Functionalist interpretation of euthanasia

Document Type:Essay

Subject Area:Social Work

Document 1

Consequently, social issues emerge in society on a day to day basis and one of the very crucial ones that have caused debates that is still on is the right to euthanasia (Johnson 2008). While some nations have legalized euthanasia, other nations have not, and one of the nations that have a section of it states legalizing this action in Australia. The northern territories of Australia legalized euthanasia under the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995. This must have been driven by the legal perception that there is natural right to die (Whiting, 2001). However, being that this law is crucial, this study examines the interpretation of this act based on functionalist theory. For instance, in this case under study, the legislation that has legalized euthanasia is expected to give room for people to choose whether they desire to have their lives or those of their loved ones taken in case they are critically ill.

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In return, the choice will impact the society whereby families can choose not to let their relatives suffer in long and endless illnesses this, in turn, will reduce suffering and even save for resources. Finally when resources are saved, then the society can avoid further for a member of relatives that is caused by excessive spending on an ill patient that still does not survive (Howarth & Jefferys 1996). Additionally, such an act can also create room for misuse of the euthanasia by people. For instance, if one wanted a share of family wealth, they may use euthanasia to take away their parent’s property. This perspective is one that makes this theory more conspicuous over the other social perspectives. This theory explains how individuals react based on the way they interpret the world around them and the meaning that it makes to them and so the conflict theory that looks at the negative comes in due to the ever-changing nature of the society (Ferrante-Wallace 2008).

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Consequently, this is this theory when used to examine what would happen to the Australian society after the passing of the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995. The main result that is expected is that the act will cause stability in the society or cause instability. The act being an agent that will affect law and beliefs as aspects of the society is bound to cause these foreseen reactions (Lippman n. Therefore, society is more than the total sum of its aspects, and so the functionality of a society is dependent not on the part of it but the society as a whole, and similarly, a part of the society can only function dependent on the whole society (Howarth & Jefferys 1996). What this assertion means is that this theory examines that a society cannot be considered stable if a part of it is not stable.

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In the same way, an aspect of a society cannot be considered to be stable until the whole society is stable. Some scholars like Durkheim, in fact, looked at the society as an organism where inside an organism there are components that play crucial roles, and each component can function alone (Stolley 2005). But when that one component fails, the entire organism experiences a failure forcing the other components to adapt in such a way as to fill the void left by the dysfunctional component. It must be noted that all these parts depend on each other and function together in unison to cause stability. Consequently, the instability occurs when the Australian Act on euthanasia is passed and once the Act has passed, then it means euthanasia is made legal.

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The moment euthanasia has been made legal; there is likely to be protests from the religious institution (Keown, 1997). This protest is likely to cause instability in the legal institution which will be questioned over their decision to legalese euthanasia (Biggs 2000). Similarly, the act affects the healthcare institution that is faced with ethical questions over their actions and decisions regarding when to undertake the practice of euthanasia. The lack of it is thus a lack of stability. In short, functionalists are less likely to support the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995. ii. The Act as a source of economic and emotional solution While it has been widely observed that the functionalists are highly likely to consider this act as an act that causes instability in the society, to some extent they can also agree with the act.

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It must be noted that functionalists put the society firs and the stability of the society also into consideration. Patients are always subjected to high-quality medication that many poor people in the society may not afford. Even in cases where people can afford such medication, they may not be able to raise the amount needed for so long yet the individual is likely to die eventually. In such a case, the Act gives them a chance to choose to save money through opting for euthanasia (Lippman n. d). Medical institutions that are funded by the government also have the chance to save taxpayers’ money in such cases. However, if the act is likely to cause the solution to the society, such as in cases where it alleviates suffering and economic strain then it is considered as an act that can lead to stability.

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