Principles of Euthanasia

Euthanasia can be classified in relation to whether a patient gives informed consent, it can then be sorted into three types: voluntary, non-volontary and involuntary. One of the arguments regarding euthanasia is the problem of definition. The question of the argument is, where does the killing of a person become acceptable and subsequently where is Euthanasia applied.

There is a debate amongst bioethics and medical literature, it aims to conclude as to whether or not non-voluntary (and to a point involuntary) killing of patients can be thought of as euthanasia. In the eyes of some, consent from the person is not regarded as being part of the criteria, these beliefs were held by people such as ‘Beaucham, Davidson and too an extent Wreen’. However, in the eyes of the majority to be able to justify euthanasia you have had to of had the consent of the patient to which it was occurring to for it to be acceptable. A sentence to sum up this ‘grey area’ in euthanasia is, How do you find a distinction between cutting short a life and allowing to die?

Another argument that seems to be against the principals of euthanasia is that of consequentialism. It’s philosophy is purely about the outcome and it does not matter as to how the outcome was caused as long as the outcome is good. An example of this is one used by Petit, he states that ‘If you believe something to be the ultimate good then you should do all you can to promote this good and by any means necessary as long as the outcome is a successful promotion of this good.’ This ties in with euthanasia in a sense that no matter what reason or by which process euthanasia is carried out the outcome will always be that of death.

Death is clearly not acceptable as stated in the ten commandments. Even if the person who had euthanasia received it under their own gratefulness and will, so that they would not endeavour continuous suffering, in the light of consequentialitsm murder is murder and it is wrong. Strong believers of this are the catholic church who preach that ‘an act of omission which of itself or by intention causes death is murder’. This also even relates to when the act was undergone in order to prevent suffering.

Dentology is a principle that follows absolute rule, so it is in effectively the complete opposite of consequential thinking. It will follow rules in a very literalistic manner and will not waver at all in its meaning. A great believer in the dentology way of thinking was Immanuel kant, one of his quotes was, ‘since a maxim that involves killing cannot be rationally willed to be a universal law, it is wrong’. In applience to euthanasia, dentology will state that killing is murder and murder is wrong. A strong holder of the thoughts of dentology will then use the ten commandments and ‘though shall not murder’ to back up its belief even if the act of euthanasia was carried out in the most acceptable and humane circumstances.

The quality of life is a term that refers to the general well being of a person. It is used in many different contexts such as healthcare. In accordance with the field of healthcare the general addition that the ‘quality of life’ has on it is of somewhat a negative contribution. What this means is that the quality of life in some peoples eyes (those that support and understand the benefit or the realistic element that euthanasia brings a-pon the medical world), when applied to someone in a state of critical illness and a person who wishes for their life to be over, it can be somewhat unfair to deny them of this wish, purely because of the sanctity of life.

There are many ways in which this can be contradicted, straight from the words of the bible. God stated that he wished all humans to have free will, this would entail the power to kill yourself. You could also argue that it may be Gobs will and part of Gods plan for that particular persons life to end to reduce the suffering of others.

There is also the argument of a ‘slippery slope’. It states that, once it becomes legal and feasible for people to be killed, then people will begin to ask for a slightly more relaxed view on the situation and so on and so forth. This could then move to an extreme like this for example. A busy son has been given the job by his siblings of looking after his elderly discrepant father, instead of devoting his time and nursing him and keeping him healthy, he can just apply for a lethal injection to have his father ‘put down’ so he can concentrate on his own life. This is the type of thing the slippery slope argument believes could happen if it became acceptable to kill people, it would devalue human life.

There are arguments that support the intentions behind euthanasia such as its practicality. It is in a way wrong to argue that killing someone can be practical and for the greater good, however when the structure of the argument of practicality is stripped down and properly analysed it does have a point. There are cases where strong believers of religion do not mind or are scared by the face of death as it puts them out of their misery and others too, they also believe that they will meet their loved ones later on in heaven.

Euthanasia is practical in the sense that it actually relieves a person of their pain and it does this in the must relaxed manner possible. It also enables families to speak up freely about death and come to terms with it far better. From a rather blunt practical view, euthanasia can free up hospital space for people who are in chance of getting better, (this is not an actual argument out forward by authorities).

There is also the autonomy argument which pretty much opposes most arguments against euthanasia, and that is the fact that you have the right to choose. It argues that it is not correct that an able human being has the right to end their life through suicide. Yet a person in an arguably worse condition who is not physically able to end their life can not be given the right.

One can definitely say that euthanasia is a medical procedure that like many other medical processes has a great deal of controversy that comes with it. On the one hand, for thousands of years society like ours have stated that the killing of someone is quite simply against all moral and ethical ways. There is no reason as to why it should be acceptable now. It is also voiced that, pro euthanasia characters may say that it is all voluntary, but how can it be if the person is in such a critical state that they cant mouth their opinions?

The first country to give euthanasia a chance was the Netherlands with their thirty year plan. There is evidence that this is going down a ‘slippery slope’ in the ‘Groningen protocol’. This is a protocol suggesting that it should be acceptable for parents to end the life of their newly born child if it is in a critical state.

On another hand there are many good points in the practise of euthanasia such as the feeling of misery and devastation it can eliminate and in a sense prevent from being prolonged. This is in regard to the actual person and their friends and family. This refers back to utilitarianism ‘greatest good for the greatest number’. Other reasons that euthanasia should not be a problem is that death is a private matter and it is not for others to inter fear. From a philosophical point of view, someone may argue that, is death really a bad thing?

I therefore come to a balanced view on euthanasia, I do believe that with precautions properly put in place it is a good service and provides a ligament role in making people happy. However, I do understand the argument of regulations being able to be broken as demonstrated by the Netherlands where all their original guidelines are not applied today.

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