Ethical Issues: Euthanasia Debate

Table of Contents


Voluntary euthanasia occurs due to permission from the patient. On the other hand, involuntary euthanasia may be carried when the patient is not in a position to make a decision or did not leave a good will. Active euthanasia happens when a third party carries out a deliberate act which causes the death of a patient. On the other hand, passive euthanasia occurs when the medical personnel fails to keep a patient alive by stopping or ignoring what would have kept the patient alive.

There are several arguments for and against euthanasia. The protagonists argue that human being has a right to choose between life and death, while the antagonists argue that goes against the basic fundamental right to life. This paper presents the argument that euthanasia should be viewed as not simply a medical procedure carried out based on the principles of healthcare ethics, but also as an irrefutable right of a person to die.

Euthanasia as serving the right of the patient

The current society must embrace euthanasia as a procedure that honors the basic human rights to a choice between life and death. Although euthanasia is prohibited in the US and most of the other nations across the globe, it is interesting to note that self-assisted dying has been made legal in Washington and other states such as Vermont, New Mexico, Oregon, and Montana.

Although involuntary euthanasia attracts ethical dilemmas, voluntary euthanasia should be embraced as the most appropriate and humane way of terminating suffering to patients who do not have alternatives for healthy life sustenance. Therefore, on the basis of eliminating suffering, voluntary euthanasia should be legalized in all the states in the US.

The right to die is part of the fundamental human right to freedom of choice and must be respected by the state organs and other stakeholders. According to Lachman (2010), it is ethical to practice voluntary euthanasia as a humane way of ending the suffering of an individual when there is no chance of recovery from an illness (Lachman, 2010).

It is very important to respect the choice of an individual to die since this is always the last alternative when all other avenues have been exploited (Wood, 2014). Therefore, it is to state that the right to choose death in cases where there are no medical answers is within the scope of the individual’s freedom of choice.

Despite the clear ethical guidelines which ensure that medical personnel does not harm the patient through irrational actions, shying away from voluntary euthanasia attracts even higher ethical dilemmas since this alternative draws more harm to the patient who is supposed to be protected from extreme suffering.

According to ANA Center for Ethics and Human Rights (2013), a medical specialist has the responsibility of ensuring that all his or her actions are in the best interest of the patient (ANA Center for Ethics and Human Rights, 2013).

The actions could include voluntary euthanasia when it is in the best interest of the patient. If the medical specialist decides to adopt the alternative of inaction, the patient will be exposed to more physical and psychological suffering when there is an alternative of serving the best interest of such a patient (ANA Center for Ethics and Human Rights, 2013). Therefore, when a medical specialist is faced with the above dilemma, the best choice would be carrying out euthanasia as an ethical strategy for relieving the patient of excessive pain.

The current arguments against voluntary euthanasia are driven by malice, utopian reasoning, and in consideration of the rights of the person demanding euthanasia. As indicated by Ebrahimi (2012), the ethics of euthanasia should not be polarized since the current controls are very effective in avoiding its abuse. The definition of personhood revolves around the ability to exercise rational attributes such as autonomy, consciousness, and expression.

However, the deontologists would argue that there is no way mankind can rationalize killing. The arguments of the antagonists would be irrelevant when individual legal implications are incorporated. Utilitarianism school of thought places the full responsibility for life and death on the individual (Ebrahimi, 2012). Therefore, the ethical concerns raised by those opposed to voluntary euthanasia are inconsiderate of the legal and ethical rights of those in need of euthanasia.


The moral argument for active and passive euthanasia is relieving the patient from prolonged suffering when there is a minimal chance of survival. The moral argument against active and passive euthanasia is taking the life of a patient, even though life at the point of wanting euthanasia is almost irredeemable.

The underlying protagonist view on voluntary euthanasia is supported by the arguments surrounding an individual’s freedom of choice, respect of the universal humane ethics, and ethical dilemmas that may arise when an alternative action is adopted. When the personal, legal, ethical, and professional responsibilities are incorporated in the voluntary euthanasia debate, it is fair to consider euthanasia as a legal procedure that serves the best interests of the patient.


ANA Center for Ethics and Human Rights. (2013). Position statements: Euthanasia, assisted suicide and aid in dying. Washington, DC: American Nurses Association.

Ebrahimi, N. (2012). The ethics of euthanasia. Australia Medical Student Journal, 3(1), 73–75.

Lachman, V. (2010). Physician-assisted suicide: Compassionate liberation or murder? MEDSURG Nursing, 19(2), 121–125.

Wood, N. (2014). Perspectives on argument (8th ed.). London, UK: Longman.

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