Public Policy Affecting the Right to Die – Medical Ethics Example

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"Public Policy Affecting the Right to Die" is a great example of a paper on medical ethics.   The rights which are innate to all human beings are normally labelled as human rights. Such rights are normally referred to as natural rights. Natural rights may not change with respect to the gender, race, religion or culture. For example, the right to live, right to have shelter, right to have food etc are natural rights and all the humans have these natural rights irrespective of their country of origin or community in which they belong.

“ Human rights are inalienable. They should not be taken away, except in specific situations and according to due process” (What are human rights? 2011) Some natural rights are controversial ones because of the various dimensions attached to it. For example, the right to die is a controversial topic in the current world. It is difficult to argue in favour or against this right because of the serious ethical, moral, social and cultural dimensions involved in it. Since man is a social animal, he is associated with so many other individuals and his decision to accept death may affect some people who are alive.

This paper analyses the right to die from various perspectives. Problem statement The public policy right to die involves various problems of different dimensions. Some of these problems are neutral whereas others affect both the person who decides to die and his relatives and friends. One neutral problem involved in this policy is with respect principle of autonomy.   Principle of autonomy with respect to the right to die states that “ competent peoples have the right to determine their own course of medical action in accordance with a plan they choose.

We have a duty to respect the wishes and desires expressed by a competent decision-maker” (Moreland, 1992). Another problem associated with the public policy right to die is with respect to the principle of beneficence. This principle states that “ One should act to further the welfare and benefits of another and to prevent evil or harm to that person. Beneficence requires me to do something for someone” (Moreland, 1992). Background Christians believe that life is a gift from God and God does not send us any experience we cannot handle.

Islam states in the Quran, Take not life which Allah made sacred otherwise than in the course of justice. And Since we did not create ourselves, we do not own our bodies. Orthodox Judaism states that This is an issue of critical constitutional and moral significance which Jewish tradition clearly speaks to. We believe that the recognition of a constitutionally recognized right to die for the terminally ill is a clear statement against the recognition and sanctity of human life (Physician-Assisted Suicide and The Art of Care, n.

d) “ In the United States, physician-assisted suicide is legal only in Oregon. The Oregon Death With Dignity Act was passed in November 1994 by a margin of 51% to 49%” (Facts and Statistics on Euthanasia, 2010). The topic; mercy killing, physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia is a highly controversial one in the current world. People who are in no hope condition always like to terminate their life in order to escape from pain and also to avoid causing problems to others. However, their decision to terminate life may affect others in many ways.

For example, a person who decides to terminate his life may have a wife, children, parents, other relatives and friends. His decision to accept death may affect these people in one way or other. In other words, even if the right to die is a personal issue, it can cause problems for others. At the same time, if the person decides to sustain his life, then also others may face problems. The expenditure needed to sustain his life would be more and the relatives may face financial problems as a result of that.

Many people believe that nobody has the right to die. They cite moral reasons for substantiating their arguments. For them, only the creator has the right to sustain, terminate or modify life in this universe. Stakeholders and Factors Principle of autonomy says that a person has the right to decide about his future. His right to accept death cannot be denied since it may not cause any physical damages to others. It is illogical to ask a person suffering from severe pain to sustain his life when the hope for survival is zero.

Every human has the right to accept death in a dignified manner. “ The reasons for favouring physician-assisted suicide is not difficult to determine. They consist mainly of the interests that dying patients have in the process of death being as painless and dignified as possible” (Dworkin et al, p.3). Allowing a person to accept dignified death through, mercy killing or physician-assisted suicide may not cause any physical damages to the friends and relatives. At the same time, such death will allow the person to escape from his agony permanently. Principle of beneficence should be analyzed from the client’ s or patient’ s perspectives.

This principle says that each person has the responsibility to cause fewer problems for others. The hospital expenses of a patient in no hope condition may bring financial burdens to his relatives. It is the duty of the patient to avoid such burdens to his relatives. For example, consider a person is spending all his earnings for sustaining his life and fails to do so in the end. He is destroying the future of his wife and children.

On the other hand, if that person decides to accept death, he can help his wife and children to save a substantial amount of money. Options and Recommendations The public policy right to die is so important now when we consider the increasing number of patients who forced to continue their life in no hope conditions. Ultimately, the patient is the one who forced to suffer pain and agony and therefore he should be allowed to make decisions about his future life.

A person during his end of life period or in no hope condition will never be interested in causing more problems to his relatives. In other words, the sustainment of life of a person in hope condition will not be beneficial either to the person or to the relatives. Under such circumstances, the public policy right to die should be legalized for people who are in no hope conditions.


1. Dworkin Gerald, Frey R.G. and Bok Sissela. “Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted

Suicide”. 1998. Publisher: Cambridge University Press (August 28, 1998)

2. Facts and Statistics on Euthanasia, (2010). Retrieved from

3. Moreland J.P. (1992). The Euthanasia Debate: Understanding the Issues. The Christian

Research Journal (Winter 1992). Retrieved from

4. Physician Assisted Suicide and The Art of Care (n.d) Retrieved from

5. What are human rights?. (2011). Retrieved from

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