Nurses’ professional ethics are founded on moral principles, which also inform their arguments for and against euthanasia. These ethical standards that guide nursing practice are codified in global standards, and they place a premium on autonomy. The ethical standards emphasize the idea that the physician does not have to concur with a patient’s choices but must accept each patient as an individual (Terkamo-Moisio et al., 2017). Tolerance for patients’ rights, including their want to die, is also highlighted by euthanasia proponents. Additionally, proponents of euthanasia refer to the nurses’ obligation to reduce pain and view euthanasia as an extreme measure (Terkamo-Moisio et al., 2017). So much as it may be the wish of a patient to die, the ethical standards underline nurses’ commitment to safeguarding human life and rights, including every person’s right to life and personal safety.
Euthanasia is classified into four different kinds of practices: active, passive, indirect, and clinician-assisted euthanasia. Active euthanasia occurs where a physician directly ends a patient’s life—for instance, administering a deadly dose of a tranquilizer on purpose to a patient (Abohaimed et al., 2019). Euthanasia that is considered passive is the discontinuation of therapy capable of maintaining life in response to the patient’s desire or when extending life is deemed useless. The practice of prescribing potentially lethal medications to alleviate pain is known as indirect euthanasia. Clinician-assisted suicide is when a physician assists a patient in ending their life at their request.
Numerous justifications exist for and against the practice of euthanasia. The majority of these arguments fit into one of three broad categories. First, religion and moral values have always been significant factors in determining resistance to euthanasia. The majority of world faiths reaffirm the sacredness of human life and so condemn any form of human participation in the act of death (Sabriseilabi & Williams, 2020). Most faiths teach that God only has the power to decide on human death and that no man can choose it because it would attempt to change God’s will (Sabriseilabi and Williams, 2020). Furthermore, Sabriseilabi and Williams (2020) add that religious objections to euthanasia are based on the assumption that it is a form of suicidal death since victims choose to end their own lives voluntarily.
Secondly, physician discretion in the case of Physician-Assisted Suicide is allowed only if the individual is cognitively competent in choosing. However, assessing a patient’s mental ability is not easy. Barstow et al.’s (2018) study reveals that medical experts frequently underdiagnose patients’ inability to make decisions. As such, Barstow et al. (2018) raise numerous questions on the credibility of euthanasia as a means to end a patient’s life.
Lastly, nurses’ professional ethics are founded on moral principles, informing their arguments for and against euthanasia. The American Nurses Association’s Code of Conduct for nurses unequivocally criticizes any intention to end the life of a patient, even when motivated by self-determination, compassion, or concerns about the patient’s quality of life. Professional, ethical norms must conform to the country’s legal structure. It has been asserted that nurses’ beliefs toward euthanasia are determined more by their overall worldview and religiosity than by professional ethical guidelines (Terkamo-Moisio et al., 2017). It is worth noting that the essence of ethical standards remains constant regardless of the person’s stance. Proponents of euthanasia emphasize respect for patients’ rights, which includes their want to die. Furthermore, they place a higher priority on life quality than the length of it. Elsewhere, nurses are guided by ethical codes and standards that expect them to protect life rather than destroy it.
Abohaimed, S., Matar, B., Al-Shimali, H., Al-Thalji, K., Al-Othman, O., Zurba, Y., & Shah, N. (2019). Attitudes of physicians towards different types of euthanasia in Kuwait. Medical Principles and Practice, 28(3), 199-207. Web.
Barstow, C., Shahan, B., & Roberts, M. (2018). Evaluating medical decision-making capacity in practice. American Family Physician, 98(1), 40-46. Web.
Sabriseilabi, S., & Williams, J. (2020). Dimensions of religion and attitudes toward euthanasia. Death Studies, 1-8. Web.
Terkamo-Moisio, A., Kvist, T., Kangasniemi, M., Laitila, T., Ryynänen, O. P., & Pietilä, A. M. (2017). Nurses’ attitudes towards euthanasia in conflict with professional ethical guidelines. Nursing Ethics, 24(1), 70-86. Web.