Although, euthanasia was widely discussed in the eighteenth century (the era of enlightenment), this controversial topic only gained national publicity in the year 1915 when Dr. Haiselden refused to perform a lifesaving surgery on a deformed child, leading to the child’s death (Doug, 2013). The morality of Dr. Haiselden’s action became scrutinized, as America asked, Is it moral for someone to let another die through actions or lack thereof. There are differences of opinion concerning the morality of euthanasia; however, I conclude that physician-assisted suicide of the terminally ill is morally acceptable because not only is it permissible to kill terminally ill patients but also the goals of medicine recommend euthanasia.
To be able to understand the viewpoint of this paper, it is important to clarify some fundamental ideas such as the terms euthanasia and morality. Euthanasia is the killing of the terminally ill to relieve them of suffering. It may occur through carrying out an action (e.g. overdosing to a patient) or the absence of action (e.g. not ensuring the patient is fed). Euthanasia may be requested by the patient, his relatives, his medics or at times, even courts (BBC, 2013). In certain cases, disabled people who are not terminally ill may request euthanasia. However, this case will not be discussed in this paper due to its irrelevance to the thesis. There should also be a clarification made about certain circumstances that may appear as euthanasia but are not. These situations include “a patient [who] dies as a result of refusing burdensome medical treatment” or a patient who is given drugs to suppress suffering although they may expedite his death.
Physician-assisted euthanasia remains a controversial topic because the arguments put forward for and against it are strong. To demonstrate, one of the popular arguments on Doug’s PROcon website will be recounted. This argument concerns euthanasia going against the Hippocratic Oath. Some may make claims against using the Hippocratic Oath as evidence supporting euthanasia. They may argue that the Hippocratic Oath is a fifth-century idealistic oath that was developed in a time much different from ours. Certain concepts of the oath which are obsolete, such as doctors living their lives in partnership with those who taught them the “art” or denying financial gain when educating another practitioner, may be highlighted in an attempt to make arguments using the Hippocratic oath appear weak. On the other hand, others may contradict this view by stating that although it may have its limitations in the contemporary world, the Hippocratic Oath has been timeless in motivating physicians to provide better care to patients. Thus, it is incoherent for the fundamental aspect of the Hippocratic Oath, do not harm, to be eliminated. The Hippocratic Oath argument above highlights the controversy over euthanasia. It also suggests that arguing for the pros and cons may not be the best way to...