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Introduction Euthanasia can be defined as the way of relieving from severe and intolerable pain through some deadly agent. Researches revealed that in many countries euthanasia have been practicing frequently. According to the survey countries like US and are Belgium are practicing euthanasia. Different cultures have different rational and irrational justifications for the acceptance of euthanasia or assisted suicide. Greeks were the first one who derived the word euthanasia, meaning; good death. Some cultures believe that to choose death for oneself is right of a person (Philippa Foot 85). The issue of Euthanasia is under discussion in the field of bioethics. According to the researchers some cultures give freedom to die whether from natural way or to get relieved from unbearable pain. They can also choose a medicated way to end up their lives. According to the author an argument has reflected that it is not just the matter of personal choice to choose the way a person wants to die, but in euthanasia there is a need of another person to practically implement the particular way to end-up one’s life (Philippa Foot 85). In many civilized societies it is considered to be an act, which is against the laws and medical norms because it has reduced the human life importance. Some cultures emphasize the concept that death of human is considered as totally a natural process. Euthanasia will allow a person to handle and control the other factors such as the place, the time to be dead or the way he/she wants to die (Philippa Foot 86). Euthanasia leads to a silent death to the people who choose their own way to end-up their lives in order to gain relief from unbearable pain. Doctors and physicians feel that it is their fundamental responsibility to give relief and painless life to their patients. To heal their wounds
and to give them soothing treatment to those pains that could be relief only by death. The cure to give less painful death is euthanasia and it has been argued that it is immoral and unethical practice to give this type of treatment. The (CEJA) Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs concluded after an open discussion that the euthanasia can be adopted as one of the ways of treatment for different patients, their level of fatal diseases, and the pain they are suffering from (Philippa Foot 87). According to the American Medical Association (AMA) in the Code of Medical Ethics, two points of views were described about the treatment providing ways to attain the death. The first step is to give euthanasia death to the patient, who allows the other person to give him treatment to give relief from painful and uncontrollable condition of life. The other way is physician-Assisted suicide in which the patient’s doctor or his physician would recommend or give him a treatment to finish patient’s life. This could provoke the patient to become agree on the acts which would end-up his life. The research has points out that these both attitudes are not recommended or are against to the profession of doctors (Philippa Foot 88). Other issues are related to ethical values of cultures and the norms practiced in those cultures. Euthanasia is also considered equivalent to murder someone. In the context of euthanasia, there are two views, the libertarian and traditional views. James Rachels, a philosopher favors the libertarian view. According to him there is no such difference between the two forms of euthanasia, i.e. active euthanasia and passive euthanasia (James Rachels 79). The traditional view demonstrates that there is a very distinct and clear difference between the active and passive euthanasia on the basis of moral values and norms practiced.
The active euthanasia is the way that patient’s doctor or physician adopted some direct action or treatment to relief the patient from the unbearable pain of fatal disease. It might consider as killing a patient according to the will of patient itself or his family. The other way, i.e. passive euthanasia would allow the patient to die naturally. It will prolong the treatment and patient will remain in unbearable and painful condition till the death. Other ways are voluntary euthanasia, involuntary euthanasia and non-euthanasia (James Rachels 78). The voluntary euthanasia is allowed and acceptable in some cultures and it is considered legal act. The non-voluntary euthanasia is generally not acceptable and is illegal in all countries accepting extreme conditions for the infants in some of the countries. The third category is directly addressed the killing or murdering act, i.e. involuntary euthanasia (Philippa Foot 89). In this case there are arguments related to moral and bio-ethical acceptance of euthanasia because of its active type and passive type, the condition and intensity of the situation in which these two types of euthanasia are allowed in medical profession (James Rachels 78). The concept of being right in the act of euthanasia is sometimes based on the belief that death is a form of mercifulness or it is an evil for the human. There are many misunderstandings about the concept and philosophy of life. People considered that life is the name of everything, which should be smooth and in its good condition (Philippa Foot 90). ARGUMENTS ON EUTHANASIA ISSUE; The philosopher James Rachels argues that there is no such difference between the passive or slow poisoning and the active or quick actions of euthanasia. The AMA and the Rachel’s arguments are two ends of one rope. According to AMA there is a rationale and relevant differences between the active and passive euthanasia. The passive euthanasia might be
allowed in some extreme cases, but adopting active euthanasia is highly prohibited and immoral action. On the other hand, Rachel said that either you choose a prolong way or direct way to kill or give relief to patient from painful life is the same (Philippa Foot 91). FOOT POINT & AMA VIEWS: According to AMA the two acts have entirely different moral values and ethical boundaries to be adopted. The active euthanasia might be allowed moral and bio-ethical acceptance, if the condition of patient is extremely critical otherwise there is no need of euthanasia to be adopted. This will have rejected the profession and moral responsibilities of any doctor or physician. In AMA there is no concept of mercy killing except in specific cases. RACHEL’S POINT OF VIEW: According to Rachel the quick action is better than prolong and painful treatment or to wait the natural death. A doctor’s profession is to give relief from pain and heal the patients. He favors the active euthanasia as a relief act from unbearable painful fatal disease rather than to wait and let the patient allowed to die from his natural death. He provides evidence in favor of him arguments against AMA arguments (James Rachels 78). Rachel argues that for an infant that suffers from dehydration and severe infection has to face deep pain. He claims that it is better to give them an injection, which could make it easy death and give relief from prolong and unbearable pain. According to Rachel it is not always immoral to give active euthanasia as a way of relief to patients who suffer from diseases like Down’s syndrome or intense infections. According to him letting someone dying with unbearable pain and killing someone is the same actions. There
is no significant difference that can give authentic and rational reason for the passive euthanasia. It is also equals to kill someone slowly (James Rachels 78). The second argument he made was that there is no such logical realities on which the doctors made the decision to give active euthanasia and it has no concern with the decision of death and life of patient. He said that the decision not to operate the Down syndrome infant and let him die by his own natural death is not humanitarian and based on irrelevant reasons that should the child give active euthanasia or remain passive. According to Rachel, people have misconception of active euthanasia that it is immoral kill someone immediately through any medicine or treatment in which another person is involved. They do not think that to let someone die in severe pain is also the same instead it is more painful and unbearable. He said that morally it is not acceptable that doctor who is responsible to give healing and relief from pain do not take any action and only allowing his patient to suffer from severe pain and let him die badly in front of him (James Rachels 78). He argues that if the choice of doctor is not related to some personal benefit and he considered his patient’s health first, even there is no moral value difference between the killings or between active and passive euthanasia and if the doctor’s act is considered right, then no matters how he would treat his patient. Either chooses the active or passive euthanasia (James Rachels 78). AMA’s classifications: On other side, the AMA clarifies the situation by specifying the condition of the patient and also prohibiting the mercy killing. There is much to think that deliberately letting someone
die with unbearable pain has some difference from killing someone or murder someone on the basis of morality or ethics. AMA argues that the intentional killing or act of active euthanasia will be against of the doctrine of doctor’s profession and the cause for which doctors are serving to their societies with their services. AMA has two different statements regarding to euthanasia. According to Rachel the first one is related to killing or active euthanasia, which is considered as morally wrong. The second one is related to passive euthanasia or letting die the patient painfully (Philippa Foot 98). AMA favors its argument that in passive euthanasia the doctor is not doing any wrong action to bring the death to happen. But he waits for the time the patient will die naturally due to illness. While in active euthanasia the doctor actually kills the patient in either way. Rachel simply denies the concepts of AMA and believes that it is the same that if doctor is not giving proper medicine to his patient and the patient dies due to unavailability of medicine and care, and the doctor adopted the passive euthanasia act to let the patient died (James Rachels 78). Difference between moral & legal actions: According to him there is big difference between the illegal act and the moral actions. If the doctor is not providing any attention to its tan it would be an illegal act, but if deliberately and intentionally done something than it will be a criminal act. The bad thing which considered is letting someone die or giving him passive euthanasia is that the culture has accepted the life of human as it is ended after death. If it is taking as continual part of life then the philosophy of life and death would be different (James Rachels 79).
DOCTORS ARE LIFE GIVER NOT LIFE TAKER: The argument about the killing or ending up human life can be considered as that life is not permanent and it is scared in nature. It has to be demolished one day, as life is uncertain and nobody knows what will happen in the next seconds. So a patient could choose its own way to die (Philippa Foot 111). Doctors perform the act of passive euthanasia in order to eliminate the fear of being scolded from the society or blamed in committing the immoral and unethical acts. Some doctors do not go for mercy killing and would not allow the people to prescribe the active euthanasia. They avoid it and also the intensity of pain and condition from which they are suffering. Some belongs to the doctrine of mercy and prescribe the active euthanasia. Researchers argues that if any action does not harm any one’s moral values and not hurting their personal interest than it is allowed to give the active euthanasia. Arguments suggested on the doctrine of being merciful and giving active euthanasia to some situation is meaningless because it has proven that the new and modern medicines are also not enough capable of soothing the patient from their unbearable pain. And it is immoral to allow such a technique for fewer of situations (James Rachels 79). JUDICIARY CLAIMS: Judiciary also claimed that it is allowed to give treatment like passive euthanasia or active euthanasia to patients who are suffering from unconsciousness state of illness. The criminal acts tag was eliminated from these types of extreme serious condition cases. Those patients prefer to prescribe euthanasia from their physician or doctor. The physicians or doctors would not have to
face any legal difficulties regarding to that. Many courts and legal authorities have cleared that euthanasia in such cases is entirely different from assisted suicides (Philippa Foot 94).
Rachel’s arguments on assisted suicide: According to him the concept of active euthanasia and passive euthanasia is the same in terms of moral values and bio ethics. Both are related to give relief to the patient in his unbearable painful condition. There should be no difference between the relevance of these two actions. He strongly believes that it is better to give a quick relief from that painful condition instead of waiting to become naturally dead. He emphasizes the doctors and the physicians that active euthanasia cannot employ to kill someone deliberately, but it gives quick relief to your patient. It is not killing or murdering, but it is as same as you are letting your patient in prolong state of pain and wait for the time of his natural death. Humanity will see both of these actions morally and ethically equal. He has provided evidence to him argument that if there is a way out for quick relief from painful ending of life than why prolong or mercy killing would be adopted by the physicians. They only wanted to secure their professional code of ethics, i.e. not to end up the patient’s life by their own. They named this attitude as immoral and unethical act by giving reason that doctors are the people who relief their patients not kill them (James Rachels 80).
Researchers analyzed that most of the patients have to face chronic pain during the prolong treatments in palliative care centers. The matter is not that who is right and who is wrong, the doctors or the philosophers. The matter is that there should not be misinterpretation of the two concepts; the mercy killing and the difference between the active euthanasia and the passive euthanasia. Laws and morals should be treated separately on their specifications. Doctors should realize that they are forced by the law about their responsibilities regarding their profession, i.e. they are the healers not the life takers. The AMA safeguarded the doctrine of passive euthanasia that it is according to the medical ethics, but it is not just only the passive
euthanasia, but active euthanasia could also be an ethical act. There is no difference morally between the active and passive euthanasia in actual regardless of some specific conditions. Doctors only satisfy the charges of jurisdiction law regarding euthanasia in its two types (Philippa Foot 98).
Conclusion: In the profession of medicine the responsibility of a physician or a doctor is to provide relief and heal the painful condition of the patient. The two philosophers Rachel and Philippa foot argues about the morality and ethical values of this profession regarding active and passive euthanasia. Both of them provided their point of views to elaborate some of the misconceptions about immoral and illegal actions adapted to give relief to the patient, prescribed by his doctor or by selected by him. Phillipa has described very critically that passive euthanasia is relevant or give reasoning to every situation of the patient. Only passive euthanasia is morally and ethically allowed in extreme critical situations such as prolong comma and hopeless unconscious state of patient. Rachel’s arguments may be correct according to the social and emotional aspects of human nature. He emphasizes the equality of mercy killing, i.e. passive euthanasia, which is prolong and unbearable painful experience for patients to the active euthanasia. This is quick treatment for relieving patient from intolerable pain in the form of death. He puts the opinion that humanity does not allow anyone even the physician or doctor to remain someone in prolong painful condition even they could relief him in shorter quick way. He argues against the morality of passive euthanasia and immorality of active euthanasia. On contrary AMA’s statement is backed up by the judiciary. Doctors and physicians are allowed to adopt the passive euthanasia and active euthanasia in critical conditions and they will not be penalized or charge any legal punishment. Under these conditions Philippa Foot’s arguments are more authentic than Rachel’s.
References James Rachels Active and Passive Euthanasia. “The new England journal of medicine”. Vol.292, January 9, 1975, pp.78-80 Philippa Foot. Euthanasia. “Philosophy & public affairs”. Blackwell Publisher, Vol.6, 1977, pp. 85-112
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