Ethical and legal issues related to death

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The basic notion of ethics revolves upon right and bad decisions. However, as death approaches, the sense of right and evil shifts depending on religious, cultural, and individual beliefs of life or its conclusion. Ethical professionals, on the other hand, arrive to three primary principles that are considered at the end of life: the description of life, the value of life, and the treatment of the body following the termination of life (Sumner 2011).

Death has been defined in various ways over the years. However, the invention of the mechanical ventilator took the definition to a different level since it could assist one in breathing for a prolonged period. All critics of this concept agree that that the concept behind death is the “Irreversible” nature of something that is essential to the nature of man. This approach to the definition of death rules out the other definitions that revolve around the lack of ability of the brain to incorporate of bodily functions. The quality of life on the other hand entails the dread of death itself and the fear of the process of passing on. Gwin & Price (2007) agree that the first definition feel that life should be preserved irrespective of the case while the second category feels that in some circumstances it is ethical to terminate life like in the case of terminal illnesses or living with constant pain. Different people often hold divergent opinions on how the body should be treated after death. While some argue that the body should be cremated some insist it should be buried depending with either the scientific, cultural or religious beliefs that the owners of the bodies have.

The ethical and legal factors relating to death

Although the issues of death touch along the legal, ethical, medical and spiritual fronts they affect the individual most. Death is a personal decision and hence the person should be allowed to make a decision when he is still mentally sound so as to save the relatives and the people around him the pain of deciding for them. Some ethical arguments also arise concerning the wishes of the dying person in contrast to those of the victim’s family or allies at the time of death. In Bernat & Beresford’s views (2013), when one is in the verge of death, factors such as the dignity of the victim, the religion or beliefs surrounding the victim and the wishes of the family members of the victim ought to be considered before making a decision to either end or prolong life.

Religion is also a key determinant factor when deciding to either preserving or terminating a life. There are different religious beliefs across the world for instance the Hindus hold someone who commits suicide through starvation with a high regard. The three main monotheistic religions in the world that include, Christianity, Judaism and Islam offer similar approaches and perceptions of the preservation or ending of life. The Christians for instance believe in life after death and hence are more concerned with the way in which a person dies in that, the believer should die with a strong conviction in Jesus Christ (Greenberg, Goldberg, & Rodríguez-Arias 2013). In Christianity, there is still a sharp contrast and disagreement as to when to decide to end the life of a suffering victim who is in life support machines. There are also sharp contrasts and mixed reactions on the issues of terminating life through abortion or when the life of the mother is at stake.

Work cited

Bernat, J. L., & Beresford, H. R. (2013). Ethical and legal issues in neurology. Edinburgh: Elsevier.

Greenberg, R. A., Goldberg, A. M., & Rodríguez-Arias, D. (2016). Ethical Issues in Pediatric Organ Transplantation. Cham: Springer International Publishing.

Price, D. L., Gwin, J. F., & Price, D. L. (2007). Pediatric nursing: An introductory text. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders.

Sumner, L W. Assisted Death: A Study in Ethics and Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

April 26, 2023

Philosophy Health


Experience Illness

Subject area:

Ethics Decision Death

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Expertise Death
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