Euthanasia from Different Perspectives
Euthanasia is a topic in which people have supported it, disagreed with it or are unsure of what they think about it. This is a sensitive subject because there are millions of instances we can evaluate and determine if they are morally right or wrong. All people interpret human euthanasia differently; some think we need it, some want it and some say we can control it, while others say there are alternatives and that we can never truly control it (Care, para. 14-20.) There are multiple forms of euthanasia that exist: active, passive, physician-assisted suicide, voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary. Some are more tolerable in people’s opinions while others are unquestionably irrational. The end result of this practice is ever-changing because there are so many different perspectives one can take into account while making a decision to end the life of a fellow human.
There are different morals that you can take into account while deciding whether euthanasia is right or wrong, one of the most important being “Is it morally right to allow someone to be euthanized?” Ultimately the situation at hand in which a person wants to be euthanized must be evaluated individually by questioning the morals of the patient. Now we will look at euthanasia from a couple different ethical views: Utilitarianism and Kant’s theory. In Utilitarianism the main goal is to maximize happiness and think about what consequences can happen depending on a morally right or wrong action. From a consequentialist perspective, which is utilitarian, voluntariness matters morally only to the extent that it affects human happiness and welfare (Mackinnon 172) and that overall we are concerned with what the best results can be. Kant’s theory focused on what a person ought to do; motive should help a person act morally right to avoid consequences. From a nonconsequentialist perspective, which is from Kant’s theory, autonomy is taken into account because it is good in itself and therefore carries heavy moral weight; both matters relate to benefits and harms and those that relate to a person’s autonomy would be relevant (Mackinnon 173.)
That is simply stating that Kant believes that a person should have the right to make their own decisions while they look at the moral value of an action. A good portion of the United States does support the use of euthanasia, but another question is what regulations are there one must go through to receive euthanasia. First, the patient must voluntarily ask and clearly understand the use of euthanasia, they must be facing suffering that is intolerable, terminally ill or not, the patient must believe there are no alternatives, more than one physician must look at the patient, the physician provides the methods of bringing about their death, children 12 to 16 need parental consent, physicians cannot suggest this method and it must be officially reported when a case opens (Mackinnon 165.) Being that one must complete ten steps before they are even allowed to take euthanization into consideration, this helps a person go through a mental process of what the different outcomes can be depending on their individual situation. Every person is entitled to their own opinion in this world and therefore we will go over the people that support euthanasia and the people who oppose its existence.
Statistics state that 54 percent of medical practitioners support it, 42 percent of Americans support it and within the Americans that support it only 28 percent agree with it strongly (J. Angelfire.) Supporters are very passionate when they explain its usefulness because they say it is better to allow a person to die with dignity then to force a person to live out the rest of their life dealing with pain and suffering. They also have more of an autonomic perspective and think that every person has the right to choose when to die and think that the government ought to safely regulate its use that way it is reputable in its existence (Care para. 14-16.) In the end all people should have the right to do what they want with their life, even if their decision be the conclusion of ending it. Although there are many supporters there are still many people who counter argue all of the things listed above because they don’t believe in euthanasia’s use. People who oppose euthanasia state that there are always alternative treatments available; one should not jump to the conclusion of dying to rid of suffering and burdens.
They also believe that in its use, as time progresses, different types of euthanasia will be allowed and regulated by the government and that overall this is giving too much power to physicians that use it. In the sanctioning of physicians getting too much power, this could end in patients dying from the use of euthanasia against their will which helps to contribute that there is never going to be complete control over the use of euthanasia because there are many cases that aren’t reported. Lastly, when allowing the patient to have autonomic power over what happens in their life that takes away from the doctor’s autonomic perspective in trying to save the person’s life. The ultimate goal of a physician is to save the life of a patient; euthanasia is the opposing result of the wants of health professional’s goals to save the lives of as many people as possible.
There are different types of euthanasia that exist: active, passive, physician-assisted suicide, voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary. Active euthanasia is using certain death-causing means to bring about or cause the death or a person and passive euthanasia refers to withholding or withdrawing certain treatment and letting a patient die (Mackinnon164-165.) Although passive euthanasia is only stopping treatment many people do not think that this should be defined as euthanasia because all it simply does is allow a person to die naturally from whatever they are suffering from. Physician-assisted suicide is a type of euthanasia in which the physician will give the patient a drug that they take themselves that will end their life (Mackinnon 166), and in a sense this type of euthanasia is like active euthanasia.
Voluntary euthanasia is when the persons’ who life is at issue knowingly and freely decides what shall be done and non-voluntary euthanasia is when a person other than the one whose life is at issue decide what shall be done (Mackinnon 171.) Lastly, involuntary euthanasia is when a mentally competent person is not consulted and arguably their life is ended against their own will (Care para. 12.) Many arguments against the use of euthanasia come from this use because many of the unreported cases are those that used involuntary methods. Overall the most widely accepted use of euthanasia would be passive methods; although it doesn’t seem like a method of euthanasia at all, many people have stopped treatment to just be able to die peacefully on their own terms. Passive euthanasia allows a person to take their life into their own hands and decide what is best for them.
To conclude, many morals are questioned when talking about the use of euthanasia. We can look at its use from a Utilitarian perspective and from Kant’s theory and in consequentialist/nonconsequentialist ways; all perspectives question the outcome of the action. Ultimately, there will always be two sides to an argument, especially in the use of euthanasia. Supporters believe in its use because it allows a patient to die with dignity instead of having to live the rest of their lives suffering and that it eliminates any burden a suffering patient has put on others. People who oppose its use think that it will give physicians too much power and take away from the objective of their job, saving lives. There are many who support it in the United States but only a small majority is confident in its use. With the different methods of euthanasia, some are more acceptable than others because of the way they are carried out, the most widely accepted method being passive euthanasia. To be able to even take euthanasia into consideration though, one must go through a lengthy list of requirements and they must be mentally stable. Euthanasia is something that will always be in a constant battle of who is right and wrong because of the morals and ethics of its existence. Works Cited
J. Angelfire, Gallup Poll, Angelfire & Nightingale Alliance . N.p.. Web. 28 Oct 2013. . I have used this source for many other projects/papers I have completed in various other classes. This website is reputable according to my other professors that have overlooked it. Care Officials, . N.p.. Web. 28 Oct 2013. .
Mackinnon, Barbara. Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues. 6th ed. Student Belmont: Wadsworth, 2009. Print. This is our ethics book we are required to have in the course. I find that is a very helpful resource because the chapter I am writing about is something we have already covered so I am able to remember some information but able to look back when necessary.