Theend-of-life decisions are among the hardest decisions to make, giventhat the world is moving from a society that perceived discussionsabout death is a taboo. This explains why even after getting informedand expressing the certain preferences for the end-of-life, only 29of the Americans have enough courage to complete their advanceddirective (Minnier, 2012). I missed my grandfather`s day. He died sosuddenly in the hospital bed. I was still in class, so I didn`t go tosee my grandfather for the last time. Now 10 years have passed. Idon`t remember the time when I was with my grandfather. I stillregret that, if I was able to accompany him in the hospital for sometime, he would have remained in my memory a little longer. So I verymuch agree with modern medicine to help people control the last dateand time. So the family can have more time to accompany the patient.And I am in favor of the end of life with dignity. Because I hopethat the patient can die in the company of all, not their own lonelydeath. I will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of thisapproach. And the practice is now very popular. I will also take intoaccount the religious reasons why some religions do not agree withthe end-of-life decisions.
Legalcontext of the end-of life choices
Theintervention of legislators on matters the end-of-life choices haveadvanced the debate on the significance of administering futiletherapy. Many states have formulated legislations that are intendedto make it legal for health care professionals to terminate futiletherapy without any legal implication on them, especially when thepatient have made such an advanced directive. For example, the lawenacted by the state of Oregon to legalize physician-aided suicidehas helped about 859 patients suffering long-term illnesses to diewith dignity (University of Life Church Monastery, 2015). Byintegrating the issues of the end-of-life into the legal system, thestate government has made it easier for health care professionals toaccept hard decisions made by their patients without reservations.This implies that the law has given patients the right to makechoices and enjoy full autonomy without being forced to undergonecessary procedures or being influenced by health care providers tomake certain choices.
Benefitsof end-of-life decisions
Empoweringpeople to make the end-of-life decisions through writings (such asthe advanced directives) has both merits and demerits. Letting otherpeople, especially the relatives, understand the wishes of the dyingperson is among the key benefits associated with the power to makeclear end-of-life decisions. According to Minnier (2012) relativesexperienced a hard time when making the end-of-life decisions onbehalf of their loved ones who did not express their wishes when theywere competent enough to make such decisions. This result in delayeddecisions regarding the type of treatment or the continuation of lifesustaining therapy and disagreements that brings hatred and blameamong the family members. All these negative occurrences can beprevented if people make end-of-life decisions when they arecompetent.
Inaddition, accommodating discussions on the end-of-life andintegrating such decisions into the law protect patients from therisk of unsafe suicide. This is because patients who are not willingundergo useless therapy end up committing suicide on their own, whichmay be painful or unsuccessful. Therefore, it is more ethical to givepatients who will certainly die of their present illness anopportunity to die with the help of professionals than to let themuse crude means to commit suicide (Minnier, 2012). This implies thatgiving patients the chance to take control over their end of life isconsistent with the principle of beneficence, which requires thestakeholder to do what is good for their patients.
Thesecond benefit of taking control over one’s end-of-life is thequality of life. In most cases, people die after suffering fromlong-term illnesses or after undergoing some life sustaining therapy.During this time the patients endure a lot of pain since the futilemedication that is administered only to help them stay alive and notto help them recover. People who reach this incompetent stage beforemaking the end-of-life choices receive unnecessary therapeuticprocedure that they not have selected in case they were stillcompetent enough to decide (Minnier, 2012). Their quality of lifecontinues to decline, but this could have been avoided if suchpatients had issued a directive requiring the health careprofessionals not to put them under the life sustaining therapeuticprocedures. Therefore, allowing people to take control other theirlast days give them an opportunity to die with dignity.
Third,the culture of empowering people to take control on the way theywould like to end their lives creates a healthy debate among thefamily members during their healthy and competent moments. It iseasier for people to make rational decisions and engage their closerelatives when making such decisions when they are still healthy(Minnier, 2012). During such debates, people are able to select thetype of treatment they would like to be administered to them whenthey become incompetent and explain the reason for making suchchoices to their loves ones. Debates on the end-of-life issuesrequire thought and time, which creates a platform for the familymembers to interact and share the last moments with their dyingrelatives.
Demeritsof physicians’ authority to terminate futile medication
Althoughit is generally accepted that patients should have the right to makechoices on the type of medication or the termination of futiletherapy, classification of medication as futile of useful is stillcontroversial. Health care providers often make the wrong decision,which has been confirmed by some of the recovery of some patients whowere considered to be undergoing futile therapy. For example, ULCM(2015) reported that health care physicians are likely to makecorrect judgment regarded to the futility of therapy in about aquarter of cases within one week, 43 % in two weeks, and 61 % in fourweeks. This implies that physicians may provoke an advanced directiveand terminate the therapy of patients who could otherwise havesurvived their present illness and enjoyed more time with theirrelatives. Therefore, giving the health care providers the right toassess and classify medication as being futile creates a leeway forthe abuse of advanced end-of-life decisions.
Althoughmany religious leaders agree with the compassionate argument on whichthe end-of-life decisions are based on, they oppose most of them(such as the physician-assisted suicide) because they fail toconsider the value of life. For example, Baptists believe that thestakeholders should emphasize on the concept of caring, instead ofbothering themselves with the possibility of the death of theirclients (Death with Dignity, 2015). Giving physicians the right toterminate the life of their clients on the grounds they are receivingfutile therapy is equated to playing God’s role of starting andending the human life. This leads to a unanimous conclusion byreligious leaders, except a section of Buddhists, thatphysician-aided suicide signifies the lack of respect for human life.Moreover, Christians believe that terminating human through actions(such as the administration of lethal drugs to patients undergoingfutile therapy) and omissions, such as the termination of futiletherapy is a denial of God’s presence as well as His healing power. Therefore, the physician-aided suicide and termination of futiletherapy are inconsistent with the beliefs of many religious groupsand indicate trivialization of human life by the stakeholder in themodern medicine.
Althoughthe idea of giving patients to right to have control over their lastmoments is still controversial, it is evident that it is morebeneficial integrate the patients’ rights to determine the type oftreatment and how they desire to end their lives. Integrating thisright into the law gives health care providers the opportunity torespect the wishes of their patients without the fear of being sued.In addition, allowing patients to write advanced directives allowsthem to exercise their freedom of making choices. Most importantly,critical end-of-life decisions (such as the termination of futiletherapy) protect patients from unnecessary pain and allow them to endtheir lives in a dignified way. However, the idea of physician-aidedsuicide and other advanced directives face some criticisms,especially from religious groups that believe that the concept ofcare should be upheld to the end.
Deathwith Dignity (2015). Religion and spirituality. Deathwith Dignity.Retrieved December 12, 2015, fromhttps://www.deathwithdignity.org/religion-spirituality/
Minnier,T. (2012, August 22). Advanced care planning: Take charge of how youdie. BBCNews.Retrieved December 14, 2015, fromhttp://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2012/08/22/advance-care-planning-take-charge-of-how-you-die/
Universityof Life Church Monastery (2015). Assisted suicide now legal inCalifornia. Universityof Life Church Monastery.Retrieved December 14, 2015, fromhttp://www.themonastery.org/blog/2015/10/is-it-assisted-suicide-or-dying-with-dignity/