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Choices Spark Debate - Deciding One’s Fate

Written by Arushi Neravetla

Edited by Jocelyn Wang and Shania Sheth

Hello Readers! This article is the first article in our social psychology series, which highlights ethical debates, morals, and the social thinking processes of humans in many different forms. This article covers the topic of Euthanasia and an End-of-Life option for patients to consider.


Euthanasia, or physician-assisted suicide, refer to a deliberate action executed by a physician to end a patient’s life to relieve any pain. Specifically, there are two procedural classifications of euthanasia: passive euthanasia and active euthanasia. Passive euthanasia is when life-sustaining treatments aren't provided. Instead, doctors prescribe doses of strong pain medication like opioids which are toxic to the patient. However, arguments are made that this isn’t euthanasia since the method does not intend to take a life. On the other hand, active euthanasia is when doctors use lethal substances or forces to end the patient’s life.

In theory, both types of euthanasia are controversial and debated as unethical and morally unjustifiable in any clinical setting. Since the early 1800s, euthanasia has been a global topic of debate. For example, in the 20th century, Ezekiel Emmanual, a bioethicist of the American National Institutes of Health, believed that the modern era of euthanasia had allowed the availability of anesthesia. But the validity of practicing this method ultimately led to the establishment of formal ethic committees in U.S. hospitals and nursing homes to ensure specific guidelines are followed when performing euthanasia.

The controversy around euthanasia is primarily about morality and religion, where individuals believe euthanasia is murder under any circumstance and that deciding one’s death is a “human weakness.” In addition, many faith organizations may not comply with euthanasia for similar reasons, depending on their choice of view. Furthermore, physicians can make a judgment call when determining a patient’s life or death choice if they aren’t mentally stable or the family needs another perspective for the patient. Ethics plays a significant role in the euthanasia debate because of the ongoing Hippocratic oath taken by doctors, which encourages only care and no harm. Some argue that the oath supports a physician’s judgment to decide for their patient a choice that would bring no liability, whereas others argue that euthanasia brings harm to the patient.

Euthanasia is, in essence, a personal choice for the patient to decide how they choose to die. While the “Death with Dignity” policy encourages patients to know how they want to die, it is a challenge for others to accept that such a risky practice is also done for patients to be relieved in such a direction. But many patients often do this because they don’t want to go through a prolonged dying process and burden their loved ones with their suffering as their last memory of them.

Now that we’ve discussed more about the terminology of euthanasia and the general bioethics behind it, let us take a look at a sample situation.


And now, let us say a doctor deliberately gave a patient with terminal illness an overdose of a drug that they wanted, such as an overdose of muscle relaxants, with the sole purpose of ending their life painlessly. The patient agreed that was for the best option since the pain was unbearable from the illness and didn’t hesitate to ask for such an option. At first, informing the family was difficult but necessary. This wasn’t easy but the physician believed that was correct. However, the rest of the hospital and staff didn’t like this idea because they believed this option violated the Hippocratic Oath and the obligation to help instead of kill.

What choice will you pick?

  1. If the patient and family are agreeable, then the physician must provide the drug since they want to avoid the excruciating pain from the illness and embrace a timely death. It is the patient’s right and their exercise of to personal autonomy, requiring the physician to help them die in peace.

  1. No, don’t agree to this option and try another life-sustaining treatment for the terminal illness. The physician should ultimately comply with their oath because their job isn’t to deprive patients from counseling and compassionate care.

Keep in mind that these choices are hard in their own way, and it is understandable that as doctors, we must go through such harsh decisions in our medical career. As a reader, think about the choice you chose and reflect on why that is the best course of direction.

What are your thoughts on this process? Comment below this article to give your insight about the options provided above.


Thanks for reading our article on Euthanasia Ethics! We hoped you learned about both sides of the Euthanasia Ethics, and that you were able to understand both sides of the ethical dilemma.

If you enjoyed this article, check out our Lyme Disease article, which highlights a common disease in the United States that goes unnoticed, by Alexandra.

See you later,

Arushi and the Writing Committee :)


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