Some Of The Most Important Death With Dignity Pros And Cons

| Thursday, May 14, 2015
By Tammie Caldwell

Dying with dignity is a thorny issue in society at present. It attracts controversy and is sometimes reported on in the media. It is also the subject of litigation, usually criminal prosecution. It is an issue that needs to be taken seriously, for several different reasons, and so it is important to understand the death with dignity pros and cons.

Terminal patients sometimes request or consider euthanasia, or mercy killing. This is because, these days, they are able to survive for far more time than they would have been able to in the past. Contemporary medical treatment makes this possible. The outcome is that they may live for a very long period, even years, in a state of palliative care.

The concept of euthanasia is self-explanatory and has been practised since time immemorial. Mercy killing, or the deliberate infliction of death on hopelessly sick or injured patients is easy to understand. It is also practised by soldiers after a battle. Medical patients, too, sometimes abandon their ineffective treatment regimen and resort to suicide. None of this is recent in its presence in society.

Despite this, the law in most countries does not give medical staff permission to terminate their patients. The rationale behind such laws is self-explanatory. Medical staff cannot be permitted to euthanase patients under their care because they may then terminate those who may well have survived, for whatever reason. The court cases that arise typically revolve around medical personnel who either apply for official permission to euthanase a patient or who have already performed the procedure and are being prosecuted.

One notable recent case concerned Dr Harold Shipman, in the UK. He secretly killed 285 aged patients, without their (or anyone else's) knowledge or even consent. His method was poisoning. Legalizing euthanasia may then encourage medical practitioners with such designs to murder their patients. Shipman was sentenced to jail, where he ended his own life on his 58th birthday.

At present, modern medicine uses lethal injection to conduct euthanasia. This is, of course, also used to execute capital prisoners. The substances used during the procedure are not publicly available and should only be administered by a medical practitioner, since the incorrect dosage of what are sometimes medicinal substances can be fatal in those who are using them for other purposes.

The legal system does not allow euthanasia, yet some patients may experience such intense pain or have such debilitating symptoms that they no longer see the use of further palliative treatment. They then try extreme measures, such as narcotics, or even commit suicide in the more usual ways. Those who are unable to end their own lives, however, may request that their doctor do so.

The unresolved debate about mercy killing occupies space in the media and other public discussion forums. At the same time, the patients themselves are committing suicide or organize their own private euthanasia. It is important to place official measures of control on the medical profession, but the terrible symptoms of terminal patients perhaps necessitate exceptions.

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