance of accepting euthanasia. An inalienable right to decide one’s fate individually should be granted to a person in a difficult situation, and the incurability of a specific disease is a reasonable argument in support of a physician-assisted death. Despite possible arguments about its inadmissibility from a religious perspective or due to potential medical errors, the interpretation of euthanasia may be different, and the participation of medical personnel in this decision is conditional. Providing opportunities for interrupting suffering to terminally ill patients is a humane practice in a democratic world.
Dresser, R. (2017). On legalizing physician-assisted death for dementia. Hastings Center Report, 47(4), 5-6. Web.
Murphy, S. (2017). Legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia: Foundational issues and implications. BYU Journal of Public Law, 31(2), 333-394.
Parmar, P., Rathod, S., & Parikh, A. (2016). Perceptions of patients’ towards euthanasia – A medico-legal perspective. International Archives of Integrated Medicine, 3(5), 20-23.
Riddle, C. A. (2017). Assisted dying & disability. Bioethics, 31(6), 484-489. Web.
Rudnev, M., & Savelkaeva, A. (2018). Public support for the right to euthanasia: Impact of traditional religiosity and autonomy values across 37 nations. International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 59(4), 301-318. Web.
Weikart, R. (2017). Upholding the sanctity of life in a culture of death. Issues in Law & Medicine, 32(2), 269-275.