Free Argumentative Essay On Assisted Suicide
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The United Nations, under its Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that each individual has a right to life (United Nations, 1948). This is regarded as the most basic of human rights, and it supersedes all other rights. The sanctity of human life is, therefore, a matter on which there is consensus in the world. On the opposite end of the extreme, however, a debate continues to rage. The topic of death is an emotive one, and one, which continues to elicit strong opinion from all the major players. Specifically, the issue of contention is whether human beings ought to have the right to determine when their lives should end. Advances in medicine, as well as technological innovation, have combined to increase the ability of human beings to save many more lives than was possible in times gone by. Diseases that at one particular period in time appeared to be fatal are now treatable, and medicine nowadays grants healthcare professionals the ability to reduce the pain of the suffering. At the same time, developments in medical technology allow the increased sustenance of the lives of patients. However, some people argue that this is in fact nothing but a prolonging of the deaths of these people (Allmark, 2005). At times, these are people whose physical and mental capacities are beyond restoration. Hence, even as medicine attempts to find even more ways of pulling people from the brink of death, the argument for the merciful ending of the decrepit and unsalvageable lives continues to make sense. This had led to a fierce debate on the issue of assisted suicide as an ethical issue in the health and nursing sector (Burkhardt, Nathaniel, & Walton, 2014). This paper looks at the significance of assisted suicide as an ethical issue in the health and nursing sector, and studies the assisted suicide in line with an ethical framework.
The issue of assisted suicide is one that has been growing in importance over time. There are various reasons that can explain why this issue bears such significance to the society. The first of these reasons is the developments and improvements made in the field of technology and medicine.
These medical advances have made the extension of life very much possible hence stoking interest about how far is too far and when should it be better just to let go. The other reason why this is an important issue lies in the ever-increasing population of aged and aging people.
The medical and technological advances have made it easier for older people to live longer. Hence, an increasing number are living up to the age of senility. This then leads to more cases where these people may feel they do not desire to live anymore hence they may require assisted suicide (Boudreau, Somerville, & Biller-Andorno, 2013).
Another reason for the increased societal importance of this issue is the rising costs of healthcare. Despite the advancements in medicine and the innovations in technology that prolong lives, healthcare costs are on a steady rise. These new technologies are expensive to maintain, and this cost is being passed on to consumers (College of Nurses of Ontario, 2009).
In a bid to reduce these costs, more people are exploring assisted suicide as a possible avenue hence the boost in its popularity. The other reason is the increased preference by terminally ill people to die at home rather than in hospital beds. These people may opt to be taken off life support machines in order for them to have these wishes fulfilled. This then ties in directly with the assisted suicide.
In my opinion as a nursing professional, the issue of assisted suicide is wrong and should not even be a consideration. This is in keeping with the ethical and the professional values that are espoused in nursing. According to the accepted definition of nursing, a nurse is obligated to engage in a therapeutic relationship in which the nurse is seen as a promoter of the client’s health (College of Nurses of Ontario, 2009). Hence, this means that a nurse has a duty of care towards a client that she must use her professional knowledge as well as skill, to contribute to the health and well-being of the client.
The nurse is expected to provide professional. Rehabilitative, palliative, therapeutic, and supportive care (College of Nurses of Ontario, Toronto, ON, 2009). Thus, the patient’s life is the primary concern of the nurse. Hence, for a nurse to help a patient in committing suicide would be to act in direct contravention of this profession (Allmark, 2005).
The other reason why I am in opposition of this policy as a nurse I because of ethical considerations. Ethics refer to a system of values that normally operate to guide human conduct (Allmark, 2005).
Ethics govern a certain profession or discipline, and nursing, like any other discipline has its ethics and values, which are important and integral to it. One of these key values that guide operations in the nursing sector is respect for life. Respect for life postulates that human life is sacred, and it must be treated with respect and consideration, and must be respected at all costs. At the heart of this concept though, is the issue of quality of life.
As a healthcare professional, and more so as a nurse, I understand that human life has a great level of sanctity (Boudreau, Somerville, & Biller-Andorno, 2013). As a nurse, this concept obligates me to make use of all possible efforts to preserve the life of an individual. This includes all the latest technology. Hence, since this is among the core ethical values in nursing, it cannot be possible to support the issue of assisted killing.
The other element that lends support to my decision is my personal values. As a Christian, I ascribe to the teachings of Christianity about the sanctity of human life. These teachings intimate that taking a life under whatever circumstances is wrong. This is espoused as one of the commandments, which orders us not to kill. The commandments are what provide Christians with a blueprint for the development of personal values. Hence, assisting a person to take a life, regardless of whether it is his own is killing. This killing is considered a sin. Hence, I opt for the pro-life crusade, and I do not sanction the concept of assisted killing since it is in direct contradiction of my personal values as a Christian.
Another reason why I am in firm opposition of the idea of assisted suicide is that it is a concept that interrupts a natural process. One of my personal values is the belief in life as a process. This process follows a certain path, beginning from birth, and ending in death. Just as during birth we wait for the right time to come so that the child is born, I believe it is imperative for us to wait until nature takes its course. Hence, this makes assisted suicide wrong. This concept interferes with the natural course of life, and it takes away precious moments for a person (Begley, 2008).
A person’s last moments are often a time of great reflection and self-realization. Ideally, they are moments best spent with relatives. However, assisted suicide denies and prevents these moments from occurring. This contradicts with my values and hence, I cannot support the concept.
Another reason that may explain the negative perception towards the assisted suicide is an institutional concept known as the “slippery slope” phenomenon (Boudreau, Somerville, & Biller-Andorno, 2013). In this case, the decision to engage in the assisted killings may trigger an avalanche of similar actions. This means that once a patient is assisted to take their own life, myriads of other patients may see this as an example and decide to engage in the same. This is evident in the case of Netherlands, which has witnessed a dramatic rise in suicide rates after the enactment of legislation supporting it (Cheadle, 2015). From a moral standpoint, I feel that if I engaged in assisting a patient to commit suicide, I may find myself suggesting it to the other terminally ill patients as opposed to caring for them.
On the opposite side of the divide, there are the proponents of assisted suicide. These individuals believe that it is right for people to be able to obtain assistance in the termination of their own lives. Whereas the opponents of this concept are the majority, the proponents are a growing number, and they put forward logical and well-defined arguments in the justification of their positions.
The first defense or justification for assisted suicide is the moral right to free choice (Begley, 2008).The group advocating for the assisted suicide concept normally affirm that the individuals should be allowed to make choices and decisions regarding about their lives as long as these choices and decisions do not infringe on the rights of other people. This right to free choice and self-determination encompasses the right to end their lives whenever they deem fit.
Whereas many people who want to exercise this right to take their own life are capable of doing so, some are not. Some of those who want to die but are not capable of taking their own lives include terminally ill people and those who are physically incapacitated to an extent that they cannot move nor do anything on their own. These individuals require the assisted suicide.
Another rationale used by the pro-choice group is related to the issue of ethics. Under the respect for life values that guide the operation of nurses, the nurses are expected to respect life. This means that nurses should in as far as possible strive to preserve life.
However, this concept also emphasizes that the quality of life should be taken into consideration. This means that the circumstances of this life must be taken into account. For instance, if an individual is suffering in hospital in excruciating pain or they are suffering from a debilitating medical condition that have rendered them unable to engage in any function in a dignified and human-like manner, death may be a better option.
In such a case, the person may choose to take his or her own life, rather than be consigned to a life that is devoid of any quality of a normal human being. Hence, the consideration for promoting assisted suicide in such a case is that it is inhumane and cruel to deny such a person the right to be delivered from their misery. Assisting them to commit suicide would be in line with our moral duty to help ease the suffering of others (Boudreau, Somerville, & Biller-Andorno, 2013).
Yet another justification that those in support of the concept put forward is the financial aspect. Maintaining a life on a life support machine is a very expensive undertaking. Hence, where the person being kept alive is suffering from a terminal condition, a decision may need to be taken (The Canadian Nurses Protective Society, 2015).
The institutional justification for this is how many resources can be conserved through helping this person commit suicide. A terminally ill individual may feel that his or her time has come, and hence, it is not logical to go on consuming resources yet the eventual outcome will be death. The person may feel that these resources, including the bed the person is occupying can be used for a person with more hope of getting better. Once such a decision is made, it is a prudent decision to help the person go ahead with their plan.
In the discussion of the use of an ethical framework, mode, theory or principle, a hypothetical situation is looked at. This hypothetical situation is then analyzed in light of the chosen choice of opposing the assisted suicide.
As healthcare professionals, we cannot become facilitators of death. Rather, we must deal in hope, and we must always seek to provide care, even if this is just palliative care. As nurses, we are bound by ethics to always respect the right to life. This right to life is the chief guiding principle, and the thing, which we must uphold to the highest esteem. The right to life actually supersedes all the other concerns hence as nurses we must always be willing to join in and ensure that we fight at all times to ensure that life is protected. Hence, these values cannot be compromised (Brock, 2004). In that way, Mr. Smalling’s proposal is not tenable.
In conclusion, it is evident that assisted suicide is an issue that poses a challenge to the traditional thinking of healthcare professionals. This is a complex debate, which has no easy answer. Whereas proponents of assisted suicide argue that the freedom of choice is above all other freedoms, this must be considered a fallacy, the right to life is paramount and sacrosanct (Chitty-Rogers, Alex, MacDonald, Gallant, & Austin, 2009). This right comes above all others and hence it must be the greatest consideration and the primary driver of all action. Nurses, and indeed all health care professionals, have a primary goal of always upholding the sanctity of life. In line with the professional nursing values, and maintenance of integrity, the nurses should strive to give as much palliative care as possible to enable the patient to die well. However, assisting the patient to take his own life goes against societal morals, and contradicts the teachings of nursing as a career. Assisting someone to die is equivalent to playing God and no has that right let alone nurses. Nurses should aim to preserve life so that even when death arrives, they will now that they have given their best as required by their code of professionalism. However, the debate about assisted suicide is a far from over and it is clear that there are those who will continue supporting it while others will continue opposing it vehemently.
Allmark, P. (2005). Can the study of ethics enhance nursing practice? Journal of Advanced Nursing, 51, 618–624.
Begley, A. (2008). Guilty but good: Defending voluntary active euthanasia from a virtue perspective. Nursing Ethics, 15, 434-445.
Boudreau, J. D., Somerville, M. A., & Biller-Andorno, N. (2013). Physician-Assisted Suicide. The New England Journal of Medicine, 368 (15), 1450-1452.
Brock, D. W. (2004). Life-Sustaining Treatment and Euthanasia: Ethical Aspects. In Stephen G. Post (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Bioethics (3 ed., Vol. 3). New York: Macmillan Reference USA.
Burkhardt, M. A., Nathaniel, A. K., & Walton, N. A. (2014). Ethics and issues in contemporary nursing. Toronto, ON: Nelson.
Cheadle, B. (2015). Canadians have right to doctor-assisted suicide, Supreme Court rules. Retrieved April 2, 2015, from Times Colonist: http://www.timescolonist.com/business/capital/canadians-have-right-to-doctor-assisted-suicide-supreme-court-rules-1
Humphry, D. (n.d.). World Laws on Assisted Suicide. Retrieved April 2, 2015, from Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization (ERGO): http://www.finalexit.org/assisted_suicide_world_laws_page2.html
The Canadian Nurses Protective Society. (2015). Will the Supreme Court strike down the laws banning assisted suicide? Retrieved April 2, 2015, from Canadian Nurse: http://canadian-nurse.com/en/articles/issues/2015/january-2015/will-the-supreme-court-st
United Nations. (1948). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Retrieved April 2, 2015, from United Nations: http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
Whitty-Rogers, J., Alex, M., MacDonald, C., Gallant, D. P., & Austin, W. (2009). Working with children in end-of-life decision making. Nursing Ethics, 743-758.
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