This is my 5th post for the #pht402 professional ethics course that I’m participating in for the next few weeks. In order to stimulate thinking, each participant in the course was required to engage with materials which can be found at topic for week 5.
The topic or rather, ongoing discussion of euthanasia is a very sensitive one. It’s essentially a very deep and convoluted one just like the questions: Does God really exist? If yes, than why does he allow all the suffering, discrimination, famine and war to break-down society? Also the topic of why are we here on earth? What is the point of living, and living a good life?
When my friends and I start these discussions, it always seem to end with a heavy sigh of, “it’s done.” Because all of these topics just seem, ‘heavy”. And they are with good reason. It seems like there are so many different parties involved when it comes to the crux of euthanasia. And we are often left with more questions than answers.
On one part of the scale we have people saying: “it’s my body and I have control over it so I should have control over my destiny.”
Yes that is true but only when it comes to tattoos and piercings and the occasional breast augmentation. Unfortunately, for you we are governed by laws of the land. Governed by the HPCSA (Health Professions Council of South Africa) and SASP (South African Society of Physiotherapy) as professionals.
“The South African Society of Physiotherapy believes that physiotherapists should at all times act in the best interests of their patients and maintain the highest standards of personal conduct and integrity”
So let’s just throw this out there, if euthanasia is in the best interest of your patient, would you advise them to indulge in it?
Religion is sort of a taboo subject for me (much like Voldemorts name in Harry Potter), for I am strong in my beliefs and you are strong in yours and that’s where I’d like to leave it. I’ve been in many a debate where people have gotten a bit too sensitive on the above mentioned topic. We are meant to live “in all the fullness of life “- John 10:10. So that means quality life, a good life, a life filled with “milk and honey”-Exodus. If someone has no quality of life like in the case of extreme disability and wished to die of their own free will, than they should be allowed to exercise that free will (within reason of course). But, life is of course precious, so does euthanasia support the sanctity of human life which religions speaks so proudly about? No it does not. This sanctity of human life also supports life-saving acts/procedures such as CPR. So it looks like religion is giving us a bit of a two sided coin.
The article on Tony Nickilson echoed this statement from those groups who are against euthanasia:
“We’ve got a rapidly aging population already whose biggest reason for wanting to die is not pain, not illness, it’s because they feel they’re a burden on others.”
This statement is very profound, it comes from a place some of us might be too well aware of. My mother, after having watched her stubborn father refuse palliative care, suffer under the scourge of cancer she echoed, if I ever become so demanding, put me in a home. Many people who become terminally ill wish to be with their families, but some families do not have it in their capacity to take care of someone who is ill. Many South Africans live in households which are driven by incomes from both parents. So if anyone is to become sick who will look after them if they require 24 hour care? Is there enough money to employ a carer for 24 hour care for an indefinite time period? So the worst case scenario, someone in your family is terminally ill and requires 24 hour care, you have to work to pay for care (that may or may not improve their quality of life), also said family member wishes they weren’t such a burden and wants to take their own life? How do you let them do this with the most amount of dignity you can muster?
I believe euthanasia is rational, and in severe circumstances it should be considered, but only after weighing the pros and cons. It shouldn’t be done “Willy nilly” because that’s just defeating the purpose…
If you have time and just for a bit of extra stimulation read the article about a non-medical professor from (my university) the University of the Western Cape (UWC) who assisted his 86-year old mother (a medical doctor herself), to kill herself by an overdose of morphine.
- Health Professional Council of South Africa – Professional ethical guidelines
- South African Society of Physiotherapy – Code of Conduct