Imagine a man, sixty years of age, who has just been told by a medical doctor that his wife of forty-three years has contracted an incurable and terminal disease. The medical doctor informs the man that his spouse’s condition will begin to deteriorate. The disease will lead to chronic acute pain in the body, followed by loss of motor functions, and eventually death. The man is living in the moment knowing that nothing can be done to prevent his wife’s disease from progressing, and in despair he chooses to over medicate her with painkillers. In his mind, the painkillers will allow her to evade pain and enter a realm of eternal sleep. This action is called euthanasia. Euthanasia is defined as “a deliberate act undertaken by one person with the intention of ending a life of another to relieve that person’s suffering and where the act is the cause of death” (Gupta, Bhatnagar, and Mishra 1). Unfortunately, this type of situation is not far from reality. In fact, the first national survey on euthanasia, conducted in 1990, showed that 8,100 deaths resulted from administration of high doses of painkillers. The painkillers were explicitly administered to cause death. In 4,941 of these cases, the patients’ lives were deliberately terminated without their permission or awareness (Fenigsen 78). With the rapid increase of diseases being diagnosed annually worldwide, it is not a surprise that doctors and families see euthanasia as a viable alternative for the terminally ill. Indeed, euthanasia has become a common practice in society and a number of people, doctors and families alike, believe that is it the right thing to do. However, euthanasia should be prohibited in all circumstances because it goes against the doctors’ Hippocratic Oath, violates patient rights, leads to a slippery slope and rejects god’s gift of life.
The Hippocratic Oath is a pledge that doctors take at the start of their medical careers in which they promise to practice medicine in a moral and honest manner (Hulkower 41). The Hippocratic Oath, whether in its classical or modern version, has a set of ethical principles that doctors must uphold to the highest standards when caring for their patients. The practice of euthanasia, however, contradicts the very nature of the medical profession, which presupposes that doctors must always strive to protect and preserve life. In “Hippocrates Seduced,” Patrick Beeman mentions the classical version of the Hippocratic Oath that doctors recite upon graduation from medical school:
I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion. (17)
Here, the Hippocratic Oath states that doctors should always act in the best interest of their patients and protect...