Example Of Research Paper On Euthanasia
Death is often a topic that is uncomfortable for some to talk about. While it is a natural part of the human lifespan it is still considered highly unnatural for those who are suffering or enduring great pain in their lives thanks to illness or other factors to simply take their own lives, or be assisted in this endeavor. Euthanasia, defined in a few words as a mercy killing arranged by the dying and a willing physician, is seen by some to be the ultimate act of weakness, and others as the only hope of dying with whatever dignity is left. In no uncertain terms it is a moral and ethical quandary that has no real middle ground. Euthanasia is a mercy, but also highly susceptible to misconception.
In terms of legality euthanasia is highly illegal in many countries, though has found acceptance in some parts of the USA and several other countries including Canada. In Canada however it has been seen that only passive euthanasia, which occurs when a medical physician does not further a patient’s chance of survival, such as shutting off a life support system, is legal. Active euthanasia involves the physician actually taking some measure or another to insure the demise of the patient. This type of euthanasia is highly illegal in many areas, and is frowned upon as unethical and immoral.
Euthanasia has been the target for many a hotly contested debate, and as is seen in an argument put forth by Professor Soren Holm, “many of the contributions to the debate fail to engage fully with the concerns people have about the legal introduction of PAD in the healthcare system,” (Holm, 2015) . It is a matter that many people feel is bound for controversy and cannot be adequately resolved no matter the wishes of the patient or whatever acceptance is given by the culture in which it occurs. In some cultures it is seen as respectful to allow the dying to decide how they will meet their end, and if it will be with dignity or not. In other cultures however it is seen that no matter the act of kindness it is still considered as murder, and punishable by law.
Only recently physician assisted suicide has been allowed in Canada where as reported by author and researcher Talha Khan Burki, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that it would be allowable for a physician to aid a patient in their transition only if “consent had been given and the patient faced enduring and intolerable suffering from “a grievous and irremediable medical condition” (Burki, 2015).
The main difference between physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia is that assisted suicide involves a physician granting the patient the knowledge of how to take their own life, while euthanasia involves the physician actually taking some sort of action. While both are considered reprehensible by some and merciful by others, they are a large part of a debate that is a continual issue between cultural norms and what a community believes should be allowable. When weighed against what an individual desires, meaning the affected patient, the outcry of the community does not seem quite as important, but when this view is reversed it is easy to see that such a debate is far too easily overtaken by the politics inherent in the matter.
It is only natural that in a democratic view that the sanctity of life and its preservation, but in the case of Canadian democracy it appears at this time that people are being given the right to simply give up, to end their pain in a manner they find more fitting. Worse still it seems as though doctors are being given the go-ahead to perform the act themselves, initiating active euthanasia in a country where the practice just recently became legal. As written by Wesley J. Smith, it appears that even if a patient is treatable they have the option to deny the treatments as “not acceptable” and thereby make the decision to end their lives based upon the presence of physical pain that has no other remedy but the proscribed medications (Smith, 2015). In this light it appears that the individual is being given the choice to simply give up and end their life, an example that is anything but acceptable to most communities.
As a cultural practice suicide has never been an openly adopted or even favored method, though it has been seen in several different cultures across the globe. Euthanasia has been around for centuries, though its use has been widely disputed only in the most recent decades. During Roman times human life was seen to matter very little, as it was during the centuries that followed as physicians did not always hold to the Hippocratic Oath as firmly as was expected. Many upon many “mercy killings” were performed throughout history, though only in our time has this become a truly debated issue.
Thus far within Canada’s system of government the idea of euthanasia continues to develop as the CPA, the Canadian Psychiatric Association, is attempting to hammer out the finer details and legalities as to who would be eligible for euthanasia and how to determine the severity and the necessity of such an act in regards to each individual patient. According to columnist Sheryl Ubelacker it is a matter of the CPA and the attending physicians who must come together to decide what the criteria are when considering who is truly in need of euthanasia
and who is simply seeking an easy way out (Ubelacker, 2015).
Those who are against medical treatments that will allow them to recover or at least stabilize their condition are only a small part of the issue surrounding euthanasia, as the CPA along with Canada Medical Association and its approximately 80,000 members are currently engaged in seeking alternative care and devising how to sort out who truly needs euthanasia versus those who seek it to simply escape a life they cannot control. The implications of the former would still have huge ramifications not only within the borders of Canada but worldwide as well as the issue continues to evolve and be explored from various angles by which it can be protected or exploited. For those seeking to exploit it as an easy out, euthanasia is by and large a legal form of suicide that can perhaps go so far as to enable those who perform such acts to safeguard their families from any legal ramifications caused by their actions, though this accounts for a very low percentage of those who would seek to take advantage of assisted suicide in such a manner.
More likely than anything, the issue truly regarding euthanasia and its current status in Canada is the wonder as to whether other nations will be next in line to accept the practice with open arms. While Canada is not under any other jurisdiction save for its own, it is still at this point setting the pace for the debate of euthanasia by becoming another nation that has approved the controversial practice. Whether or not it will continue to be accepted is still debatable, but one issue among the rest is that the public is at this time very poorly educated when it comes to the term euthanasia, as well as its implications and use. Perhaps if offered a better and more complete insight to the issue at hand the general public would not deliver such a boisterous outcry, but that is yet another debate.
Suicide is seen as unacceptable by many cultures, and is widely known as “taking the coward’s way out” or “taking the easy way”. For some it is a reprehensible act, one that condemns the mortal soul to damnation, and for others it is a disgrace that cannot be ignored or forgotten. Yet for all that assisted suicide is far different from the simple act of taking one’s own life. When in great pain that cannot be alleviated, or suffering through a disease that cannot be treated with any conventional means, it is sometimes preferable to meet one’s end with as much dignity as can be mustered.
Lying in a hospital bed waiting for the end, the painful, nerve-wracking, very ugly end, is for some a stressful and ultimately undignified existence. Death is always a constant, but for those suffering from illnesses and incurable diseases, it can be so much harder as they are forced to waste away bit by bit, becoming largely unrecognizable to their loved ones as they grow weaker and weaker. It is the indignity of this that euthanasia can help to avoid. While it is still the act of taking one’s own life, euthanasia is still, to some, a preferable method of leaving this world, as it allows them to do so on their terms, not the sickness or pain that is already taking them bit by bit.
No matter where it is practiced, euthanasia is a practice that will always be debated by those of differing cultural values and beliefs. It is a chance to die well, with some dignity, but it is also an act that is reviled by many. Where the balance is struck has yet to be determined and well-defined, but the act of at least sorting out who truly needs the opportunity versus those who are simply incapable of dealing with their own stressful lives is a beginning. If euthanasia is to be a widely accepted and preferable method to the slow, horrid decline that some face, then it is best to render it as a service available only to those who are in the greatest physical need, as a psychosis or mental instability is not reason enough to ask for a peaceful end.
Burki, Talha Khan. “Canada removes ban on physician-assisted suicide.” The Lancet Oncology 16.3 (2015): p110. Web. 22 April. 2015.
Holm, Soren. “The debate about physician assistance in dying: 40 years of unrivalled progress in
medical ethics?” Journal of Medical Ethics 41.1 (2015): p40-43. Web. 22 April. 2015.
Smith, Wesley J. “Euthanasia Comes to Canada.” The Weekly Standard 20.23 (2015). Web.
22 April. 2015.
Ubelacker, Sheryl. “What Are The Rules Of Assisted Death In Canada? Doctors Respond.” The
Huffington Post (2015). Web. 22 April. 2015.
Please remember that this paper is open-access and other students can use it too.
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