Ethical Dilemma: Voluntary Euthanasia – Medical Ethics Example

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"Ethical Dilemma: Voluntary Euthanasia" is a great example of a paper on medical ethics. In the United States, doctors are allowed to prescribe some lethal doses to some of the terminally ill patients in five US states (Biggs, 2009). However, euthanasia is illegal in the United States. In some of the recent years, the movement that aids in dying has made incremental gains though the issue remains controversial. Oregon was the first state to legalize assisted suicide whose law became effective in 1997. The law permits terminally ill patients that are mentally competent whose remaining years to live is less than six months, to request a prescription that can end their life.

In more than a decade later, Washington approved a measure that was in a way modeled on the law of Oregon (Gorsuch, 2008). Vermont later passed a similar law, Montana, and recently, New Mexico. In the year 2013, approximately 300 patients that were terminally ill were prescribed lethal medication. Approximately 230 of these patients took the medication and died as a result. The Oregon law requires that the individual requesting voluntary euthanasia be over 18 years, residing in Oregon, and should be capable of making and communicating health care decisions.

This applies to all other states in the region. Patients with these qualifications are eligible to request lethal medication from a licensed physician (Paterson, 2008).   It is also a requirement by law for the physician to confirm the patient’ s diagnosis and his or her capacity. The law also requires the patient to be requested to notify the next of kin. The stakeholders in this scenario are Dax Cowart and Terri Schiavo.

Terri Schiavo was subjected to euthanasia where her food pipe and water were cut for days until she died of hunger and thirst. Dax Cowart was injured in a propane gas explosion. After a long antagonizing treatment, he demanded to die by refusing to undergo his disinfectant treatment. All his pleas were rejected though he came up with two videos that focused on euthanasia. Interview Me: do you understand what euthanasia is? Neighbor: yes I do. It is mercy killing where an individual suffering from a terminal illness is helped to die. Me: are you in support of euthanasia? Neighbor: I believe that no individual has the right to terminate life. ..Only God has that authority.

However, if an individual is suffering and has no sign of surviving, then relieving his or her suffering could be the best thing to do. Me: okay. Have you by any chance seen the documentary on the case of Terri Schiavo? Neighbor: yes I have. It has a rather interesting twist on euthanasia. Me: interesting? How interesting? Neighbor: the fact that the government and the court of law had to intervene and resulted in coming up with the same result as the hospital’ s physicians. Me: How did you feel about it? Neighbor: I felt as if the case was not well handled.

The fact that even the members of the public had to intervene on the same but despite that, a young life was terminated all the same.


Biggs, H. (2009). Euthanasia, death with dignity, and the law. Portland: Hart Publ.

Gorsuch, N. M. (2008). The future of assisted suicide and euthanasia. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Paterson, C. (2008). Assisted suicide and euthanasia: a natural law ethics approach. Aldershot, England: Ashgate.

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