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Ethical Theories Applied to Euthanasia

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Ethical Theories Applied to Euthanasia

It is a patient’s right to make the decision to end their life when they are facing a terminal illness, especially after all attempts to provide pain management have failed. However, these patients are left with few options due to the legal, moral, or religious complications of voluntary euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide (PAS). But, if terminally ill patients had these options available, they would be given the respect to die with the dignity they are entitled to at the end of their life. By applying the utilitarian theory to this question, we would first have to ask, are we providing the greatest amount of happiness or more pain? From a utilitarian point of view, if allowing someone to die with dignity will promote more happiness for them, and those who will be affected by this act, then it is morally ethical. By applying virtue ethics, we would have to ask, whether it is more charitable to continue with pain management until their death, or to relieve their unnecessary pain and suffering by voluntary euthanasia or PAS. Regardless of the moral theories applied, legalizing voluntary euthanasia or PAS, will grant more options, to include reducing the amount of suffering experienced, eliminate the patient’s use of other means to end his or her life, and allow for families to prepare for their loved one’s passing, all of which keeps the patient’s dignity intact.
Utilitarianism looks at the best action producing the best consequences possible for the greatest number possible. In addition, it requires us to look at the effects of overall happiness versus the pain of an action. Therefore, in the case of voluntary euthanasia or PAS, providing a terminally ill patient with this option is morally ethical and justifies the decision to end their own life when they choose. The utilitarian theory maximizes the good,

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