Euthanasia is one of the most acute and uncomfortable contemporary problems in medical ethics. Is Euthanasia Ethical? The case for euthanasia rests on one main fundamental moral principle: mercy.
It is not a new issue; euthanasia has been discussed-and practised-in both Eastern and Western cultures from the earliest historical times to the present. But because of medicine's new technological capacities to extend life, the problem is much more. Euthanasia is a way of granting mercy-both by direct killing and by letting the person die. This principle of mercy establishes two component duties:
- The duty not to cause further pain or suffering; and
- he duty to act to end pain or suffering already occurring.
Under the first of these, for a physician or other caregiver to extend mercy to a suffering patient may mean to refrain from procedures that cause further suffering-provided, of course, that the treatment offers the patient no overriding benefits. The ph s performed even though a patient's survival is highly unlikely; although patients in arrest are unconscious at the time of resuscitation, it can be a brutal procedure, and if the patient regains consciousness, its aftermath can involve considerable pain. In many such cases, the patient will die whether or not the treatments are performed. In some cases, however, the principle of mercy may also demand withholding treatment that could extend the patient's life if the treatment is itself painful or discomf The principle of mercy may also demand letting die in a still stronger sense. Under its second component, the principle asserts a duty to act to end suffering that is already occurring. Medicine already honours this duty through its various techniques Ending the pain, though with it the life, may be accomplished through what is usually called "passive euthanasia", withholding or withdrawing treatment that could prolong life. In the most indirect of these cases, the patient is simply not given treatment.
The second component of the mercy principle may also demand the easing of pain by means more direct than mere allowing to die; it may require killing. This usually is called "active euthanasia. In passive euthanasia, treatment is withheld that could sucesses and waits for eventual death to ensue; rather. it is one that brings the pain- and the patient's life- to an end now. If there are also grounds on which it is merciful not to prolong life, then there are grounds on which it is merciful to terminat Pain is a thing of the medical past, and euthanasia is no longer necessary, though it may have been, to relieve pain. Given modern medical technology and recent remarkable advances in pain management, the sufferings of the morally wounded and dying can It is flatly incorrect to say that all pain, including pain in terminal illness, is or can be controlled. Some people still die in unspeakable agony. With superlative care, many kinds of pain can indeed be reduced in many patients, and adequate control ncy may mean an agonizing final few hours. Even a patient receiving the most advanced and sympathetic medical attention may still experience episodes of pain, perhaps altering with consciousness, as his or her condition deteriorates and the physician att In all of these cases, of course, the patient can be sedated into unconsciousness; this does indeed end the pain. But in respect of the patient's experience, this is tantamount to causing death: the patient has no further conscious experience and thus cannot feel pain.