Case Study on Death and Dying Paper

Case Study on Death and Dying Paper


The practice of health care providers at all levels brings you into contact with people from a variety of faiths. This calls for knowledge and acceptance of a diversity of faith expressions.

The purpose of this paper is to complete a comparative ethical analysis of George’s situation and decision from the perspective of two worldviews or religions: Christianity and a second religion of your choosing. For the second faith, choose a faith that is unfamiliar to you. Examples of faiths to choose from include Sikh, Baha’i, Buddhism, Shintoism, etc Case Study on Death and Dying Paper.

In your comparative analysis, address all of the worldview questions in detail for Christianity and your selected faith. Refer to Chapter 2 of Called to Care for the list of questions. Once you have outlined the worldview of each religion, begin your ethical analysis from each perspective.

In a minimum of 1,500-2,000 words, provide an ethical analysis based upon the different belief systems, reinforcing major themes with insights gained from your research, and answering the following questions based on the research:

How would each religion interpret the nature of George’s malady and suffering? Is there a “why” to his disease and suffering? (i.e., is there a reason for why George is ill, beyond the reality of physical malady?)


In George’s analysis of his own life, how would each religion think about the value of his life as a person, and value of his life with ALS?

What sorts of values and considerations would each religion focus on in deliberating about whether or not George should opt for euthanasia?

Given the above, what options would be morally justified under each religion for George and why?

Finally, present and defend your own view.

Support your position by referencing at least three academic resources (preferably from the GCU Library) in addition to the course readings, lectures, the Bible, and the textbooks for each religion. Each religion must have a primary source included. A total of six references are required according to the specifications listed above. Incorporate the research into your writing in an appropriate, scholarly manner.

Prepare this assignment according to the guidelines found in the APA Style Guide, located in the Student Success Center. An abstract is required.

This assignment uses a rubric. Please review the rubric prior to beginning the assignment to become familiar with the expectations for successful completion.

You are required to submit this assignment to Turnitin. Please refer to the directions in the Student Success Center.


Voluntary euthanasia (also called physician-assisted suicide) refers to the deliberate decision to terminate life at the patient’s request. In this case, the patient presents a request that he or she cannot go on with life owing to inhumane pain or any other debilitating condition that cannot be management by the currently available medical technologies that include experimental technologies. In fact, voluntary euthanasia must be intended and sanctioned by the patient for it to be considered euthanasia. Typically, the victim will be suffering from a debilitating medical condition that is agonizing and prevents him or her from functioning optimally as a human being. This leads to the consideration of suicide as a relief from the debilitating condition. While not a new concept, euthanasia is subject to elicit many heated debates that are also polarizing since it raises a lot of ethical questions (McSherry, W., McSherry, R. & Watson, 2012). The present analysis considers the historical context of voluntary euthanasia and some of the theories advanced for its argument before presenting a case that argues against its application Case Study on Death and Dying Paper.


Understanding voluntary euthanasia

A historical review shows that the subject of voluntary euthanasia is not new. In fact, historical records show that Athens residents could use official means to obtain poison for suicide. Romans could similarly commit suicide with the state not interfering unless the individual was considered mentally handicapped. In contrast, Pythagoreans condemned suicide and indicated that only the gods had such rights and not humans. This contrast in ideas has transcended history into the present time, showing that the debate is not limited to a single point in time (Ferngren, 2014). At the present time, the issue has become a debated topic owing to three factors. The first factor is medical advances that have reconfigured the concept of end of life. The second factor is that the world is experiencing an aging population. The third factor is that changes in the notion of society have impacted the quality of social interactions. These three actors have dehumanized death and presented voluntary euthanasia as a palatable alternative (Youngner & Arnold, 2016).

The favorable attitudes to suicide exhibited by Greeks and Romans in the antiquity era are illustrative of the cultural expectations normative for that time when diverse attitudes towards suicide were presented. The advent of Christianity and other mainstream religions such as Hinduism, Islamism, and Buddhism caused the acquisition of progressively inflexible attitudes towards the subject that ultimately resulted in prohibition. This attitude shift occurred despite its acceptance in certain circumstances and regardless of their scriptures not giving explicit instructions on the attitudes to adopt towards suicide (Ferngren, 2014).

Consequently, in the Western world, religion has had a profound effect on public views regarding suicide. In fact, Christianity (the predominant religion practiced in the West) views suicide as self-murder or crime against oneself. This awareness does not make a distinction between suicide occasioned by terminal disease and emotional burdens. Whatever the reason, suicide has typically been forbidden since decisions about life and death are God’s sole purview (Nock, 2014).

The non-Western’s world relies on religion to offer a guide on how to approach suicide. Buddhism does not offer any opportunity for suicide, arguing that every individual must undergo the endless cycle of life and death (samsara) during which time they would hold all forms of life sacred since karma is in effect. The implication is that any suffering should be borne to ensure that the next reincarnation does not have any suffering. Hinduism similarly argues against suicide, mentioning that suicide is similar to murdering others. Still, it mentions that an acceptable suicide can only be achieved through fasting (prayopavesha) to ensure that the suicide is not impulsive (Muslim Public Affairs Council, 2014). The implication is that the non-Western world appears to have a grim view of suicide and considers it detrimental to the spiritual journey.

The polarizing nature of voluntary euthanasia, whether in the historical context or present times, cannot be denied. History makes it clear that controlling or containing voluntary euthanasia once introduced would be difficult. In fact, it can be considered as a slippery slope that once started will only gain momentum. The slippery slope argument is appropriate since it is an objection that considers both the action and its consequences. Still, the slippery slope argument is not enough. It is supported by the virtue theory that considers the ethical value of life and how decisions would be made to determine who qualifies for voluntary euthanasia. The theory notes that every action determines what the individual will become and it is always preferable to have foresight in identifying and avoiding the actions whose consequences will be undesirable (Nock, 2014).

To be more succinct, combining the virtue theory and the slippery slope argument presents two strengths. The first strength is that within an appropriate social circumstance, they show how voluntary euthanasia initiates a debate on how the moral limitations it introduces can easily be abused. This means that the combination of virtue theory and slippery slope argument creates an opportunity for the potential demerits to be exhaustively discussed, particularly their consequence to the society in terms of presenting new ethical boundaries. The second strength is that they underscore the error of evaluating indeterminate notions using approaches that are only suitable for evaluating determinate notions. In essence, it is important to be precise about the notions for which instruments are present to provide precise measurements, and be careful in recognizing the notions that cannot be precisely measured owing to limitations in instrumentation. The implication is that both the virtue theory and slippery slope argument act as a warning against ethically reasoning for or against voluntary euthanasia using loose notions since whatever descriptions and definitions are provided would be inherently arbitrary (Youngner & Arnold, 2016) Case Study on Death and Dying Paper.

The two strengths are justified by the presence of five arguments presented in relation to voluntary euthanasia. The first argument is that it could be abused for nefarious purposes (McSherry, W., McSherry, R. & Watson, 2012). The second argument is that it could be applied as a policy approach for containing rocketing health care costs. The third argument is that it is not always voluntary as should be the case since pressure from family and the environment can come to bear on the physician and patient causing them to proceed with the suicide even though that is not what they want. There could be a problem with the consent validity and legitimacy since terminally ill patients could suffer from cognitive declines (Ruggiero, 2015). The fourth argument is that it could result in a problem of suicide contagion. The final argument is that it devalues life (Black, 2013). Overall, voluntary euthanasia is a debate topic that has evolved over time from the religion-based reasoning in ancient Greece and Athens to logic applied in the current times.

Presenting the case

The present case shows that the patient if 50 years of age and suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (AML), a degenerative condition that is characteristic by progressively declining physical abilities. As the disease progresses over time, the patient will become increasingly dependent. The only solution offered by the current medical technology is slowing down the degeneration without the capacity to halt or even reverse the degeneration. The diagnosis and prognosis have devastated the patient and his family. Contemplating his degenerating condition, the patient discusses the possibility of being subjected to voluntary euthanasia to avoid the projected suffering that would ensue once he gets to the complete dependence stage of the condition.


Presenting an ethical solution

Although the patient is contemplating voluntary euthanasia, palliative care would offer a better solution. In fact, palliates care presents a unique opportunity for nursing personnel and medical practitioners engaged in the care of patients at end-of-life to effectively care for them in a comfortable and symptom free environment as the course of their illness progresses. In an environment where economic pressures abound due to time sensitivity that determine the difference between life and death in the medical environment, improved efficiency from newer technologies, and scarcity of resources, health personnel face the choice of either fully integrating palliative care into standard care for patients at end-of-life to facilitate their ‘good death’ or sticking to standard medical care packages where chances of patients at end-of-life experiencing ‘good death’ are greatly diminished (McSherry, W., McSherry, R. & Watson, 2012). Sticking to standard care means that a patient with terminal illness will only expect to suffer as the ailment progresses. On the other hand, integrating palliative care means that the patient is not made to suffer unnecessarily and can expect to live comfortably up to the point of death Case Study on Death and Dying Paper.

Complete integration of palliative care into the care of patients at end-of-life is necessary if full benefits of palliative care are to become reality. But the integration will not be easy and quick to achieve. At the onset, the transformation of care for patients at end-of-life from a traditional medical care perspective to one that integrates palliative care needs a strategic plan that is closely linked to consultation and modern care approaches that use the latest advanced technologies. The interconnectivity between standard care plans and palliative care plans must form the core of the overall care plan for the current patient. The single step of applying the mentioned linkage and removing many of the duplicate and redundant care efforts will result in significant strides towards achieving comfort and symptoms management for patients at end-of-life. But this integrated strategy transcends the simple goal of achieving comfort and symptoms management for patients at end-of-life, for the ultimate objective of palliative care is to achieve ‘good death’ for patients (Black, 2013). This means that the patient should be discouraged from considering voluntary euthanasia since it goes against religious ideals, and should instead consider palliative care as a viable solution.


Based on this analysis, it is logical to conclude that voluntary euthanasia is not a viable option for the patient since it is religiously an ethical wrong. In the same vein, it is right to accept that palliative care is an efficient tool in ensuring comfort and symptoms management for patients at end-of-life, and that its priority integration into standard patient care will result in ‘good death’ for patients at end-of-life. As a result, the patient should be considering the use of palliative care since it can play a significant role in facilitating ‘good death’ for him at the end-of-life.


Black, B. (2013). Professional nursing: concepts & challenges (7th ed.). New York, NY: Elsevier.

Ferngren, G. (2014). Medicine and religion: a historical introduction. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.

McSherry, W., McSherry, R. & Watson, R. (2012). Care in nursing: principles, values, and skills. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Muslim Public Affairs Council (2014). Religious views on suicide: perspectives from world religion. Retrieved from

Nock, M. (2014). The Oxford handbook of suicide and self-injury. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ruggiero, V. (2015). Thinking critically about ethical issues (9th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

Youngner, S. & Arnold, R. (2016). The Oxford handbook of ethics at the end of life. New York, NY: Oxford University Press Case Study on Death and Dying Paper.




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