Euthanasia Ethics: A Better way to die

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Ibrahim Ahmed

Professor Michael Guth

HCA 311-Health Economics

Euthanasia Ethics: A Better way to die

There are numerous controversial issues that currently affect the evolving field of psychology. Unsolved issues on human experimentation, abortion, genetic testing, and animal rights are a few examples of themes that arouse conflict and contention. Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted suicide is yet another controversial issue that has particular relevance to the field of psychology because of the apparent moral and ethical dilemmas involved. The American Heritage Dictionary defines euthanasia as "the act of killing an individual for reasons considered being merciful". Killing in this case is a physical action where one individual actively kills another. The word "euthanasia" comes from the Greek EU; "good" and THANATOS; "death" or "good death". Doctor assisted-suicide can be considered auto-Euthanasia. The Doctor provides the means for a patient to take their own life painlessly but does not actively or physically help that person die. Euthanasia, by definition a happy death, implies an easy or painless death.

 On one side of the argument, Euthanasia would appear to be contradicting the Hippocratic Oath, which forbids inducing death, even if it is requested by the patient. On the contrary, medicine could be referred to as the practice that not only prevents death, but enhances the quality of life through prevention of suffering. The issue of assisted suicide also stimulates the debate of legality versus situation ethics. Should jurors, in physician-assisted suicide cases involving Dr. Jack Kevorkian, vote on grounds that empathy and compassion takes precedence over the letter of the law antithetically; should the juror take the conventional or legalist perspective and enforce the law as not allowing room for such compassion. Is it morally permissible for individuals to end their lives when they no longer wish to go on living or suffering? This central question of assisted suicide directly relates to the worries of how society would be impacted if Euthanasia were to be legalized. In addition to the societal impact of legalizing such a procedure, does this violate the ethical codes of the practice of medicine? These are some of the obvious and reoccurring questions in the controversial ethics pertaining to Euthanasia.

The controversial issues of Euthanasia have direct relevance to the field of psychology in the judgment of whether or not an individual is competent to make such a determination to end their life. For an example, clinical and counseling psychologists often are consulted by physicians regarding DNR-Do Not Resuscitate-orders to examine the psychological stability of the patient to make a life ending decision. Additional parallels that relate psychology to Euthanasia are an individual’s moral development and how it affects their decision making process in relation to moral dilemmas in the law. Everyone is put in situations where they are forced to form an opinion that potentially goes against an accepted or legal policy.

Psychology examines and theorizes how people may react in such a situation as well as analyzes the varying factors that may lead up to an individual’s decision in such a predicament. Examples of this, relevant to Euthanasia, would be jurors sitting on an assisted-suicide case. In this situation, the jurors were faced with the psychological decision to either declare that it is wrong to assist in one’s death, because it is legally prohibited. Or, on the contrary, the suffering and the pain of a terminally ill patient was ended allowing the patient to die in a peaceful manner; delineating that the action should be deemed honorable due to its inherent value rather than its consequences. There are various types of Euthanasia that must be explained before further discussing the topic. If the act is undertaken at the explicit request of a competent patient, it is defined as voluntary Euthanasia. On the other hand, involuntary Euthanasia is when this action is carried out without the explicit request of the individual, also known as murder. Those who argue against physician-assisted suicide primarily base their justification on the moral decency of the medical profession. There are many worries that go along with the legalization of Euthanasia. . In fact, Euthanasia is commonly practiced legally throughout the Netherlands.

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In the Netherlands, Euthanasia has already been legalized and been practiced. Some of the frequent concerns are the possible pressuring of patients into consenting; especially those without health insurance or financial support. Economic and financial hardships could potentially play a major factor with the unjust persuasion of an individual into such a procedure. The Netherlands, indeed, find itself having an alarmingly high rate of involuntary Euthanasia, which is indisputably impermissible. Euthanasia is also seen as being a serious disturbance to physicians and others in the medical field because of the potential luring of doctors away from the improvement of pain ...

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