Proponents of euthanasia assert that a patient has the right to self-determination and have the right to choose to be assisted to end life because of pain and suffering. However, that is directly opposed to the belief held in the society that nobody has a right to end life, leading to an ethical dilemma for the healthcare worker who is has the obligation to respect the patient’s rights about life (Fleming, 2010). Euthanasia is a widely debated topic within the healthcare fraternity, the society, and among the patients.
The rights of a patient
According to Fleming (2010), euthanasia is a right that many people have associated negative thoughts with for those patients who need assistance to die. The two type of euthanasia, which include passive and active voluntary emphasize on the right to end one’s life depending on the underlying reasons to ask to be assisted to die.
Opponents of euthanasia argue that not all deaths are painful and that using alternatives such as cessations provide better remedies for the patient when combined with pain relief. Fleming (2010) argues that keeping a patient suffering from unstoppable pain alive is selfish, painful, and causes unnecessary suffering. Proponents argue that a person has an inalienable right to self-determination and should be assisted to end their lives to avoid the cruel nature of suffering. An example is a person who wants to undergo passive euthanasia because of brain damage. For such a patient, euthanasia is a cost-effective means of dealing with patient on the verge of death. Death is not always bad, and it should be allowed when it is in the best interest of those who need it.
Fleming (2010) provides empirical evidence which shows that euthanasia is not always problematic in many countries such as the Netherlands that have legalized it as opponents argue.
Belief of Society
However, the belief in the sanctity of life which is deeply entrenched in the society opposes euthanasia.
Here, the proponents of euthanasia argue that the life of a patient should not be allowed to deteriorate, but should be cared for until the end. The society opposes euthanasia based on the argument that life is a God given gift, birth and death should not be controlled by anyone, and that death is a process that occurs for everyone at the right time (Shalev, 2010). The argument on the sanctity of life leads to the conclusion that human life has an intrinsic value and should not be terminated by anyone except to terminate naturally.
Ethical position of healthcare worker
The healthcare worker is in a dilemma to end the life of a patient because of the ethical responsibility to respect the autonomy and rights of the patient.
According to Shalev (2010), assisting a patient to end one’s life is morally despite the patient having an inalienable right to decide on being assisted to end one’s life.
However, euthanasia is often promoted by those do not want to take the responsibility of caring for the patient until death.
In addition, euthanasia undermines the medical excellence and the commitment of doctors to provide palliative care and instead assist the patient to die.
Euthanasia still remains a controversial topic because of the patient’s inalienable right to life, the society’s views about life and the ethical responsibilities of the healthcare worker who is in a dilemma on what is ethically right or wrong.
Fleming, J. E. (2010). Taking Responsibilities as Well as Rights Seriously. BUL Rev., 90 (1), 839.
Shalev, C. (2010). Reclaiming the patient’s voice and spirit in dying: an insight from Israel. Bioethics, 24(3), 134-144.