One of the major issues that could affect the role of healthcare practitioners is the impact of the recent media act of sensationalizing of the euthanasia cases of people such as Terry Shiavo. While it may seem that there is no direct link between morals or ethics in this issue, morals and ethics are in fact so intricately related to the issue that there is no way of removing them from the decision making process with regard to the issue of euthanasia.
In her article entitled, Chilling Protocol: Ending young life — now, and even here, which was published March 13, 2006 in the National Review, Colleen Carroll Campbell makes the chilling argument that the United States is heading towards the direction of other countries with respect to its stand on Child Euthanasia. She argues that while the thought of child euthanasia was virtually unthinkable in the United States a few years ago, the growing trend of legalizing child euthanasia in countries around the world such as the Netherlands has the potential to change the American view on the issue.The Groningen Protocol is the device that will be used to judge whether or not a child should be allowed to live. With the use of this Protocol, “a newborn can be euthanized if his diagnosis and prognosis are “certain,” his suffering is “hopeless and unbearable,” and his quality of life is “very poor,” according to the child’s parents and “at least one independent doctor. ”In proving that such a danger is real to the American Society, Campbell argues that there is a growing trend for support of Child Euthanasia in the United States beginning with the Euthanasia Society of America in 1938 to the recent case involving Haleigh Poutre, a twelve year old girl who was severely beaten up by her father, and reduced to a persistent vegetative state. This will happen in any country, according to Campbell, that “has lost respect for the intrinsic value of life and the inviolable dignity of the person.” Just because it has not yet happened in the United States does not mean that it will never happen.
The impact of this growing trend is that it now places healthcare practitioners in a very sensitive moral and ethical position with regard to the treatment of a patient who is in a similar position. There has been so much media attention regarding euthanasia in general and not just child euthanasia in the past few decades. From Jack Kevorkian to Terry Schiavo, the question of whether or not a person has the right to die has been posed.In most American states, there are specific laws that have been enacted that prohibit the taking of one’s own life and there have also been many laws against assisted suicide. These laws charge many particular offenses such as charging those who would assist with suicide with manslaughter or attempted murder. The main challenge that is presented to healthcare practitioners therefore is whether or not they are willing to make the crucial decision at that point in time. As the article that has been cited indicates, there is a growing liberalization in this field.This does not necessarily mean, however, that with growing liberalization there is also added morality or ethics.
A healthcare practitioner must always take care to exercise the utmost prudence in making whatever decision. As such, the healthcare practitioner must also take into consideration what is the best for the patient and his family. This is the role that a healthcare practitioner must perform and this is the challenge that awaits all those who desire to enter this profession.