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Euthanasia in Terminal Illness - Essay Example

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Euthanasia in Terminal Illness

(Andersen and Taylor, 2007, p.552). The objective of the paper is to explore the historical and philosophical roots related to euthanasia. Included in the topics to be covered are the different approaches that present the reasons for undertaking or employing euthanasia. Historical Roots of Euthanasia The history of euthanasia can be traced back to the reign of the Greeks and Romans when the term originated. Though it is meant to imply a good death, euthanasia is often deemed with negativity since it can be translated as physician-assisted suicide and compared to other ethical and moral social issues such as abortion, capital punishment, and issues related to beginning or ending of human life (McDougall, Gorman and Roberts, 2008, p.2). During the first to firth century, Greeks and Romans are allowed to access poison and choose death. The rise of the influence of Christianity during the Roman Empire had a great impact on the view on euthanasia. Death regardless of what reason was prohibited. During the middle ages, 5th to 15th century, the Catholic Church stressed the religious condemnation of euthanasia and that suffering is a sign of spiritual virtues of martyrdom. Then the Renaissance (14th to 17th century) came and changed the view on euthanasia through the discovery of modern scientific knowledge that are still influential in the present era. Thus, there is diversification of view on euthanasia since the church is still against the issue (McDougall, Gorman and Roberts, 2008, p.3-4). The view on euthanasia continuously changed as the Age of Reason came in during the 18th century. Scientific prowess opened the mind of the people regarding the need of every person to have a choice regarding death. In 1798, six colonies ceased the legal penalties for attempted suicide. The open mindedness of the authorities though made a frightening turn during the pre-WW II and Nazi Germany (1920-45) when the secretly approved government program that killed handicapped, mentally ill and people un asylums became the onset of Hitler’s Euthanasia Programme that even included people of least capability to defend themselves regardless of being healthy such as women and children (p.5). With the foundations of views and beliefs from the previous eras, the perspective toward euthanasia in the present era became divided. This is the main reason why it became a personal issue to decide on whether or not euthanasia should be applied. Law and medical ethics mandate the guidelines for euthanasia while the person himself and the relatives hold the decision to apply it. Philosophical Roots of Euthanasia Euthanasia is one of the main concerns in the field of medicine based on the fact that it is a controversial issue in ethics. The ethical question lies in the death of a person. If the person himself/herself consented for the act, there is a question the person’s right to take his/her own life. If the act is the decision of the relatives or the medical professionals since it may be the only solution left for the patient, there is a question on their right to decide the time when a person should die (Andersen and Taylor, 2007, p.552). The main answer to the questions regarding the need for euthanasia can be explained by Beauchamp and Childress’ four principles of medical ethics namely: respect for ...Show more


Euthanasia in Terminal Illness Name University Professor Course Date Euthanasia in Terminal Illness Euthanasia is one of the main concerns in the medical practice. It is defined as the ‘act of killing a severely ill person as an act of mercy’ which has 2 forms on the basis actions undertaken namely the negative and positive euthanasia…
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