Example Of Essay On Assisted Suicide; Moral, Ethical And The Legal Debate
Suicide is a term that we commonly comprehend to connote the taking of one’s own life. Assisted suicide, on the other hand, involves providing a patient with the means of ending one’s own life despite the knowledge of his/her intention to do so. In the given scenario, the nurse may not actively be providing the patient with means of ending her own life, but having knowledge of the patient’s intention and not putting a stop to that attempt may also be described as an attempt to participate in assisted suicide.
Terminally ill patients have always maintained the practice of expressing their wish of their life being taken away from them at the time of intense suffering and since nurses are the closest entity to a friend that the patients may find in hospitals, they also go through numerous moral and ethical dilemmas in the face of such requests. The American Nurses Association very clearly states that a nurse cannot participate in assisted suicide. It is, however, their duty to provide relief to a dying patient with medication even if that relief results in the patient’s early death. In this case, however, any nurse who finds out of the patient’s intention does not stop her would have to suffer the consequences of violation of the ‘Code of nurses’.
Since every nurse operates with a natural instinct for caring for the patient and making him/her comfortable until the last breath, they may become distressed when making a decision about whether to accept to turn down a patient’s request for death and in these circumstances, the nurses should be made aware of the regulations and laws that apply. Before accepting a patient’s autonomy, all health care professionals should ascertain that the patient is making informed decisions regarding the matters of life and death rather than being coerced or forced into those decisions by others. Further complications may even take the form when the patients become so incapacitated that they aren’t even able to make decisions on their own behalf, rather, another acts in their place. The nurses’ code of ethics also advises them to respect a patient’s autonomy and, therefore, take decisions in the patient’s best interests.
There is also the legal issue to consider when it comes to the nurse’s decision of assisting in a suicide. Many US states do not consider assisted suicide to be a forgivable practice and, for this reason, nurses who make decisions in respect of their patients may even be looking at jail time. Assisted suicide, however, is a permitted practice in a few of the US states. These include Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.
This choice therefore is a huge challenge to the nurses because where the law does not permit assisting the patients in bringing about their own death, the moral aspect of the professions calls on them to protect their patient’s autonomy. Similarly, the American Nurses Association may acknowledge that the nurses may face difficult decisions of assisting in a suicide; they still consider it a mammoth violation of the ‘Code of Nurses’ to assist in the act. I believe it is the right for the nurses to be aware of and be safeguarded against the adverse ramifications when they are deciding on this sensitive but controversial subject.
Association, A. n. (n.d.). Retired ANA Position Statement: Assisted Suicide. Retrieved from http://www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/EthicsStandards/Ethics-Position-Statements/prtetsuic14456.html
Association, H. a. (2011, October). Role of Nurses when hastened death is requested. Retrieved from hpna.org: www.hpna.org/PicView.aspx?ID=1528
Cons.org, P. (n.d.). State-by-State Guide to Physician-Assisted Suicide. Retrieved from procon.org: http://euthanasia.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000132
Nurses, A. S. (2010, May 1). Dilemma for Nurses: Physician-Assisted Suicide. Retrieved from asrn.org: http://www.asrn.org/journal-advanced-practice-nursing/768-dilemma-for-nurses-physician-assisted-suicide.html