Euthanasia: A Choice Of Decisions
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Euthanasia: A Choice of Decisions
Should medical professionals consider euthanasia as a valid treatment option for patients who are victims of debilitating and/or fatal diseases? This is the basis of any argument on euthanasia in the medical field. However, some knowledge is required to deliberate such an important idea. After all, life and death is no simply matter. A doctor has an obligation to attend a patient wither it be a person dying from an incurable disease or that of a car wreck injury. What information can a doctor review and be considered for such an important matter.
The word euthanasia roughly comes from the Greek culture, which originates from the words “eu” and “thanatos”. Together, these words coin the phrase “good death”. Hippocrates mentions euthanasia in his earlier works. Clearly regarded as the Father of Medicine because of his devotion to the art of science (MS Encarta, 2007), Hippocrates is also credited with the virtuous phase, “First do no harm”. Widely known as the Hippocratic Oath, which dates back to between 400 and 300 B.C., many have argued that the oath may not actually be Hippocrates work. Part of the original Oath mentions:
“I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not
disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care
in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may
also be within
my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be
faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all,
I must not play at God. (MedicineNet, 2007)”
The start of the ethnical era began shortly after his death when people began to realize the importance of his teachings. However, Ethics is commonly defined as having motivation based on ideas of right and wrong. Are these motivations present in the affairs of doctors and do they hold a concern for the medical field?
Cultural acceptance of euthanasia is decidedly a black or white decision for society. Either a person accepts the concept of euthanasia based on compassion or he will reject it due to biblical beliefs. However, even the bible does not truly reference the act of suicide as a sin. According to Robinson whom wrote this about the principle matter on Religious Tolerances website:
“Both Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17 appear in the King James Version of the Bible as “Thou shalt not kill.” This obviously cannot be interpreted literally, because people continually kill plants and animals for food. It has generally been interpreted as meaning that one should not murder a human being, except in cases of self-defense or warfare. Christians are divided over whether these verses include suicide. Religious conservatives tend to say that it does; many liberals believe that there are circumstances where suicide is morally justifiable. 10 years experience as a volunteer at a suicide prevention line has led me to believe that suicide is rarely justifiable; it is often a permanent solution to a temporary problem. (Robinson 2006)”
Another instance of suicide in the Bible may be found in I King 18:40 and 19:4.
“In an act of vicious religious intolerance, Elijah ordered 400 priests of Baal executed.
Ahab went to Jezebel, telling her that Elijah had “executed all the prophets with the
sword.” She swore to kill Elijah within the next 24 hours. Elijah fled for this life to
Beersheba, went into the wilderness, and “prayed that he might die.” He said, “It is
enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (Robinson,2005)”
Gods response was a mere ego boost for Elijah. His instructions gave Elijah the chance to redeem his bad judgments and that of the people who had worshiped Baal. God never did speak the words no to Elijah. He simple offered him food, rest, and a few words to the wise. Therefore, the answer was never forthcoming, but God was able to change Elijahs attention to something else. Elijah did ask God this question once again with God maneuvering around the issue. So does God not have a true answer for one of his own prophets? (1 Kings 19-20, Childrens Bible)
The author was clearly stating that people throughout history have used the fact that God would end their suffering in the time of need. Therefore, does God condone the fact that his subjects want to end their lives because they feel the need to end it? The assumption from the passage above directly links suicide to bible, however, the question is avoided altogether. This subject has and will always be a sensitive, yet much debated, topic for the religious community. Besides, suicide is often described as murder regardless of whom or what caused it (Dew, 2000). Suicide is one of the top causes of death in the world according to the graph in Figure 2, even outnumbering murder in some areas.
The problem is not what is right or wrong in relation to a person committing the act. The right to die is a fundamental right for any human being. Therefore, according to some sources, the right to die relates as a “vital importance to the study of biomedical ethnics” (Edge & Groves, 1994, p 240). In essence, it is who decides to let a person live or die according to the patients wishes. The study of the “Right to Die” is parallel with the term suicide. However, can one consider a patient who is already dying of a terminal disease a suicide? Moreover, would it be right if a terminal patient wishes not to suffer from his or her ailment? These are the questions that doctors must answer when faced with the dilemma. In this, people might fall into five distinct areas. The possible areas from the WHO are:
People never commit suicide when they speak of it.
People might commit suicide without giving any warning.
People self-destruct in the attempt or commit suicide.
People are emotionally disturbed or has serious mental illness if they consider suicide.
People might take ideas the wrong way and commit the act.