The case involves a family where the daughter is suffering from brain damage. The husband is appointed as the immediate guardian to the unconscious patient. The patient happens to receive a compensation of about one million dollars. A part of it is saved for her treatment while the husband received the remaining portion. The husband has been assigned to be the legal guardian responsible for decisions regarding the treatment of his wife without initial objection from the parents. However, after some therapy and treatment, the patient’s parents filed a claim that the husband had abused their daughter leading to her current situation. This did not have any evidence for the court to remove the husband from being the immediate guardian of the patient.
After some time, the husband filed a case to have the hospital remove the feeding tube from the patient, which may lead to her death. He claimed that the patient was not likely to recover and if she was in a position to make her own decision, she could have ordered for the removal of the tube. The parents objected to this decision, but the court ordered the removal of the tube. However, the parents filed a case to oppose the husband’s decision claiming that he had an interest in part of her wealth. Thus, the decision to initiate his wife’s death was motivated by the desire to inherit some fortune. This lead to re-insertion of the tube, but this did not take long before the court ordered the removal of the tube the second time. The Pope and governor gave substantial objection to the second removal and it was re-inserted the second time. However, the tube was again removed for the third time and before the struggle to have it re-inserted commenced, the patient was already dead.
Ethical issue statement
The case presents an ethical issue where people are deciding to end the life of another. The hospital does not have the right to end the life of a patient unless the patient wishes for his or her right to death to be granted. However, in this case, the patient is unconscious and cannot make such important decision (Allhoff. 515). The court does not have a clear decision on the issue since the case is not in the constitution.
Possible Answers/ Resolutions
Possible solutions to the situation could have been obtained through different considerations. For instance, the patient was unconscious and necessary treatment had been attempted without positive improvement (Allhoff, 516). Continued sustaining of her life through piped food could not have made the situation better. Therefore, the family and the husband to the patient could have agreed to end the patients suffering by granting her right to death. They both knew that the patient was likely to die someday and all their efforts for treatment were futile. The family should have also considered a better and quicker means of death. The doctors should have taken considerable time to advise the parties on the condition of the patient and the likelihood to survive. This could have helped in reconciling the two parties in order to have one solution.
In another consideration, the fact that the patient was likely to die in an infinite time, the parties should have agreed to let the patient live. Her death in this regard could not be termed as initiated, but natural. The parents and husband will be satisfied that their patient had a severe brain damage that killed her. However, the decision to starve the patient to death may leave them with a guilty conscious. Parents will have a hard time or traumatic experiences dealing with the guiltiness of killing their own daughter.
The issue of inheritance and abuse also contributed to the disagreement in the two parties on the issue of ending the patient’s life. The court should have separated the issues of inheritance and abuse from that prevailing death decision for the patient. In this regard, the parents should have been given prove that the husband was not responsible for the patient’s condition. In addition, the husband should have presented evidence that he had no interest on the patient’s properties. This could have created trust among the parties and enable them to have a common understanding without constant disagreement. When the tube was removed the third time, the parents were willing to have it re-inserted, which is prove that they were not in agreement with the husbands decision (Allhoff, 516). Therefore, the situation explains that the parents are likely to blame the death of their daughter to the husband. The court also seemed to support the views of the husband more than those presented by the parents and other parties. After realizing that the parties were in constant disagreement, the court should have given a neutral response. For instance, the court should have ordered for continued sustaining of the patient’s life until non-induced death occurred.
The issue of deciding on the life of the patient elicits different ethical values, relevant facts, principles and consequences. For instance, the idea of ending the patient’s life came from the husband. This is contrary to the law in regard to ones choice to have death right granted. The husband’s views may differ from the wish of the patient if she was conscious to give a statement on the case. As the guardian, she made a decision to end a life that was not his own, and the law should have considered this unethical. The parents’ view that their daughter should have wished to live may have been correct. They were responsible for the upbringing of their daughter and understood the extent to which she valued life. Thus, their decision should have been given priority over that of the husband. In this regard, the court may have made a wrong judgment resulting to an execution that may have been against the choice of the victim. The fact that the husband was termed the sole guardian of the patient may have been a great mistake and the allegations on personal interest to initiate the patient’s death in the bid of inheriting her fortune true. The fact that the patient was unconscious and could not state the right person to stand as the guardian left the court to make uninformed decision of appointing her husband. This led to the consequence of the parents losing their daughter.
The fact that the courts argument on the case was based on past encounters of related scenarios may have led to wrong judgment (Allhoff, 516). Everyone in the society has personal choices and preferences. Thus, this case might have been a different view and opinion from the patient. Every human is entitled to the right to personal privacy. In this regard, the patient was not granted the right to exercise her privacy. The husband’s suggestion to have the PEG tube removed should not have been granted since it was against the privacy of the patient. The court should have given a neutral judgment that waits for the patient to regain consciousness and make her own decision in regard to the issue. The case that the court used as the reference involved the patient signing and advising the doctors to remove the PEG tube herself. This was different and the court’s decision might be termed biased since the rights of the patient were ignored together with those of other interested parties such as her parents.
The doctors have outlined ethics to follow when a patient requests to have his or her life terminated. The ethics do not permit for the second and third parties to make death decisions on a patient. Therefore, when the court gave an order that the PEG tube should be removed the doctors should have presented a counter argument to have the patient sustained. Through agreeing to the orders from the court, they violated their code of ethics and were eligible for punishment by law.
The patient had the right to die and the doctors were prioritized to grant the wish anytime the patient requested. However, in this case, the patient was unconscious and could not give her own view on the issue. The patient may have agreed with the husband, but not necessary on the method or choice of death used. Having the tube removed literally meant starving the patient to death (Allhoff, 516). This was a slow and painful way of granting a patient his or her death wish. The patient could have preferred quicker and painless death such as an injection. Therefore, the husband might have selected a wrong choice of death that resulted to pain in the patient. Since the court supported the death of the patient, it should have analyzed the situation of removing the tube and starving the patient to death. This basically justifies the fact that the court was biased and did not give considerations to other sides of the case. The husband should have been challenged on his choice of death for the wife and at least have him provide a good basis before ordering for the removal of the tube. Therefore, the court went against the ethics of the law to implement a choice of death that the patient or victim did not authorize.
Statement of Resolution
The selection of the guardian for the patient contributed to the final decision reached by the court. The disagreements presented from the parents and other people were not able to stop the court from ordering the removal of the PEG tube and thus, starving the patient to death. However, the fact that the patient was not responding to treatment was evidence that she was likely to die in the same unconscious state. Therefore, she could have agreed to be granted her right to death by the doctors rather than suffering infinitely. However, the patient might have preferred other faster and softer methods of death such as injections to a ruthless and painful method that the guardian selected.