It is evident that nurses play pivotal roles in the implementation of palliative seduction. Arevalo et al (2013) state “that nurses are important participants in the different phases of implementation of palliative sedation; starting with the day-to-day care of terminally ill patients and their relatives” (p. 618). Palliative seduction has become one of the most contentious ethical issues in the United States of America. Consequently, ethical decision making has also become one of the most challenging issues to baccalaureate prepared nurses and society at large. Nurses experience immense challenges while caring for patients in palliative care, especially in making end-of-life decisions. Fernandes and Moreira (2012) reaffirm the challenges faced by nurses in ethical decision making by stating that nurses “consider that end-of-life decisions, privacy, interaction between nurse/patient and/or family, team work, and access to care arise in their daily life” (p. 81). This is, probably the principal reason as to why current debate over whether palliative seduction in physician-assisted suicide should be legalized or not has evoked unprecedented controversy in the society. From a critical approach, the issue of palliative seduction has been complicated by the doctrine of double effect. However, this doctrine does not have legal, empirical and ethical relevance. Therefore, this paper will provide a critical analysis of palliative seduction, especially with regard to ethical decision making in physician-assisted suicide.
Ethical Decision Making and Palliative Seduction
Palliative seduction issue has turned out to be an ethical dilemma among the U.S population, especially nurses because; there is no universal explanation which is provided by the popularly known normative theories. These theories address the issue of physician-assisted suicide from diverse perspectives, leading to the observed ethical conflict (Broeckaert, 2011). The other aspect of the palliative seduction lies within the medical ethics. Physicians seem to be tied up by the medical ethics especially through the Hippocratic Oath, and yet they are ought to facilitate the practice.
In general, the principal ethical issue that has evoked the debate over the physician-assisted suicide is the rhetoric nature of the three key ethical questions that seek to tone down the ambiguous aspect of the practice. It is obvious that the current debate over the issue of physician-assisted suicide is not necessarily about legalization, but rather about the ethical questions whose answers remain uncertain. These questions seek to define some of the cultural aspects and societal norms especially among the U.S population.
From an ethical perspective, the debate about the physician-assisted suicide comprises of questions that attempt to establish a universal conclusion over the issue, despite the ambiguity created by the current normative theories.
The question, “Is it right to terminate one’s life?” seeks for the answer whether the physician-assisted suicide conforms to the societal norms and values. Ordinarily, suicide is regarded to as a social vice in the society. Therefore, physician-assisted suicide is usually considered as an intended violation of the social norms of the society. In contrast, this practice has been incorporated into the current medical approaches and its application as a reliable tool is seemingly gaining unprecedented popularity.
In addition, the second question, “Is it ethical for someone to help a terminally ill individual to die?” seeks to get a validation of the physicians’ role in helping the terminally ill individuals to undergo a painless death. This question appears to be the most contentious ethical issue because; it poses a significant challenge to the Hippocratic Oath that requires physicians to protect the patient’s life at all cost. From a retrospective perspective, the Hippocratic Oath forbids physicians from facilitating for the death of the patient; instead, they are supposed to employ relentless efforts to keep the patient alive. Therefore, the physician-assisted suicide places the physician at the central point of the matter, and this appears to compromise the professional code of ethics. As a result, physicians are pushed into the Island of controversy because they cannot validate their role. According to the Hippocratic Oath, it is wrong for a physician to contribute in any way to the death of the patient. In contrast, euthanasia has been adopted as one of the reliable medical approaches that help patients to avoid unbearable pain.
On the other hand, the question, “Is it right to kill others upon their own request to be killed?” attempts to validate an individual’s right to make critical choices over their lives, especially with matters related to life and death. It also seeks to establish a universal justification over whether other people have the right to make decisions over the lives of others. This is because; family members have been granted an opportunity to request for the termination of the life of their beloved ones depending with the ethical issues created by the patient’s illness. Moreover, this question seeks for a reliable explanation of the most fundamental phenomena of mankind. It appears engrossing that human beings do not decide to be born, and the laws of nature demand that death should be unintentional, but rather a natural phenomenon. Therefore, it seems that no one has the right to decide whether to live or die.
Arguments on Palliative Seduction
Physician-assisted suicide seems to encompass several ethical decision making challenges because “society tends to entrust healthcare decisions at the end of life to [the] discretion of patients and their healthcare providers” (Paine & Parker, 2011 p. 63). Initially, practice of physician-assisted suicide was introduced in the medical field as a result of advancements in medicine and technology. This prompted the social change of the western culture, leading to unprecedented change in the meaning of death. Unfortunately, technological advancements in the field of medicine did not incorporate some of the fundamental ethics of the western culture.
One of the most potential arguments related to physician-assisted suicide is that, it may be executed without the consent of the terminally ill individual. For instance, in involuntary euthanasia, other parties such as family members request for the termination of one’s life and such decision may go against the wishes of the subject. This is a critical, ethical problem that may evoke numerous social abnormalities in the society, in case efficient guidelines are formulated to define the circumstances upon which people, rather than, the subject can request for the termination of the life of their family member who faces untreatable health condition. It appears that granting family members an opportunity to request for the termination of the life of one of their family members may allow innocent individuals to be killed against their wishes, leading to the emergence of adverse moral consequences.
The second argument holds that, allowing physician-assisted suicide may enable relatives of the subject to perpetuate their own interests that go against the wishes of the ailing individual. For instance, people can request for the killing of their family member for their own benefit and not necessarily for the benefits of the subject. As a result, innocent individuals may be subjected to untimely death, owing to the wishes of the relatives. It appears quite shocking to imagine that an innocent individual is taken to the hospital for the termination of his or her life without the subject’s request. It is extremely dehumanizing because such a circumstance may arouse immense societal outcry especially when the killed individual opposed the decision of physician-assisted suicide.