.. of proper pain management, symptom control, psychological and spiritual support (Killing With Kindness, p 16). Palliative Care, opponents feel, should be more in the forefront. According to Choice in Dying, more than two million people in America die each year with 80 percent of those in care facilities. Vivienne Nathanson, head of ethics at the BMA, says that Doctors have become more aware that palliative care is effective. Temptation may come when adequate care is not available.
But that’s exactly what doctors and families should be demanding, not euthanasia. Once we have a perfect palliative care system, that is the time to look at the issue (Killing With Kindness, p 16). Regulated legalization is the best solution because the concerns of both opponents and proponents are addressed. To reach the point of legalization, people must first be properly educated of all the facts. The appropriate organizations should establish implementation guidelines and set up regulatory and censorship procedures.
Politicians will need to use these guidelines to decriminalize the act of euthanasia. Outright euthanasia is illegal. Dr. John Keown, editor of Euthanasia Examined (Cambridge university press), who is opposed to voluntary euthanasia says: ‘The fundamental basis of the case for voluntary euthanasia is an acceptance of the notion that certain lives are no longer worthwhile (Smith, p 36). The Christian Medical Fellowship discuss their beliefs and further state A law enabling euthanasia will undermine individual and corporate incentive for creative caring. A patient with a terminal illness is vulnerable and may not be objective about their own situation.
Patients who on admission to the hospital say they want to die, usually change their mind after effective symptom relief. Terminally ill patients also adapt to a level of disability that they would not have previously anticipated they could live with. They come to value what little quality of life they have left. Wesley Smith of the National Review reminds us that Outright euthanasia remains illegal in every state. And assisted-suicide is banned, either by statute or through court interpretation in 47 states. President Clinton has signed a law prohibiting federal funds from being used for assisted-suicide. The evaluation of outright euthanasia as a possible solution reflects that only some criteria are met.
There is no legal choice; therefore, the procedure is still cloaked in secrecy and shame. Since there is no legal or ethical protection, it will still be done but at the risk of prosecution. Theological and societal beliefs are not eroded because euthanasia is not an openly accepted practice. And, the legal status remains the same; there will be prosecution for physicians who aid the dying. A better basis for public policy is to ensure that treatment is according to the patient’s wishes.
In the United States, a solution has not been agreed upon. However, the best solution will have to address not only society’s concerns, but also the individual’s desires to be the best the solution. Legality offers opportunity for choice. Those who are pro-choice, as reported on Villanova’s internet page, believe the decision how and when to die is one of the most intimate and personal choices a person can make in a lifetime, a choice, central to personal dignity and autonomy. How a person dies not only determines the nature of the final period of existence, but in many cases, the enduring memories held by those who love him. Guidelines provide security from abuse. Not only will our terminal ill and suffering be protected, but our depressed, disabled, and otherwise incompetent citizens will be protected from physicians and family members who may want their loved ones’ lives ended. Maintaining the illegality of euthanasia does not solve any of the issues and contributes to secretive and shameful procedures.
The best solution is controlled regulation and through legalization, the decriminalization of euthanasia. The Voluntary Euthanasia Society has already established proposals for a voluntary euthanasia law. Some requirements are: the patient must be a mentally competent, incurably ill adult that is suffering unbearably; request must be in writing; must seek a second medical opinion and psychiatric assessment; the final decision must be the patient’s alone; and only a doctor may perform the act (Voluntary Euthanasia – The Basics, np). By decriminalizing the act of euthanasia, doctors no longer need to worry about prosecution and can freely choose to help or not to help a patient end their suffering. State laws or regulations governing physician-assisted suicide will be necessary to protect against abuse and ensure that assisted-suicide is conducted professionally and fairly.
The evaluation of regulated legalization as the best solution reflects that all criteria are fully met and compared to the other possible solutions, the best choice for all parties. People will have a choice and there will be guidelines to help them and their physicians decide the best course of action. Religious and social morals would be upheld because euthanasia will be a legal but private decision. Physicians, no longer prosecuted, will be able to assist the dying. With legalization, greedy actions by family members and the insurance industry will be paramount.
Though it appears that legalization with regulation is the best solution, the effort to maintain the regulatory aspects will be difficult. There will be misuse of the guidelines. The health insurance industry will lobby and try to infringe their revenue generating beliefs into the process. And last, but not least of all, greedy family members hungry for their inheritance will try to coerce the dying and suffering into choosing euthanasia. We cannot regulate society’s or an individual’s values and morals. But by offering a legal alternative that provides for death with dignity, we are showing our faith in people to do the right thing for themselves and their family members.
The benefits of regulated legalization are numerous and apply not only to the physician and the terminally ill patient, but also to society. Decriminalization and establishment of guidelines will mean that society no longer will have to foot the bill for prosecutions and can feel safer that there are no more Dr. Death’s lurking in the background. The individual will no longer fear having to ask for the procedures and they can trust their physicians to utilize established guidelines. Physicians will no longer be prosecuted but will have a choice to participate with established guidelines to lead them. To have a choice in death will mean that society can be educated and grow with the needs of its people as it has always been forced to do.
The individual can understand the guidelines before utilizing them in their own private choice. Choice will also mean that physicians can choose to assist or not assist, as their own beliefs allow. With medical technology advancing, along with an aging population, it is important that the controversy over euthanasia is resolved legally and morally or we may find ourselves at the mercy of opinionated people who will decide who dies and when they die. We cannot regulate values and morals for individuals and society. We can offer a legal remedy to a problem that continues to exist in hotel rooms and in the back of vans. We have all heard of people who suffer with a terminal illness or even commit suicide.
This is not the best way to for a patient’s life to end. The agony of suffering is extremely demoralizing to the patient and to the family. A better way to ease the misery and the suffering is to respect the individual’s right to choose the best course of action for their life and their death. Those who are pro-choice, as reported on Villanova’s internet page, believe the decision how and when to die is one of the most intimate and personal choices a person can make in a lifetime, a choice central to personal dignity and autonomy. How a person dies not only determines the nature of the final period of existence, but in many cases, the enduring memories held by those who love him.
If nothing is done about the euthanasia issue, our society will continue to turn a blind eye to the issue and people will continue to seek alternatives behind closed doors. Society must become educated on the issue of euthanasia and lobby the politicians for effective and realistic changes to the law so that they can protect physicians from prosecution and individuals will finally have the right to choose death instead of misery. Bibliography Works Cited Australian Man First in World To Die With Legal Euthanasia. The New York Times Sept 26 1996: A5. Proquest Direct. Bohlin, Raymond.
Probe Ministries. Euthanasia: The Battle for Life. www.probe.org. Choice in Dying. Legal Developments. 1998.
[email protected] choices.org. Choice in Dying. Issues: Background on the right to die. 1998. . Daniel, Caroline.
Killing With Kindness. New Statesman. Aug. 15 1997: v126 n4347 p16. Dority, Barbara. The Ultimate Civil Liberty. The Humanist.
Jul-Aug. 1997: v57 n4 p16. King, P.J. Ohio Right to Life. Forced Euthanasia?. April 1996.
www.ohiolife.org. Newfield, Philippa. The Institute for Jewish Medical Ethics of the Hebrew Academy of San Francisco. Euthanasia, Physician Assisted Suicide and the Dying Patient: Medical Status. Webmaster.
Okie, Susan. Country’s Doctors Remain Divided Over Physician-Assisted Suicide. Washington Post, January 8, 1997. Sec A15 Peres, Judy. Assisted-Suicide Bans Upheld. Chicago Tribune.
June 27, 1997. Section News. Smith, Wesley J. Death Wars: As Euthanasia advocates press their case, the moral health of the country is at stake. National Review.
Jul 14, 1997: v49 n13 p36. Stark, Albert. Building a National Consensus on Assisted Suicide. The Trenton Times. March 31, 1996. America Online.
The Villanova Center for Information Law and Policy, 96 C.D.O.S. 1507. US 9 Compassion in Dying vs. State of Washington. America Online. Voluntary Euthanasia Society.
Voluntary Euthanasia – The Basics. America Online. 1994 Health ResponseAbility Systems. America Online. 1997 Christian Medical Fellowship. 12 reasons why voluntary euthanasia should not be legalized.
. Annotated Bibliography Australian Man First in World To Die With Legal Euthanasia. The New York Times Sept 26 1996: A5. Proquest Direct. This article describes the actual procedure used when Australia’s new law was first used to aid the dying. Bohlin, Raymond.
Probe Ministries. Euthanasia: The Battle for Life. www.probe.org. This online article, written from the viewpoint of a Christian organization talks about what the Bible says in relationship to living and dying. It also points out the supposed fallacy of the laws in Holland Choice in Dying. Legal Developments. 1998.
[email protected] choices.org. This is a very good eight page online article about the legal battles currently being fought in different states. Choice in Dying. Issues: Background on the right to die. 1998.
. This six page online article from a major organization involved in the euthanasia issue provides background on the right to die. It discusses the different types of euthanasia, the medical futility, and the facts about end-of-life care. Daniel, Caroline. Killing With Kindness.
New Statesman. Aug. 15 1997: v126 n4347 p16. This cover story shows that people’s sentiments are changing in the United Kingdom about euthanasia. Many organizations are requesting the government to legalize the procedure.
Dority, Barbara. The Ultimate Civil Liberty. The Humanist. Jul-Aug. 1997: v57 n4 p16. Ms.
Dority, active in the right-to-die movement discusses the moral issues involved with physician-assisted suicide. She knows there will be many complications with legalization. King, P.J. Ohio Right to Life. Forced Euthanasia?.
April 1996. www.ohiolife.org. This is a good three page online article about the insurance insurance industry’s impact on euthanasia. Newfield, Philippa. The Institute for Jewish Medical Ethics of the Hebrew Academy of San Francisco. Euthanasia, Physician Assisted Suicide and the Dying Patient: Medical Status.
Webmaster. This eight page article provides an overview of euthanasia and discusses the religious, medical, and legal aspects of legalization. Okie, Susan. Country’s Doctors Remain Divided Over Physician-Assisted Suicide. Washington Post, January 8, 1997. Sec A15.
Ms. Okie discusses the Supreme Court rulings and the effects as seen primarily from the opponents to euthanasia viewpoint. Peres, Judy. Assisted-Suicide Bans Upheld. Chicago Tribune.
June 27, 1997. Section News. Ms. Peres provides comments on the Supreme Court rulings with discussion based on each of the justices opinions. Smith, Wesley J.
Death Wars: As Euthanasia advocates press their case, the moral health of the country is at stake. National Review. Jul 14, 1997: v49 n13 p36. The prominent nature of the debate is due to court cases. Public opinion favors legalization.
Stark, Albert. Building a National Consensus on Assisted Suicide. The Trenton Times. March 31, 1996. America Online. This Special to The Times article provides background on the euthanasia legal issues in the past and the current legal status. The Villanova Center for Information Law and Policy, 96 C.D.O.S. 1507. US 9 Compassion in Dying vs.
State of Washington. America Online. This 84 page online article fully discusses the Supreme Court case, the background, the plaintiffs’ viewpoints, and the opinions of each of the justices. This was very interesting reading. Voluntary Euthanasia Society.
Voluntary Euthanasia – The Basics. America Online. This two page online article from a major international organization involved in the right to die issues provides information on the organization and it’s plans to change the United Kingdom’s suicide laws. 1994 Health ResponseAbility Systems. America Online. This two page online article discusses Oregon’s new law also known as the Death With Dignity Act.
1997 Christian Medical Fellowship. 12 reasons why voluntary euthanasia should not be legalized. . This religious organization believes that legalization should be avoided because the risk to society and patient autonomy is too great. Social Issues.