After this study, I took a positive position on two controversial issues: euthanasia and assisted suicide. Indeed, I was partially aware of the topics and issues regarding dying, death and grief covered in this module before taking this course. It is also evident that if I had thought about dying, death and grief before taking GER-312 my attitudes or beliefs would have changed as a result of what I learnt. To this end, I have gained new insights about the process of death and loss as a result of taking this class, especially on rules governing the practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide.
It can be argued that laws governing the practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide vary from one country to another. Euthanasia/assisted suicide may be legal or illegal based on jurisdiction of a country (Young, 2000). Doctors opt for euthanasia if a patient is suffering from an incurable disease and at the same time, the sick is undergoing chronic pain. There are different types of euthanasia that include involuntary, non-voluntary, and voluntary. Some countries like the United States of American do not allow voluntary euthanasia under whatever condition. In this case, consent is obtained from the patient. Involuntary euthanasia is carried out without the assent of the sick.
Issues on euthanasia/assisted suicide legalization impressed me, because Oregon is the only state in the United States in which euthanasia is legalized. In 1997, Oregon passed “Death Dignity Act” that legalized euthanasia (Beauchamp & Childress, 2001). Euthanasia is among the current debatable issues in bioethics. In this context, the term “euthanasia” will be used to refer to the act of terminating a person’s life suffering from an incurable or terminal disease.
Indeed, I agree with statements supporting discussion about dying, death and grief, especially on euthanasia/assisted suicide, because patients have the right to “self-rule” or autonomy. Patients have the right to make informed decisions on their personal issues like medical treatment, which should be respected by healthcare workers and family members. Autonomy refers to maintaining privacy and confidentiality, courteousness and respect for the patient’s dignity, and ensuring that before any action is taken, informed consent is obtained from the patient. In some cases, it is difficult to put into consideration the views of the patient. For instance, some patients cannot make independent decisions, because of the condition of illness like insanity, dementia and stroke, or because they have learning disabilities (Graham, G. (2010). Drug addicts may also lack information of the consequences likely to result from the actions they take, but they should be allowed to exercise autonomy.
GER-312 course helped me to understand and change my attitude or beliefs on the controversial issue of euthanasia/assisted suicide. The issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide complicated, thus achieving appropriate strategy to completely resolve the problem is a difficult task. This is mainly because the issue has opposing views both of which cannot be ignored. What I have learned in this course regarding end of life decisions affected my current opinion on the subject by accepting that every individual has the right to die with dignity, regardless of the arguments against the issue. Even with arguments for and against the practice, the decision on whether or not the practice should be legalized depends on an individual’s belief. It is important to keep in mind that dying and death is ultimate and inevitable. This implies that all people will die, even if it is not through euthanasia and assisted suicide, which are two related issues (Graham, 2010). If euthanasia and assisted suicide are allowed, these will give room to those people who opt for it to do so with self-esteem. When viewed from the perspective of an individual’s right to life, it will take some time for people to understand that euthanasia and assisted suicide are beneficial, if the advantages/disadvantages are considered. According to me, I do not think there is any time when the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide will be resolved fully. People will always have opposing views on these two issues.