End of Life Issues
After being diagnosed with debilitating diseases, such as one of the multiple forms of cancer or being in a Persistent Vegetative State, (PVS), many consider euthanasia to end the suffering of that individual. Euthanasia is defined as “the act of painlessly ending the lives of individuals who are suffering from an incurable disease or severe disability” (Santrock, 2012). The whole idea of euthanasia is to end the pain and suffering of a person instead of letting them go through the rest of their life awaiting a slow, painful, and oftentimes, undignified death.
The act of euthanasia is separated into two main categories; passive and active, or “letting die” and “killing”, respectively, according to Ansari, A. , Sambo, A. O. , & Abdulkadir, A. B. (2012). Passive euthanasia is when a person is allowed to die by withholding available treatment, such as an individual not performing CPR on a person who suffers from cardiac arrest or taking a person off their artificial life support system, like a feeding tube or breathing machine.
Euthanasia can be considered active when a person actively or deliberately gives another person a lethal injection to end their life. Another way to differentiate between the two types of euthanasia would be to say that active euthanasia occurs when an something happens to cause death to a patient and passive euthanasia happens when an inaction causes the patient to die. Physician-assisted suicide is considered a type of active euthanasia, which takes place when a doctor gives a patient a prescription or other drugs to let them to commit suicide.
To further classify the term, euthanasia, it can also be categorized as voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary is when a mentally competent person makes the decision to die on their own without being coerced and made fully aware of the pertinent facts of their health. Involuntary euthanasia, (or non-voluntary) is done without the consent of the patient, such as when the patient is in a coma, and the wishes of that patient are unknown.
To combat any moral or ethical issues about a persons’ decision to partake in euthanasia, or not partake for that matter, that individual should discuss their advanced care planning, or planned preferences for end-of-life care (Santrock, 2012). By evaluating how a person wants to live out the rest of their life, they can establish an advanced directive, or living will, which would indicate whether or not they wanted life-sustaining procedures used to prolong their life if death were imminent.
Any living will should only be signed by an individual that is in a coherent state of mind and able to think clearly (Santrock, 2012). The ethical issue raised by active euthanasia is that it could be considered used as a way to rid society of elderly or terminally ill patients whether they want to die or not. Patients may begin to fear that if they go to the hospital for even routine exams, they might not leave because a person on the medical staff might deem them unable to recuperate from whatever reason brought them to the hospital in the first place.
Proponents however, say that people are autonomous, that they have the right to make their own decisions about important issues in their lives such as death. An ethical issue raised by passive euthanasia is that it causes a person die slowly and painfully, instead of giving them the opportunity to pass away comfortably and on their own terms. The laws in Arizona state that any contributor participating in euthanasia would be guilty of one of the subheadings of homicide, being manslaughter, a class 2 felony, or first or second degree murder, both being class 1 felonies.
The state of Arizona believes that life is very important and nobody should be able to take that right away from any individual, barring any medical emergency procedure. I believe that euthanasia has its place in society. While I do not condone murder, I believe if a person is dying from an incurable disease or is in a persistent vegetative state where there is no chance of recovery, allowing that person to die painlessly and with dignity is more moral than not doing so.
Although human life is a precious gift from God, I feel that it would be the duty of the patients’ family and doctors to take all the information about the health of the patient and make the best decision for their loved one, even if the end result means the death of that person. Euthanasia has many angles to evaluate before a person commits to such an ultimate and final act, whether for a loved one or their own ending. A person