Defining the right to compassion


Madison Ling, Campus Life Editor

There’s been decades of debate circulating about euthanasia. The most compelling argument being that it shouldn’t be permitted due to liability and bias, prejudice toward vulnerable populations and alternative means to death with dignity. This is what should be considered with the right to compassion.
Allowing euthanasia in medicine challenges the founding values and ethics of the Hippocratic Oath. It states “I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan.”
By implementing, we’ll be introducing a gray area. The American Medical Association (AMA) argues it would complicate medicine because “…the physician who performs euthanasia assumes unique responsibility for the act of ending the patient’s life.”
This would cause widespread termination based on ethical violation and render the occupation obsolete, therefore causing euthanasia to go extinct by its own means.
Furthermore, the National Institute of Health (NIH) found that the state of Oregon had a physician member of a pro-euthanasia lobby group provide consultation for 58 out of 61 cases. This causes concern because it would allow recommendation based on personal beliefs. Per the Hippocratic Oath, “Into whatever homes I go, I will enter them for the benefit of the sick, avoiding any voluntary act of impropriety or corruption.”
Next, euthanasia could be considered discriminatory due to ‘burdening’ ideology. The American Psychological Association (APA) supports this through the ‘Interpersonal Psychological Theory of Suicidal Behavior’ which describes that “perceived burdensomeness and a sense of low belongingness or social alienation” can lead to the desire for death. In addition, there would be concern for children and if parents could elect for their euthanasia in certain circumstances.
A report published by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission followed a study conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Oklahoma about children born with Spina Bifida. Doctors provided two different prognoses to families based on socioeconomic status. The optimistic view being given to the wealthy and a pessimistic view to the poor. In the end, wealthier families elected for care while 4 out of 5 poor families refused. As a result, 24 children died.
Palliative and hospice care provide a reasonable rebuttal based on their goals. Palliative care aims to ease suffering and enhance the quality of life. It can be provided with curative treatment or once hospice is chosen. Hospice’s attempts to provide care and comfort to patients and loved ones throughout the process of death and bereavement.
Death with dignity isn’t a choice, but a process that occurs to achieve peace and comfort in what’s left behind and what’s coming. When death comes, it should be focused on what the patient defines as their right to compassion.