- Summarise the case briefly. Identify the interpretive issues in the case, indicating the reason for interpretation.
- How has the court interpreted these issues? Explain.
- How should the court have interpreted the issues?
In your answer, remember to support your discussion/evaluation/analysis with reference to the material you have learned in the first section of the course, on the Concept of Law.
- Identify the moral issue(s) in the case. Explain why you believe these are moral issues rather than any other kind of issue (the issue can be e.g. a legal issue in addition tobeing a moral issue).
- Which moral theory/ies seem to you most likely to underpin the way the court has made its decision(s)?
- Which moral theory ought the court to have used, and why?
In your answer, remember to support your discussion/evaluation/analysis with reference to the material you have learned in the second section of the course, on Moral and Legal Theory.
1. Euthanasia, assisted suicide, mercy killing are all terms to explain the same case. People who are in a medical state where they are unable their cure is not possible they may ask for the mercy killing. This is where he or she shall be assisted to die with the consent of the court. This is a case that has been in the discussion among the judiciary system for a while now.
Noel Douglas Conway is 67 years old and has been suffering from Motor Neurone Disease (MND) diagnosed in 2012. In order to understand the gravity of the situation it is essential to know about the syndrome that he was suffering form. In this condition where the nerve cells which are responsible for voluntary muscle actions are attacked. With time the nerve cells degenerates and weakens the average life expectancy of a person is in between two –three years.
The case that has been developed is when Mr. Conway wishes to end his life at a time when he chooses. He wishes for this when he would expect his life expectancy to reduce to six to four months. According to Mr Conway, he did not want his life to reduce to a quality where he did not find any peace or enjoyment. He wanted to have a dignified death at the time that he wanted, and during a state where he is conscious about the decisions that he is making. The team argued that not only will the appeal of Mr. Conway will help him to pass away in a dignified manner but will also help others who are in a similar state to express their wish.
In the given scenario one of the major issues is that the right of Mr. Conway regarding the autonomy of choosing the time of his death is being curbed by the article 2 which puts a ban on the assisted suicide. The issue with the case is the fact that the person who is undergoing the treatment should be kept under the care as long as he can before being subject to the harsh reality of the death that he has to face. There is also an issue in the deciding the fact that if the person should solely be given the right to choose the time and the condition of his death and in case it is put forward in the society what would be the long term implications of such a judgment on the society.
One of the major causes of the interpretive issues is the fact that the court has to consider the overall implication of the decision on the whole society if it allows the people to decide the time of their death through the assisted suicide. One of the major issues in this context is the fact that the different people have different kind of medical and other complications and they may or may not be fit to decide the condition of their death so it will not be good to put it on the whim of a person who may be undergoing psychological and the medical effects of the disease.
2. The interpretation of the case by the court has major role to play in the decision that is being taken by the court. In the case the decision of the bench was in the favour of the preservation of the sanctity of the human life so that the people in the society do not take the ill decision of always ending their life. It was seen the number of people opted for assisted suicide because of the fact they were facing painful situation and they were not able to cope up with it. The UK laws believe in the importance of the human life and therefore prohibit the allowance of death to the people under any circumstance. The very idea of the autonomy of the deciding to die is based on the fact that the person should be able to decide the time of their death but the is question that that if the person suffering from a disease or undergoing a life altering medically would be clinically sane to take such a decision.
There is a number of issues relating to the factors affecting a person decision that affect the person’s life. In this case the decision is also affected by number of factors that the dignity of death may be right of the person but there cannot be set of parameters to help identify the issues in which a person can be allowed to die or the scenarios in which the plea is to be rejected. Since there are a re a number of people who are locked up in their body and though they are not in pain, have no motor functions at all. These people too ask for assisted suicide to relieve themselves from the monotony of the bedridden life which would not be again permissible from the government. This is again a matter of contention to understand the different factors that affect the case of Mr Conway and the condition that he asking for. The assisted suicide by the removal of the life support is only given to the people who have almost no chances of survival or show complete decadence in their condition slipping towards death.
The court also kept in mind that the autonomy will also grant the right of taking the life to the people who are undergoing treatment for deadly diseases but have lost hope in their own chances of survival. The court also asserts that the pulling of the medical treatment understanding that it is no more important and the overall situation where the people seek to have assisted suicide in not justified in this scenario. The medical knowledge is necessary to ascertain the condition from which a person can be pulled of medication and the doctors don not want to give up on the life of a patient.
3. In his appeal of assisted dying the court should have paid heed to the predicament of the different factors affecting the life of Mr Conway due to the Motor Neuron Disorder he was suffering from. The case was very different from the various cases where the patients wanted assisted suicide just to save themselves from the situation of being dependent on others for functioning normally in life. On the other hand, the case of Mr Conway was such that he would be continuously in pin pain after a certain time adding on to the fact that he would be put on a life support device to perform the necessary daily functions of his life. The situation that the patient had to undergo and the medical implications of it must be heeded in this case. The case is also exemplary due to the fact that it questions the extent to which that a person has the right over himself and the leniency the human rights grants him for the proper functioning in the society. The situations in which he asking for the permission of assisted suicide should also be considered because he does not want to go through the pain and suffering that the disease is bound to bring to the people in the society. One of the major issues in this consideration is that to what extent the society can be taken into consideration in cases where they have no understanding of the pain that the patient has to undergo in the situation.
Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide
The case of assisted suicide should also be considered by the court as the person who is committing it cannot be healed and is bound to suffer. Even in that case he chooses to survive as long as he can sustain himself and bear the pain. It should also be considered he is not asking for the permission of suicide just for the sake of exercising his freewill in the society but to save himself from going through excruciating pain and dependence on machine for something as basic as breathing. It is seen that that the patients have been helped to die by the removal of NIV but Mr Conway wants the right to choose the time and conditions of his death and needs assistance in the planning of the ways to die by the experts. He could have gone for a criminal way of just attempting suicide but he wants to live as long as he can independently without the help of others. This proves that he does not want to die but also wants to live on his terms which would be understood by the court in considering the facts relating to the scenarios of his survival in the society. One of the important factors that should be considered is that there is no chance of survival in this case and the disease will only lead to a gradual pain and deterioration of his condition without any chance of improvement.
1. The moral and the legal issues in this case have to be the fact that the society will be more stronger and functional if it allows the people to live with their choice and also the choice to die in case of exceptional scenarios where they do not have a chance of survival. The moral issues that cause the court to affect their decision relating to the various situational scenarios in this case is that the allowance of assisted suicide in this case will affect the decision of may others who will appeal in court for the same in different situations. However the right of man who lives in dignified fashion should also be allowed a dignified death which leads to a moral dilemma in theis case. Moreover there is dilemma in this case affecting Mr Conway as it puts forward a major moral question forward in the society, Does the society and the law have the right to put a man through the amount of pain is a scenario where the people does not understand the pain in the case?
There are a number of issues in this case regarding the rights of the people in the society and how they may affected by the judgement. Since the disease had no cure the prohibition in the help in dying will only add to the pain of the people like Conway who choose to live a rather independent life. The moral issue is where to draw the line when a person chooses to decide to die using the help of the assisted suicide deciding the time of their death. In cases like that of Conway where the death is imminent and is assisted by pain an immobility, the situations become worse to comprehend. In this case it can be sought that the person themselves are the only ones who can understand the amount of ability or disability that they are facing and should be allowed to decide when they should be allowed to die by understanding themselves when the pain becomes too unbearable for them or they become too dependent on the different machineries to survive. The people countering the argument go on to say that the people in the society the people should go about caring the people who are in need rather than allowing them to die. This may be helpful for the people who are paralysed and dependent on support for their sustenance but for the ones who are suffering from life threatening diseases to an extent Conway is, it is not just not about the assisted living, it is also about the amount of pain they put people through in the due process. The dilemma of forcing to live or allowing to die is one of the major topics of debate where no side seems wrong. In any case the people who have to undergo unsurmountable amount of pain in the process of dying must be alleviated from their pain and helped in their choice.
Noel Conway's Case
2. There are number of moral values and theories keeping which in mind the court has passed the judgement relating to the assisted suicide in the case of Conway. First of the life has a value of the sanctity in the society and the taking of life is considered a crime. The conscience of the people in the bench who are making the decision does not allow them to be held responsible for the taking the life of a person who is innocent and sick. Moreover, the death of a person will lead to number of cases of the kind where the people will cite the reason of a number diseases leading to the death of the different people in the society.
The human life is given the supreme value in any constitution and there is no provision of the taking of human life except in the case of various self-defence which will help in the protection of self from inevitable death. The very nature of suffering that the person is undergoing in the decision relating to the individual perspectives also helps in the decision of Conway’s fate. There are a number of different people suffering from a number of diseases in the society and a number of people are suffering from the same diseases as Conway. There are a number of implications of the issue and the decision that the court had to pass. In the religious context too the suicide is seen as a prime sin in the society. It may therefore hurt the sentiments of a number of people in the society as the very act will be against the religious beliefs of a number of people. Moreover in the religions and in most cases the people who do not believe in religion too also think that the suffering is a good thing which helps in the purging of the sins of the people in the society. This however is a personal choice and belief and cannot be held accountable in the society relating to the case of Conway.
The moral challenge of allowing a person to take his own life when the person has a disease which will take his life in the due time. The moral consciousness of the court has also to consider the fact that how can a person himself be allowed to judge the time of his death as he may give up early due to the conditions he is facing and give his life which would not be right in a legal sense. The concept of the assisted suicide will give the power in the hands of the patients thereby raising a number of requests for the case will rise people citing a number of reason ranging from mood related disorders like depression to physical disabilities. This is the case which would raise longer debates as there are no parameters to differentiate between the physical pain the person faces in the case like Conway or the psychological pain mood disorders.
3. In this case the court took into considerations a number of major moral theories to address the case of assisted suicide but most importantly the decision in based on the morality is the preservation of the sanctity of the human life in the society. The person who is suffering from a disease also has a number of different medications going into him and number of different psychological factors affecting their overall situations. The question that is raised is whether a person who is undergoing a medication for a degenerative disease has the right mind set to decide the time of his death. Another major issue in this case would be the situations that affect the decision making and the bifurcation of the different kinds of diseases in which the patient should be allowed to go for the assisted suicide. There is also no perfect way to ascertain the situations in which the people can take the help and the cases in which the requests can be rejected. The different laws that are made in the society resonate around the fact of the preservation of the human life and the ways in which the people can take the decision of taking their own life. It was seen when the assisted suicide was permitted in the Netherlands a large number of people opted for it but what are the parameters that can be considered to give the autonomy of that judgement to the people in the society is a matter of debate.
The idea of the decisions was based on the basic thought that the life was a part of nature and the freedom of choice of ending one’s own will only blur the prospects of the saving in. it can also be contended that the various people may vie for the assisted suicide in the different parts of the treatment of the diseases which may give them unbearable pain but may cure them in the long term. The human life and the option of taking it can only be decided when the person is completely dependent on their survival cannot be judged by a person who is battling a disease. Moreover, the taking of the human life cannot be adjudged by this factors also because the person cannot decide the perfect time to take their own life. It is also a major issue that this would open doors for the people who are in pain and will seek the assisted suicide just for the alleviation of the pain that they are facing. The decision is based on the fact that Mr Conway is not in the perfect decision for himself as he may as well be led array by the pain and the medication that he is undergoing. Therefore it can be said that the decision was based on the preservation of the human life and not on the fact that how they comprehend the ending of it.
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