End of Life Decisions: Case Study’s Ethical Analysis

Topic: Medical Ethics
Words: 2341 Pages: 9

End-of-life decisions need to be discussed from ethical, cultural, religious, and health perspectives before a responsible person will make their final choice. Patients with irreversible diseases might experience moral dilemmas and question their personal values as they become unable to be active society’s members. In the given case, George was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which paralyzes crucial systems and makes an individual wheelchair bounded and unable to eat or breathe independently.

The devastating disease development and inevitable death forced George to inquiry about the options to undergo the suffering. Modern technologies allow people to intervene in death via such operations as euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide, and those approaches require examination from the ethical Christian worldview (Grand Canyon University, 2020). Voluntary euthanasia is a procedure to end life painlessly to reduce the physical, moral, and financial burden of treating an incurable disease (Frey & Blackwell, 2018). This paper aims to ethically analyze George’s case of inquiring about voluntary euthanasia from the Christian values’ perspective.

George is worried that ALS would cause endless suffering and inability to perform basic daily tasks without support, turning him into a family burden. Furthermore, the development of the disease will lead to painful experiences such as struggling to breathe. The inevitable suffering forced George to revise the values, and as a Christian, he must consider the religious narrative within the moral and ethical ones. Christianity finds suffering meaningful, regarding it as the result of sin, and encourages the believers to experience challenges as Jesus Christ was racked with pain by death to bring faith for his followers (Grand Canyon University, 2020). Ultimately, George’s disease would make him spiritually closer to God, and the difficulties beyond physical aches, such as the demand for continuous support, would be valuable for the caregivers involved.

People face various emotional, physical, or mental aches during their lifespan, and there is no particular rate that would determine if a radical intervention is required to help them cease the pain. The world’s fallenness doomed humanity to experience suffering, and Christians interpret that fact as a crucial part of their path to seeking God (Roberts II, 2017). George finds it unfair that ALS would destroy his health in the fifties, while others develop severe diseases only by the ancient age. The Christian worldview might help him realize that every person has their own mission, and suffering is inevitable because all people are being punished for the original sin.

Compassion is a vital part of Christians’ life, and George’s thinking of proceeding with voluntary euthanasia requires discussion from its perspective. Compassionate treatment of an ill individual might let physicians, nurses, and family members act to decrease or eliminate pain. However, the Christian worldview perceives compassion differently and encourages one to respect others’ suffering as their path to God. Religion suggests that people should support a person in their challenges and provide care without eliminating difficulties, therefore being compassionate without involving in the process (Grand Canyon University, 2020). For George, it means that forcing death might become adverse for the spiritual health of one to participate in euthanasia, and Christianity prohibits harming others.

ALS is a deadly diagnosis that demands a person to understand their bodies’ temporary nature and think more about their souls’ eternity. George knows that the suffering will soon appear, turning into a continuous pain that leads to physical death. The awareness of future experience helps make a well-evaluated end-of-life decision. Inquiring about voluntary euthanasia might seem like a moral obligation for George, who does not want to become incapable of performing daily tasks without support. Moreover, freedom of choice in the modern world allows everyone to decide if the forced death is a necessary step, and it would be ethically correct to respect personal autonomy (Renée Mirkes, 2017). George’s suffering elimination and prevention of his family from difficulties of treatment and support for vital functions are meaningful from the general perspective.

On the other hand, the Christian narrative provides another view on suffering and death and can help George interpret the experience differently. God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to reveal that life continues after death as the latter was killed and then rose in three days. Christians believe that their souls will not die with their bodies and will be taken to God instead. Moreover, Christianity reminds us that a person’s life would determine if their souls would be blessed or punished after death (Grand Canyon University, 2020). From the religious worldview, suffering from ALS brings hope to an affected individual to continue their souls’ life in Heaven after going through the pain on Earth.

George is familiar with the Church’s main postulates and must consider that intervention in ending a life to eliminate suffering might be interpreted as disrupting human life’s sacredness. Roberts II (2017) states that “Holy Scripture affirms the absolute sacredness of every human life; the prohibition of taking a life is established in Genesis and affirmed and interpreted in its fullest by Christ Himself” (p. 186). Consequently, George’s painful ALS experience and challenges he would go through with dignity can be supported by the hope of resurrection, which is crucial for a Christian.

George is described as an active man who interacts with many people and valuable to society as he works in an educational institution. The ALS diagnosis will severely influence his ability to teach, therefore his self-value might decrease and cause depression or other mental issues. Besides, the continuous demand for support and inability to give anything in exchange would make George feel like a hard family burden. However, the Christian worldview reminds its followers about each person’s equal value in the world, regardless of their mental or physical conditions. All experiences are given to individuals to bring them closer to God, thus George’s suffering and disease would move people around him towards more spiritual lives (Grand Canyon University, 2020). The influence on others is essential, therefore even a man incapable of operating independently and consciously provides value.

George is devastated by the diagnosis that will inevitably change his life and impact people around him. From the Christian perspective, that experience is important for every person involved, therefore the personal value of the ill can not be underestimated. Indeed, his decision to inquire about voluntary euthanasia impacts the lives of physicians, nurses, and relatives. As a Christian, George must consider the spiritual side of his choices. In respect to George’s free will and autonomy, euthanasia would be ethically right, however, moral issues might occur. The inquiry about euthanasia would leave the family in doubt about what to do when George becomes unconscious. Renée Mirkes (2017) states that “decisions must be: God-centered, guided by present and ultimate reality, and impelled by a spirit of loving-the-patient-to-death” (p. 112). George would be a valuable person if he thinks of the others’ souls and prevents them from suffering from doubts or making spiritually wrong choices.

ALS will make George unable to perform actions that indicated his role in society, however, the diagnosis provides space to seek value in other spheres. From a Christian perspective, people must love, care for, and support each other to praise God’s goodness in creation (Grand Canyon University, 2020). George will become a person to care for, therefore his value will allow others to fulfill their Christian mission. Moreover, his previous career and life achievements will not disappear, and that legacy will maintain his importance for society even in the period of physical inability to take action.

George’s decision to inquire about voluntary euthanasia is understandable because he considers the inability to operate independently as torture and does not want to be a burden for people he loves. The process makes an individual die painlessly and prevent the demand for long medical treatment in the cases of an incurable disease (Frey & Blackwell, 2018). In countries like the United States (in some regions), Canada, and Belgium, citizens have a right to ask for active or passive euthanasia, and respecting their autonomy to make such decisions allows physicians to assist (Frey & Blackwell, 2018). Ethically, the procedure helps eliminate suffering, which is the motivation for an affected person to inquire about it. Alternatively, the Christian perspective offers the opposite opinion about euthanasia, based on the spiritual meaning of life and death.

The countries that allowed euthanasia or assisted suicide have Catholic Church as a leading religious institution, and its followers strongly disagree with the process of forcing death. Grand Canyon University (2020) states that “the relief of suffering in this world is part of the Christian mandate, but it must never be achieved through killing the sufferer.” Consequently, the Christian worldview applied to George’s decision to opt for euthanasia would consider the fact of human life’s sacredness. Furthermore, the focus on the religion’s value for suffering in the path to God would decide for voluntary death seem fundamentally wrong (Roberts II, 2017). Christian worldview presents dying as leaving the physical body to let a soul continue life in Heaven, rather than a final point. Indeed, as God creates a unique way for every person to seek him, death was also planned by him, and a person does not have a right to intervene in it (Renée Mirkes, 2017). If George values willingness to follow the destined path, he should not opt for voluntary euthanasia.

Based on the Christian worldview, George must not ask for voluntary euthanasia as it does not comply with the religion’s moral values. Several options might be justified for him to reduce suffering and help cope with ALS and its consequences. To begin with, George needs to be reminded that there is always space for hope in Christianity, therefore he can get through the disease with humility and prayers for suffering not to be extremely painful. It is also crucial to organaize palliative care to help him and his family go through the experience (Renée Mirkes, 2017). George needs to perceive the disease as God’s plan to follow the Christian mission and achieve blessed eternal life for his soul.

Moreover, it is morally justified to provide George with enough sources and support to reduce physical suffering during the ALS development. Physicians, nurses, and caregivers who would interact with an ill person must be educated about pain relief and alleviating patients’ fears (Frey & Blackwell, 2018). George would not avoid the decline of his body’s systems, yet medications and care received from people around him would ease the process. Decreasing physical pain is morally correct and complies with the Christian worldview because it does not intervene in a believer’s path to God.

Lastly, it is ethically crucial to clarify with George about his actions when his functioning would be the lowest. Patients with ALS become wheelchair bounded and unable to speak or even breathe independently while remaining alive. From a moral and Christian worldview, freedom of choice must be treated with respect (Roberts II, 2017). Considering the religious value of non-intervene in the end-life process, George would receive treatment until the last second. On the contrary, he has a right to ask for reducing the vitality support when the death is close.

I do not have any particular religious worldview, however, as a nursing professional, I find it crucial to study spiritual aspects of life and understand the value of soul, afterlife, and suffering. In George’s case, Christianity might become a supporting power for him and his family to go through ALS with dignity and honor to God. The disease that makes an individual unable to live on their own involves others in the experience affecting their lives. George is an active person who interacts with students and scholars in the university and with teenagers at school where he coaches the basketball team, thus he has authority as a valuable member of society. Besides, he is an example for younger generations, and the decision he would make about the disease might affect their ethical and spiritual values.

I would not support inquiring about voluntary euthanasia because I believe that personal decisions affect others, and the deliberate ending of a life is equal to suicide, which is an egoistic and harmful experience. In George’s situation, I would embrace the fact of inevitable suffering and death and perceive it as part of my life’s mission. Furthermore, I would seek psychological support for the family and me during treatment and decline of the body’s systems work. I would ensure that people around me are prepared for the period when I would not operate independently. ALS might frighten the ill people not since they would suffer from pain and then die, but because of their inability to maintain consciousness through the whole journey. I would do my best to support and care for people I love to feel calmer because of being sure that I carried enough value to the world before losing my mind.

My worldview requires from me to assess what I can do during the period left for me and dedicate that time to a useful and impactful life. I would not inquire about euthanasia and ask for palliative care instead. Renée Mirkes (2017) claims that “the intention of palliative care is neither to hasten nor to delay death but to acknowledge that dying is a normal process” (p. 188). Accepting the situation instead of fighting against the inevitable consequences would help me go through the suffering with dignity, and people around me would be encouraged to stay strong.

To conclude, the Christian worldview can become a supporting power for George due to the religion’s perception of suffering and the physical body’s mortality. While ethically, he has a right to undergo the pain and free his family from a challenging experience, voluntary euthanasia goes against the spiritual meaning of life. Christians believe that death is not the endpoint, and suffering on Earth would allow a person’s immortal soul to be blessed in Heaven. God creates a path to seek for him for each individual, and it must not be interrupted by unnatural death, thus euthanasia would not be the best decision for George.


Frey, R. J., & Blackwell, A. H. (2018). Euthanasia. In The Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health (4th ed.). Web.

Grand Canyon University (Ed). (2020). Practicing dignity: An introduction to Christian values and decision making in health care. Web.

Renée Mirkes, O. S. F. (2017). Three end-of-life cases: Resolving their moral dilemmas. Ethics & Medicine, 33(2), 107. Web.

Roberts II, A. H. (2017). The higher-brain concept of death: A Christian theological appraisal. Ethics & Medicine, 33(3), 177-131. Web.

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