EUTHANASIA: A GLOBAL ISSUE Euthanasia has acquired a number of different labels. For example, euthanasia can be voluntary or involuntary, passive or active. Passive voluntary euthanasia occurs when, in accord with a terminally ill patient’s expressed wish, life-supports are removed and the patient is permitted to die “naturally” or “as a consequence of the disease. ” Some patients die immediately; others linger on for hours or days finally dying from dehydration and starvation.
Involuntary euthanasia—that is the bringing about of a person’s death without the consent of the person—is almost always treated as homicide, even when the act can be recognized as producing a “merciful death. ” Active voluntary euthanasia (often termed “aid-in-dying”) refers to death caused, in response to the terminally ill patient’s expressed will, through direct intervention by someone other than the patient. Death may be induced by the administration of lethal medications or by lethal injection. 5]
There is debate as to whether there is really any difference between active and passive euthanasia. In the minds of some, the removal of life-supports, or passive euthanasia, is to be differentiated from active euthanasia, which is defined as “doing something to terminate life. ” On the other hand, for many ethicists, “passive euthanasia” has become a “weasel term” serving only to deny responsibility and perhaps to exonerate the medical staff and the doctor from being accused of having “done” something to cause the patient’s death.
Recently, the phrase “doctor-assisted-suicide” has been added to the euthanasia vocabulary. Acting in accord with the patient’s wishes, a physician provides the terminally ill individual with lethal medication. The patient decides when to take the medication, so that the physician does not participate directly in the death. Of course, rational, but severely handicapped patients, such as those in the final stages of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), are automatically eliminated from this mode of dying because they are not able to take medication without assistance.
In countries where suicide and assisted suicide are against the law, doctor-assisted-suicide would not be tolerated. Global Euthanasia and the Law In the global community, because euthanasia is often loosely defined, the determination of the ways in which different legal systems handle the subject becomes too complex to explicate simply. It is possible to state that, throughout the world, passive voluntary euthanasia for the terminally ill is not often treated as illegal.
The abandonment of so-called “heroic measures” and the removal of life-sustaining equipment including feeding tubes is not equated with the abandonment of the patient. Rather, the recognition of the principle of futility and the acknowledgment that “the disease has won” refocuses treatment from efforts to cure to palliative care In Canada, aid-in-dying and physician assisted-suicide are against the law. Doctors who participate in helping patients to die face possible imprisonment of up to 14 years.
In 1962, a high court in Nagoya, Japan, declared euthanasia legal under special circumstances and specified that it should be performed by a medical doctor. A 1990 survey of members of the Japan Medical Society revealed that 87 percent of its members would honor a patient’s desire “to die with dignity. ” However, any euthanasia performed without patient consent is against the law. In Mexico, Italy, and South Africa, euthanasia is treated as murder.
Although no cases have been reported in Mexico, in Italy, when physician aid-in-dying comes to light, the law usually interprets the act as a physician responding to extenuating situations and sentences are meted out accordingly. In 1975, in South Africa, a medical doctor who gave his cancer-stricken father an overdose of Pentothal, received a suspended sentence and had his medical license suspended for two years. In Britain, groups supporting euthanasia have been active for decades but both euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are treated as homicide.
Unofficial estimates suggest that the number of unreported cases run in the thousands annually. France treats euthanasia as homicide, but at the same time the actions of French doctors who specialize in what is termed “helping patients to die” are regarded as easing a patient’s suffering and pain rather than deliberately causing death. In Germany, the term “death-help” is substituted for “euthanasia” to avoid any comparison with the genocide that occurred during the Nazi regime. Both euthanasia and doctor-assisted-suicide are illegal and punishable by up to five years in prison.
Although euthanasia is not legal in Israel, the courts acknowledge that there are situations in which a doctor may take into consideration a patient’s expressed wish not to have life prolonged by artificial means. In other words, passive voluntary euthanasia can be tolerated under certain circumstances. Although survey after survey reveals that many medical doctors support the right of terminally ill patients to request aid-in-dying and have expressed a willingness to comply with these requests, there are also many doctors who oppose active voluntary euthanasia and their opposition is supported by law.
Physicians, who support and honor the right of terminally ill patients to choose the time and mode of their demise, may participate surreptitiously in the patient’s death. The medical mode of ending the patient’s life in accord with the patient’s will is by increasing morphine dosage under the guise of seeking to control pain. Of course the physician knows that the morphine will have a “double effect” and kill the patient, but it is assumed that doctor’s intent was not to kill but to ease suffering.
Therefore, when frail, elderly, terminally ill, individuals request euthanasia, some medical personnel will cooperate by increasing the morphine dosage in the assurance that they will be protected from litigation by the “double effect” argument. These physicians believe that to prolong the life of a terminally ill and suffering person by drug therapy, blood transfusions or surgical intervention is unethical. In response to worldwide pleas for euthanasia from the terminally ill, and for compassionate and merciful release from prolonged and useless suffering, “right-to-die” societies have been formed in countries throughout the world.
Discussion, debate and dialogue involve members of the healing community, philosophers, ethicists, psychologists, and representatives of major religious bodies which have taken pro or con stands on the issues involved. In their efforts to legitimize active euthanasia for the terminally ill, these right-to-die advocates argue that, in certain circumstances, a strong legal and moral case for voluntary euthanasia can be made on the basis of compassion and recognition of human rights: a. hen the disease is terminal and the patient is in intractable pain. b. when no other means to relieve intolerable suffering are left. c. when the reason for ending that suffering, if necessary by ending the life of the person, is the reason for the act of euthanasia. Reference: findarticles. com/p/articles/mi_qa3859/… /ai_n8902315/ Reaction: Although we cant say that euthanasia is either good or bad. Many people have different opinion on this issue maybe because of some factors like religion and cultural beliefs.
Some countries are prohibiting euthanasia especially Christian countries because maybe for some reason they believe that life is a gift of god and we do not have the right to take away it and also according to the bible “thou shall not kill”, people shouldn’t t just give up on life, they should live it out to the end. In other countries they allowed it because not all people believe in Christ or maybe they are many people cant withstand to see their family suffering from fatal illness that is incurable. So instead of letting them leave in such condition, they let them die peacefully by the use of euthanasia.
Many people have illnesses that could be fatal with no cure, some of these illnesses leave the person unable to speak, unable to hear, and just a complete vegetable. Some of these people would just lie in the same bed 24hrs a day just waiting for the illness to get the better of them. So m not against euthanasia although I am catholic but we must follow some guidelines and we should have a boundaries and criteria before performing a euthanasia act to become more ethical and more acceptable by the public