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Nursing Essay Example on Doctor Assisted Death Legalization


The issue concerning the doctor assisting death of suffering patients has been debated from the centuries. The ethical term of this issue is that this process is out of the doctor's professional responsibilities. Thus, a considerable disagreement whether physician assisted death should be legalized or not still remains an actual topic. In the modern era, rather constructive pros and cons legalization of doctor’s assistance in the patient's life, divided the opinions of all people into two groups: some people support the idea of assisted death, but others reject it. Recent laws in U.K. and Oregon have started a widespread tendency of legalization. In this regard, experts wonder if the doctor assisted death should be legalized, taking into account all the existing ethical issues.

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Main Features of the Doctor Assisted Death

First of all, it is necessary to outline the main features of the doctor assisted death. First, by this concept, a certain activity has to be covered. The concept of activity means both behavior in the form of active actions, and a passive divergence. Besides, the specified activity has to be made with the use of special subjects, as well as the help of medical personnel (the paramedic, nurse, etc.). The following feature of the assisted death is that this activity is made by the medical worker consciously, i.e. in a state in which he or she can understand the value of the actions (intellectual aspect) and manage them (strong-willed aspect). Besides, the specified activity has to be made purposely, that is the medical worker has to make it consciously, but also fully realize its consequences. And, perhaps, the last feature of the doctor assisted death is that it causes death of the patient.

Moreover, except these features, the assisted death as a type of behavior has to be made, following certain conditions. Such conditions include the existence of an incurable illness of the patient, the consequences of which are intolerable sufferings of physical, mental, moral, or other character; the above mentioned activity of medical workers has a certain vector because it has to be directed only on the termination of above-mentioned sufferings of the patient; the specified activity is made after a conscious request of the patient, and if the patient cannot provide such will due to his or her irresponsible condition, then the assisted death should be performed at the same request of his or her lawful representative; the patient or his lawful representative have to be completely, objectively, and timely notified on irreversibility of consequences of such activity (“State-by-state guide to physician-assisted suicide,” 2013).

Nowadays, several arguments against doctor assisted death legalization exist. First of all, from a religious point of view, suicide is a sin. The value of human life is an important argument against the doctor assisted death; after all, one person cannot take away life of another person. The best alternatives represent the very powerful argument, which delayed debating about doctor assisted suicide in Great Britain for many years. For a very long time, the citizens opposed assisted death, replacing it with the palliative help. The palliative help assists people with incurable diseases, in order to reduce their sufferings and let them live happily the remaining days (Golden, n.d.).

The doctor assisted death can render a social and ethical loss for culture. Everybody, even ardent supporters of assisted suicide, always have a feeling that it is not absolutely correct from the point of cultural view. Therefore, they say that euthanasia has to be limited. Besides, at legalization of doctor assisted suicide, there is a fear of abuse of assisted death. For example, today the elderly person can ask for doctor assisted death for him/ her, and tomorrow the relatives of that person who want to get the inheritance faster will ask for it (Golden, n.d.).

Many positive features of the doctor assisted suicide exist. All people have the right to make choices. The death is a choice, which should be available to people (White, n.d.). People are allowed to make risky choices for their own benefit, such as consuming alcohol or tobacco, and people choose it until they learn of harmful consequences of their choices. Similarly, the choice of death is a form of choice, which has advantages in some cases. Thus, there is no reason to claim that the doctor assisted death is an exception. At the doctor assisted suicide, doctors provide to incurably sick patients medicines by means of which they would end their life; one of the examples would be prescribing the recipe on a lethal dose of drugs, which the patient can accept or not, choosing on his/ her own (Gholipour, 2013).

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The present policy has to be reconsidered due to two major reasons. First, in a practical sense, the government has to help terminally sick patients, in order for them to be able to escape from intolerable pain. Patients suffer from severe pain round the clock daily. In terminal cancer cases when the cells of cancer affect bones, they began to afflict bone fabrics and cause pulsing pain. Anesthetizing sometimes work, but their effect on the organism is not perfect. It decreases pain for patients with cancer. Thus, patients constantly suffer from pain, not seeing any way out of it. Some patients subconsciously think that their bodies are for the constant vomiting caused by illness at night, or because the pain does not pass, they can start thinking that they live only to die. In such situations, patients see no exit. People have no other choice, except of choosing assisted death, in order to finish their lives proudly (Quill & Greenlaw, 2008).

Besides, the main reason why the assisted death has to be provided only to incurably sick patients, is that it is the last opportunity and hope of these people, in comparison with those patients who have no incurable diseases. People who have no opportunity to recover, should have the opportunity to acquire an option to choose from, as well as people who have no incurable diseases. The government should provide the maximum quantity of options for those patients who have very limited choice (Messerli, n.d.).

The second reason is based on philosophical value and ethics. The right to death should be considered as an important one. In other words, people consider that the right to life represents the absolute value, and the possibility to live as long as possible is the main advantage in any circumstances. Life is considered a sanctuary, and nobody has to break it, and the person has no right to choose death, while the nature will not finish the person's life. However, life is only a relative value and, therefore, the right to death should become one of options for citizens. On the ethical basis, the issue of the doctor assisted death has a dual nature. On the one hand, taking the patient's life is wrong. However, on the other hand, the doctor's intention to relieve the patient's suffering by means of assisted suicide is considered a rather humanistic action (Quill & Greenlaw, 2008).

The assisted death will allow doctors to strengthen their role in society. First, each patient lives under various circumstances, and if doctors have more options to decide what will be better for their patients, it will allow doctors to support their role in society. The present situation undermines the main role of doctors who have to choose what will be better for the patient because the disposal of pain by means of the assisted death is the option, which should not be chosen. The purposes of the doctor at treatment are elimination or reduction of pain and discomfort, caused by diseases. Doctors prescribe treatments for achievement of these purposes. When all variants of medical treatments will be exhausted, doctors will have to provide their patients a choice, in order for the patients to be able to die in peace without suffering (White, n.d.).

Doctors are people who provide the best treatment for patients. In general, doctors have to treat patients in such a way that they could satisfy their patients' requirements because the sense of "the best treatment" varies depending on their personal values. For this reason, doctors have to receive consent of patients before carrying out the operations. If patients refuse to sign the contract, doctors cannot treat patients because it will contradict the patients' will. Besides, doctors have to respect a choice of the assisted death; it is the action that has to be supported by medical workers (Messerli, n.d.).

Besides, one more reason why the doctor assisted death has to be legalized is that the perception of death varies from person to person. If benefits from death outweigh the advantage of life, patients will choose the doctor assisted death, and vice versa. The second issue consists in whether the patients will have the opportunity to make the best choice for themselves (Quill & Greenlaw, 2008). Families, doctors and environment influence decision-making process of the patients who suffer from incurable diseases and want to die quietly. Medical workers have the opportunity and experience to decide whether treatment of the patient will be rational. Moreover, if the patient feels that pain is harmful and intolerable, the normal phenomenon for this patient will be the choice of death to alleviate suffering. If the patient made this decision on his/ her own and heard all information concerning the assisted death from the doctor, in the course of the organization of operation, there should be no barriers (White, n.d.).

Besides, decision-making process of the patient may depend on the influence of doctors. Doctors follow a certain code of behavior to become professionals, and they have the morals regulating this behavior. Thus, doctors hold codes for maintenance of their professional status, and they never adhere to own morals because it will undermine their medical career. Therefore, when the assisted suicide will be legalized, doctors will not do unfair judgments in diagnostics of patients (Quill & Greenlaw, 2008).

Legalization of doctor assisted death can reduce healthcare costs. Keeping a dying patient for several months requires huge expenses. Thus, it would be better to provide the dying patient with the possibility to choose the doctor assisted death and spend hospital money on the maintenance of the patients, which will recover. Therefore, everything that leads to the decrease of total costs should be revised and changed. Besides, the medical staff time will be freed up if attending to dying patients, which prefer to die, will be shortened by means of legalizing doctor assisted suicide. In this regard, the whole quality of healthcare will be improved at all levels of its organization (Messerli, n.d.).

Doctor assisted death can reduce anguish and pain of the patient's friends and family and leave the opportunity to say their last goodbyes. Family and friends of the patient often suffer as well as the patient, because it is difficult and painfully to see the loved person going through such tortures. It is physically and emotionally hard to be under such stress. Moreover, if the patient dies by means of doctor assistance, the vital organs can be saved providing the doctors an opportunity to save the lives of other patients. Assuming that the patient is an organ donor, the doctor assisted death allows physicians to save the vital organs, such as heart, kidney, liver, etc. if they are not affected by the disease, which can be donated to other ill patients (Messerli, n.d.).

The Issue of Legalization of the Assisted Death

Support of help in doctor assisted suicide is a powerful case. The issue of legalization of the assisted death is attractive to the people's ability to compassion and obligation to support an individual choice and self-determination of a terminally sick person. However, opposition of assistance in suicide is also powerful case because it shows fundamental awe of life and riskiness to begin the dangerous action, leading to decrease in value and respect for life. Thus, in the near future, people are compelled to choose, what values in the legislation are the most important.

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