Ethical And Religious Considerations In Physician-Assisted Suicide.

by History Maker 101

Samuel Oliver, author of, “What the Dying Teach Us: Lessons on Living”

None of us knows what we would choose at the end of our life regarding assisted suicide. It is, therefore, a worthy idea to ponder long before we get to that place at the end of our lives whereby we may have to make one. In our lives, our soul does have a path that is chosen for us if we look for it. I would encourage you to follow that one. The spiritual life is what brought your life into being, and the spiritual life will lead you home.

Some terminally ill patients are in so much pain that they would rather end their life than go on suffering and experience a poor quality of life. Because of physical and mental limitations, people in pain have a much different view on living than people with good health. This altered view makes some choose certain courses of care in a debilitating illness he or she may not even consider in a healthy state of being. Many healthcare providers claim that terminally ill people’s pain can be controlled to tolerable levels with good pain management, yet there are tens of millions of patients who do not have access to adequate pain management in the U.S. alone.

Many religious organizations believe that suffering can be used to purify us. This purification can be for the caregiver and the patient. It is a time to learn and be aware of how the body becomes more soul in the process of transformation associated with dying and death. Christians believe that life is a gift from God and God does not send us any experience we cannot handle. Islam states in the Qur’an, “Take not life which Allah made sacred otherwise than in the course of justice.” And “Since we did not create ourselves, we do not own our bodies.” Orthodox Judaism states that “This is an issue of critical constitutional and moral significance which Jewish tradition speaks to. We believe that the recognition of a constitutionally recognized right to die for the terminally ill is a clear statement against the recognition and sanctity of human life….”

It is evident that religious influence upon PAS deems such an act as going against one’s Creator, and as such, the need to pray and discern the direction of one’s life and death should be in the consultation of the clerical status of one’s faith. To override such influence would take an autonomous individual whose beliefs have taken him or her from what can be known religiously to what can be known through them by the same force that gave them life. It is here that terminal patients choose a course of action from the core on one’s being transcending his or her belief in their creator (religiously) leading to the active participation of one’s assessed values (personal transformations) that includes their religious influence, but it is not limited to it as well.

Approaches To Care In Physician-Assisted Suicide

There is a growing interest in suicide. When people start looking for more information about suicide, you’ll be in a position to meet their needs. This article is a brief description of much information on this subject. Let’s start with 3 levels to discern the act of euthanasia.

There are three levels to discern in the act of euthanasia:

  1. One is a patient who is comatose or brain dead. In these cases, the doctor is asked to “pull the plug,” or remove the patient from mechanical life support. These cases are generally not challenged by the general public. It is an act of withdrawing or withholding necessary mechanisms used to sustain a life that cannot sustain itself. It is here that the recognition of one’s personality is gone and the shell of a body is all that remains.
  2. Another act of euthanasia involves the use of morphine to hospitalized patients in the painful final stages of her or his life with diseases such as cancer and AIDS.
  3. The last category of euthanasia is patients in relatively good health and at the beginning of a terminal illness wishing to end their lives. Such cases as Alzheimer’s and Cancer preclude patients to want information on PAS. This is the most controversial of the three issues involved in euthanasia.

Euthanasia originated from the Greek language meaning “good death.” It is the intentional termination of a life by another person capable of doing so at the request of the person wanting to die.

Here are a few terms that one needs to know in PAS that define actions taking place.

Passive Euthanasia is the hastening of death through altering some form of support and letting nature take its course. This can include; removing life support equipment, stopping medical treatment or procedures, stopping food and water consumption which leads to dehydration or starving to death, and withholding CPR (Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation). The most common use of PAS is to give patients large doses of morphine to control pain. It is most likely that the pain relief will suppress respiration and cause death earlier than it would have otherwise happened. This is also done on patients who are in a persistive vegetative state or patients not able to regain consciousness due to brain damage.

Active Euthanasia is the use of intentional means to cause the death of a person through direct action. Dr Jack Kevorkian, a Michigan physician made this well known in 1998 with a patient who had ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). His patient was afraid of the long-suffering involved in ALS and wanted to die a quick and painless death. Dr Kevorkian injected controlled substances into this patient and caused death. Kevorkian was charged with 1st-degree murder, but the jury found him guilty of 2nd-degree murder in March of 1999.

Physician-Assisted Suicide is the provision of information or means to a dying patient with the intent to commit suicide.

Involuntary Euthanasia is the ending of a life without a patient requesting it.

There are many reasons why patients want to utilize PAS. Some are simply clinically depressed, of which, one’s illness has brought on or one’s emotional and mental processing of their illness has led to suffering in ways beyond the body. Others live in chronic pain due to a lack of healthcare coverage or means to obtain medication. This latter group would rather die early and not incur medical expenses on those they leave behind.

A serious disorder or disease such as ASL, Huntington’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, AIDS, Alzheimer’s, etc. are just some of the illnesses people would rather avoid losing their independence and finances over. In some ways, this gives people a feeling of control over the process of their lives.

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