Ethical Dilemma




Ethical Dilemma


A compound situation that mostly involves a psychological conflict between two situations that are both morally right is what an ethical dilemma entails. An ethical dilemma involves one choosing to obey a rule and in the same process transgressing another rule. In terms of healthcare, ethical dilemmas are very common as people differ in the mode in which a patient should be treated. When a patient has a life threatening condition that requires surgery that is dangerous, he or she is faced with a decision.

In making this decision, they are faced with an ethical dilemma. That is, in going for the surgery, s/he could die or not end up improving their quality of life and not doing the surgery in which they could still die. Patients and their loved ones are not the only ones that are faced with ethical dilemmas, doctors as well as on a daily basis they are made to choose what are best for their patients.


The healthcare system has undergone a series of radical changes. The changes have brought with them complex situations and thus the use of ethics become part of what should be applied. Thus, ethical dilemmas arise, as people are known to view situations in different perspectives. Ethical dilemmas are more often than not put across to attempt to contest a system that is ethical as well as how the rest of the world views it. How one views a particular situation, is not necessarily, how another person will view it.

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These arguments have been disapproved in many ways over the past years. Just as people are different, their views on how to handle a certain situation will also differ. A person, who chooses to do something in a certain way, often feels that by choosing one option, they have gone for the option that is a lesser evil than the other option. The same applies in healthcare, as doctors are also different. They are faced with decisions every day all with the aim of making their patient better. Physicians are forced to decide whether what they are doing is good for their patient, even if it is bad in terms of how society views that dilemma.

Euthanasia is a situation where a doctor, patient or the loved one of the patient decides to end the life of their patient. The person advocating for it often feels that, by doing so, they will have put the patient out of the pain and suffering that is associated with the disease a patient is suffering from. This however goes against how society views life. Other people will not understand why kill someone who still might have some time left to live. Society believes that life is precious, and it should be preserved. Society does not get why one would choose to end his or her life, yet there still are other options to explore that would make the patient live comfortably. However, the pressure associated with seeing a fellow human being suffer with little or no hopes of recovering can make someone decide to relieve the patient from the pain. Some doctors also say that euthanasia goes against the Hippocratic Oath they took as doctors to practice medicine ethically and honestly therefore preserving and protecting the lives of their patients. Since 2006, euthanasia also known as assisted suicide has been termed as the most active area of study in cotemporary bioethics.

The earliest reports of euthanasia took place when the Emperor Augustus died in the arms of his wife without suffering. He asked his wife to let him die honorably than let him continue suffering, yet there was no way he could get any better. In those days, the term euthanasia had not yet been coined. The term was first used in the 17th century by a doctor called Francis Bacon. He said it referred to an easy happy death through the alleviation of pain rather than a death that is slowed down by a doctor through administering drugs. He felt that it was a doctor’s responsibility to alleviate a patient’s pain, as this was why they were doctors. The move was welcome, even if it meant letting the patient die, as opposed to having a life that is of less quality than the patient was living before. Euthanasia is illegal in some places in the world, while in others, it is termed as legal. Where it is illegal, a person who commits euthanasia can be charged with murder (Dowbiggin, 2005).

Euthanasia can be classified into three. It can be voluntary, non-voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary euthanasia is when the patient gives consent to let someone end their life prematurely. It is usually legal in the countries that permit the practice. The countries in the world that permit it are Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg. Other countries are adopting this method though many objections have been presented by pro-life activists. In the United States for instance, some states advocate for voluntary euthanasia while others still do not. The states that advocated for voluntary euthanasia all follow the Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Missouri State rendering voluntary euthanasia legal in this case. It is necessary to note that voluntary euthanasia should not be confused with when a patient commits suicide with the help of a physician. This is termed as assisted suicide, which is legal in some countries, which include Switzerland, Australia, Belgium and three states of United States that are Oregon, Washington and Montana.

Non-voluntary euthanasia is whereby it is done when the consent of a patient is not available. It is illegal in all countries. Involuntary euthanasia is whereby the patient does not give their consent to be killed off. When this is done, it is tantamount to murder and the person responsible for it can be charged in a court of law. Though some forms euthanasia can be termed as legal, it is essential to note that child euthanasia is illegal in the whole world. Anyone who does this has committed murder, as a child does not have the capacity to make such a decision on his or her own. Even if a parent feels that they have the power to make decisions on behalf of the child, this decision is not up to them.

These three forms of euthanasia are classified into passive euthanasia in which treatment is withheld. By treatment, it means that the use of medicine that is necessary to prolong the life of a patient is withheld. Passive euthanasia can also include administering large doses of morphine so that the patient feels less pain since they do not have painkillers in their system. Active euthanasia, on the other hand, is by employing the use of substances that would end the life of a patient faster. This could be using lethal substances that are harmful to the health of a patient, even if s/he was healthy. A widely known example of active euthanasia is the case of the terminally ill patient in Michigan was administered lethal medication to him by his doctor. Dr. Jack Kevorkian was charged with first-degree murder for killing his patient Thomas Youk. Though the medication was administered per Youk’s request, Dr. Kevorkian was sentenced to prison after being found guilty of second-degree murder. Many authors have written articles on this issue and have termed it as unhelpful and misleading. They have questioned the fact that is euthanasia mercy killing or murder of an innocent victim.

The topic of euthanasia is associated with many debates with people on the opposite sides of the debate feeling that their views are most relevant than the other side. People have different views, most of which have been brought about by the backgrounds that they have grown up in. However, for the independent minded, they will feel that it is more crucial to remember their loved one as a happy healthy person than as a sick person. They would rather not see them in pain. It is a personal decision, as no one would like to see his or her loved ones in pain. People that support euthanasia will argue that it is easier to let a patient die as one will know that they are no longer in pain. Through death, a patient is at peace and no longer has to worry about being sick. In the case of a patient choosing to end his or her life, they feel that society needs to respect that decision. If the patient were not hurting anyone else, why would the state interfere? Death is a private matter, and if through it, the grief and suffering of not only the patient, but also their loved ones is shortened, then the practice of euthanasia should be advocated.

Even Christians support euthanasia and back up their claims by saying that, God is love. Since love entails compassion, why someone would let a loved one be in pain yet there is a way of ending the pain. The greatest show of love to them is to let someone die thus showing that their love is agape. They even quote the bible saying that in Genesis chapter one, verse 28 it says that God gave human beings dominion over all things. Thus, they feel that it is their right to choose what happens to their loved ones. God gave human beings free will meaning that whatever they decide to do with their lives it is in their own hands. Even in the bible, there are examples of euthanasia. Like in second Samuel chapter 1 verses, 9 and 10 where King Saul asked his guard to kill him after he felt that he could not kill David. They also say that in John chapter 10 verse 10 that it promotes life in all its fullness. If a person feels that his or her life’s quality is lessened, then they should opt for euthanasia.

For people who have been led to believe that life is important they tend to be pro-life. They will be against any form of euthanasia even if it means less suffering for the people involved. According to them life is precious and should not be left to people who are already distraught to make such decisions. They feel that if euthanasia were made legal more people would opt for it and not just terminally ill patients. Medical experts have already said that it is impossible to give a specific time limit for life expectancy. They might give less or more time than the patient has. People against euthanasia also feel that it will reach a time when it will become non-voluntary. Just because someone does not want to take responsibility for what is happening, does not mean that another life has to end. For instance, in the case of parents who kill a child because they are paralyzed and they feel that taking care of the children will be too much for them. In Latimer’s case, a father had to kill his mentally disabled daughter because he thought that she had a hip problem that was a danger to her health. This is an example of non-voluntary euthanasia, and it was not necessary for the father to kill the daughter and end his pain and suffering.

Pro-lifers feel that if more countries continue to legalize euthanasia it will reach a time that it will be used as a means of healthcare cost containment. Cutting costs is crucial to many people and if they see that their patient will not get better, they would rather kill them than continue paying for treatment that will not work. Life is crucial and practicing euthanasia shows that, as human beings people do not value life and the joys that it brings with it. Thus, they feel that euthanasia should remain illegal in the whole world so that people continue to value life.

A line needs to be drawn when it comes to euthanasia. This is because human beings are not capable of making decisions that involve life or death situations. It should not be upon them to decide who gets to live or die. No one has the capacity to play God so therefore euthanasia should be made illegal in the whole world. Even if someone’s quality of life has reduced, the patients still have a right to live. However painful it is to see a loved one sick, it is essential to preserve life. Every person plays a different role in life. Just because one feels love for another more than anyone else does, does not mean that they get a chance to decide when their life ends. Furthermore, when faced with such a dilemma one is not in the right state of mind to make decisions.


Ethical dilemmas will always be there in life. How a person chooses to solve them, is what matters the most. It is often an endeavor to disprove what is termed as ethical by different people. Just like in euthanasia, both parties that are for and against it feel that their views are most valid. Thus, no matter which stand one chooses to follow it will still mean going against another choice. Life is precious no matter how one looks at it. It is therefore necessary to preserve it, as only God knows the time or day that a person should die. Therefore, human beings should not advocate for euthanasia.

Work cited:

Dowbiggin, I. R. (2005). A concise history of euthanasia: Life, death, God, and medicine. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield.

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Ethical Dilemma. (2019, Feb 01). Retrieved from

Ethical Dilemma
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