Good Research Paper About The Legalization Of Voluntary Active Euthanasia (Vae)

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Euthanasia, Nursing, Patient, Life, Death, Assisted Suicide, Suicide, Morality

Pages: 6

Words: 1650

Published: 2021/02/28

The legalization of Voluntary Active Euthanasia (VAE): Should VAE is a legally and morally recognized treatment option? Under what circumstances, if any, should it be?

Ending lives of suffering patients by doctors and nurses has been one of the most heated debates in the past decades. One word for this act is euthanasia or mercy killing. The definition of Euthanasia is intentionally causing death to a person, with a motive of benefiting or protecting the ailing patient from further sufferings.
Euthanasia is categorized in two ways: Active and Passive (American Public Health Association, 2008). The active method is the direct, intentional act of terminating a patient’s life. A good example of euthanasia is injecting a person with a lethal dose of medication. The passive method of euthanasia is primarily not providing or discontinuing treatments that would be reasonably effective in preventing the patient’s death. Nurses here may withdraw life supporting machines and just watch a patient die. This type of life ending is sometimes poetically called “letting nature takes its course” or “permitting death” (Ersek, 2004).
Before turning to the arguments in favor and against VAE, it is crucial to lay some groundwork for the discussion to follow. Terminologies referring to the different kinds of active euthanasia in this much contested worldwide debate are:
Voluntary active euthanasia is purposely administering medications or other interventions to allow a sick person to die at his/her open will. For example, if a doctor gives a patient an injection of morphine sufficient to cause the patient’s death with the patient request and consent.
Unintentional active euthanasia is deliberately providing prescriptions or related interventions to cause a patient’s death when the patient was competent but without the patient’s explicit request and/or full informed consent (e.g. the patient was not asked).
Non-voluntary active euthanasia is intentionally allowing death induced interventions or other demise medications to fast track a sick person demise while he/she is hopeless and mentally grounded to make any meaningful decision (e.g. the patient is in a coma).
Physician-assisted suicide, here a physician provides medications or other interventions to a patient with the understanding that the patient intends to use them to commit suicide.
Some assert that Voluntary Active Euthanasia (VAE) is ethically and morally wrong and should not be provided, regardless of the circumstances of the particular case (Ersek, 2004). Others hold that Voluntary Active Euthanasia is ethically legitimate in rare and exceptional cases, but that professional standards and the law should not be changed to authorize either practice. Finally, some advocate that Voluntary Active Euthanasia should be recognized as legally and morally acceptable options in the care of dying or severely ill patients (De Beer, Gastmans, Dierckx de Casterlé, 2006).
The debate about the morality and legality of voluntary active euthanasia has been a phenomenon of the second half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first century. Some argue that VAE is ethical. Often this is justified because VAE is a rational choice for a person who desires to escape unbearable suffering (De Beer, Gastmans, Dierckx de Casterlé, 2006). Furthermore, the physician’s duty to alleviate suffering may, at times, justify the act of providing assistance with suicide. These arguments rely on a great deal on the notion of individual autonomy beside recognizing the right of competent people to choose for themselves the course of their life, including how it has to end. The opponents argue that VAE runs directly counter to the traditional duty of the physician to preserve life (Ersek, 2004). Furthermore, many argue if VAE is made legal, abuses could take place. For instance, the poor or elderly might be covertly pressurized to choose VAE over more complicated and expensive care options.
Over recent decades there have been concerted efforts to make legal provisions for voluntary active euthanasia. Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia are legal in the Northern Territory of Australia but are illegal in many countries. In the Netherlands, physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia are illegal but have been permitted under certain guidelines (Ersek, 2004). In brief, the guidelines established were to allow physicians practice voluntary euthanasia in those instances where a competent patient had made a voluntary and informed request to be helped to die. In the United States, the legal status of physician-assisted suicide varies across the states. State of Oregon and Washington have already passed laws that allow assisted suicide. Another country on the list is Belgium that has allowed assisted suicide and euthanasia. Switzerland on the other hand has criminalized both assisted suicide and euthanasia, partly it seems that assisted suicide is permissible in away as it is only selfish motivated assisted suicide that is penalized (Ersek, 2004).
One central ethical contention in support of voluntary active euthanasia is that respect for respect for their autonomous choices (persons demands and own self-governance) as long as those choices do not result in harm to others. People have their rights in making important decisions about their lives in accordance with their conception of how they want to live. In exercising autonomy, or self-determination, individuals take responsibility for their lives. Since dying is a part of life, choices about the manner of their dying and the timing of their death are, for many people, part of what is involved in taking responsibility for their lives (Ersek, 2004).
A second ethical contention in support of voluntary euthanasia is the importance of promoting the well-being of persons. When someone is suffering intolerable pain or only has a life that is unacceptably burdensome and he competently requests medical assistance with dying, his well-being may best be promoted by affording him that assistance. In this way, the respect of individual's autonomy and well-being work together in support of voluntary euthanasia (Fowler, 2010).
A moral and legal opposition against the permissibility of VAE claims that there is no way another human being can justify taking the life of another person through genuinely permitted negligence. Euthanasia according to the oppositionist is not a long lasting will to decide to die just as it is with suicide that is a short-term dejection (Fowler, 2010). However, this notion by opponents cannot overly rule out that at times there are patients who willingly request to die due to the suffering they had been undergoing. That is why advocates of voluntary euthanasia have argued that if a morally upright patient keeps on informing other people occasionally that she has resolved to die rather than stay alive and actually believe and insist for somebody to help her accomplish her wish, and then her conviction must be regarded as enduring (American Public Health Association, 2008).
There is a wide accepted notion that passive euthanasia is morally acceptable in a case where morally sound patient make a request for his life-prolonging or life-sustaining measures to be withdrawn. In this case, the medical and legal fraternity believes that the professionals in the case adhered to a patient’s consent. One of the main reasons why voluntary or passive euthanasia is taken as morally acceptable is because life-prolonging or preservation steps are not administered or are withheld to allow the patient to die (Ersek, 2004). This kind of cases happens when a patient knows for sure that no amount of hospitalization would bring a cure to his/her ailment. Nonetheless, unlike passive euthanasia, active voluntary euthanasia is not morally acceptable as it is led by indefensible premeditated reasons given by the worried patient. Although it is widely used and popular, the difference between active and passive voluntary euthanasia is not morally obliging and vivid (Fowler, 2010).
Take the case of an ill person ailing from a motor neuronal disease that is dependent totally on life saving machine or respirator. As a medical officer or a relative you discover that his conditions are excruciating and the patient competently request your aid to deactivate his life supporting machine so as to end his life. In such a situation that is very complex, any decision you make will be hazy and open for debate. That is why nowadays, the Catholic Church has take a change and agreed that at desperate times where severe sickness is involved, a patient request for the respirator to be turned off should be adhered to. In cases like this one, even if an argument would emerge as to justify the better way, the passive euthanasia would not have solved the situation as it can only prolong the stay of the patient for a while in having a painful death. If in each kind of euthanasia the patient will have to die, there is then no morally worse kind of voluntary euthanasia to assist a patient get his/her wish (Ersek, 2004).
In reality, people who support intentionally medically supported demise argue that since actively induced euthanasia is many instances is beneficial to the suffering patient as it is fast, it should thus be morally accepted. In their debate, the actively induced euthanasia supporters argue that there are no solid reasons as to why passive voluntary euthanasia ought to be accepted morally while despising active voluntary euthanasia (Fowler, 2010). However, opponents of voluntary active euthanasia claim that the difference between active and passive euthanasia is to be found in the agent's intention: if someone's life is intentionally terminated then she has been killed.
Many a times it is viewed if communities permit medical officers to carry on with voluntary euthanasia, the society will have trended on a dangerous slope. This permission to allow voluntary euthanasia might take us to further the action in unwarranted moments which even does not need euthanasia. Rogue doctors might liaise with criminals to kill their enemies. This has been evidenced in Netherlands where inconclusive decisions have been made only to loose the patient in controversial manner. It was clearly shown that when the initial legalization step is allowed even in a contentious situation, the other following steps continues unavoidably to avoid uncertainty in the medical officer actions in respect to his/her psychological or logical reasons (Fowler, 2010).
My view is against legalization, for there have been a big misconception and misleading in the basics level of why VAE is done, the society has been misled in thinking that patients make such decisions because they are in pain and want to put a halt to it by seeking death, but the main reason patients seek death is because of despair and depression feeling. They fill that they are being a burden to the society and family. By that they should be comforted and promised that all is well. We are all fragile human, interdependent of mutual respect and support. It should be noted that most patients who seek after assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia are testing the waters, they are asking so to see if we care them enough and when we don’t stop them we confirm their deepest fear, that they are just a burden and they are better dead. We shouldn’t be a society that makes VAE a routine; rather we should redirect our energy to making sure that all patients get the best health care they need, help them live to the fullest of their lives even if they are dying. Nevertheless, if death comes then let it be natural but not steered or influenced from this ill motive legalization of Voluntary active euthanasia.


American Public Health Association (2008). Patients’ rights to self-determination at the end of life. Retrieved on April 14, 2015 from:
De Beer, T., Gastmans C., Dierckx de Casterlé, B. (2006). Involvement of nurses in euthanasia: a review of the literature. J Med Ethics Vol. 30 (5): 494-498
Ersek, M. (2004).The continuing Challenge of Assisted Death. Journal of hospice & Palliative Nursing Vol. 6(1): 46-59
Fowler, D. M. (2010). Guide to the Code of Ethics for Nurses. Maryland, American Nurses Association.

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