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Euthanasia-Related Ethical and Legal Issues

The issue regarding euthanasia seems to be controversial and can be viewed from different perspectives. The ethical issues associated with this problem are related to finding the answer to the question of whether it is appropriate and up to a human being to decide to end a life of a person who suffers. Another question is focused on the evaluation of the cases when euthanasia can be justified. The primary purpose of the paper is to evaluate whether euthanasia is the right choice in the case under analysis.

Euthanasia is the practice of the termination of human life. Patients who are suffering from an incurable disease and experiencing unbearable suffering can face euthanasia. There are two forms of life termination, namely active and passive. Active euthanasia accelerates the death of those who are experiencing severe pain by administering a lethal dose of the drug (Krag 408). Passive euthanasia provides the person with an opportunity to die by the refusal of life support treatment or life-sustaining equipment.

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Death is the natural end of life, and that is, is an integral part of it. Thus, a human being should be able to decide when to face death. It is essential to show respect for human dignity, recognize the right of a human being to terminate a life because of severe suffering. According to the Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights, and other international legal acts, an individual has the right to live, not an obligation (Moeckli et al. 34). This means that everyone has the right to dispose of their lives at their discretion. In the provided case, Ann told Frank that she does not want to live to be dependent on supporting machines. Ann has a moderately advanced Alzheimer’s disease, she does not walk independently, is frustrated, confused, and experiences obsessive thinking. Moreover, she was diagnosed with pneumonia, refuses to eat, and talk. The woman should have a chance to quit suffering. The feeding tube is not the equivalent of the breathing machine. Disconnection from the breathing machine provides the patient with fast and painless death, whereas without the feeding tube the person will experience severe suffering dying from starvation for weeks. Letting Ann die of starvation will not be justified and will be considered murder.

Euthanasia is based on the natural human right, namely the right to die. If death is the only relief from suffering it can be justified. Modern medicine has at its disposal the means of painless killing, such as carbon monoxide and other poisons. This would allow a person to get rid of suffering quickly and painlessly. Ann has no chance to recover and rehabilitate. Critically ill patients often experience even more pain from understanding that they burden their relatives and friends. Frank and Sarah state that they have seen a pledging look at Ann’s eyes. The woman understands everything and her only desire is not to feel pain anymore as her life will never be the same. However, not all countries accept euthanasia. In some states, it is illegal to terminate a life even of a suffering person.

There are a lot of cases when patients with Alzheimer’s disease face euthanasia. Terry Pratchett, an English writer, experienced this illness and was a supporter of life termination. In Holland, for example, patients with Alzheimer’s disease can face euthanasia without confirmation (Alvargonzalez 376).

Being a nurse, I would recommend Sarah and Frank to respect the will Ann. The woman is experiencing severe pain and has no chance to have the life she used to. Refusing to eat and talk, Ann, aims to highlight that she does not have the power to live. What is life without joy and happiness? What is a life full of suffering? Moderately advanced Alzheimer’s disease combined with pneumonia causes impressive damage to the weak immune system, mental, and physical health.

Works Cited

Alvargonzalez, David. “Alzheimer’s Disease and Euthanasia.” Journal of Aging Studies 26.4 (2012): 377-385. Web.

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Krag, Erik. “Rich, White, and Vulnerable: Rethinking Oppressive Socialization in the Euthanasia Debate.” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 39.4 (2014): 406-429. Web.

Moeckli, Daniel, Sangeeta Shah, Sandesh Sivakumaran, and Harris. International Human Rights Law. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010. Print.