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Euthanasia - Essay Example

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Whereas suicide has been an alternative individuals to into their lives since the dawn of human history, physician-assisted suicide is something of a new paradigm that allows for individuals who are otherwise terminally ill or have little hope of surviving a particular disease or illness to terminate their lives in what has been deemed as a dignified manner…
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One of the topics that has defined medical ethics within the past several decades is with regards to what is become known as physician assisted suicide and/or euthanasia. Whereas suicide has been an alternative individuals to into their lives since the dawn of human history, physician-assisted suicide is something of a new paradigm that allows for individuals who are otherwise terminally ill or have little hope of surviving a particular disease or illness to terminate their lives in what has been deemed as a dignified manner. In the hopes of discussing this issue to a more complete degree, the following analysis will consider the article by J. David Velleman entitled, “Against the Right to Die”. Due to the fact that many individuals that have discussed and argued for or against physician assisted suicide and/or euthanasia have come down relatively firmly on one side or the other, Velleman’s piece offers the reader with a welcomed relief to the black and white morality that oftentimes defines the tenor of such analyses. As a means of understanding his argument to a more complete degree, the following analysis will integrate with some of his main points and seek to differentiate whether or not his approach is effective and/or reasonable. Firstly, with regards to the ethics of physician-assisted suicide, this is a topic that Velleman discusses prior to engaging on any other point. Rather than say that this practice is patently wrong in each and every situation, he instead says that there are clear cases in which medical care should be withdrawn so that life can end; however, he makes it clear that he is entirely against any active administration of life-ending toxins or drugs to the patient; viewing this as a clear abrogation of the Hippocratic Oath. Within such an understanding, the reader can come to full appreciation for how these conflicting responsibilities make the decision of the physician, with respect to aiding in suicide of the patient or not, an extraordinarily complex one. However, given his firm approach to the fact that the doctor or healthcare provider should not actively assist in ending life; Velleman comes down solidly on the side of those that would seek to outlaw the practice of physician assisted suicide entirely; based upon moral and historical interpretations of what the role of the physician/healthcare provider necessarily means. As a means of understanding the ongoing debate that exists with regards to physician-assisted suicide, it is not only necessary to understand and appreciate the level to which the Hippocratic Oath impacts upon the physician’s decision, it is also necessary to understand the debate is concentric around whether or not issues concerning cost savings should be considered, whether or not the ultimate wishes of the patient are primal and supersede all others, whether or not the process itself lens too much of an authoritarian decision-making structure to the physician is, and whether or not such a process actually demeans the value of human life or seeks to promote dignity to such a degree that it elevates the value of human life. These are all cases that Velleman considers and ultimately rectifies these with his views against the “right to die” as he labels it. Most refreshing of all of the views put forward by Velleman is the fact that he is clearly aware of the fact that his viewpoint cannot possibly consider all externalities and each and every situation (Velleman, 1992). As such, he mentions this twice within his analysis; once in the introduction and once in the conclusion. Such an admission only helps to add further weight to the discussion and exhibit the fact that Velleman has thoughtfully contributed to the body of knowledge surrounding the issue; both with respect to the moral and ethical issues that necessarily directly and indirectly impact upon it. It is unlikely the debate’s earning physician-assisted suicide will be answered any time within and your future. Just as it is taken many decades for civil rights to be fully realized within the United States and just as it continues to take year after year to promote a further level of homosexual rights that are comparable to the many heterosexual rights that are currently exhibited within society, it will also doubtless take a great deal of time before a level of liberalization is noted with respect to a societal interpretation of this process. Ultimately, it is the belief of this author that physician-assisted suicide is not a pleasant option; however, in the right situations, it is not only humane but beneficial due to the fact that it allows a dignified and painless exit torments and trauma that many individuals face as a result of illness and/or disease. References Velleman, J. (1992). Against the right to die. The Journal Of Medicine And Philosophy, 17(6), 665-681. Read More
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