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The Euthanasia Argument

The Euthanasia Argument

Marijke Durning | NursingLink

The authors of the study also found that some of the nurses did these things on their own, without request from the patient or family. Even though it isn’t publicly acknowledged, euthanasia is a reality, and obviously in practice.

The debate over euthanasia can’t take place without taking into account the nurses who are placed in a role that would make them a part of the act. It’s the nurses who are closest to the patients and their families. It’s the nurses who provide the care – or withhold it, in each particular case. It’s the nurses who go home at the end of a shift, who might be haunted by the images of a patient wishing to die or a patient who is let go, should euthanasia be performed.

In 2008, a study done in the Netherlands looked at nurses and their emotional and psychological well being when it came to assisted suicide. “Dutch Nurses’ Attitudes Towards Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide” was published in the journal Nursing Ethics.

According to the findings, of the 1,509 nurses surveyed, fewer than 45% of nurses would willingly serve on a board or committee that was charged to review cases of euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide. More than half the nurses felt that they should not be included in the entire process, from decision-making to inserting the intravenous needle for the final injections (54.1%). Approximately 58% felt that they shouldn’t even be included in the consultation process.

All this information brings a whole new perspective to the euthanasia argument. While the obvious argument and the one in front of the public is “Should doctors be allowed to practice euthanasia?” an equally pressing concern is, “What about the nurses and their role in this whole thing?”

Would you be willing to start the IV for a fatal dose of medication? Would you be willing to give that final dose? Removing a life-saving treatment may be easier to do, but to actually be the cause of death is something else entirely. What do you think?

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