Euthanasia meaning “good death”, also known as physician assisted death or assisted suicide is the deliberate decision made to end the life of a terminally ill patient, relieving them of their unbearable pain and suffering. Euthanasia is such a controversial topic of discussion, because much like abortion it has many ethical issues associated. They can be considered similar in some aspects, as their intentions are the same. Both involve the deliberate killing of an individual, but their reasons significantly differ.
When discussing euthanasia, the term patient autonomy is often referred to. Patient autonomy allows the patient to be able to make autonomous decisions about their medical care. Then patients who are suffering from terminal illness or excruciating pain should be able to have the right in choosing to end their life, however they do not. Instead, patients receive palliative care treatment, which is treatment ensuring that terminally ill patients will be looked after and the quality of their end stages in life are improved. A person, who is seeking physician assisted death, should be receiving the best kind of palliative care treatment that there is. However, if palliative care treatment received by the patient is not effective in helping them to relieve the unbearable pain their experiencing and their will to survive becomes no more, then there should be no reason as to why the patient shouldn’t be obliged to make the decision of ending their life. “Not all palliative care can relieve all my symptoms” – Leukaemia and breast cancer sufferer, Cath Ringwood.
However, Dr Christopher Middleton who is the chairman of the Tasmanian branch of the Australian Medical association believes that its a doctor’s duty and responsibility to preserve life, as most “doctors tend to see themselves as agents of hope and healing and comfort and certainly not agents of death”. But if patients are waiting on their death bed for their terminal illness to eventually kill them, it would make sense that doctors should listen to their patient’s last requests and take the liberty to relieve them from their suffering, and allow their patients to die the way they desire, and that is with dignity.
The concern with legalizing euthanasia is that patients can become vulnerable, but this issue can easily be overcome. In the end stages of their life, patients might not be thinking in their right state of mind, and because the option to request for euthanasia is available, patients are likely to opt for it. In order to eliminate patient vulnerability and for euthanasia to work properly rules and regulations should be implemented. This is so that patients can’t simply resort to, or seek an easy alternative and make the decision of ending their life because they feel as though they are becoming a burden to their family. In states like Oregon where euthanasia is legal, patients must fit a set of criteria for them to be allowed euthanasia, http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/euthanasia/overview/regulation_1.shtml. Euthanasia is something that should be legalised, however, its something that shouldn’t be abused or taken advantage of. I’m confident in saying that in order for euthanasia to work effectively strict laws should be put in place to prevent anyone from requesting a physician assisted death.
Euthanasia, regardless of it being legal or illegal it is something that is happening around the world today. We should all be able to have a say in how we choose to die, and should be given the right to die with dignity.
“I’m asking him for a dignified death” – Leukaemia and breast cancer sufferer, Cath Ringwood
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