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Euthanasia Practice Essay

1752 words - 7 pages

Medicine has had a vital role in human society since the beginning of civilization. Physicians, under the famous Hippocratic Oath, have a legal and moral duty to preserve life and relieve the suffering of patients. A controversial practice known as euthanasia has continuously challenged the physician’s role in society by pitting the duties of life preservation and relief of suffering against one another. Euthanasia, also known as physician-assisted suicide, is the deliberate action of ending a person’s life with the intention of relieving uncontrollable suffering. The controversy of euthanasia relies on the fact that it directly opposes the Hippocratic Oath which states "I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan" (North). The incorporation of euthanasia in the healthcare system has the potential of opening a floodgate of abuses on patients, causing unnecessary deaths, and undermining the system as a whole. On the other hand, proponents of euthanasia such as the Hemlock society argue that upholding euthanasia from a mentally healthy person robs them of their chance to die in a dignified manner and is a violation of their personal freedom. The potential for abuses in the healthcare system, however, outweighs the benefits of physician-assisted suicide. Euthanasia should therefore be banned as a practice from the United States due to its high risks for abuse and the controversy that it has sparked in the medical community.
Patient requests for euthanasia are not uncommon. According to an article published by physicians in the journal of the American Medical Association 12% of physicians receive one or more explicit requests for patient assisted suicide (Back, Wallace, Starks, & Pearlman, 1996). The majority of these patients were terminally ill with cancer and worried about becoming a burden to their families. The thought of staying every day at a hospital and being fed artificially via gastronomic tubes is a cause for severe depression in many patients. In these situations patients have no hopes of betterment and most of them seek a dignified death. A scenario depicting the morality of euthanasia is the case of Sue Rodriguez, a mother in her early thirties who died slowly of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Rodriguez begged the courts to allow a doctor to assist her in choosing the moment of death. The courts denied this request, causing Rodriguez to live with the thought that her muscles would slowly waste away until one day she would die of asphyxiation. Rodriguez later peacefully died with the help of a doctor that secretly broke the law to help her. Although Rodriguez had a good reason to seek her own death, the issue here lies in the fact that assisting Rodriguez in euthanasia is incompatible with the healing goals of medicine. The Hippocrates oath itself suggests that a physician should refuse to perform euthanasia. However, the oath also suggests that it is a doctor’s duty to relieve pain. One way to solve...

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