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Reserach Paper

1812 words - 8 pages

Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are actions at the core of what it means to be human - the moral and ethical actions that make us who we are, or who we ought to be. Euthanasia, a subject known in the twenty-first century, is subject to many discussions about ethical permissibility, which date back to as far as ancient Greece and Rome. It was not until the Hippocratic School removed the practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide from medical practice. Euthanasia in itself raises many ethical dilemmas – such as, is it ethical for a doctor to assist a terminally ill patient in ending his life? Under what circumstances, if any, is euthanasia considered ethically appropriate? More ...view middle of the document...

In 1994, Oregon voters passed the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, which exempted, “from civil or criminal liability physicians who, in compliance with specific safeguards, dispense or prescribe (but not administer) a lethal dose of drugs upon the request of the terminally ill patient.” To this day, Oregon remains the only state within the Union to allow physician-assisted suicide. In 1997, the United States Supreme Court ruled in a landmark case that, although there was no constitutionally protected right to physician-assisted suicide, states have permitted to pass laws allowing it. Thus, the issue of euthanasia remains widely open to philosophical, political, legal, and ethical challenges.
The lack of consensus, in American society on the ethical question of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide attributed solely to the complexity and gravity of the issue. This study will discuss and explore the question of under what circumstances, if any, is euthanasia considered ethically appropriate? As such, this study will examine the ethics of euthanasia from three different ethically appropriate perspectives: (1) for the doctor; (2) for the assisting non-doctor (i.e. nurse or family) and (3) for the patient who requests/consents.
The ethics of euthanasia and assisted suicide are directly before the public interest. Media attention and increasing concern about control at life's end have produced thoughtful deliberation of authorizing of euthanasia and assisted suicide. Community (government) awareness has focused on the desire for control over the timing and way of death. Equally, warnings about the possible abuse or harm of superseding societies established exclusions against assisting suicide or directly causing another person's death. Concurrent with this public dispute, but in many ways disconnect from it and has been the discussion of assisted suicide and euthanasia in the medical and ethical works. In this discussion, some assert that both assisted suicide and euthanasia are ethically wrong and should not be provided, irrespective of the conditions of the specific case. Others hold that assisted suicide or euthanasia is ethically valid in rare and special cases, but that standard and the law should not be reformed to allow either practice. Finally, some support that euthanasia and assisted suicide should be recognized as legally acceptable options in the care of dying or severely ill patients.
It is noteworthy that the present debate about assisted suicide and euthanasia, among academics, has drawn so slight from its rich history – from Plato and Aristotle in ancient Greece to Augustine and Thomas Aquinas in the Middle Ages, and Locke, Hume, and Kant in more modern times. Some views and practices centering on suicide are engrained in specific cultures and politics, which have little significance for modern society. For instance, in the warrior civilization of the Vikings, only those who died pugnaciously could enter Valhalla...

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