A Small Introduction Dilemma
Imagine you are in a hospital. There is a poor patient who was just diagnosed with a terminally ill disease, and is set to die within six months. Now imagine there is another person beside you, almost exactly the same as the other patient in prestige, personal relationship to you and personality, who is stricken with a severe disease that could be treated with the right medical procedures and medication. Both cannot afford to pay for their treatments. You can pay for the treatment of the curable patient, or pay for the life-prolonging operations of the terminally-ill patient. You either save a life, or prolong one. Which one would you choose?
A Terminally Ill Patient is...
To settle any confusion, the definition of a “terminally ill patient” is a person who has a disease which “cannot be cured or adequately treated and that is reasonably expected to result in the death of the patient within a short period of time.” A period which is defined as less than six months. Basically, somebody who is definitely going to die soon, unless under rare circumstances a miracle occurs.
Since the world’s economy is build around the circulation of money, it is bound to have an effect on the medical world. The high costs of treatments and services at a hospital support this. In the United States, a heart transplant could potentially cost up to $997,700.If there is money to be put into life-extending treatments, then there are surely better places to spend it on, such as research which would find a cure for patients ill with the same disease in the future.
Taking all ethics out of the argument for now, we will think of patients as temporarily defunct capital. In this context, terminally ill patients are capita which are bound to be permanently disabled, even if life-prolonging treatments are given to it. This means the capital will be unable to generate more goods which contribute to the world economy, and thus there is no benefit for the dead individual and a piece of capital is lost from the world. Logically thinking, it would be much better to either use the money to save another person, who would be able to start working again to help generate more goods for the economy, or investing in research which would help combat the unnecessary loss of human capital to the same terminal disease in the future.
When we speak about ethics in this context, we talk about what degree of mercy we give to the terminally ill patient when treating him. Prolonging a doomed life should be considered unmerciful because the patient would still need to endure the pain and stress the disease inflicts upon him frequently. The average percentage of terminally ill patients who die in pain is 55%, the majority. Surely, relieving the pain and stress the patient suffers through before the inevitable death which would occur would send them off without a face of suffering. This also gives time for the patient to resolve past conflicts and finish any estate plans or wills without the influence of a stressed mind.
Furthermore, if a patient is in a clear state of mind, then the option of euthanasia becomes acceptable. Sliding back to economics for a bit, this method of treatment is extremely cost efficient. Doctors have procured a drug cocktail which could induce a painless and peaceful death which costs around $500 for a lethal dose, much less expensive than a long period of admission in the hospital. Euthanasia is defined as“the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering”. The large majority of people also support euthanasia. 54% of medical practitioners support euthanasia and 86% of the public support euthanasia as treatment for the terminally ill. Since the patient’s judgement isn’t clouded, we will justify the topic of euthanasia using the argument that the patient’s choice is his own. Not anybody else’s. And more often than not, people would agree that euthanasia was a good choice for the suffering patient. We should deny life-extending procedures as the pain which the terminal patient goes through is ethically unacceptable, and because there are better ways to satisfy the patient other than extending his life.
When a terminally ill patient's life is extended, not only does more often than not the patient dies in pain which should be beyond medical moral bounds, it is also wasteful to the economy, as the money which is poured into the patient cannot treat him well enough to let him contribute to the economy anymore. Euthanasia is a much more efficient and cheaper option, as the overwhelming majority of the public deems this to be a good treatment option for the terminally ill. It is also very accessible to the lower-middle class as the price to provide for euthanasia drugs are relatively cheap. Life extending medical procedures should definitely be denied to the terminally ill, as justified by the arguments I have stated above.
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Since con has put forth that the first round is putting out points and the second round is purely rebuttal, I will follow his instructions.
Firstly I would like to address Con’s definition for murder, which is legally incorrect. It should be “unlawfully killing another human being with malicious afterthought”. When the doctor is withholding life-extending treatment from the patient, he is doing it in the best interests of the patient and family. Since the terminal patient is slowly suffering and dying without treatment, the choice to give him a dignified and painless death is justified on ethical grounds. No human should ever go through the pain and suffering of a disease which would kill you within a short period of time after.
Eliminating Income to Hospitals
Hospitals already charge a lot for their treatment, so they already have a stable source of income from the many other patients that are not terminally ill. However, even if we do deny life-prolonging procedures to the terminally ill, the money that is earned from the therapy and pain easing services to the patient is a good substitute for the money that would have gone to the treatment to prolong the patient’s life. Therefore the denial of life-prolonging treatment can be substituted with treatment for the suffering of the patient, which satisfies moral boundaries and has a negligible impact on the total income of the hospital.
Con has omitted some crucial details from his extract of the fifth amendment. The extended text is:
“...nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
This states that convicted criminals may refuse to testify against themselves and that the government may not deprive the convict of life, liberty or property in order to compel them to testify against themselves. As you can see here, the Fifth Amendment has no relationship to the motion of this debate whatsoever.
Con’s argument is therefore negated.
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