Euthanasia is defined as the intentional administration of drugs that are lethal with the
intention of terminating person’s life in a painless manner; to relieve patient from continued
suffering from an chronic and incurable condition which that is unbearable. There are three
types of euthanasia; a) voluntary euthanasia- which refers to euthanasia conducted upon
patient requests; b) Non- voluntary euthanasia- which refers to euthanasia performed but not
from patient wish/ request and c) Physician assisted suicide- where the physician willing and
knowingly terminates patient life at the patient request (Dierckx de Casterlé, Denier, De Bal
& Gastmans, 2010).
Impact on nursing practice, social values, morals, and norms
The advancement in technology and medical knowledge has led to changes in the causes as
well as death timing in the modern world. The advancement in technology have made life
expectancy to increase; but the longer they live, the more people are subjected to
degenerative diseases which are chronic and have gradual health deterioration to old age,
who are admitted in the palliative care where they get end of life are. In the diverse healthcare
facilities, the physicians and the nurses are part of the interdisciplinary team but the role of
the nurses differs from the other healthcare providers. This is because the nurses are closer to
their patients, and are often confronted with the mourning and distress from the family
members and relatives (Sharp, 2012).
Human euthanasia is legal in few countries including Luxembourg, Belgium, Colombia,
Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Japan. In the USA, the euthanasia is legal is few
states including New Mexico, California, Vermont, Oregon, and Montana (Sharp, 2012).
CLC Part One: Euthanasia
For example, in nursing profession, there is the issue of trust, i.e. the patient should trust the
nurse that he or she will not be killed by the nurse. In this context, euthanasia concepts
develop the dimension of suspicion that conflicts with the nurse roles as healer and
comforter. On the other hand, the patient expects the nurses to be their advocates, thus,
institutions that co-opt euthanasia in their policy could cause the rise of the concept of
distrust due to the interrupted confidence in relationship between the service user and the
service provider (Quaghebeur, Dierckx de Casterle & Gastmans, 2009).
The integrity of nurses should never be used mainly to meet the patient goals i.e. patient
wishes to die. Although utilitarian theory supports this practice, it is against the nurse moral
and professional dignity for the nurses. Although involvement of the nurses in executing
euthanasia adversely affect the society faith as well as trust in nursing practice; it is in line
with the nurses professional responsibility of protecting human dignity, caring and
promoting as well as protecting patient interest. Thus it can be said it is compatible with
nursing practice (Salladay, 2015).
Ethical theory and principle
The four medical ethical principles impact significantly about the nursing debate about
euthanasia. These principles include non-maleficence, autonomy, justice and beneficence.
For instance, the nurses are obliged to respect for the patient autonomy. This justifies the
issue of euthanasia, as the nursing professional ethics indicates that patient’s autonomy must
be respected. The patient request on their private life must be respected by the physician,
government and the nurses. Therefore, the nurses must never feel guilty when undertaking
these tasks as it is respecting autonomous (Salladay, 2015).
The critics that arise in this context include the fact that these practices have little respect to
empathy and autonomy of the patient family and relatives. It is argued that a patient
autonomy is not vital if it erases all the importance of the community social paradigm. Life is
CLC Part One: Euthanasia
a valued paradigm in the society. Secondly, it is strange that euthanasia supporters advocate
for patient autonomy even when the patient does not enjoy his/her autonomy. Therefore,
euthanasia is an indication that the healthcare providers are unable to deal with death, which
causes the questioning the quality of autonomy if the patient flees from anxiety or their
uncertainty by choosing death. This is a mere defeatist perspective, where there lacks room
for positivity or hope in ending the person suffering (Sharp, 2012).
Rejection of euthanasia is mainly supported by the nursing ethics principle of non-
maleficence. If this principle is applied, euthanasia is a drastic interventions applied in the
end of life care, which makes it difficult to deal in with death correctly. This principle
supports the sanctity of life making it difficult to acknowledge euthanasia as ethical practice.
Therefore, this principle calls for respect for life. This is also supported by the ethical
principle of beneficence delineates the importance of promulgating the legitimate interests of
all other people involved. On the other hand, the ethical principle supports in practicing the
overall good of the patient, which requires in stating what is medically appropriate for the
patient (Quaghebeur, Dierckx de Casterle & Gastmans, 2009).
Additionally, in protecting patient’s request, then, euthanasia is viewed as justice as it
illustrates the expression of delivering good care for the patient. Although the
consequentialism theory criticizes euthanasia, the ethical principle of justice here implies that
the patient needs are addressed to according to their needs or according to their possibilities.
Additionally, this principle is likely to be affected by the danger of being self-righteous or
self-gratification attributes associated with the new movement- which euthanasia is a part of
The increased lack of consensus between the nurses on this ethical issue points the
importance to analyse the world view and ideologies as well as the nurse’s attitudes and
CLC Part One: Euthanasia
beliefs about euthanasia. Attention should be focused on the role of euthanasia in essence of
care by evaluating the evidence based studies. This is especially important because of the
specificity nature of the nursing expertise in care, especially in end of life care.CLC Part One: Euthanasia
Dierckx de CasterlÃ©, B., Denier, Y., De Bal, N., & Gastmans, C. (2010). Nursing care for
patients requesting euthanasia in general hospitals in Flanders, Belgium. Journal Of
Advanced Nursing, 66(11), 2410-2420.
Quaghebeur, T., Dierckx de Casterle, B., & Gastmans, C. (2009). Nursing and Euthanasia: a
Review of Argument-Based Ethics Literature. Nursing Ethics, 16(4), 466-486.
Salladay, S. (2015). Ethical Problems. Nursing, 45(2), 14.
Sharp, R. (2012). The dangers of euthanasia and dementia: how kantian thinking might be
used to support non-voluntary euthanasia in cases of extreme dementia. Bioethics, 26(5),