Euthanasia is an emerging argument seen all over the world. In this argument includes the role of the nurse and the four ethics the nurse is to abide by, justice, beneficence, autonomy and non-maleficence. This paper will explore how these four ethics can play a part in how the nurse may feel about the idea of euthanasia, and how these four ethics can play a part in the deciding factor of whether euthanasia of humans is something that should be carried out or not, regardless of person’s physical health. It will examine which ethical principles is the argument for or against euthanasia, is the involvement of the nurse ethically justified, and if so, can it be considered good nursing care?
The practice of nursing has long had a high regard for, and treasuring, of life. If it is the job of the nurses to save and protect lives, then how can the consideration of euthanasia fit into nursing practice? Many consider helping a person to find peace and to gain some control over their death as a means of treasuring life. It provides the person with the chance to die in a dignified manner, and to not suffer. The nurse infarcts four moral codes into everyday practice; respect for autonomy, non maleficence, beneficence and justice. These moral codes are brought into light exponentially when the request for euthanasia has been made by a patient and the nurse must find a way to not only adhere to the ethics of practice, and advocate for the patient, but to be in tune with their own ethical thoughts and feelings.
In regards to respect for autonomy, euthanasia can be argued as a good practice. It can be justified from the basis of respect for the individuals’ autonomy (Quaghebeur, Dierckx de Casterle & Gastmans, 2009). Providing care for the patient and respecting their autonomy means respecting the request of euthanasia from the patient, though it may not correlate with the nurse’s personal feelings of euthanasia, or their ability(physical or mental) to carry out the requested task (Quaghebeur, et al 2009) Professional integrity of nurses can be used to support euthanasia from the standpoint of autonomy as well. It is this integrity that is responsible for fellow humans, therefore having respect for their autonomy. In congruence with this responsibility for fellow humans, euthanasia is now compatible with the integrity of nursing. The nurse with this professional integrity respects the patient autonomy, therefore providing compassionate care and promoting optimal well being of the patient. As as result of this care, euthanasia is now in accordance to the idea of the nursing profession, as human dignity is protected, patient interest is promoted, and the patient is being cared for(White, 1999)
In accordance to the moral point of justice, in order to protect the patients interests, euthanasia can be seen as good care for the patient, ethically justified as a form of a good death. It could be argued that it would be not only unjust, but cruel to refuse the request of euthanasia (Quaghebeur, et al 2009).