IS PHYSICIAN ASSISTED DEATH IN TERMINAL ILLNESS ETHICAL?
Our forefathers used to dream of a future in which all of their problems will not exist. The speeches given by influential men of the past are full of a future so advanced that humans would be living a heavenly life. With time as medical science advanced, so did options for healthcare. However, there are certain diseases that even the advanced medicines of today cannot cure.
More than often, doctors have to face situations when they just cannot cure the patient; much as they would like to do. Most of these cases are ones in which the patient is either in a coma or suffering from a terminal illness, and it is evident that the patient will not survive. Such terminal illnesses are very painful for the patient, and his decreasing health is evidence of it.
In such situations, doctors face decisions concerning the treatment of dying patients. These decisions frequently revolve around ethical treatment options. Most doctors face an opportunity to give the best treatment to reduce a patient’s suffering (“What is a terminal illness? ” n.d.).
Since the patients have a terminal illness, painkillers or any other form of medicine will not work. A Terminal illness is a disease in which patients reach a point where they realize their illness is incurable and will lead to their death. Hence, the patient would have to undergo a “Physician-Assisted Death.” Physician-Assisted Death (PAD) means a practice wherein a doctor or physician provides a dying patient with a lethal dose; as per the patient’s request, to end his life (Choices, 2017).
There are serious concerns regarding the ethics of physician-assisted death. Some critics argue it is ethically permissible. This argument is based because a dying man should be allowed to escape unbearable suffering by ending his life. It also supports the idea that every individual must be allowed to choose to die honorably in case of a terminal illness (“Physician Aid-in-Dying: Ethical Topic in Medicine,” n.d.).
Critics who argue against this, claim that a physician’s job is to preserve life not harm it. They also argue that such practice would lead influential groups to force poor and the elderly to undergo PAD to reduce any burden on their loved ones or the society.
It is clear that both sides have logical reasons to argue. It is also evident that PAD may be used to the advantage of influential groups trying to get rid of the sick and elderly. However, we must not forget that in certain situations the patient needs it. In cases where continuing a patient’s treatment would only mean more pain and suffering for him, it is viable to do the needful. Hence, physician-assisted death should only be used in situations where they are essential, with permission from the courts.
Choices, N. H. S. (2017, November 8). Euthanasia and assisted suicide – NHS Choices. Retrieved October 3, 2017, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Euthanasiaandassistedsuicide/Pages/Introduction.aspx
Physician Aid-in-Dying: Ethical Topic in Medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved October 3, 2017, from https://depts.washington.edu/bioethx/topics/pad.html
What is a terminal illness? Definition of terminal illness. (n.d.). Retrieved October 3, 2017, from https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/who/terminal-illness-definition