Robert J Katenbaum compiles some writings that fall under the bracket of death, human experience and perception of the society. Chapter nine of the book looks into assisted death, euthanasia, right to die and abortion. These four items characterize as the most controversial issues present in the current times. People have different opinion towards them especially on abortion and the right to die. The main reason is that they center on an individual’s perspective and will without thinking of the environment. For instance, abortion is a crucial talk in most human rights convention in that there are people who feel it is a harmful act while others feel that it is essential towards the continuation of life. The paper will look into the Dr. Kevorkian’s thoughts on the right to die. His sentiments act as an example to the current issues that face decision-makers in the laws that govern personal outlooks.
History states that Dr Jack Kevorkian is responsible for more than 130 suicides that occurred in the 1990s (Kastenbaum 275). He was a pathologist, activist for euthanasia and an author who created a machine that would help in physician-assisted suicide. He conducted most of these suicidal deaths under the patient’s consent. However, activist were against his practice as it did not fully establish the criteria necessary for one to qualify to die. Apart from that, it was against the Hippocratic Oath, which most physicians did not take while in medical school. As per Kevorkian, the oath is useless in that it has issues present since its inception. The right to death began in ancient history when doctors used various tools to end the pain, anguish, and disappointments present in people’s lives.
Though the Hippocratic Oath lacks definitive laws, physicians currently rely on it to draw out contracts with their patients (Kastenbaum 276). As it was in the past, a majority of the physicians are not in covenant with the oath, they act on their terms with the hope that nothing wrong happens along the way. However, the physicians that undertook the oath still have an issue reconciling with the precepts in their daily decision-making processes. For instance, the United States works under the system by looking for ways to help in terminating ill patients without going against the moral codes or laws. Regardless of the position, a physician is in; they cannot invoke the oath without the authority. The move brings about mixed reactions towards the situations that require collective decisions and those that do not.
The situations prevalent in the decision making are at times hard to come up with an immediate move that the physician can use to bring peace to both parties. Hence, it is quite easy to understand euthanasia than the right to die in that it implied that one will be in a position to die a happy or good death without the sufferings or pain (Kastenbaum 281). In current times, euthanasia remains the same in regards to its general perception by people. Most of them term is as a foreshortening a person’s life to spare them from suffering. It brings the argument about foreshortening a person’s life by deciding not to change anything and by acting upon it. A common situation arises in patients currently on life support machines. After weeks of constant monitoring, the physician is at a dilemma on pushing on with the machines or letting the person die. It is a decision he/she has to sit with the family and discuss whether to give up on the patient. Some of the family members might oppose the move with the sentiments that the patient will wake up. Such situations present the decision on whether to foreshorten the patients’ life by doing something about it or not.
Another argument is the slippery slope and ventilator. The ventilator is a common item in the ICU, mainly used to provide support in temporary situations (Kastenbaum 287). It is common in patients suffering from breathing problems or those that are out of traumatic situations. In similar situations, when there is no significant improvement in the patient, the doctor, and the family have to sit down and discuss on whether to unplug the patient from the system. However, they might unplug the ventilator and cause problems just when the patient is about to wake up. It would be a problem towards the practitioner as they will face poor judgment charges from the family. It begs the question of whether the fault fully falls under the practitioner’s decision or the collective decision by the family members.
As per the argument addressed in the chapter, the right to die has two sides to it. The Hippocratic Oath lacks a collective law that would help the practitioners to implement judgment on existent issues. Hence, it is useless to have a law that lacks the power to govern the medical practice. However, despite the presence of the oath, it is quite hard to come up with clear laws that will help practitioners to judge on the right to die. Setting up such laws would favor people who wish to end their life in that they will look for different ways to comply with the set laws. Apart from that, practitioners might take advantage of the laws and practice the wrong laws. In conclusion, situations that require decisions on the right to die should be met with serious analysis and review before pulling the plug. The same way people have the right to die is the same way people have the right to live.
Kastenbaum, Robert J. Death, Society, and Human Experience 11th Edition. London: Routledge, 2012. Print.