Euthanasia is a subject that touches a raw nerve of the society, death and the core matter that many scholars debate about, lie on whose responsibility it is to make the ultimate decision. The key players being the patient, physicians, the federal law, the political divide, the diverse cultures, the religious groups, the generational differences and gender, not withholding the ethics and oaths of physicians and nurses.
Velleman, on his arguments, questions a physician’s moral and ethical right of ending a person’s life and further elaborates that “ physicians’ moral obligation is not promoting health per se, but also prolonging life and making it better”1. He pointed out that, a patient’s right to autonomy is valued, when he is given an opportunity to determine an option, but not imposing an already decided option. When euthanasia becomes an option to patients, “not every death by euthanasia will be beneficial as alluded by Kamisar”2 and the illusion that euthanasia promotes death with dignity becomes a fallacy. His critical thinking is unique because it communicates the need for a distinction of who is the ultimate decision maker and also implies that he has an affinity of the patient’s intercourse with other key players after refusing euthanasia “when the patient is given the right to choose to die, and he chooses not to die, his existence will be faced with frustrations and doubts of the opinions of the caregivers and friends”3. He is inclined to think his existence is not worthwhile.
Carmichael observed a study by Gielen whose findings showed that “majority of the Christians were not against euthanasia and that Hindus believe in Karma, that a person must suffer as a purification and cleansing of the body to enter the other life”4 contrary to the bible’s do not commit murder commandment. She addressed political and generational differences and it came out clearly, that in America the Democrats believe in autonomy and are likely to support euthanasia as opposed to the Republicans. As for the generational differences, generation xers and millennials are likely to support euthanasia as opposed to the traditionalists and the baby boomers. She also argued that “women are selfless and are likely to be pro euthanasia since they respect decisions of others unlike men who are selfish and do things without thinking about emotional outcomes”5.
Carmichael believes in death with dignity, the right to self- determination and the sanctity of life principle hinting that “a patient should make his own decision to die when he is competent enough to give consent, to die with dignity and avoid pain and suffering”6. Velleman is not convinced how a patient can decide his/ her mortality. He remarked that, “euthanasia is not a practice of helping some patients but the pra ctice of asking them to choose whether to die”7
In conclusion, Velleman’s arguments touches an expansive group of humanity in the society, whose lives can be affected by the decisions of assisted suicide (the patient, the family, the caregiver, the friends, all the involved healthcare workers, and the justice system. This implies that if his arguments are taken seriously, they can be helpful in avoiding a slipping slope.
Carmichael, Hannah “Euthanasia: Is it Ethically and Morally Acceptable.” Welcome to Sycamore Scholars. Dec 01. 1970. https://scholars.indstate.edu/handle/10484/12128.
Gielen Joris, Branden Stef, Broeckaert Bert “Religion and Nurses Attitude To Euthanasia and Physical Assisted Suicide” Nursing Ethics 16, no. 3(June 2009):303-18. https://doi.org/10.1177/0969733009102692.
Kamisar, Yale “Euthanasia legislation: Some non-Religious objections. In Euthanasia and the Right to Death, 85-133, Edited by A.B. Downing, London: Peter Owen, 1969.
Velleman, David ‘’Against the Right to Die’’ The journal of medicine and philosophy 17, no 6 (January 1993): 665-81. https://doi.org/10.1093/jmp/17.6.665.