Bioethics Exam #2 Paper
2) Should Physician-assisted suicide be legalized in Minnesota?
The question of the legalizing physician-assisted suicide is extremely controversial, as it incorporates mixed views of ethics and morality. For this paper, I will focus on three of Callahan’s arguments against physician-assisted suicide: self-determination, the differences between killing and allowing someone to die, and the consequences. Callahan be directly challenged by Lach’s argument in favor of physician-assisted suicide.
Self-determination is understood as the principle by which individuals has an interest of making autonomous decisions for themselves according to their own beliefs about things that make their life good and ways of conducting their lives. Callahan argues that physician-assisted suicide is no longer a matter of self-determination but rather a social decision between two people with one being the killer and the other to be killed. Callahan does not think it is permissible to put out so much power of killing of someone in the hands of another despite having the permission by competent person. He asserts that no one has yet to justify for the idea of waiving our right to life and giving that to a doctor to take it.
According to Callahan, there is a distinction between the stopping of life-sustaining treatment and active form of killing. To consider them the same creates confusion between reality and moral judgment in viewing an omitted action as having the equal causal status as compared to one that directly kills. A lethal injection of physician-assisted suicide can kill both a healthy and unhealthy person while the act of omitting a treatment cannot effect on a healthy person. Callahan focuses on the word “killing” and mentions that it should not be used to describe an action of a doctor stopping a treatment at the patient’s request. The underlying disease is the physical cause of a patient’s death, not the doctor’s act of omitting the treatment.
In discussing arguments against the legalization of physician-assisted suicide, it is significant to understand the likely consequences of it. Callahan list two outcomes such as the inevitability of some form of abuse and difficulty in precisely writing. Callahan states that laws that are based on delicate and controversial matters are to certain an extent abused because not everyone will agree with the way that the law is written and will try to find ways of bending and ignoring it. Abuse is also inevitable because the law is likely to be a lower priority in the criminal justice system. Callahan’s second consequences state that there is no effective way to write or enforce a meaningful euthanasia law that can guarantee sufficient procedural safeguard. He clarifies that acts and discussions of physician-assisted suicide will happen behind the boundaries of private physician-patient relationship where no one can hardly know what happens unless the physician decides to reveal it.
In Lach’s article, he finds that Callahan fails to provide hints of contemporary moral problems that euthanasia and assisted physician suicide promise to resolve. Lachs argues that people that advocate for the legalization of physician-assisted suicide consider them an answer to a serious and growing social problem. Many individuals that suffer from the terminally ill disease of Alzheimer and patients in the persistent vegetative state bear the pain of existence and intensely feel that they are burdens to others. They consider it as an end to suffering and a burdensome life. Lachs argues with Callahan’s assumption about the right to kill oneself cannot be transferred and transferring power over oneself is “is a fundamental morally wrong”. Lachs finds it difficult to grasp the idea that right cannot be handed as he believes that having a right means to be free or to be entitled to have or to do something. Lachs provides another argument in favor of physician-assisted suicide that mentions that certain individuals suffer to the point that they are physically not in the position to end their life. Lachs asserts that those people want physicians to aid in suicide because, without such help, they would not be able to end their lives and continue to suffer.
In the discussion of the legalization of physician-assisted suicide in Minnesota, I am against it. I believe that physician who participates in someone’s suicide is abusing medicine and have no right to claim whether someone’s life is worth living. Medicine should help people in relieving human suffering that is brought by illness, not suffering that comes from despair at the human condition. My ethical reasons for holding my views come from the theory of utilitarianism. The theory of utilitarianism maximizes benefit over harm for the greatest good for the most significant number of people affected by the action. According to the theory of utilitarianism, I am against the legalization of physician-assisted suicide in Minnesota as the consequences of physician-assisted suicide reduces happiness as the act of a physician helping someone in taking their life create pain, sorrow, and suffering in the heart of that person’s loved ones.