There have been numerous debates all around the globe as to whether or not the practice of euthanasia is ethical or unethical. People who are in pain and suffering are more likely to be pro-euthanasia. Those who never have to feel that level of pain and suffering that would drive a person to want to end their lives could never understand a person’s reason for considering this option. Fictional characters are used to express human suffering such as those found in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. There are several modern themes such as genetic engineering, cloning, the treatment of outcast and playing God highlighted in Shelley’s book, however the focus of this paper is on the less common ...view middle of the document...
Everyone has the right to refuse medical care. If they decide they do not want extreme medical care, then they should have this right. Not everyone agrees with this position.
There is also the moral issue of determining when life ends. Doctors take an oath to preserve the natural life of their patients, however, modern medical technology can prolong life beyond the point where one would die naturally. This technology has clearly changed the definition of when life ends. What about patients who are in comas or who are brain dead and will never recover? How long should they be kept alive on life support? What about the financial cost to families? Because of these ethical issues, the American Medical Association who previously denounced physician-assisted suicide or PAS changed its position 1986 to allow removal of life support for patients who are in permanent vegetative states (“Euthanasia” Discovering).
There are also legal issues related to those who assist with ending a life. Are these people murderers? Should they be charged with homicide? During the Katrina crisis, several patients who were in acute care at a hospital were put to death by lethal injection. Three nurses were told to euthanize these patients because the hospital was flooded, the power was out and many would die. Assisting with these deaths was seen as the compassionate thing to do by the medical staff. These patients would have drowned and died anyway. The Attorney General felt these were acts of homicide and the nurses were arrested (Compassionate).
The legalization of euthanasia is a huge ethical issue. This issue has been around throughout history (“Euthanasia” Discovering). People who are concerned with compassionate end of life care would like a legal alternative to prolonging the suffering of terminally ill patients. In 1978, Derek Humphry founded the Hemlock Society to “promote tolerance for the right to die” (“Euthanasia” Discovering). This organization supports both passive and active euthanasia. For example, they promote removal of life support technology that prolongs life or suffering as well as supporting doctors who play an active role in assisting with a patient’s death.
Most people will never agree that euthanasia should be legal especially those who are living with a medical disability. Some feel that legalizing euthanasia sends the message that people with medical disabilities are worthless and should be put out of their misery. Lots of people learn to cope and function despite their physical limitations (Rayner).
Another ethical issue is determining when one should be allowed to take their life. This became a huge issue during the early stages of the AIDS epidemic. There were many people who were suffering who wanted to die. The medical treatments and medications at that time were not advanced. People with AIDS knew they were going to die and wanted to speed up the process. They did not want to suffer or have their families...