The practice of health care providers at all levels brings you into contact with people from a variety of faiths. This calls for knowledge and understanding of a diversity of faith expressions; for the purpose of this course, the focus will be on the Christian worldview.
Based on “Case Study: End of Life Decisions,” the Christian worldview, and the worldview questions presented in the required topic study materials you will complete an ethical analysis of George’s situation and his decision from the perspective of the Christian worldview.
Provide a 1,500-2,000-word ethical analysis while answering the following questions:
- How would George interpret his suffering in light of the Christian narrative, with an emphasis on the fallenness of the world?
- How would George interpret his suffering in light of the Christian narrative, with an emphasis on the hope of resurrection?
- As George contemplates life with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), how would the Christian worldview inform his view about the value of his life as a person?
- What sorts of values and considerations would the Christian worldview focus on in deliberating about whether or not George should opt for euthanasia?
- Given the above, what options would be morally justified in the Christian worldview for George and why?
- Based on your worldview, what decision would you make if you were in George’s situation?
Remember to support your responses with the topic study materials.
Prepare this assignment according to the guidelines found in the APA Style Guide, located in the Student Success Center. An abstract is required.
This assignment uses a rubric. Please review the rubric prior to beginning the assignment to become familiar with the expectations for successful completion.
Case Study: End of Life Decisions
George is a successful attorney in his mid-fifties. He is also a legal scholar, holding a teaching post at the local university law school in Oregon. George is also actively involved in his teenage son’s basketball league, coaching regularly for their team. Recently, George has experienced muscle weakness and unresponsive muscle coordination.
He was forced to seek medical attention after he fell and injured his hip. After an examination at the local hospital following his fall, the attending physician suspected that George may be showing early symptoms for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a degenerative disease affecting the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The week following the initial examination, further testing revealed a positive diagnosis of ALS.
ALS is progressive and gradually causes motor neuron deterioration and muscle atrophy to the point of complete muscle control loss. There is currently no cure for ALS, and the median life expectancy is between 3 and 4 years, though it is not uncommon for some to live 10 or more years. The progressive muscle atrophy and deterioration of motor neurons leads to the loss of the ability to speak, move, eat, and breathe. However, sight, touch, hearing, taste, and smell are not affected. Patients will be wheelchair bound and eventually need permanent ventilator support to assist with breathing.
George and his family are devastated by the diagnosis. George knows that treatment options only attempt to slow down the degeneration, but the symptoms will eventually come. He will eventually be wheelchair bound and be unable to move, eat, speak, or even breathe on his own.
In contemplating his future life with ALS, George begins to dread the prospect of losing his mobility and even speech. He imagines his life in complete dependence upon others for basic everyday functions and perceives the possibility of eventually degenerating to the point at which he is a prisoner in his own body. Would he be willing to undergo such torture, such loss of his own dignity and power? George thus begins inquiring about the possibility of voluntary euthanasia.
EXPERT ANSWER AND EXPLANATION
Case Study on Death and Dying
The concept of death and dying, is, in most cases viewed from different perspectives depending on one’s cultural and spiritual beliefs. An individual’s choice on how they approach or look at death can also vary depending on the condition they are in. The selection of voluntary euthanasia, in light of terminal illnesses, is one which has elicited discussion, especially from different religious groups, including Christianity.
This paper will evaluate a case of Mr George, a fifty-year-old lawyer diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Due to his condition, George is considering voluntary euthanasia as a possible option to avoid the harrowing life that awaits him after the disease has taken its course.
How would George interpret his suffering in light of the Christian narrative, with an emphasis on the fallenness of the world?
The Christian narrative has different interpretations of suffering as that which is experienced by George. The first interpretation of suffering is the notion that suffering comes as a form of test to measure our faith in God (O’brien, 2017). There are various biblical examples where suffering was used as a test of faith.
Such instances describe the fact that after one has demonstrated their true faith in God, they can then overcome the suffering and come out victorious, with their state prior to the suffering being restored (O’brien, 2017). This narrative calls for one to persevere throughout the entire ordeal, which in the given case, George may not be thinking as such.
The second narrative is where suffering is used as a punishment occurring after one has sinned. The biblical narrative established the fact that sinners will be punished for the sins they have committed. In such a case, then George may view his suffering as retribution for the sins he has committed in his lifetime.
Taking into consideration George’s perspective and linking it to the Christian narrative, George may believe that escaping this world, which is laced with sin may, in turn, be a better option for him. The Christian narrative, after all, assures life after death and one which is free of suffering for those who are righteous (Doka & Morgan, 2016).
He might be looking at the world as a place which is full of suffering as a result of the sins committed by man to God. God being the creator of the world, therefore, punishes its inhabitants with different forms of suffering, including untreatable conditions like the one faced by George, as retribution of sinning against Him.
How would George interpret his suffering in light of the Christian narrative, with an emphasis on the hope of resurrection?
Using the narratives described in the previous section, facing such a condition as the one being faced by George, there are various perspectives which may be taken by George. Knowing the world as a fallen place for sinners, with heaven being a place for the righteous, George may view death as a gateway which will allow him to escape the suffering that awaits him with the progression of his medical condition. By leaving this world, then George may be hoping to resurrect in a world free from suffering.
Alternatively, George may also view escaping his suffering by engaging involuntary euthanasia to be equivalent to committing suicide and in extension, a sin against God (Rumun, 2014). Being his last act, this will prevent him from having any hope of resurrection and in return, guarantee him eternal suffering in the afterlife as per the biblical narrative.
The biblical narrative gives various examples where suffering was used as a conduit to establish a closer relationship with God. Earthly suffering from a biblical perspective is considered an essential part of the process towards eternal life through resurrection. Those who overcame the suffering from the biblical narrative were assured eternal life free of the suffering as experienced here on earth. With this perspective, then George should not consider voluntary euthanasia as his option of dealing with the expected suffering.
As George contemplates life with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), how would the Christian worldview inform his view about the value of his life as a person?
Given the condition being faced by George, there is a high likelihood that he has already lost hope in living depending on his perspective of what a human person is. Many at times, people with terminal illnesses like ALS consider themselves as lesser human beings or people waiting on the death list. As such, their perception of life my change whereby, they are likely to consider their lives as being unworthy. That is why, in most cases, such patients consider euthanasia as the most viable option (Sharp, 2017).
From a Christian worldview, life is considered sacred and belongs to God, who is the creator. Therefore, taking one’s own life is regarded as a sin regardless of the condition one is in. Using this narrative, then all lives before the eyes of God can be considered as being equal in value (O’brien, 2017). The same way God views a healthy person is the same way He views a diseased person. As such, the Christian world view considers George to still retain his value as a person, regardless of his condition.
In light of this, the Christian worldview, therefore, prohibits using earthly suffering as a reason to take one’s own life. According to the biblical narrative which dictates the Christian worldview, every person is purposed to accomplish a certain mission in accordance with God’s design. Upon the accomplishment of that mission, in God’s own timing, one transitions to the afterlife through death. Taking one’s own life is equivalent to departing the world before accomplishing God’s intended purpose on earth.
All the scenarios highlighted indicate the value of life from a Christian worldview which may help George in choosing his preferred course of action in dealing with the illness.
What sorts of values and considerations would the Christian worldview focus on in deliberating about whether or not George should opt for euthanasia?
The Christian worldview in light of George’s condition will employ different values and consideration as dictated by the biblical teachings. One of the considerations which will be taken is the value of life as earlier discussed. The Christian worldview considers the sanctity of life and considers it as a gift from God. Before God’s will for an individual is accomplished, then taking that life away is considered a sin before God.
Likewise, Christians view the concept of birth and death as holding high spiritual significance, in the sense that both processes are controlled by the creator and therefore should not be interrupted by man (SSorajjakool et al., 2017). The fact that Christians also believe that all human beings were created in the likeness of God, then defiling the image of God through suicide, may be considered a sin. Therefore, opting for euthanasia, according to the Christian worldview, may be going contrary to God’s will.
Another Christian virtue is the virtue of perseverance. The biblical narrative elaborates preserving through hardship and suffering as being an essential aspect of a Christians life. It is through perseverance and maintaining a firm stance of faith that we get closer to God. the biblical narrative establishes that resurrection comes to those who persevere to the end (Romans 5:1-5, New International Version Bible).
Given the above, what options would be morally justified in the Christian worldview for George and why?
From a Christian worldview, George should opt to persevere through the suffering with the belief that through his suffering, he will receive renewed strength from God. Given the Christian perspective on the value of life and perception of sin, George opting for euthanasia will be considered going against God’s will. The Christian worldview also looks at death as a phenomenon which should not be interfered with by mortals, and left only to God, for he is the creator and therefore the owner of that life (De Villiers, 2016).
Taking away that life through euthanasia will be tantamount to robbing God His possession. Ultimately, the Christian perspective considers all life as having equal value and George should not consider his as being any less valuable in light of his medical condition. These are some of the moral considerations which George ought to take by employed a Christian point of view.
Based on your worldview, what decision would you make if you were in George’s situation?
It is indeed a difficult choice to make when faced with such an illness as one experienced by George. When one encounters a seemingly hopeless situation, there are several considerations which come into play to make a decision. One of those considerations is, of course, the quality of life one will lead in light of the situation. Being incapacitated for the rest of your life seems to be harrowing enough ordeal which one would never want to experience.
Other than that, how the medical condition will impact the immediate family members is also a factor. In most cases, one would consider the burden left to those who care for them as being unbearable as such opting to rid them of that burden by going for options such as euthanasia (Movahedi & Tavacoly, 2016). In some instances, one may not have someone to care for them, which exposes them to even more suffering. Taking all the listed considerations into perspective, opting for euthanasia will most likely be the selected choice of action to take.
However, coming from a strong spiritual background, where practices like euthanasia are considered sinful, then consideration of other options will be my preferred course of action. My spiritual perspective is one which is cemented on hope and faith that things may turn out for the best. Therefore, I would opt for the treatment regimens, which are aimed at reducing the progression of the disease. I will consider this option in the hope that, after the bought time, a more permanent treatment solution will be available in the market, allowing the condition to get treated.
The concept of death and dying is one which breeds difficult moral dilemmas, especially when faced with a seemingly hopeless situation. The use of euthanasia as a possible option when dealing with terminal illnesses is one which, according to the Christian worldview, is considered as a sin. However, a patient facing such a condition may be inclined to opt for such measures, given the envisioned suffering faced by themselves, and their loved ones as a result of the disease. This paper has therefore described the various considerations on the subject according to a Christian worldview. The paper has described dealing with the issue from a Christian perspective and concluded by explaining my personal perspective on the subject.
De Villiers, D. E. (2016). May Christians request medically assisted suicide and euthanasia?. HTS Theological Studies, 72(4), 1-9.
Doka, K. J., & Morgan, J. D. (2016). Death and spirituality. Routledge.
Movahedi, M. J., & Tavacoly, G. (2016). Euthanasia in religion-based deontology. Medical Ethics Journal, 10(34), 165-186.
O’brien, M. E. (2017). Spirituality in nursing. Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Rumun, A. J. (2014). Influence of religious beliefs on healthcare practice. International Journal of Education and Research, 2(4), 37-47.
Sharp, S. (2017). Belief in miracles and attitudes towards voluntary euthanasia. Death studies, 41(4), 211-219.
SSorajjakool, S., Carr, M. F., Nam, J. J., Sorajjakool, S., & Bursey, E. (2017). World religions for healthcare professionals. Routledge.
Introduction to Euthanasia
Euthanasia, also known as assisted suicide or mercy killing, is a topic that sparks heated debates and discussions worldwide. It involves intentionally ending the life of a person who is suffering from an incurable illness or unbearable pain. The ethical, moral, legal, and medical aspects of euthanasia make it a complex and controversial subject.
Types of Euthanasia
There are different types of euthanasia, including voluntary euthanasia, non-voluntary euthanasia, and involuntary euthanasia. Voluntary euthanasia refers to the act of ending one’s life with their informed consent. Non-voluntary euthanasia occurs when the patient’s consent is unavailable or unclear, often in cases involving individuals in a vegetative state. Involuntary euthanasia, which is widely considered unethical and illegal, involves ending a person’s life against their will.
Arguments For Euthanasia
Proponents of euthanasia argue that it provides a compassionate option for terminally ill patients who are experiencing immense suffering. They believe that individuals should have the right to die with dignity and control over their own lives. Advocates also contend that legalizing euthanasia would enable better regulation and safeguards, ensuring that the process is carried out ethically and responsibly.
Arguments Against Euthanasia
Opponents of euthanasia raise various concerns, such as the sanctity of life and the potential for abuse. They argue that legalizing euthanasia could lead to a slippery slope, where vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly or disabled, may face pressure to choose death over prolonged suffering. Furthermore, they emphasize the importance of palliative care and advancements in pain management to alleviate suffering without resorting to euthanasia.
Legal Perspective on Euthanasia
The legal status of euthanasia varies across different jurisdictions. Some countries, such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Colombia, have legalized certain forms of euthanasia or assisted suicide under strict regulations. In contrast, many other countries, including the United States, maintain a legal stance against euthanasia, considering it as a criminal act. The legal framework surrounding euthanasia continues to evolve as societal attitudes and ethical considerations develop.
Euthanasia raises significant ethical dilemmas regarding the value of life, autonomy, and the role of healthcare professionals. Ethical frameworks such as consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics offer different perspectives on the moral implications of euthanasia. The decision to legalize or prohibit euthanasia requires a careful balance between respecting individual autonomy and protecting vulnerable individuals from potential harm.
Euthanasia Around the World
Euthanasia practices vary globally, with different countries adopting diverse approaches. While some nations have implemented legislation permitting euthanasia under specific circumstances, others strictly prohibit any form of intentional life-ending interventions. Public opinion, cultural values, and religious beliefs heavily influence the stance each country takes on euthanasia.
Euthanasia and Patient Rights
The concept of patient rights plays a crucial role in discussions on euthanasia. Proponents argue that patients have the right to make decisions about their own lives, including the choice to end their suffering. They believe that respecting patient autonomy and providing a compassionate option is essential in upholding individual rights and dignity.
Euthanasia in the Medical Field
Euthanasia presents significant challenges and ethical dilemmas for healthcare professionals. Physicians, nurses, and other medical practitioners often find themselves torn between their duty to preserve life and the desire to relieve a patient’s suffering. The medical community continues to debate the role of healthcare providers in euthanasia and the potential impact on the doctor-patient relationship.
Euthanasia and Palliative Care
Palliative care, which focuses on improving the quality of life for terminally ill patients, is an essential aspect of end-of-life care. Advocates for palliative care argue that by enhancing pain management, psychological support, and holistic care, the need for euthanasia can be significantly reduced. They emphasize the importance of investing in comprehensive palliative care services to address the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of patients.
Euthanasia and Mental Health
The intersection of euthanasia and mental health poses complex ethical questions. Should individuals with severe mental health conditions have the option of euthanasia? Mental health professionals and experts are divided on this issue, considering the challenges in determining decisional capacity and the potential for coercion or misdiagnosis. The debate around euthanasia and mental health requires careful consideration of ethical principles and the long-term implications for society.
Religious Views on Euthanasia
Religious beliefs strongly influence perspectives on euthanasia. Some religious traditions consider euthanasia morally wrong, emphasizing the sanctity of life as a gift from a higher power. Others adopt more nuanced positions, taking into account the principles of compassion and mercy. Understanding the religious perspectives on euthanasia contributes to a comprehensive examination of the topic.
Case Studies and Examples
Examining real-life case studies and examples provides valuable insights into the complexities and implications of euthanasia. These stories help shed light on the experiences of patients, families, and healthcare providers facing end-of-life decisions. By analyzing different scenarios, it becomes possible to explore the ethical, legal, and emotional dimensions surrounding euthanasia.
The Debate on Euthanasia
The debate on euthanasia continues to evoke strong emotions and engage various stakeholders, including policymakers, medical professionals, ethicists, and the general public. It is a multifaceted discussion that requires open dialogue, careful consideration of the arguments presented, and an exploration of the long-term consequences of any decisions made.
In conclusion, euthanasia remains a topic of great controversy and moral dilemma. The perspectives and arguments surrounding this issue are deeply rooted in ethics, religion, law, and personal beliefs. As society progresses, it is essential to engage in thoughtful discussions and consider the impact of any decisions made regarding euthanasia on individuals, families, and the healthcare system.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
- Is euthanasia legal in all countries? Euthanasia laws vary across different countries, with some permitting it under specific circumstances, while others strictly prohibit it. The legal status of euthanasia depends on the jurisdiction.
- What is the difference between voluntary and involuntary euthanasia? Voluntary euthanasia involves ending a person’s life with their informed consent, while involuntary euthanasia occurs without the individual’s consent.
- What are the main arguments for euthanasia? Proponents argue that euthanasia provides a compassionate option for individuals suffering from incurable illnesses, allowing them to die with dignity and control over their lives. They also stress the need for proper regulation to ensure ethical practices.
- What are the main arguments against euthanasia? Opponents of euthanasia raise concerns about the potential for abuse, the sanctity of life, and the importance of palliative care as an alternative to ending life. They emphasize protecting vulnerable individuals from coercion or undue influence.
- How does euthanasia impact healthcare professionals? Euthanasia poses ethical dilemmas for healthcare professionals, challenging their duty to preserve life while considering the relief of patient suffering. The involvement of medical practitioners in euthanasia is a subject of ongoing debate within the medical community.