HCA322: Health Care Ethics & Medical Law
Professor: Joan Chambers
November 5, 2012
Euthanasia Assisted Suicide Debate
Euthanasia and doctor assisted suicides is an issue that I have by no means had any personal experience with. My research on the question was appealing and enlightening, but did not change my initial feeling on the topic. Throughout this paper I will talk about my belief that euthanasia active and passive, which I consider is necessary when the euthanasia is voluntary and more parties should be concerned with involuntary euthanasia. My belief becomes more difficult as it pertains to particular groups, such as the disabled, infants, the elderly, minorities, the poor, or women. The paper will close by addressing the state laws regarding euthanasia and physician assisted suicide in Missouri, the state in which I consider my home.
Euthanasia is a practice that has been performed and debated throughout time. Death not only involves the person, but also loved ones, health staff, and lawyers. All the parties concerned play a role when a decision needs to be made concerning life or death. I feel euthanasia both active and passive is acceptable when the patient openly consents to the practice, well-known as voluntary euthanasia. Active euthanasia, which “is commonly understood to the intentional commission of an act, such as giving a patient a lethal drug that results in death”, while passive euthanasia “occurs when lifesaving treatment (such as respirator) is withdrawn or withheld, allowing the terminally ill patient to die a natural death” (Pozgar, G. D., & Santucci, N. 2010, p.93, 94). I strongly think anyone should have the right to choose how and when they pass away and ought to be allowed to ease awful or terminal illnesses or diseases.
When the euthanasia is involuntary I think the practice requires extra concentration from the law. Seeing as the patient cannot be honestly involved to accepting, the choice should be made by medical staff, loved ones, and/or law officials. I believe every case should be looked at from different individuals whom are not linked to the case to make sure the patient’s best wellbeing is being practical. With involuntary euthanasia it seems several more ethical and lawful issues come in to play. There needs to be a third party involved to make sure the medical staff or the loved ones are making this decision for the patient and not for a profit to themselves or other planned reason. Also to protect those considered special groups, such as the disabled, infants, the elderly, minorities, the poor, or women.
Special groups of people are more of a fair matter to me because these individuals might not be mentally able or convinced to make a decision. “The ProCon.org Website addresses the debate of legalizing physician-assisted suicide endangering people with disabilities, the elderly, the poor, minorities, and women” (ProCon.org, 2011). I believe these people have some possibility of becoming endangered, but in the end I feel they can be protected by laws pertaining to more care being used with these special groups. I think one can look at the data of such a state as Oregon, where the practice is lawful and see how these special groups are protected. For instance the ProCon.org Website quotes Susan Okie, MD, Contributing Editor of the New England Journal of medicine wrote referring to the justification of physician-assisted suicide “There is no evidence that it has been used to coerce elderly, poor, or depressed patients to end their lives…” furthermore the Website states “Only 2 of the 208 patients who died by means of lethal medication were uninsured” (ProCon.org, 2011, Para 8). The health care facilities ought to have different staff to glance over each case to be certain the practice is fair and serves the greatest concern of the patient. Several states