The Holocaust is considered to be one of the most devastating events in human history. During the holocaust, Natzi nurses preformed unauthorized euthanasisa on the mentally ill that they considered “life unworthy of life.”(Strous,2006) Approximately 200,000 lives were taken by a process that was created to prevent future suffering, yet these people were never given the opportunity to live. Unlike the Natzis who misused euthanasia, in classical Athens city magistrates kept a supply of poison for anyone who wished to die (“Did You Know This About Euthanasia ,”2010).
The city of Athens is considered to be one of the most advanced civilizations to this date. They created a successful democratic society where everyone had a voice. These examples raise the question, to what extent does someone’s cultural background affect their views on euthanasia and/or physician assisted suicide, and how do different cultures perceive it ethically in America? According to oxforddictionaries.com, A widely regarded and accepted authority on the English language for over 150 years, defined euthanasia as “the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma,” and Physician assisted suicide(PAS) is “suicide carried out with the assistance of a physician (whose role is typically to provide a lethal dose of a drug at the explicit, voluntary request of a mentally competent patient).
”In 1939 the ESA (Euthanasia Society of America) presented the first proposal for legalizing euthanasia in the United States. At the time, euthanasia was considered to be against the hippocratic oath (doing things for the benefit of the patient, and refraining from doing anything deceptive), but over the past 30 years, doctors have not been subjected to following it (Greek Medicine, 2012).
Over this time, the support for euthanasia has gone up 35%(Brenan, 2018). Terminally ill patients are forced to continue suffering because they aren’t supplied the option to die with dignity. In a democratic nation built on the basis of freedom, why aren’t all Americans given it? Researching from the cultural and social lenses helps illustrate how people view this topic. To determine whether or not the legalization of euthanasia/PAS is ethical and necessary, consider how it affects all cultures from a religious, financial, and psychological perspective. To begin with, different cultural views on euthanasia/PAS vary based on one’s religious beliefs, or lack thereof. From the Jewish perspective, euthanasia is viewed as taking something (someone’s life) that belongs to God (“Religious Perspectives on Euthanasia”, 2011).
People of the Jewish faith believe euthanasia, under any circumstance, is going against God. They consider God to be perfect meaning he makes no mistakes, therefore anything he creates is sacred. On the contrary, Buddhism has shown tolerance for suicide in the past and doesn’t explicitly deal with aid in dying(Religion and Spirituality). The way a buddhist’s life ends impacts how their reincarnated life will begin, thus a terminally ill patient suffering would come back as someone or something that is suffering. Buddhist are to die enlightened. This makes euthanasia/PAS acceptable if enlightenment is achieved. On the other hand, Atheists see no reason why these practices shouldn’t be legalized. They recognize that euthanasia means good death, and think voluntary euthanasia is a personal right.(Nicholls, 2012).
Euthanasia/PAS is perceived by them as a way to die with dignity. Understanding the religious impacts euthanasia/PAS has on cultures helps determine whether or not it should be legalized. Secondly, the ethical perception to legalize euthanasia/pas is influenced by the financial impact of these practices culturally. “ 85% of end of life care costs are covered by various government entities” said Bill Fay, a journalism veteran with a four decade career reporting frugal living veterans finances(N/D). Although the majority of end of life care medical costs are paid for, the average income of an American a month was 3,714 dollars in 2017 (Luther, 2018). In-patient hospital charges exceed $6,200 per day and can reach up to 10,000 dollars a day if the person is in the ICU (Hospice Costs & End-of-Life Options). Including the 85% medicare covers, families are only required to pay $930 a day. This is a significant decrease, but still adds up to 27,900 dollars a month.
That is around $24,000 over the average amount an American makes in a month. According to Ezekiel J. Emanuel and Margaret P. Battin, Emanuel is an oncologist and biotechist and Battin is a philosopher and medical ethicist,”managed care and managed death are less expensive than fee for service care”(1998). By legalizing euthanasia families could save $20,000. They could use that money for a proper funeral or to support their families. This is the quite useful for the lower class families. A common concern for those who are terminally ill considering euthanasia or PAS, is that they are/will be a financial burden for their families. “27-30% of the medicare budget is spent on the 5% of medicare patients who die each year (Emanuel/Battin, 1998).” Medicare spends an absorbent amount of money on those who could take part in euthanasia/PAS. Legalizing these practices would saves medicare money that could be used for more important things. This suggests that legalizing euthanasia/PAS would only benefit the patient and their families from a financial perspective.
By understanding the financial affects these practices have on the cultures, A better determination of whether or not the legalization is ethical can be pronounced. Lastly, the legalization of euthanasia/PAS creates an ethical dilemma based on the psychological impacts on cultures. The family and friends of euthanasia patients are the biggest influencers in their decision making process. They were found to have lost less values, beliefs, and grieved longer in comparison to those of non-euthanasia patient’s (Vanderlee/Vanderborn/Boutarvan, 2018). However, the euthanasia patient’s family and friends were found to live better lives afterward. This could be due to the family and friends of naturally dying terminally ill patient’s being more religious than the euthanasia patient’s family and friends.
A naturally dying patient’s family and friends were likely to believe that their loved one was in a better place, which can be why they better coped, while the euthanasia patient’s family and friends could have found comfort in their death being with dignity. A terminally ill patient’s desire to take part in euthanasia/PAS develops from the feeling of being a burden to their families financially, emotionally, and concern for future suffering (Givens/Mitchell, 2009). 73% of terminally ill patients in a survey thought euthanasia or PAS should be legalized. (Wilson/Scott/Grahan, 2000). Some patients stated in the survey stated that “If suffering is inevitable they should have a choice.” the another said “God put us on earth to enjoy life, though he is not the cause of my illness I am deteriorating.”
By viewing the psychological effects euthanasia/PAS has on cultures a better understanding of if the legalization being ethical can be determined. To summarize, in order to determine whether or not the legalization of euthanasia/PAS is ethical, you have to consider how it affects cultures religiously, financially, and psychologically. From a religious viewpoint you see how someone’s beliefs affects their stance on euthanasia/PAS, the financial impact a terminally ill patient has on different cultures influences their standpoint on the legalization, and knowing how this affects terminally ill patients, family, friends, and physicians helps to identify if there is a need for these practices. If everyone’s position is not taken into account, this issue will cease to be fully resolved. Legalizing euthanasia/pas for terminally ill patients with the safeguard of psychological and physical evaluations is the best solution. By doing this, the eligibility of terminally ill patients for these practices can be properly determined. The needs of these individuals matter and by understanding all points of view the would benefit the nation.