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Legalize Euthanasia or Not To

Abstract                                                              

In the last one decade, engaging debates have been carried out on several controversial issues. Euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide, which is also referred to as mercy killing, has stood out as one of the most fiercely debated topics over this period of time. According to Lopez-Castroman (2017), the practice of euthanasia involves a deliberate intervention that aims at ending the life of a patient to prevent him from experiencing suffering (Lopez-Castroman, 2017, par. 1). Based on this definition alone, there is a clear indication that the practice can be of much relief to people suffering from terminal illnesses. However, different moral as well as ethical arguments have been raised by different people based on medical ethics or religious beliefs. Supporters of this practice have argued that there are valid reasons to allow physicians to help their patients, especially those suffering from terminal illnesses, dye. These individuals claim that such patients go through immense pain and suffering, yet this is something that could be avoided easily. Moreover, there are those that are of the view that human beings have the right to choose the way they want to die just as they are entitled to the right to life. On the other hand, the practice of euthanasia has been opposed for years by some individuals who are of the view that the practice diminishes the value attached to human life, goes against doctor’s Hippocratic Oath, and that by legalizing the practice, medical system could be abused. In this research paper, a thorough exploration of physician-assisted suicide is carried out with the main purpose of informing the reader about the full range of opinion on the topic. Consequently, different sources including peer review journals, books, periodicals, and websites have been used to gather differing views.

Legalize Euthanasia or Not To

One of the most compelling cases for the legalization of mercy killing has been made by Robert Orfali (2011). From the very beginning, it emerges that the author has dedicated his work to his beloved wife by the name of Jeri, who endured a long and painful struggle with the cancer of the ovary. Although she wished to end her life peacefully and without stress, anxiety, and pain, she couldn’t do to the absence of legal ways to do it. The author uses the suffering of his wife to help his audience visualize religious concerns, cultural and legal restrictions that patients of terminal illness have to confront. When examining the weaknesses of American system pertaining to end-of-life, the author argues that human beings should grant themselves “the right to die with dignity” because we are equipped with the right mental capacity that assists us to voluntarily decide the time and the manner in which to die (Orfali, 201, p.11).

The author cites findings from several polls that were conducted in the last decade. According to the results tabulated, the majority of the US public is in support of physician-assisted dying. In one of the surveys conducted by Gallup, the author claims that 71% of Americans who included physicians, voters, and patients as well supported euthanasia while merely a 27% opposed it. Consequently, Orfali argues that patients that choose to undergo assisted dying should be allowed to do so because after all, it is their death anyway. Orfali also claims that even though the society may fail to openly acknowledge it, some form of euthanasia is already being practiced. He provides the example of terminal sedation or slow euthanasia and removal of life support as advances that have helped to make modern dying more bearable. He also claims that palliative care provided by hospices and hospitals tortures patients even though the practice makes life to be more bearable for some patients. In summary, Orfali argues that terminal patients that are dying should be given the freedom to actively end their life when they deem it right do so. This should not just be done through the cessation of life-supporting equipment or denying them nutrients. Rather, it should be conducted through the administration of Nembutal by the physicians following patients’ requests.  Legalize Euthanasia or Not To

Tolle and Teno (2017) have carried out a broader analysis to investigate whether the move by the State of Oregon to legalize euthanasia has had any benefits to the citizens. Based on the information presented by these two analysts, the move taken by this particular state has given its residents a say in determining the way they would like to dies. They claim that Oregon is not only the best place to live but also to die. Compared to patients from other parts of the US, terminally-ill individuals that reside in the state of Oregon have low chances of being hospitalized. Moreover, they have a higher probability of utilizing hospice services compared to patients from any other state. The authors provide some statistics from their findings, which indicate that nearly 66.6% of Oregonians died at home, a comparatively higher percent than that of the rest of America, which stood at 39.6%. Within the same year, Oregon recorded lower ICU bed occupancy for patents that had less than 30 days to live before dying. The figure stood at 18.2% while that of the entire US was at 23.0%. Additionally, the number of patients that spent the last 30 days of their life before being discharged home was higher in Oregon compared to the rest of the US at 73.5% and 54.2% respectively. Using this evidence, Tolle and Teno (2017) highly the role played by education provided by physicians as well as the media to ensure that Oregonians do not abuse the statute that gives them the right to assisted dying. Moreover, the authors indicate that legalizing mercy killing can be of help to citizens of any state as long as it is supported by the necessary complementary policies. Additionally, the analysts seem to approach the issue of euthanasia from a practical point of view when they imply that legalizing it provides more room for doctors and nurses to concentrate more on those patients that show greater chances of recovering.Legalize Euthanasia or Not To

Additionally, Onwuteaka-Philipsen et al. (2012) have carried deep research on the topic euthanasia to determine the impact of enactment of a statute legalizing it in the Netherlands back in 2002. To determine if the move has any impact, the researchers carried out an assessment of euthanasia with a particular focus on its frequency and characteristics in 2010 and compared these findings to trends in the 1990s. To obtain accurate data, they carried out nationwide studies involving stratified sample between 1990 and 2010. Based on the findings obtained, euthanasia accounted for 2.8% of the total deaths that occurred in the Netherlands in 2010. The researchers found this rate to be higher than that of 2005 that stood at 1.7%. On the other hand, however, it remained comparable with the 2001 and 1995 trend. From 1990 to 2010, the researchers found that there was a stable distribution with respect to diagnosis, sex, and age. Moreover, it emerged that out of a total of 4050 cases of physician-assisted dying recorded in2010, 3136 of them were reported and recorded by a review committee, representing 77% of all the cases. In 200 1933 out of 2425 cases or 80% were reported. The number of cases where patients ended their lives without making an explicit request reduced in 2010 compared to the previous years. 0.4% of the deaths reported in 2010 was as a result of the decision by the patient to refrain from eating with the aim of ending their lives. More importantly, the researchers note that more than half of the total requests by patients for euthanasia were turned down.

The researchers then interpret their findings with references to the wider end-of-life context and the associated practices. They argue that the decision to legalize euthanasia in the Netherlands has increased the level of transparency in the practice. Although they note that it could prove challenging to translate the results to other states, the development in this particular country could help to inform debate on whether to or not to legalize assisted dying. The authors’ main opinion, however, is that legalizing euthanasia will not necessarily result in abuse of this freedom.Legalize Euthanasia or Not To

Gandini et al. (2009) have carried out a research 95 family members from the state of Oregon to determine whether legalization of physician aid in dying has had any effects on the mental health of family members. The sampled families had at least one member that had made the explicit request to be assisted in dying.  36 of those who participated in the study had their loved ones die from lethal injection while the rest reported that their family members were given a lethal subscription. Based on their findings, these researchers are of the opinion that family members do not suffer from negative grief impacts as a result of their loved one requesting to be assisted in dying. Rather, they cite the practice of legalizing euthanasia in Oregon as the main contributor to more prepared death. On the other hand, the authors note that family members who lost a loved one that had wished to pursue assisted dying but did not have a chance to expressed deep regret. Moreover, a higher quality of life was reported among families that used medication to facilitate a quick death compared to those who did not. The authors’ main opinion is that mercy killing does not cause prolonged mental health problems among a patient’s loved ones. Moreover, the practice helps to improve the quality of life.

The website “Proco.org” present opposing arguments on the subject of legalizing euthanasia. The authors of this online article have compiled the leading arguments in support and against physician-assisted suicide from different experts in the field. Those who support it argue that individuals have the right to choose how to die, just as they have the right to live. From medical perspectives, supporters claim that mercy killing is the only way of alleviating pain and suffering to terminally ill patients. In their support for legalization of mercy killing, venerable groups use data gathered from states and countries that have legalized mercy killing to prove that those who oppose it have unfounded fears.Legalize Euthanasia or Not To

Those who oppose it, on the other hand, have different opinions. According to some views, ending the lives of patients does not bring suffering to an end. Instead, it puts other similar people in the same situation. These individuals endure great mental torture, knowing that they will be the next victims. On their part, lawmakers argue that permitting physician-assisted suicide would have profound detrimental effects. Apart from diminishing the value and protection of human life, it is likely to result in the death of people who do not genuinely wish to be killed. The vulnerable groups that oppose it, on the other hand, argue that once euthanasia has been legalized, it is likely to be abused by different players including insurers.

According to the Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, the strongest argument for legalization of euthanasia has been that the right to die, just like abortion, is a choice that individuals could make. This particular source terms it as “the most critical civil right” that should not be denied to mentally competent yet terminally ill patients that would like to peacefully and painlessly end their lives. Proponents also argue that those who oppose the practice base their arguments on religion. They also claim that opposition is unconstitutional given that it violates the separation between religion and state. Opponents, on the other hand, use the “slippery slope” argument to show that legalizing euthanasia could be harmful to the elderly, mentally impaired, and the depressed who may not be competent to request to be assisted to die.Legalize Euthanasia or Not To

Without a doubt, euthanasia is one of the most controversial topics in the world. Based on the research conducted, the debate on whether physician-assisted suicide should be legalized or not revolves around the decision to or not to give human beings the freedom to decide on matters of life and death. Moreover, patients and doctors are yet to agree on whether euthanasia is the best solution to the immense pain that terminally ill patients ensure. Unless all the citizens of the world take a common stand on this issue, the debate on whether or not to legalize physician-assisted suicide will continue to rage. Legalize Euthanasia or Not To

 

 

 

References

Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice. (2002). Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. Retrieved from https://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/divisions-diagnostics-and-procedures/medicine/euthanasia#3401300158

Ganzini, L., Goy, E. R., Dobscha, S. K., & Prigerson, H. (2009). Mental health outcomes of family members of Oregonians who request physician aid in dying. Journal of pain and symptom management, 38(6), 807-815.

Onwuteaka-Philipsen, B. D., Brinkman-Stoppelenburg, A., Penning, C., de Jong-Krul, G. J., van Delden, J. J., & van der Heide, A. (2012). Trends in end-of-life practices before and after the enactment of the euthanasia law in the Netherlands from 1990 to 2010: a repeated cross-sectional survey. The lancet, 380(9845), 908-915. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(12)61034-4/fulltext

Lopez-Castroman, J. (2017). About the practice of psychiatric euthanasia: a commentary. BMC medicine, 15(1), 125.

Orfali, R. (2011). Death with dignity: The case for legalizing physician-assisted dying and euthanasia. Hillcrest Publishing Group. http://www.deathwithdignitybook.com/uploads/bookeu6samplepdf.pdf

“ProCon.org.” (2018). Top 10 Pro & Con Arguments: Should euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide be legal? Retrieved from https://euthanasia.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000126

Tolle, S. W., & Teno, J. M. (2017). Lessons from Oregon in embracing complexity in end-of-life care. N Engl J Med, 376(11), 1078-82. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsb1612511