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The Practice of Ending Life

Write a 750 word paper answering; Euthanasia, the practice of ending life, is one of the issues that involve ethical dilemmas.

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This paper explores ethical theories to euthanasia and end of life. Ethics defines a society’s morality in terms of what is approved to be good and what is approved to be bad. Acts, either of omission or of commission, are therefore ethical when they meet a society’s approved behavior and unethical when they are contradictory. Such is the basis of the issue of euthanasia that faces conflicting opinions from different ethical perspectives and affected parties. A person in great pain without hope for improvements and is waiting to die, may for example desire assistance to facilitate his or her death while such an act may not be acceptable to care personnel or the patient’s close relatives. Legal professions that supplement professional ethics and patients’ rights also play a significant role. These factors therefore induces dilemma on care ethics approach that provides for a positive relationship between caregivers and patients (Bube n.p.). While both parties are supposed to derive utility from the relationship between patients and care personnel, conflicting interest between the parties over application of euthanasia calls for application of other ethical principles. A consideration of third party interest, such as those of relatives and legal provisions, intensifies the dilemma over whose interest should be supreme. Ethical theories of teleology, deontology, and virtue ethics however offer guidelines to determining morality of euthanasia and end of life issues (Bube n.p.).

The general teleological approach to ethics involves evaluation of consequences of an action on the society in terms of benefits and harms that are accrued from an act. Acts that lead to net benefits, more benefits than harm, are therefore considered ethical while acts that yield net harm to the largest section of the society are considered unethical. Utilitarian ethics has a dual approach to euthanasia and assisted deaths with some interpretations identifying lack of ethics in the practice while others argue that the act is ethical. Among opinions that argue for utilitarian ethics are three benefits of ending lives of terminal patients who are going through pain as they await their death. One of the beneficial consequences of euthanasia is its recognition of a patient’s autonomy in decisions about his or her last days. This is because prolonging a person’s life against his or her desire breaches the ethical principle of autonomy and may not yield utility to the suffering patient. It therefore allows patients to decide what will benefit them more. The practice also has the benefits of eliminating suffering, in a patient and among relatives, in cases where such sufferings cannot be managed and the patient condition deteriorates towards death. Euthanasia also comforts patients with the hope that it permanently relieves them of their pain (Bube n.p.). Utilitarian opinions against euthanasia however argue that a patient may make decision to use the process but under duress from either care providers or family and the process would therefore not benefit the patient. A utilitarian approach to euthanasia should therefore consider each isolated case to determine possible benefits and harms to each stakeholder, especially the patient (Bube n.p.). Deontological perspective of euthanasia however involves consideration of established moral rules in practice. In euthanasia, for example, deontological ethics correspond to established ethical codes of conduct in the care profession. The fundamental that guides deontological ethics in euthanasia is protecting patient autonomy.

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