Mercy, Autonomy, and Justice A part of life is facing death. There are numerous ways how death can occur; however, the most controversial seems to be the morality of euthanasia. “Euthanasia is generally defined as the act, undertaken only by a physician, that intentionally ends the life of a person at his or her request” (Peppier: 1). The specialist therefore distributes the lethal substance. On the other hand, in physician assisted suicide, a person self-administers the lethal substance prescribed.
The fight of physician assisted suicide and voluntary suicide threatens many. The duty of the doctor, the offering of the patient and the restrictions of law are all fighting against each other, but in the end one will choose what is morally right-for one not to suffer. With this proposition given, euthanasia can be outlined by mercy, autonomy, and Justice. An arguable doctrine lies within the moral difference between active and passive euthanasia; with the assumption that the distinction outlines the idea of killing and letting die. This fact provides strong reason for thinking that, once the initial decision not to prolong [ones] agony has been made active euthanasia is actually referable to passive euthanasia” (Reaches: 2). Between active and passive euthanasia is that with passive euthanasia the doctor does not do anything to bring about the patient’s death. In comparison, with active euthanasia the doctor does something to bring about the patient’s death.
The quarrel of being “allowed to die” can be relatively slow and painful; granting that being given a lethal injection is relatively quick and painless. Which one remains more appealing? Mercy establishes two component duties: “(1) the duty no to cause further pain or suffering; and (2) the duty o act to end pain or suffering already occurring” (Batting:59). The idea that doctors are supposed to provide mercy within the situation and respect the autonomy of one is often questioned and in the end there is no Justice.
Passive euthanasia, nonetheless, leaves the doctor with no obligation of guilt. After all, it is still a doctor’s Job to relieve pain and suffering using active euthanasia. “A doctor has not Just the right to respond to a request for euthanasia but that, in the name of duty to relieve suffering, there can be a positive obligation to do so” (Callahan: 14). Cases of euthanasia do not roved doctors with any personal gain, they are simply concerned if the patient’s life is of no further use and if it is soon to become a burden (Reaches: 4).
For mercy to be extended to a patient, physicians or other caregiver must not perform any procedures that would put the patient through any more pain, “mercy requires the physician not to impose the debasement treatments, which are excruciatingly painful, when they can provide the patient no benefit at all” (Batting: 60). Providing active euthanasia exposes conflicts. Laws and precautions were taken to prevent abuse and misuse of these practices. Such as perfectly healthy people like the depressed, the retarded, and the demented, demanding euthanasia. Although the initial intent was to limit euthanasia and assisted suicide to a last-resort option for a very small number of terminally ill people, some Jurisdictions now extend the practice to newborns, children and people with dementia” (Peppier: 1). The argument of competence versus not competent turns out to be a sensitive subject. An By Shantytown’s argument. ” If a person is suffering but not competent, then it would seem grossly unfair to deny relief simply because that person lacks competence (Callahan: 14).
In the end everyone should be afforded the same mercy. To back track, the argument of our right to self-determination “is that that a competent, adult person should have a right to euthanasia for the relief of suffering” (Callahan: 14). People’s autonomy or self-determination is an influential factor in legalizing euthanasia. Therefore, to exclude the involuntary killing of the depressed, the retarded, and the demented is done by the showing of mental competence to effect self-determination.
To legitimate the situation of a competent versus a non-competent patient, there appears to be little resistance to denying any competent person the right to be killed, sick or not; and little resistance to killing the incompetent, so long as there is a good reason to believe they are suffering” (Callahan: 15). The Supreme Court held that “No right is more sacred, or is more carefully guarded, by the common law, than the right of the individual to the possession and control of his own person” (Callahan: 12).
In other words, if one has control over their own body, they have the right to say what happens to their body whether that leads to physician assisted suicide or not. Adding to the pressure of the suffering patient, doctors are also concerned with the legal circumstances. Active euthanasia is clearly forbidden, and this law is forcing a moral doctrine upon the specialists (Reaches: 5). For the doctor to believe that a life of intense suffering is not worth living. To maintain professional and personal integrity, the doctor will have to Justify it on his or her own moral grounds” (Callahan: 15). Soon enough there will be specified conditions writing out a doctor’s duty to kill. With the idea of a doctor’s duty to kill, there is also a belief in the duty to die. Overall, “easier dying will be favored not only on grounds of mercy and autonomy but on the grounds of Justice as well” (Batting: 74). The feeling of a duty to die can be stressful in the circumstances of it affecting others.
The hope of being curable is draining to begin with then the overwhelming feeling of letting your loved ones down can be even more straining. When one becomes a burden to their family because they have been taken care of by their loved ones over time, can leave a feeling of guilt. The patient would not want anything more than to give the family their lives back. Objections of a duty to die are supported through a “humans dignity or the intrinsic value of a person” ( Hardwire: 37).
Kant who is opposed to suicide, would not think that taking your own life out of a sense of duty would be wrong. “[He] held the very core of human dignity is the ability to act on a self-imposed moral law, regardless of whether it is in our interest to do so” (Hardwire: 37). The dissertation of Justice is exercised to justify the denial of treatment, that is, to advocate for passive euthanasia, but similar considerations sanction active euthanasia. Mercy, autonomy, and the Justice of euthanasia is what supports all the factors of euthanasia.
Mercy Justifies the need for the suffering to end, autonomy provides the victim with a reason to make a selfish decision and Justice provides a way for the involved to think through the situation based off of something more than emotion. The moral standard of it all would be for the victim to have the support of love, be respected, and for their dignity to not be ruined upon their choice. Peppier, Caught. “Legalizing Euthanasia or Assisted Suicide: The Illusion of Safeguards and Controls. ” INCUBI: Current Oncology. N. P. , n. D. Web. 26 July 2013..