In this course, you will write a term paper on a current medical ethics issue of your choice.
In this assignment you will select a current medical ethics issue to research and write about for your research paper, which is due week 8. Give this some thought, because this will be the topic you will be using for the outline, rough draft, and final term paper assignments. Make sure you can find articles for support of your topic. Read the term paper requirements before you select your medical ethics issue topic to ensure it is what you want to research.
Select a topic related to one of the following current medical ethics issues:
- End of Life
- Eugenics and Human Genetics
- Medical Research
- Reproductive Issues
- Organ Donation and Transplantation
- Public Health Issues
- Access to Health Care
In a word document, state your medical ethics issue (For instance, if you choose to write about End of Life, the medical issue might be physician-assisted suicide), and write a paragraph explaining why you have chosen this medical ethics issue to research.
- APA writing style is expected.
- Please refer to the rubric to ensure you have covered all components of this assignment.
- You can either type your topic choice directly into this assignment or upload a Word document.
End of life: The case of Euthanasia for terminally ill patients
The ever growing medicine industry has led to numerous developments that have increased legal, ethical and medical dilemmas in the same. In the present, numerous advancements in medical industry have enabled individuals to delay and counter act the effect of death. As a result, the U.S center disease Control and prevention have compiled reports on the average life expectancy for women and men in the same area to be 77.2 (National center for Health Statistics, 2015). In the phase of the promise of medical ability, there is a bitter and contentious battle on the possessing the rights to die. By referring to a patient as being terminally ill, there is creation of a problem since advocates on the other side of the debate differ in provision of a better definition of terminal illness. This has then developed a universal definition as a state or condition of having a non-treatable or irreversible condition with high probabilities of leading to death over a short period of time. The debate about patient’s right to choose death verses those of the state in preservation of life have continues to make headlines and thus this paper will seek to make analysis of the overview of present legal and ethical debate while providing a fundamental challenge to duty of physicians to protect patients’ rights (National center for Health Statistics, 2015).
Origin of Euthanasia
Over the past five decades, the concepts of being assisted to die have gained more attention due to the major advances in medical technology. The two concepts have basically challenged operations in the medical profession and community which have insisted on the need to create a balance in the duty of physicians and respect to patients (Garrison, 2003). From a wider perspective, questions about whether physicians should be able to alleviate suffering through Euthanasia and whether the same patients have a right to terminate their own lives has become unbearable.It is assumed universally that this situation might never disappear unless the society designs ways to reach an acceptable consensus of whether these desires should be addressed.
Drivers of Euthanasia
The deliberation about Euthanasia encompasses the use of numerous terms thus making a call of the importance of clarifying the meaning of every term involved for interpretation. Borrowing from the Black’s Law dictionary, suicide is defined as the behavior of taking individual life while assisted suicide is defined as an intentional act of giving one needed knowledge to help engage in suicide. The double effect doctrine is a major driver in Euthanasia. It states that death is essentially a result of secondary result of trying to manage pain and is equally permitted legally in the medical profession (Garisson, 2004). However, it is surprising how the doctrine double effect in the support of Euthanasia staunch opposition. The use of painkillers in the alleviation of suffering in dying is in line with moral conforming to human dignity which can be tolerated and unavoidable (Flacathconf, 2016).
Legal Frameworks for development of Euthanasia
During the tough times and processes of navigation through the murky waters of declining health and its consequences such as increased dependency on others, the little discussion of promoting comfort at this time comes as a provision of hoper glimmer for relief from pain and suffering. As a primary goal of physicians dealing with terminally ill patients, pain management according to the law is recognized in a way that detaches physician’s criminal ability of trying to cause patients pain and suffering as a risk and ultimately death as a secondary risk (Kathleen, 1997). In the present, individual rights do not define one’s rights to take their own lives or physicians to help in assisted suicide. With high concerns about abuse in decision making both by individuals and physicians as well, the court established three fundamental interests at state level in attempts to compel the ban on assisted suicide by physicians (Kathleen, 1997).
Protecting the integrity of the medical profession, protecting groups that are said to be vulnerable and ultimately protecting terminally ill individuals from prejudice were considered fundamental interest of the court’s intervention on the issue. In what legal analysts referred to as a 2nd/9th split, two 1996 decisions were created. In this circuit, courts in the United States rendered physicians unable to provide patients with easy attempts to terminate lives (Kathleen, 1997). Also, both circuits passed a rule that physicians are free from criminal liability in their attempts to provide patients with assistance to suicide. However, the high court came in and rules out all exceptions involved in the process by defining death in dignity as a prohibited conduct. The Supreme Court determined that the right to end one’s life with assistance of the physician should remain prohibited in the country leaving the affected with two options of either committing suicide or doing nothing (Flacathconf, 2016).
Legal guidelines and safeguard measures
In different other countries, assistance in counseling to gain suicidal missions under criminal law qualify as murder obligations. As more people and groups are against physician assisted suicide even for those with terminal illness, the discussion of performing euthanasia as a sign of relief to patients continues to give rise to controversies (Brian, 2002). Sourcing from a majority of opinions among physicians and lawyers, euthanasia is an abnormal medical procedure and perhaps this decision of ethics in line with euthanasia is a decision for the society and not a duty for professional physicians. However, in physician assisted suicide, there has been a report from the Dutch law that demands for a request to perform the said process by the patients but should be made in a living will with specific requirements of meeting legal procedures (Brian, 2002).
This has further led to development of disagreements between parents of terminally ill patients and doctors but then the said disagreements were later resolved after extended discussion including patients feelings and what they thought they deserved (Brian, 2002). Presently, minor operations involved in respect to euthanasia are allowed with parental consent. In reference to incompetent patients, Dutch law permits the written will in representation of patient autonomy under the assumption that his wishes of life were written after consideration of the patient condition.
Arguments for Euthanasia
In most countries, euthanasia can be performed if the patient conditions met a particular set of criteria. HIV AIDS patients could be used as the best beneficial group of euthanasia and its consequence. Euthanasia can be enabled for patients who experience much pain and suffering as a way to reduce the condition that they are forced to go through before death is reached (Thomasma, 2000). Apart from conducting euthanasia to ease pain and suffering of patients, euthanasia can be performed to relieve the patient’s family from the heavy burden of medical costs that should be incurred as the patients wait for death. Financial burdens will continue to play a huge role in selection of therapeutic options that effect end of life decisions. With the irreversible conditions and the high cost of treatment at the end stage of the disease, the discussion remains open between physicians, family and patients.
Arguments against Euthanasia
Despite the philosophical and economic arguments brought forward as arguments towards euthanasia, powerful arguments have also been raised against making plans for adoption of euthanasia in medical practice. A strong point brought forward is the argument that assisted suicide in immoral and wrong as it provides a contradiction to the fundamental edict that regards life as sanctity. This point remains the strongest of both arguments as it receives support from the courts of law as well (Thomasma, 2000). Euthanasia is considered wrong and immoral because it leads to potential abuse of the medical profession by making populations vulnerable. These concerns against euthanasia relate to medical profession that involves fallibility and integrity of doctors in medical profession. These safeguards might never seem to cause a reduction in the possibility of conducting euthanasia to zero hence there might be legalization of euthanasia in the near future (Thomasma, 2000).
Other health care issues associated
There has been immense focus on the issue of euthanasia and therefore the issue of palliative care has been ignored. In as much as the discussion of the policy on euthanasia went through intense public discussion, it has been re-considered that probably euthanasia can be performed in line with the demands of palliative care in attempts to disregard future request of euthanasia (Cohen-Almagor, 2002). While patients can be accorded the rights to refuse to be treated, there has been careful re-consideration that patients can also determine whether to live or die and this has caused much more ambiguity in the issue.
Discussion and potential direction for Euthanasia in the future
The arguments presented for euthanasia work excluding basic social interests and consideration of moral values on respect to medical profession. The patient’s decision to end their own lives should be considered a private matter that does not cause harm to the general public and should therefore be free from government and law interventions (Bosshard, Fischer & Bar 2002). On the other side, opponents of euthanasia decide on settling on health matters amidst pain and suffering. It seems that this issue will continue to attract public debate because medical industry continues to advance and medicine improvement continues to occur and therefore both groups will seem not to come to consensus. The discussion remains open and more advocations on the same continue (Cohen-Almagor, 2002).
The euthanasia debate is evidently and visibly far from conclusion and there is room for governments to continue developing models for future debate. To understand this debate and where it is headed to in the future, we might find the need to approach the same from the topic of abortion and same sex marriages which have elicited the same issue of complexity. It is with no doubt that the underlying topic is too broad, complex and vast however this discussion still managed to give a comprehensive view of the major discussion in the said debate.
Bosshard G, Fischer S, Bar W. (2002). Open regulation and practice in assisted dying. Swiss Med Wkly. 12;132 (37-38):527-34., Retrieved January 28th, 2016 from http://www.smw.ch/pdf200x/2002/37/smw-09794.pdf
Charles S. B. (2002). HIV/AIDS and Bioethics: Historical Perspective, Personal Retrospective. Health Care Analysis 10: 5-18.
Cohen-Almagor, R. (2002). Should doctors suggest euthanasia to their patients? Reflections on Dutch perspectives. Theoretical Medicine 23: 287-303.
Flacathconf. (2016). Catechism on Euthanasia Retrieved January 28th, 2016 from http://www.flacathconf.org/Issuesinfo/Endoflife/Catechism.htm
Garrison, M. (2003). The Law of Bioethics: Individual Autonomy and Social Regulation. Pg 414. Thomson West .
Gordijn, B. (2000). The prevention of euthanasia through palliative care: new developments in the Netherlands. Patient Education and Counseling 41, 35-46.
Kathleen, M. (1997). Competent Care for the Dying Instead of Physician-Assisted Suicide, New England Journal of Medicine: 336: 54.
National Center for Health Statistics. (2015). Retrieved January 28th, 2016 from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/faststats/deaths.htm
Thomasma, D. (2000). Asking to die: inside the Dutch debate about euthanasia. Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, 25 (2).