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Euthanasia - How valuable is human life?

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Introduction

Euthanasia: How Valuable Is Human Life? By: Todd A.M. DeCosta April 25, 2002 Dr. John Farnum Ethics 220 When my grandfather had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and was not responding well to the treatment, I began to realize the importance of sustaining life. After discontinuing his treatment, I noticed that my grandfather's body was getting weaker and weaker. Everyone in the family could notice the pain he was enduring just to walk across the room. The family would willingly insist on retrieving whatever it was he desired at that moment, but he would not allow it. He would use all his energy to go across the room to obtain whatever it was that he wanted on his own. The family, including myself, thought that he was just being his stubborn self. He later lost the ability to walk and became bed stricken for his last couple of months until he passed away in his own bed in the house he brought up his family in. It wasn't until after his passing that I realized the significance of his "stubbornness." I noticed it was not that he was stubborn; it was the fact that he saw the importance in being with his family to the end. I realized that he could have just given up after the treatment wasn't working, and could have stayed in a hospital for the remainder of his life. ...read more.

Middle

The second perspective Callahan speaks of is the moral perspective. This perspective emphasizes on the differences between physical causality and moral culpability. The physical causality can be described as being the human involvement, or the action of external nature, in the situation. The moral culpability is simply the moral responsibility of the one contributing the external involvement in the situation. For instance, the actions of the physician of the individual being treated is an example of the physical causality, and the physician's thought of taking the individual's life is the moral culpability, or responsibility. Callahan, on the other hand, mentions that if the physical causality and the moral culpability crossed paths then there would be no difference whether an individual is killed or allowed to die. The last perspective, the medical perspective, views the physician, or any medical professional in charge of an individual's treatment, as curing and comforting rather than killing the individual. This distinction's premise is the misuse of knowledge physicians have. The knowledge provided for physicians is given for the primary reason of sustaining life not taking the life away from an individual. Lastly, Peter Singer introduced the idea that voluntary euthanasia can be morally justified in cases involving individuals suffering from painful, incurable conditions. Singer uses sources such as preference utilitarianism, the theory of rights, and the overall respect for autonomy as the basis for proving his argument. Simply, Singer considers the fact that the individual has the right to waive his/her own rights if the individual decides to do so. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also, society should take into consideration selfish family members who might be thinking of financial benefits with the death of the individual. In closing, take into consideration some of the following subjects. National agencies such as the American Medical Association have publicly announced against the practice of mercy killing. Should professionals that do otherwise be taken from their professions all together? Or is it an agreeable thought that the professional be fined or suspended for a period of time as is usual practice now? As mentioned earlier, professionals in the medical world are provided special knowledge to sustain human life. The practice of euthanasia seems to cross that boundary by allowing professionals to use the knowledge given to them for removing human life. State laws such as Oregon's Death with Dignity Act approves of doctor assisted suicide for terminally ill. Does this not contradict the AMA's statement, "the intentional termination of the life of one human being by another-mercy killing-is contrary to that for which the medical profession stands?" This situation could be rather confusing for a professional to make a deontological decision. When government laws, or rules, contradict with a national agencies rules, which set of rules is the professional to base his decision on? This shows that not only are professionals confused about the morality of euthanasia, but so is the government. The government should help professionals in the medical field by providing a firm set of rules, in which professionals may have the chance to base deontological decisions upon. White, James E. Contemporary Moral Problems 6th Edition. (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company). pp. 206-238. ...read more.

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