At one of the American hospitals, Rose, a terminally ill sixty-six-year-old retired teacher is imminently dying. She has not had an appetite for two weeks and is even less interested in fluid intake. It appears her body is beginning to shut down as she approaches death. Her fluid and nutrient intake is low enough that it is possible she may die of malnutrition before she dies of other causes. Her doctors offer the possibility of artificial hydration and nutrition, commonly called tube feeding. Her family does not want to see her starve to death yet is also aware that she is about to die and do not want simply to prolong her life. Rose has subsequently requested her family to authorise euthanasia. Since both euthanasia and assisted suicide lie under the umbrella of life as a human right, which has been actively maintained for many years, they have been hotly debated throughout history (Picón-Jaimes et al., 2022). Euthanasia’s definition as a dignified death causes disagreement on social, moral, and ethical grounds. Death is a loss; it is challenging to view death as a good; in addition, a number of historical occurrences, such the Nazi experiments connected to euthanasia, lean more toward murder than toward a kind and compassionate gesture.
Since there are other therapy options that can benefit the patient, euthanasia is not necessary. According to popular belief, people with terminal illnesses have just two options: either they undergo euthanasia or they pass away in unbearable pain. In actuality, patients have a third option in addition to the two usual ones. Recent studies in palliative care reveal that almost all unpleasant symptoms experienced during a terminal disease can either be reduced or significantly alleviated by methods currently in use (Radbruch et al., 2020). Palliative medicine has made it possible for patients to effectively manage their symptoms at home or in the comfort of a caring in-patient facility. There is no refuting that some people who are currently receiving conventional care in homes and hospitals are dying. Instead of giving medical professionals and those who care for terminal patients the simple choice of euthanasia, the solution is to provide access to adequate and effective treatment.
Euthanasia legislation is typically championed by individuals who have experienced a loved one die under unfavorable conditions, sometimes without the advantages of palliative care; hence, it is frequently prejudiced. Allowing tough situations to set a precedent for legalizing murder is the incorrect solution. Instead, we must assess the challenging circumstances in order to improve in the future. Requests for euthanasia will be exceedingly rare if care is directed at creating the highest possible quality of life for patients and their families by concentrating on the patient’s physical, psychological, and spiritual suffering. The solution is not to modify the legislation and legalize euthanasia; rather, raising our standards of care will significantly minimize euthanasia.
Euthanasia requests are seldom free and voluntary, especially from terminal patients. A terminally sick patient is vulnerable; he lacks the knowledge and abilities to manage his own symptoms, and he may be fearful of the future and concerned about the impact his disease is having on others. As a result, he finds it impossible to be completely impartial about his predicament. Decision-making, particularly for a patient desiring euthanasia, may be influenced by disorientation, dementia, or troubling symptoms that may be alleviated with adequate treatment. Another motive for requesting euthanasia is humiliation at being a burden to immediate family members. The patient may experience intense pressure to seek euthanasia willingly but not objectively. Despite the fact that the treatment requires significant time and financial commitments, such patients need to know that their family are focused first and foremost on their wellness. The way we treat those who are weakest and most vulnerable says a lot about the type of society we live in.
The urge to create treatments for diseases that were formerly fatal and the eagerness to relieve unbearable symptoms have been two of the major factors behind some of the biggest medical advancements in history. In order for medicine to improve, research is crucial. The entire process of medical development is endangered when the emphasis shifts from healing the ailment to murdering the person with the condition. The significant advancements made in the care of disorders like spina bifida, Down’s syndrome, and cystic fibrosis, particularly during the last two decades, are being threatened by the rising acceptability of prenatal diagnosis and abortion for abnormalities like these. If euthanasia is made legal, therapy and symptom management would suffer as the technology of killing progresses. This will fuel cries for euthanasia even more.
Euthanasia has never been approved by conventional medical ethical norms, not even when requested out of compassion. The Hippocratic Oath forbids the purposeful administration of lethal medication to patients as well as the recommendation of such advice. The doctor incorrectly medicalizes mortality itself by supporting a terminally sick patient who wishes to choose the moment and method of his death in administering euthanasia. Secondly, by complying with a request for euthanasia, the doctor endangers the wellbeing of other weak patients, increasing their risk of asking for euthanasia. When a patient sees a doctor recommending euthanasia to a fellow patient with similar conditions, they are prone to involuntarily asking for the same. A doctor has acted unethically if they allow someone to take their life on purpose and deliberately.
Doctors are given greater authority and are made less accountable by euthanasia requests and legalization. Patients often choose euthanasia based on the information provided to them by their doctors, including information about their diagnosis, prognosis, available therapies, and estimated level of future pain. It may be exceedingly challenging for a patient to refuse a doctor’s confident recommendation of a certain course of action. The risk of suggesting euthanasia is that the diagnosis may be incorrect, the prognosis may be drastically wrong, and new therapies may be available that the doctor is not aware of. When euthanasia becomes legalized, it gives doctors authority that may be too readily misused and a degree of responsibility to which they are not legally entitled.
By integrating compassionate care and respect for the patient’s choice, administering euthanasia does not in any way limit providing the finest palliative care possible and, in the end, makes dying with dignity a genuine option. Particularly in palliative care, we need people who are devoted to reducing the pain of those they are caring for until they pass away as if they were family members. Sometimes providing in-person care or care at home necessitates assisting folks in passing away. Furthermore, the claim that doctors should only treat illnesses places too much emphasis on the doctor and not enough on the patient. The physician’s job should change from providing healing to providing pain relief in accordance with the patient’s preferences when healing is no longer feasible, when death is approaching, and when patients find their suffering intolerable. However, no individual should be forced to accept a request to assist a terminally sick person in dying, and neither should any patient or doctor. The doctor and patient must decide together.
Throughout human history, euthanasia’s development and history have been traumatizing. These conceptions have been mostly defined by the church, politics, and biomedical science. The euthanasia legal framework and bioethical ideas have become stronger over time. The general public and medical professionals still need to be educated about end-of-life care and dignified death, though. It’s crucial to keep in mind that the notion of life transcends biology. Currently, the goal of bioethics is to place a higher priority on the idea of dignity, which must be connected to the definition of life itself. In bioethics, each human is treated as a distinct entity, hence each person’s care must be tailored to them. To comprehend the patient’s background, vision of life, and sense of dignity, there must be greater patient involvement. Although legalized euthanasia acknowledges the value of patient liberty on an individual basis, it poses major concerns to society as a whole. Involuntary euthanasia invariably happens when other patients are forced and exploited to accept euthanasia, therefore, undermining research towards improved treatments. Legislation that permits voluntary euthanasia should be vigorously opposed because it prevents providing genuine compassionate care since other more suitable options exist, and because it ultimately compromises rather than upholds patient autonomy.
Picón-Jaimes, Y. A., Lozada-Martinez, I. D., Orozco-Chinome, J. E., Montaña-Gómez, L. M., Bolaño-Romero, M. P., Moscote-Salazar, L. R., Janjua, T., & Rahman, S. (2022). Euthanasia and assisted suicide: An in-depth review of relevant historical aspects. Annals of Medicine and Surgery, 75, 103380.
Radbruch, L., De Lima, L., Knaul, F., Wenk, R., Ali, Z., Bhatnaghar, S., Blanchard, C., Bruera, E., Buitrago, R., Burla, C., Callaway, M., Munyoro, E. C., Centeno, C., Cleary, J., Connor, S., Davaasuren, O., Downing, J., Foley, K., Goh, C.,… Pastrana, T. (2020). Redefining palliative care—A new consensus-based definition. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 60(4), 754–764.