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Morality of Active Euthinasia - Essay Example

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Due to incurable illnesses, some patients may suffer severe pain and loss of mental faculty during their last days. For them and those who share compassion of their situation, quick death might seem to be a reasonable way to end the pain and…
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Morality of Active Euthinasia
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Morality of Active Euthanasia November 4, 2009. Morality of Active Euthanasia Death does not always come easily. Due to incurable illnesses, some patients may suffer severe pain and loss of mental faculty during their last days. For them and those who share compassion of their situation, quick death might seem to be a reasonable way to end the pain and humiliation. However, medical ethics and most religious beliefs are against any attempts to end life, since preserving life is the core of their existence. Thus, the gravest ethical dilemma is born… the euthanasia.
Euthanasia, which is another term of assisted suicide, can be either active or passive. Active euthanasia is sometimes called mercy killing whereas the physicians end the patients’ life directly, such as by giving lethal injection. The passive one is delivered by ending any life sustaining treatment. The result of both cases is the same, the death of the patients. However, some can argue that the former is caused by the physician while the latter by the disease. The conventional doctrine is that there is such an important moral difference between the two that, although the latter is sometimes permissible, the former is always forbidden. (Rachels 78)
In my opinion, the morality of active euthanasia actually depends on the situation. In some rare cases whereas the patient suffers extreme pain and has absolutely no hope of surviving, active euthanasia, although it is illegal, can be seen as an act of kindness. This mercy killing is, in some sense, even more compassionate than passive euthanasia, whereas the physicians forgo the life sustaining treatment and let the patient suffer to death. However, in most cases, active euthanasia is absolutely immoral. When there is a chance for the patients to recover, no matter how tiny the chance is, mercy killing is obviously not the act of compassion. Even if the patient voluntarily ask for it, as long as the chance to recover is there, active euthanasia is still morally wrong.
The morality of active euthanasia in individual cases can depend on the situation. The morality in the policy level, however, cannot depend on the situation. The question whether it should be legalized or not should only be answered after considering carefully the potential consequences. If active euthanasia is legalized, it will definitely generate good and bad consequences. Whether the good ones outweigh the bad ones or the opposite should be the main concern to answer the question of legalization.
Let’s deal with the good outcomes first. According to Dan W. Brock, if active euthanasia is legalized, it means that self determination of competent patients is acknowledged and respected. In return, it will reassure people that if they ever do want euthanasia, in case they suffer an extreme pain in their last days, they would be able to obtain it. It will also reassure them that they can choose quick death over the prolonged passive euthanasia. (182-183)
On the contrary, Brock stated that the legalization can make patients lose trust in their physicians and fear them for not attempting to heal but to kill instead. Permitting euthanasia can also weaken societys commitment to provide optimal care for dying patients and also weaken the general legal prohibition of homicide. Ultimately, although active euthanasia may be morally permissible in few cases, the legalization can lead the active euthanasia to be done in other cases which are morally wrong. (184-185)
In conclusion, looking at the good and the bad possible effects of legalization, I believe that active euthanasia should never be legalized. Its bad consequences outweigh its good ones too much. In individual cases active euthanasia may be acceptable morally, but in policy level, it is too dangerous too be accepted as moral choice.
Works Cited
Brock, Dan W. "Voluntary Active Euthanasia." Intervention and Reflection: Basic Issues in Medical Ethics. 5th ed. Wadsworth, 1996. 180-88.
Rachels, James. "Active and Passive Euthanasia." New England Journal of Medicine 292 (1975): 78-80. Read More
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