The Debate over Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide

TheDebate over Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide

Euthanasiais painlessly taking away of the life of a patient suffering from aterminal disease or in a comma. It is synonymous withphysician-assisted suicide. Euthanasia has for a long time involvedacts that strike at the core to what it means to be human.Specifically, there has been the debate on the permissibility ofmoral aspects of Euthanasia. The main arguments lay behind thevarious appropriate models for proper application ofPhysician-assisted suicide, the quality of life, the corruption ofthe doctor’s role as a healer. Besides, there is and the slipperyslope and fear of abuse and the existence of alternatives toEuthanasia. There are two articles on the Morality of Euthanasia-“Ethics and law for health professions” by Kerridge and “Assistedsuicide” by Worsnop. Both Worsnop and Kerridge provide theirsubstantial arguments against the morality of Euthanasia. However,their lack of practical approaches and use of words leaves no clearconviction to draw a reader to their side of view.

First,Kerridge 2009 provides that Euthanasia corrupts the role of thedoctor as a healer. He argues that there exists a moral difference inactively ending the life of a patient through euthanasia andwithholding treatment. By withholding treatment, physicians let thedisease be the ultimate cause of death. Withholding treatment doesnot have moral culpability (Kerridge 26).

Similarly,Worsnop argues that Euthanasia provides the doctor with a role of the“executioner” and consequently violates the role as a healer. Hefurther quotes the Hippocratic Oath for physicians that quote, “Iwill never give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, and norwill I make a suggestion to this effect.” The oath is an ultimaterule that guides the doctors not to prescribe lethal drugs topatients (Worsnop 44).

Thefailure in conviction emanates from Workshop`s use of thehypocritical oath and avoids the next sentence after the rule againstthe doctor’s prescription of lethal drugs. The next line states, “Iwill not give a woman an abortive remedy.” If the Oath got followedin close to its original texts, abortions would be illegal for thedoctors to perform as well. Besides, there are varioustransformations to the hypocritical oath from its original textduring inception. The Oath of the past has transformed to acceptdifferent interpretations- some take looser definitions as othersfollow strict applications. As Against Kerridge argument, themedicine profession has changed in a major way, it is hence importantto rethink the idea behind medicine. The same hypocritical oath thatlater supported abortion should provide adequate room for Euthanasiarelated needs in the patient (Kerridge 38).

However,the major role of a physician remains that of maintaining the bestinterest of the patient during practice. If a patient`s bestinterests are to end suffering and die mercifully, by fulfilling thisinterest, does the physician become an executioner? Providingeuthanasia to a patient that wishes to end their suffering is a partof the physician caring job to fulfill the wishes of the patient. Inthe hypocritical oath, the doctor makes a vow that is to, “do noharm.” The question is what if there is more harm in keeping thepatient alive against their wishes. Is it not the physician’s dutyto reduce the patients suffering? Besides, Kerridge fails tounderstand the objective of morality in the Physician job byadvocating for withholding the treatment and let the patient die ofthe disease. The question remains as to whether withholding thedoctors assistance and observing a patient die has any moralbackgrounds. It does not sound noble at all. It consequently fails toconvince any rational reader on the applicability of such anapproach.

Workshopsargument of corrupting the physician’s role from a healer to anexecutioner also proves false. There is truth for more harm in endingthe life of a patient since death remains the utmost greatest harm toa human being. Death causes fears and can amount to murder if itoccurs in the hands of another person. The reason for the fear ofdeath and the treasure of the life is behind the existence ofpeople’s dreams and ambitions of the life ahead. Whenever a patientreceives a diagnosis of the terminal disease, they fear for theirlife before death occurs. They face death in the face and can ‘see’it coming. Consequently, the people lack the life that is thestrongest human drive. The resultant suffering from hopelessness ismagnificent, and it would sound unfair not to grant such individual amerciful pass on (Worsnop 61).

Worsnopalso argues that the legalization of euthanasia provides loopholesfor possible exploitation by relatives. Consequently, it would leadto increased euthanasia in terms of abuse of the old, sick and thevulnerable. The use of euthanasia reduces the value placed onefforts to prolong patient’s life. The base of this argument relieson the lack of laws that require the presence of independentwitnesses to observe the administration of the prescription. The casecalls for a system that verifies that the patients take the medicinesat free will (Worsnop 93).

Worsnopalso calls options to control possible misdiagnosis by physiciansthat consequently creates room for legalized assisted suicide.Kerridge 2009 provides that patients prefer the use of Euthanasia asan excuse to reduce the high-cost medical bills to their families(Kerridge77).

Theargument for possible abuses due to euthanasia fails to provideconviction due to its short of the current practice of medicine.Currently, the law gives a right to adult patients to turn down theefforts by life-prolonging therapies despite their condition. The lawalso provides for the administration of adequate palliative care evenif it requires high doses of painkillers that would hasten the deathprocess of the patient via depressing the patient’s respiration.Consequently, the existence of such laws should also provide room foreuthanasia. There is no help watching a patient die from a terminalillness. The law itself provides for the use of euthanasia as effortsto provide palliative therapy to prolong the life of the patient. Itconsequently appears that the law has verified the use of euthanasiabut in a rather indirect manner (Worsnop 59).

Thecase of abuse gets further dismissed by the non-availability of data.In countries like Oregon where euthanasia is legal, there are noreports of physician-assisted suicide. Consequently, the lack ofrelated cases indicates a proper application of laws in the country.Besides, people in Oregon show less consideration for assistedsuicide compared to people where euthanasia is illegal. The choice ofeuthanasia to reduce medical bills lacks statistical results inOregon most cases mentioned a major end of life concern.

Itis hence evident that euthanasia was indirectly authorized by thelaw. Unlike abortion, the law fails to provide the specificconditions out rightly that necessitate euthanasia. With the adventof terminal illnesses, more patients in the current society requirethe services of euthanasia. There is the need for research toidentify the differences between euthanasia and abortion. Suchinformation is crucial into legalizing Euthanasia.


Worsnop,Richard L. &quotAssistedSuicide.&quotCQ Researcher 21 Feb. 1992: 145-68. Web. 13

KerridgeI., M. Lowe, C. Stewart. “ Ethicsand Law for the Health Professions (3rded).”New

SouthWales: Federation Press 2009. Web. 22 October 2013.