Euthanasia There are numerous controversial issues that currently affect the evolving field of psychology. Unsolved issues on human experimentation, abortion, genetic testing, animal rights are a few examples of themes that arouse conflict and contention. Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted suicide is yet another controversial issue that has particular relevance to the field of psychology because of the apparent moral and ethical dilemmas involved. Euthanasia, by definition “a happy death,” implies an easy or painless death. The purpose of this procedure is usually to end suffering analogous to the phrase “mercy killing,” the practice of putting to death a persons suffering from incurable conditions or diseases.
This subject brings to discussion one of the oldest and most controversial issues in the practice of modern medicine. On one side of the argument, Euthanasia would appear to be contradicting the Hippocratic oath, which proscribes inducing death, even if it is requested by the patient. On the contrary, medicine could be referred to as the practice that not only prevents death, but enhances the quality of life through prevention of suffering. The issue of assisted suicide also stimulates the debate of legality versus situation ethics. Should jurors, in physician-assisted suicide cases involving Dr. Jack Kervorkian, vote on grounds that empathy and compassion takes precedence over the letter of the law? Antithetically, should the juror take the conventional or legalist perspective and enforce the law as not allowing room for such compassion? Is it is morally permissible for individuals to end their lives when they no longer wish to go on living or suffering? This central question of assisted suicide directly relates to the worries of how society would be impacted if Euthanasia were to be legalized.
In addition to the societal impact of legalizing such a procedure, does this violate the ethical codes of the practice of medicine? These are some of the obvious and reoccurring questions in the controversial ethics pertaining to Euthanasia. The controversial issues of Euthanasia have direct relevance to the field of psychology in the judgment of whether or not an individual is “competent” to make such a determination to end their life. For an example, clinical and counseling psychologists often are consulted by physicians regarding DNR (Do Not Recesitate) orders to examine the psychological stability of the patient to make a life ending decision. Additional parallels that relate psychology to Euthanasia are an individuals moral development and how it effects their decision making process in relation to moral dilemmas in the law. Everyone is put in situations where they are forced to form an opinion that potentially goes against an accepted or legal policy. Psychology examines and theorizes how people may react in such a situation as well as analyzes the varying factors that may lead up to an individuals decision in such a predicament.
Examples of this, relevant to Euthanasia, would be jurors sitting in on an assisted suicide case such as those obtaining to Dr. Jack Kevorkian. In this situation, the jurors were faced with the psychological decision to either declare that it is wrong to assist in ones death because it is legally prohibited. Or, on the contrary, that the suffering and pain of a terminally ill patient was ended allowing the patient to die in a peaceful manner; delineating that the action should be deemed honorable due to its inherent value rather than its consequences. There are various types of Euthanasia that must be explained before further discussing the topic.
If the act is undertaken at the explicit request of a competent patient, it is defined as voluntary euthanasia. Involuntary euthanasia is when this action is carried out without the explicit request of the individual, also known as murder. Those who argue against physician-assisted suicide primarily base their justification on the moral probity of the medical profession. There are many worries that go along with the legalization of euthanasia. In the Netherlands, euthanasia has already been legalized and is being practiced.
Some of the frequent concerns are the possible pressuring of patients into consenting, especially those without health insurance or financial support. Economic and financial hardships could potentially play a major factor with the unjust persuasion of an individual into such a procedure. The Netherlands, indeed, finds itself having an alarmingly high rate of involuntary euthanasia, which is unequivocally impermissible. Euthanasia is also seen as being a serious distraction to physicians and others in the medical field because of the potential luring of doctors away from the improvement of pain control, suffering and terminal care. In addition to this, frequent practice of euthanasia could very well negatively affect the trust entailed in the patient-physician relationship with doctors who are known to actively practice assisted suicide.
All practitioners in the medical field take the Hippocratic oath stating the following, “..I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel..” The Hippocratic oath strongly implicates that participating or approving of physician-assisted suicide could very well destroy the legitimacy of the medical practice, with direct regard to the value and sacredness of life. Additional views against such procedures claim that most pain and suffering in terminal illnesses are controllable using current medical technology, thus suggesting the nonnecessity of Euthanasia. There are many dangers that can be presented by the misuse of assisted suicide. Without proper guidelines and precautions established, euthanasia could easily become a dangerous hazard.
A misunderstanding could easily transpire in regards to what level of pain the patient should be in for assisted suicide to be offered. Moreover, guidelines must be set as to determine whether or not the patient is psychologically competent to make the decision to end their life. I feel that there is a crucial difference in the manner that Euthanasia should be permitted. I feel that a physician should not convince an individual the worthiness of life; however, I feel that euthanasia should be allowed because of its reverence for a persons judgement on his or her own quality of life provided that all other medical options have been considered. One of the greatest dangers is to ignore or deny lessons learned from world history. Nazi Germany actively had programs to eliminate the weak and vulnerable, moreover in this movement euthanasia was frequently meditated.
Hitler focused on this topic and legalized the assisted suicide for all those who were mentally retarded as well as anyone who was”incurably sick by medical examination.” By1941 in Nazi Germany had euthanized 70,000 patients in mental institutions. For Hitler, this act was merely an advancing step towards a better social hygiene. The power of the state rather than the empowerment of the individual with respect to euthanasia displayed the danger of such practice. What the Nazis did was purely murder for the good of the state; however, the possibility for legalized euthanasia to once again become such a hazard must be recognized. There are five commonly excepted ethical reasons for those against physician assisted suicide. The first is that the American Medical Association has ruled out any “mercy killing, which is defined as ” the intentional termination of the life of one human being by another.” They argue that a physicians duty is to prevent medical suffering in the first place as laid out in the Hippocratic Oath, an oath that all physicians take upon completion of medical school.
“Western medicine has regarded the killing on patients, even on request, as a profound violation of the deepest meaning of the medical vocation..Neither legal tolerance nor the best bedside manner can ever make medical killing medically ethical.” The next argument recognizes the slippery slope that could easily develop as did with Hitler in Nazi G …