Issues associated with death are usually emotive and controversial. Both physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia are pursued with the aim of relieving terminal pain or suffering. Individuals suffering from various conditions such as cancer tend to be in need of high-quality palliative care. Opioids are usually prescribed to minimize various symptoms such as pain. However, some patients might reject any form of treatment.
Practitioners and physicians are expected to deliver exemplary services to their patients in accordance with the Hippocratic Oath. However, terminal conditions have led to new practices in the field of medicine such physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia. This paper explains why the government should legalize and monitor how assisted suicide and euthanasia are carried out. Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide should be legalized and controlled by the government in order to ensure that evidence-based and permissible services are available to all critically ill patients.
Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Government Intervention
Nordqvist indicate that assisted suicide and euthanasia “refer to deliberate action taken with the intention of ending a life”. The practice is usually aimed at minimizing or relieving the suffering experienced by persons with terminal conditions. Although these terms appear to have different meanings, what stands out is that they result in the annihilation of life. The topics have continued to attract numerous ethical concerns from researchers, practitioners, and religious leaders. Individuals in favor of assisted suicide argue that societies should empower and create the best laws to ensure that people die painlessly.
Several arguments have been presented to support the legalization of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. To begin with, Strinic indicates that euthanasia should be allowed under the law since it delivers these three benefits: “realizing individual autonomy, reducing needless pain and suffering, and providing psychological reassurance to dying patients” (3). The practice is also relevant since it gives people “freedom of choice to decide how and when one dies” (Strinic 4). Conditions that are associated with intense pain and anguish such as cancer also explain why the practice has become common in countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom.
Nordqvist acknowledges that assisted suicide or euthanasia should be permitted as the last option after every available medical option has been unsuccessful. This means that it should be designed in such a way that it supports every “patient who is in a terminal condition” (Strinic 4). In a study by Nordqvist, it was observed that the decision to legalize euthanasia was a move capable of supporting the health needs of other people. This was the case because equipment, drugs, and skilled practitioners could be empowered to focus on more patients in need of quality care.
The concept of humanity has also been used to support the above practice. For instance, Nordqvist indicates that it is “humane to allow a person with intractable suffering to be allowed to choose to end that suffering”. More often than not, the suffering experienced by a given person can force his or her friends and relatives to grieve. The situation worsens when the targeted patient has an untreatable or terminal condition. The use of assisted suicide is an idea that can shorten the level of mourning.
Some researchers have acknowledged that citizens are empowered by existing laws to pursue their goals. They also have liberties that guide them to focus on personal objectives and choices. This argument explains why patients suffering from specific conditions should be free to make their personal decisions or choices. Consequently, those who are ready to die peacefully should be allowed to do so (Nordqvist). The idea is also capable of supporting a person’s dignity.
Statistics have also been observed to support the legalization of euthanasia. For instance, ten percent of all deaths recorded in the Netherlands in the year 2012 were as a result of physician-assisted suicide. Additionally, Strinic found that over 25,000 patients every year were ready to embrace the idea of euthanasia if their health conditions became unbearable (3). During the same study, Strinic observed that over 23 percent of physicians in Japan were keen to support assisted suicide (5). The research also revealed that almost half of all medical students were in favor of the practice.
Although the above discussion has supported the legalization of euthanasia, it is always necessary for physicians to carry out proper diagnoses in an attempt to make informed decisions. They should consider every existing precondition or situation before settling on the final decision. Family members, doctors, and guardians must also be involved in order to get the intended informed consent (De Lima et al. 11). The right procedures should be carried out in accordance with the stipulated ethical or medical standards.
After legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia, it is appropriate for the government to intervene in patients’ end-of-life decisions. The reason for doing so is because the proposed law might result in a new situation whereby different practitioners and individuals take advantage to kill others (de Castro et al. 359). This happens to be the case because the decision to permit physician-assisted suicide can empower individuals to harm others and fail to consider the issue of informed consent.
The involvement of the government will moderate, dictate, and guide physicians to support patients who are critically ill. The move will promote the enactment and implementation of superior laws that govern the way euthanasia is pursued or done. The approach will ensure that there are powerful restrictions to protect the lives of individuals who are risk such as the disabled and those who have terminal conditions (Nordqvist). Without proper restrictions, more physicians and doctors might decide to end people’s lives without getting their informed consents.
The nature of assisted suicide and euthanasia also explain why the involvement of the government is crucial. For instance, these acts are not private since they involve more than one individual. They also result in the immediate death of persons who are suffering from specific conditions (de Castro et al. 362). Without proper policies and government interventions, physicians can find it easier to abuse it and affect the welfare of many people. This gap can also create a new scenario whereby patients who can recover are killed through the use of euthanasia.
Lamers and Williams go further to indicate that the government must be concerned in order to support the formulation and implementation of proper public policies to control these practices (1074). The approach will ensure that the right procedures are used to end life. The proposed policies will also make it hard for the Medicaid program in the United States to fund euthanasia or assisted suicide (Lamers and Williams 1076). Basically, the government’s involvement will prevent potential challenges and problems that can affect the lives of more people. The initiative can also ensure that assisted suicide and euthanasia are pursued for medical purposes only. They should also be guided in order to meet the needs of patients who are in their end-of-life stages.
As described earlier, the issues revolving around assisted suicide and euthanasia have remained divisive for many years. This is the reason why they have led to numerous debates whereby some scholars and individuals remain opposed to decisions that result in the termination of life (Strinic 5). People who are against the legalization of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide have used the Bible to explain why it is wrong and unethical. According to them, life comes from God and should never be terminated by a human being.
Another group of proponents have indicated that the legalization of assisted suicide can result in a situation whereby more people abuse every emerging law. Consequently, more people will be killed simply because they are experiencing intense pain. Strinic goes further to indicate that many communities are usually against the decision to legalize euthanasia because “the doctor-patient relationship will be seriously weakened” (5). This is true because physicians might no longer be willing to offer desirable or high-quality care to their patients.
However, these counterarguments can be challenged using evidence-based ideas and observations. To begin with, the fact that God gives life is not enough reason to explain why human beings suffering from conditions such as cancer should go through immense suffering (Lapierre et al. 68). The pain experienced makes it impossible for the affected patients to lead better lives and achieve their goals (De Lima et al. 11). It would, therefore, be appropriate for such individuals to be allowed to die peacefully and get rid of suffering. Similarly, those who are near them will also heal from the process.
The problem of abuse is relevant and acknowledgeable since euthanasia can empower physicians and practitioners to terminate patients’ lives without their consents. However, the above discussion has described why euthanasia and assisted suicide should be consented while at the same time allowing the government to intervene (Lamers and Williams 1078).
As a crucial stakeholder, it will formulate superior programs and policies that can ensure that those who are in critical conditions are allowed to undergo throughout this process. The involvement of parents, guardians, and relatives is a powerful approach that can be utilized to deal with the challenges associated with euthanasia.
Finally, physicians are skilled professionals who must utilize their competencies to maximize the health outcomes of their patients. They must make superior decisions regarding the welfare of different individuals. This means that the authorization of euthanasia should not be misinterpreted by physicians (Lamers and Williams 1079). They should maintain enviable relationships with their patients, offer relevant advice, and make decisions that can streamline the process.
Assisted suicide and euthanasia are topics that have continued to attract the attention of many scholars, practitioners, citizens, and policymakers across the world. The above discussion has offered meaningful arguments to explain why these practices should be legalized. The fact that many patients suffer due to the pain associated with conditions such as cancer explains why euthanasia should be permitted. However, governments across the globe must be involved in order to ensure that the procedure is not misused to terminate the lives of innocent citizens.
de Castro, Mariana P., et al. “Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide in Western Countries: A Systematic Review.” The Revista Bioética, vol. 24, no. 2, 2016, pp. 355-367.
De Lima, Liliana, et al. “International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care Position Statement: Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide.” Journal of Palliative Medicine, vol. 20, no. 1, 2017, pp. 8-14.
Lamers, Carolien P., and Rebecca R. Williams. “Older People’s Discourses about Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: A Foucauldian Exploration.” The Gerontologist, vol. 56, no. 6, 2016, pp. 1072-1081.
Lapierre, Sylvie, et al. “Religiosity and the Wish of Older Adults for Physician-Assisted Suicide.” Religions, vol. 9, no. 3, 2018, pp. 66-77.
Nordqvist, Christian. “What Are Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide?” Medical News Today, 2017. Web.
Strinic, Visnja. “Arguments in Support and Against Euthanasia.” British Journal of Medicine & Medical Research, vol. 9, no. 7, 2015, pp. 1-12.