The ethical dilemma of assisted dying has been a topic of debate for many years. Assisted dying is a term used to describe the practice of providing medical assistance to those who wish to terminate their own lives. This concept has raised significant ethical and legal questions and divided opinions.
- 1 Arguments of Assisted Dying
- 1.1 Definition of Assisted Dying
- 1.2 Prefer to listen rather than read?
- 1.3 Pros and Cons of Assisted Dying
- 1.4 International Laws Around Assisted Dying
- 1.5 Religious Perspectives on Assisted Dying
- 1.6 Society’s Views and Opinions on Assisted Dying
- 2 Conclusion
Arguments of Assisted Dying
This blog post will explore the key ethical considerations surrounding assisted dying, the arguments both for and against its legalization, and the potential implications of the decision to legalize or continue to prohibit assisted dying. It will also explore the potential impact of the legalization of assisted death on society, healthcare professionals, and those individuals wishing to use it.
This blog post will provide an overview of the current legal and ethical framework surrounding assisted dying and will consider the potential implications of legalizing assisted dying.
Definition of Assisted Dying
Assisted dying is the practice of providing medical aid-in-dying to individuals who are terminally ill and suffering from physical or emotional pain that cannot be alleviated. The medical procedure typically involves a doctor prescribing a lethal dose of medication to the individual, which the individual can then take to end their life.
Prefer to listen rather than read?
The medical process is intended to provide an alternative for individuals who wish to die with dignity, rather than enduring a prolonged and painful death. Assisted dying has raised ethical concerns, as it is seen as a violation of the right to life, a right that is universally accepted.
Types of Assisted Dying
Euthanasia, also known as physician-assisted suicide, is the practice of ending a person’s life in a manner that relieves suffering. It is typically performed with the consent of the individual and is often seen as a way for those who are terminally ill to end their suffering.
This involves a direct action taken by a third party to bring about the individual’s death. The term “euthanasia” comes from the Greek roots “eu”, meaning good, and “thanatos”, meaning death.
Euthanasia is a complex and controversial topic and can take many forms, including voluntary, non-voluntary, and involuntary.
- Voluntary euthanasia is an act of end-of-life decision-making where an individual voluntarily requests and consents to their own death.
- It is defined as a process in which a terminally ill patient, with a request to die, is provided with a lethal dose of medication with the intention of ending their life.
- Before any decisions are made, the patient must be thoroughly assessed by the attending physician to ensure their decision is voluntary, informed, and made without outside influence.
- This form of euthanasia is generally accepted as the most ethical due to the principles of autonomy and self-determination.
- The medical community recognizes that individuals have the right to choose their own medical care, including deciding when to end their own life due to terminal illness, severe disability, or chronic pain.
- They also thought that it is essential to recognize that the individual has the right to make this decision in accordance with their own beliefs and values.
- Ultimately, they think that it is up to the individual to make this decision, and for them, it is important to ensure that it is done in a safe and responsible manner.
- Non-voluntary euthanasia occurs when an individual is unable to make an informed decision due to physical or mental incapacity, and the decision is made by another person, such as a family member or medical professional.
- This form of euthanasia is more controversial, as it raises questions of morality and the value placed on an individual’s life.
- A major ethical issue surrounding this practice is that it is often difficult to distinguish between euthanasia and murder.
- Further, non-voluntary euthanasia may also lead to issues of autonomy, wherein an individual’s right to choose their own life or death is taken away from them.
- Additionally, many religious and cultural beliefs consider euthanasia as going against the natural course of life.
- Involuntary euthanasia is a highly unethical and inhumane practice that is strictly condemned by medical professionals, legal authorities, and human rights organizations.
- It involves taking the life of a person against their will and runs contrary to the fundamental principles of autonomy and respect for human life.
- In addition to being deemed an immoral act, involuntary euthanasia is also illegal in many countries, as it violates both civil and criminal laws.
- As such, it is important to recognize that this type of euthanasia should never be undertaken, as it poses serious moral and legal consequences.
Assisted suicide, on the other hand, also known as physician-assisted suicide, involves the provision of medication to be self-administered by the individual in order to achieve a peaceful, dignified death. This means that the terminally-ill patient is giving consent to the physician to give them the lethal drugs they would take themselves to die.
Assisted suicide is an emotionally difficult topic to discuss, but it is an important consideration when it comes to the rights and autonomy of the individual, as well as providing them with the compassion and care they deserve.
Pros and Cons of Assisted Dying
Assisted dying is a controversial and ethically fraught practice, and it is important to consider both the pros and cons associated with it.
While the topic is surrounded by much controversy, there are some clear advantages to assisted dying that should not be overlooked.
- It provides a sense of hope to those who no longer see any other course of action and can eliminate unnecessary suffering from an unbearable condition.
- It ensures that an individual has control over their own end-of-life decisions, allowing them to pass away in a dignified and pain-free manner.
- Assisted dying is also beneficial for family members and friends of the individual, providing closure and finality in a difficult time.
- Allowing those with terminal illnesses to complete their lives in a way that feels meaningful to them.
- While no amount of money can truly alleviate the pain of losing a loved one, assisted dying can help to alleviate the financial strain that often accompanies end-of-life care. Assisted dying can help to reduce the cost of medical treatments, hospital stays, medications, and other related costs.
- Family and friends are able to say goodbye in a setting that allows them to be with their loved ones as they make their transition. With the help of assisted dying, families are able to provide comfort and support for their loved ones and create a peaceful and dignified atmosphere for the dying process.
- As a result, individuals can pass away peacefully in the company of their loved ones, knowing that they have been surrounded by love and care up until their last moments.
- It can be seen as a violation of the Hippocratic Oath, which is an ancient ethical code for physicians that states that physicians should never hasten death or do anything to harm their patients.
- This means that many doctors and healthcare providers may find the idea of assisting in a patient’s death, even if it is requested by the patient, to be a violation of their ethical and moral code.
- Furthermore, some religious and moral beliefs hold that only God has the right to decide when a person passes away, and any human intervention in the process of death can be seen as a transgression of this belief.
- This can create a moral dilemma for many healthcare providers, leading to arguments and ethical debates.
- Another primary disadvantage of assisted dying is the potential for abuse and exploitation. This slippery slope can lead to a situation where people are taken advantage of, which could lead to them making a decision to end their lives that they may not have made without that pressure or influence.
- In some cases, individuals may feel pressured to choose assisted dying due to external influences, such as financial incentives or family and caregiver expectations.
- Moreover, such individuals may not be given adequate information or access to appropriate mental health support and counselling to make a fully informed decision. In extreme cases, vulnerable individuals may even be coerced into assisted death against their will.
International Laws Around Assisted Dying
There are a variety of international laws around assisted death, and these laws vary depending on the country. The End of Life Choice Act 2019, which was passed in New Zealand in 2019, is an act that supports the concept of assisted death. It allows for people with terminal, irreversible conditions to have the option to request assisted death, provided they meet specific eligibility criteria.
New Zealand: End of Life Choice Act 2019
The act states that the person must be an adult, a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident, and must have the mental capacity to make an informed decision. Furthermore, two doctors must agree that the person is eligible, and, if the person is diagnosed with a mental illness, one psychiatrist must also agree. This act provides New Zealand citizens with the opportunity to end their life in a dignified manner if desired.
Generally, assisted death is legal in some countries. At present, the regions permitting this process are Oregon, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Washington, Maine, Colorado, New Jersey, California, and Vermont as of June 2021. Other countries, including Australia, Switzerland, and the United States, have adopted more restrictive laws surrounding assisted death, allowing the practice only under certain circumstances.
Many countries that have legalized assisted dying have also taken steps to ensure that vulnerable populations, such as those with disabilities or mental illnesses, are safeguarded against any potential pressure to end their lives prematurely.
These safeguards often include strict qualifications and protocols that must be met in order to qualify for assisted dying, as well as providing legal protection against any form of coercion or manipulation into making this life-altering decision.
In addition, many countries also require individuals to be assessed by independent and qualified professionals who specialize in assessing these matters, with the aim of ensuring that an individual’s wishes are respected and protected. These measures serve to ensure that all individuals have the freedom to make their own decisions about their life and death, without fear of being pressured.
These laws require that a patient be terminally ill, have a prognosis of six months or less to live, and have the mental capacity to make an informed decision. In addition, most countries require that two doctors be consulted and agree that assisted dying is appropriate in the specific case.
Religious Perspectives on Assisted Dying
Religious perspectives on assisted dying vary significantly. For many religions, such as Catholicism, assisted death is considered a form of suicide. And suicide is considered a grave sin and is viewed as a rejection of God’s gift of life. Assisted death is seen as a direct violation of religious teachings and is thus strictly forbidden. In this view, life is seen as a gift from God, and it is seen as morally wrong to end that gift prematurely.
The general consensus among Islamic scholars is that suicide is strictly prohibited in Islam, however, there is some discrepancy on the topic of assisted death in certain circumstances. Some religious scholars have argued that assisted death could potentially be permissible in certain cases such as when a patient is suffering from a chronic, terminal illness and has no hope of recovery.
In such cases, they argue that the patient would be allowed to take a medically assisted route to end their life in order to spare themselves from further suffering. The reasoning behind this argument is that if a person’s suffering is considered unbearable, it can be viewed as a form of torture. Thus, in order to alleviate the pain and suffering, assisting the patient in their death could be considered an act of mercy.
In Hinduism, assisted death is seen as a way of helping a person to achieve a peaceful and dignified death. Buddhism, view the concept of assisted death more neutrally and does not have a strict stance on the matter.
In Buddhism, the belief is that life should be lived with compassion and respect for all living beings and that assisted death may provide a way to release a person from suffering. Sikhism has traditionally been more accepting of assisted death and considers it a natural part of life’s cycle.
In general, religious views on assisted death tend to be complex, as different faith traditions have different interpretations of what constitutes moral and ethical behaviour.
Society’s Views and Opinions on Assisted Dying
Society’s views and opinions on assisted dying remain varied and complex. A wide range of ethical and moral considerations come into play. Some feel that an individual’s right to make this deeply personal decision should be respected. While others may oppose assisted death on the grounds that it is a form of suicide and should not be allowed under any circumstances.
There are also those who support the idea of assisted dying, but only under certain circumstances, such as when the patient is suffering from a terminal illness or when the patient is in an advanced state of physical deterioration and/or in a state of unbearable pain.
This support is typically based on the idea that, in such circumstances, the patient should have the right to choose to die with dignity and to be able to do what they can to lessen their suffering. In addition, it is argued that allowing this option can help alleviate the emotional and financial burden often placed upon the families and friends of terminally ill patients, who may find themselves unable to cope with the inevitable outcome.
Even amongst those who support the concept of assisted dying, there may be divergent opinions on the appropriate regulations and restrictions that should be applied to limit its use. The debate surrounding the issue of assisted dying is likely to remain contentious for many years to come.
It is important for society to approach this subject with an open mind and with respect for the diversity of opinions expressed. However, it is important to understand the ethical implications of both sides of the argument before making a decision.
In conclusion, the ethical dilemma of assisted dying is complex and challenging. It is important to consider not just the individual’s autonomy and right to end their suffering, but also the wider implications of allowing assisted dying.
This includes examining the potential for abuse or the risk of slipping into a slippery slope of euthanasia, where the rights of those who are vulnerable could be compromised. Furthermore, the implications of assisted death on a cultural level must also be considered.
Different religious and cultural beliefs have traditionally been opposed to the idea of assisted death, and it is important to take these into account when debating the issue. This issue is one that requires further discussion and debate in order to ensure that everyone’s rights are respected and that a decision is made.
What about you? What are your views on assisted dying? if you like this topic, you may also like our article on Early Diagnosis: Understanding the Signs of Dementia.