The ethics of assisted suicide | Nursing Times
You are here: Practice nurses The papillomavirus definition simple of assisted suicide 18 February, By NT Contributor Society is now recognising and accepting that human life has a natural end and that, as such, it should not be preserved simply because a treatment exists. Human rights legislation in the form of papillomavirus definition simple Human Rights Act has enhanced the debate. Article 2, the Right to Life see Fig 1 indicates that the issue is not just about being alive, it is also about how we may reject the right to life, and indeed die.
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Early intwo cases relating to end-of-life decisions were debated in the UK courts. The first case was that of Miss B, a year-old lady who became paralysed in following a papillomavirus definition simple into her spinal column.
She was ventilator-dependent, with papillomavirus definition simple hope of recovery or cure. She went to the court to demand that doctors stop treating her against her will.
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Following a High Court judgement, her wish to be allowed to die was granted and she died papillomavirus definition simple in her sleep following the disconnection of the ventilator that kept her alive Kmietowicz, Papillomavirus definition simple, but very different, case was that of Dianne Pretty who, suffering from advanced motor neurone disease, petitioned the courts to be allowed to die with dignity.
She asked the High Court in London to grant her husband immunity from prosecution if he assisted her to die.
Its ruling in April outlawed the idea, stating that conceding to the request would undermine the protection of future life Dyer, The euthanasia debate was fuelled once again in January this year when year-old Reginald Crew, also with motor neurone disease, felt compelled to take drastic action about his wish to die and travelled to Switzerland in his quest.
Mr Crew was assisted to die by the non-profit Swiss organisation Dignitas.
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Medical staff, having deemed him competent to make such a decision, prescribed a lethal dose of barbiturates. He ended his life in a flat in Zurich papillomavirus definition simple his wife and daughter at his side. Mrs Crew now faces papillomavirus definition simple uncertainty of whether or not she will face prosecution regarding the death.
These three cases are not the first, nor will they be the last, to be debated with reference to how we choose to die.
No other health care topic captures the imagination more than ethico-legal decisions at the end of life.
But all three cases highlight that we cannot continue to ignore what is occurring both at home and abroad. There are few certainties in life, but one that papillomavirus definition simple will all have to come to terms with, at some time or another, is that of our own death.
For many, the thought of death papillomavirus definition simple not be disturbing, but the way in which we die and the events leading up to our death might be.
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It is upholding the principle of autonomous choice with reference to where, when, and the manner in which they die. Why should it be wrong for someone papillomavirus definition simple ask for assistance with the process of dying and be aided to a peaceful and dignified death? It is essential that as a society we acknowledge that health care should be seen not only as an papillomavirus definition simple necessary to extend life but also as an important factor in how someone dies.
The ethical principle of autonomy is advanced by many as being central to the decision-making process, particularly with relation to health care. But the principle of autonomy may conflict with other ethical principles such as beneficence and non-maleficence.
Professionals have a duty to do good and to do no harm. The principle papillomavirus definition simple autonomy, however, ensures that people have the freedom to make judgements and decisions and to act on them. A health care professional, therefore, is obligated to respect autonomous choice, respecting not only how people choose to live their lives but also the manner in which they choose to die.
History shows that controversies about end-of-life decisions are not new; they are as old as medicine itself. In ancient Greece and Rome there was no objection to the practice of assisted suicide; indeed many physicians regarded it as part of their role.
If patients could convince the senate that there was good reason for ending their life, the physician would provide a lethal drug thus ending their suffering.
However, with the rise of organised religion the practice of assisted suicide was rejected, sanctity of human life being cited as the reason: what God has given, only God can take away.
It could be argued, therefore, that this approach is no longer acceptable. The origins of modern discussion and political conflict over right-to-die issues began in this country in the late 19th century when a number of intellectuals proposed assisted suicide for the hopelessly ill Glick, The debate came to a head in when a well-respected public health official in England presented a scholarly review of the history papillomavirus definition simple euthanasia and suicide, ending with a forceful recommendation that assisted suicide be legalised in Britain.
This did not happen, but the debate continues some 70 years papillomavirus definition simple, with several unsuccessful attempts to change the law regarding assisted suicide.
Following the Dianne Pretty case, the government reiterated its stance on assisted suicide; however, public opinion polls after the case showed that papillomavirus definition simple than 80 per cent of the public support a change papillomavirus definition simple definition simple the law. Perhaps now is the time for the government to regulate medically assisted death. They have, to date, chosen to steer away from officially condoning it or to taking steps to control it, believing that the public see health care professionals as people who save life, not people who hasten the dying process.
However, the General Medical Council is expected to produce new guidelines soon on end-of-life decisions in relation to papillomavirus definition simple or withdrawing life-prolonging medical treatment BMA, As discussed above, UK law outlaws the provision of the means to help another person to die.
In England and Wales, the nature of the offence is set out in the Suicide Act, making it no longer a criminal offence to attempt to commit or successfully commit suicide. However s. In Scotland the position is somewhat different and perhaps papillomavirus definition simple little papillomavirus definition simple clear than it is in England and Wales. However, the anomaly arises where the person who aids or abets a suicide can papillomavirus definition simple liable for prosecution as an accomplice to a non-existent crime.
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In proven cases of assisted suicide, charges will be brought under the general laws of murder or culpable homicide manslaughter in England. UK law is therefore clear: assisting a suicide does constitute a criminal offence both north and south of the papillomavirus definition simple and in most countries.
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Conclusion At the heart of the debate over end-of-life choices is the recognition that not all persons can be healed and not papillomavirus definition simple suffering can be relieved. Health care professionals must recognise that sensitive and compassionate management of death is only one aspect of a longer dialogue about end-of-life choices.
This dialogue should occur between those administering and those receiving health care. There can be no doubt that the desire for assisted suicide has increased with the sophistication of medical technology.
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It is not papillomavirus definition simple the issue of technology that has fuelled this debate; intractable pain, dependence on others, loss of dignity are just some of the arguments advanced for assistance with dying.
Assisted suicide is an issue where the interests of the individual cannot be separated from those of society as a whole.
There may never be a simple solution to the debate. There are fears that decriminalising assisted suicide could lead to abuse and the possibility of killing someone who did not want to die.
However, there is a hpv related to breast cancer case for legislation. Legal guidelines would turn a covert process into a transparent one; they would ensure that there is evidence of free and informed choice and, not least, it would allow those suffering from incurable conditions to die how they choose.