Ethics and Health (Cancer Research and Suicide Among the Elderly)

Ethics and Health (Cancer Research and Suicide Among the Elderly)

Ethical Dimensions of Cancer Research

The question of whether or not cancer research that involves exploitation and possible extinction of plants and other vegetation should be considered ethical is complex. As noted by Dauvergne (2005), there is some evidence that treatment (and possibly a care) for various forms of cancer may be found within such materials; at the same time, environmentalists caution that excessive exploitation of these materials can lead to their devastation and the loss of vital biodiversity. Dauvergne (2005) suggests that it is possible to find a middle ground between uncontrolled research and environmental protection. Allowing research using plant life to proceed under supervised conditions that prevent depletion (let alone loss) of natural resources should be actively undertaken under the aegis of various governmental and non-governmental bodies.

Ethically, it should not be necessary to choose between two equally desirable goods. Finding effective treatments or cures for cancer is a desirable effort and activity. Protecting the fragile ecosystem of the planet from over-exploitation is equally important from an ethical perspective. Duty ethics as well as virtue ethics demand respect for human life and for the environment. Given the advances in technology and in research methods that have taken place in the past several decades, careful use of biological materials is now possible.

Ethical Principals and the Suicidal Elderly

The elderly patient who experiences disabling, significant, and chronic pain may be engaging in suicidal ideation and request physician-assisted suicide; he or she may be in despair and be experiencing conflicting and troubling emotional responses to a medical condition (Purtillo, 2006). The responsibility of health care providers is to assist the patient in dealing effectively with the various issues that are involved; specifically, physician-assisted suicide is not p…

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