Euthanasia and its Historical, Legal and Ethical Perspectives - Essay Example

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The purpose of this research paper is to investigate the historical origins, development, laws, ethics and other aspects related to euthanasia. Euthanasia is defined as “the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy”…
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Euthanasia and its Historical, Legal and Ethical Perspectives
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Download file to see previous pages A physician’s direct action of administering an overdose to his patient is the active method, while his stopping particular types of treatment that may prolong life is the passive method of carrying out euthanasia (Kemp, 2002). The History of Euthanasia In classical antiquity, suicide and euthanasia were commonly carried out because they did not conflict with the moral beliefs of the time. In contrast to the teachings of most modern day Christian churches, Jewish religious bodies and other world religions, the ancient Greeks and Romans did not believe in the sanctity of human life or the concept of human rights. However, in ancient Greece, some schools of philosophy such as the Epicureans and the Pythagoreans condemned it as a rebellion against the will of God. On the other hand, thinkers such as Plato commended euthanasia as noble if it helped to avoid dishonor or the agony of a long terminal illness. Dowbiggin (2007) states that the support given by ancient Greece and Rome to euthanasia was a contrast to its rejection by earlier civilized communities. From the early modern period instances of euthanasia have been known, as seen in Thomas Moore’s Utopia published in 1516, and from reports of ending the suffering of dying patients, However, “western Christian physicians are generally thought to have unanimously rejected active euthanasia until the late nineteenth century” (Stolberg, 2008, p.19). From that time, individual physicians also joined in with those who had from 1870s onwards publicly supported active euthanasia. The developments that advocated euthanasia included increasingly sophisticated medical diagnosis and prognosis...
This paper has highlighted the practice of euthanasia, identified its two main types as voluntary and non-voluntary, investigated its historical past, discussed the legality of physician assisted suicide, examined its ethicality and whether the benefits outweigh the adverse aspects of euthanasia. Because of the great advances in medical science for prolonging life as in a patient in a vegetative state, euthanasia is a significant option for providing release from a hopeless and difficult situation. Similarly, it can relieve the acute suffering of a terminally ill patient in a high state of distress, as well as his caregivers, besides reducing the burden on expensive healthcare resources. The good aspects of euthanasia appear to outweigh the bad possibilities. Therefore, it is concluded that the legally drawn out guidelines should be followed in detail by physicians who wish to help a patient in a terminal condition with acute suffering. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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