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Euthanasia: Can It Ever Be Morally or Ethically Justifiable - Essay Example

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This paper reflects on the Assisted Suicide bill by Lord Joffe, which has been the subject of immense controversy when it was attempted to be introduced in the House of Lords…
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Euthanasia: Can It Ever Be Morally or Ethically Justifiable
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Download file to see previous pages The benefits of the act, if passed, will only be for those who have been medically diagnosed to live for six months, who are suffering from unbearable pain, and who are psychologically of sound mind and not depressed. The bill was defeated in the House of Lords but the debates concerning assisted dying persist and are unlikely to be resolved. At present, it would seem that there is a greater openmindedness surrounding euthanasia and the bill has a greater chance to be passed. This paper begins by giving an overview of the concept of assisted dying or euthanasia, as well as a brief description of some of the more famous cases and personalities involving the same. Afterwards, it will look at two sides of the debate concerning euthanasia and look at the points being raised by each side in support of their respective positions. The main question, it would seem, is: does the concept of human rights contemplate the right to die? Lastly, this paper will reflect on whether or not society has become more and more open to the idea of euthanasia and if the moral and ethical reasons beyond its continued prohibition are being dislodged by other imperatives. If there is a change in mindset, what has changed? And why? Then, it will make some conclusions and provide its own perspective on the subject matter. We begin by having a definition of what euthanasia is. Euthanasia is the act of consciously assisting someone’s death in order to relieve that person of suffering as a result of terminal illness (Pattinson, 2011). In common parlance, it is often referred to as “mercy killing”. There are two general procedural classifications of euthanasia: the first is passive euthanasia, which means that life-sustaining treatments are withheld. The second type is active euthanasia, which means that substances are introduced to cause the termination of the life of the subject (Rachels, 1995). Likewise, euthanasia can be voluntary or involuntary: voluntary euthanasia is when the patient suffering the terminal illness has given his or her consent to the procedure that will hasten his or her death. On the other hand, euthanasia can be involuntary, as in cases when the patient is unable to articulate consent and the next of kin is allowed to make that decision for the person. This is common in cases where the patient is not yet brain dead but is unable to speak or has lost control of critical faculties that enable an adequate quality of life. A question then presents itself: how about situations where the patient has given prior consent to terminate life support or even to be given death-inducing substances, and acting on such consent, the next-of-kin allows the performance of euthanasia? Perhaps where there is a written document clearly expressing the will of the patient, then it is voluntary euthanasia. But it is less clear when a next-of-kin states that in prior communications, of which there is no record, the patient has expressed desire to avail of euthanasia. Is that then voluntary or involuntary? In such a case, a big gray area presents itself. Perhaps the most famous advocate of assisted suicide is Jack Kevorkian, an American doctor known for his passionate, even flamboyant at times, defense of euthanasia. He died recently, in June of 2012, and left behind a controversial legacy of supporting patients who chose to end their lives because they faced terminal illnesses. He was thrust to the spotlight when he helped an Alzheimer’s patient in her early 50’s commit suicide by hooking her up to his homemade suicide contraption. (New York Times, 2011). He was jailed nearly a decade later for second degree murder, admitting to around 130 assisted suicides and using ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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