Euthanasia An Opinion Essay, Research Paper
The word `euthanasia? is a combination of the ancient Greek words `eu? and `thanatos?, meaning `a good death? or `the bringing about of a gentle and easy death?. Nowadays, the meaning of this word stands for mercy killing. In total, there are six different ways in which euthanasia can occur: Active euthanasia, which is the active intervention by a doctor to terminate a patient?s life; Passive ethanasia, the deliberate withholding of the patient?s medical treatment with the intention to terminate life; Voluntary euthanasia, on request of the terminally ill patient, asking to recieve medical treatment in order to die; Involuntary euthanasia, ending an able patient?s life against their will, or just plain murder; Non-voluntary euthanasia, ending the life of a patient that is incapable of giving permission; and Physician-assisted suicide, almost the same as voluntary euthanasia, but instead the doctor only prescribes the lethal drug rather than giving it to the patient.
Today, the support for legalising voluntary euthanasia increases with every year. And according to statistics, this sort of euthanasia is supported by the majority of people all over the world. Only a small minotity argues against this issue due to religious beliefs and moral or ethical disagreements. A current case arguing in favour of voluntary euthansia is the case of Diane Pretty, who suffers from the incurable motor neurone disease. She bids for an assisted suicide executed by her husband and has passed the first stage of the legal battle arguing in her favour. Now, her case has to be presented to the Director of Public Prosecusions, in order to prevent her husband from being prosecuted if he should assist her to terminate her life. Mary Warnock commented on this issue in `The Observer? of Sunday, September second. She was clearly able to distinguish between the moral and judicial aspects of euthanasia, giving her arguments in favour of Diane Pretty?s case very much reason. Taking moral, ethical and religious beliefs in concern, Mary Warnock argues that those who protest against euthanasia are not the ones condemned to live the most painfull lives and that moral judgements in such cases ought to be done by the judicial sytem.
Another current case takes place in the Netherlands, the first country in the world where, only very recently, voluntary euthanasia has been legalized.The new policy for this kind of euthanasia describes a set of strict criteria that have to be followed. These are the rules that must be satisfied for legal voluntary euthanasia:
-the patient?s request for euthanasia must be voluntary and persist over time
-the patient?s suffering must be unbearable and untreatable
-the patient must be adequately informed about his/her medical condition and options
-the decission must be reached in an ongoing relationship between doctor and patient
-there must be consultation with at least one other physician
-the death must be carried out in a medically appropriate fashion
In 1993, the Dutch parliament adopted guidelines for doctors practicing voluntary euthanasia, in order to prevent them from being prosecuted. Allthough this sort of practice has been going on for many years, it still was not formally endorsed by the government untill now.
According to religious teaching, life is a `gift from god?. Only he can decide when a life begins or ends. It is considered to be against the natural law when someone deliberately kills another without god?s authority. Voluntary euthanasia breaks this principle, for it is believed that people do not have the right to choose the time of their own death. Yet, there are some exceptions to be considered concerning the `sancity of life?. Capital Punishment for example, is still active in some Arabic countries and also in a couple of States in America. These procedures break the principle of the sancity of life too, although they seem to be morally acceptable for the majority of the people living in that particular region or country. And what about Self Defence? This matter also breaks this principle. Terminating someone?s life, accidentally or not, in order to protect one?s own, seems to be morally accepted by the majority aswell. And there is Abortion, an issue that can be more easily linked to Voluntary Euthanasia. Abortion is practiced in many countries and is not anymore such a big issue as it used to be. A great amount of people still are against abortion, but these are most likely the same people that protest against euthanasia. This is probably due to the small indifference when it comes to the moral aspect. Abortion is terminating life before a child is born and euthanasia is terminating life before it naturally ends; the only difference is the period of time.
All these issues are related to the terminating of someone?s life, wheather it is accidental, voluntay or involuntary, in my opinion, moral aspects do not apply for a majority of people. I think that moral worries are up to the individual and their way of handling this.
The potential for abuse, on the other hand, is a more serious matter. Yet, when looking at the new policy for euthanasia in the Netherlands, the potential for abuse appears to be rather weak. If enough legal parties are involved in such a procedure as assisted suicide, and if they are surveilled by the judicial system, the chance for abuse is low. Rules have to be very strict and if any of them are broken, the case quickly changes to murder.
In my opinion, voluntary euthanasia should be accepted to a certain degree. Terminally ill patients who bid for an assisted suicide should be accompanied by doctors, relatives and physicians, in order, for those involved in the procedure, to be able to make the right judgements when the patient decides to terminate his life. And it is only when all parties come to the same agreement that the procedure should be applied. Yet, the interest of the patient should be prioritised. As I stated earlier that I do not believe that morality is applicable to the majority, I do think that the interests, beliefs and thoughts of the individual are higher than any law.References:* Pickett, Joseph P. et al.
`American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language?. Fourth Edition
Houghton Mifflin Company
2000* Baird, Robert M.
ed. Ethanasia: `The Moral Issues?.
1989* Thomasma, David C
ed. Birth to Death: `Science and Bioethics?
1996* www.pdf/publicopinion.pdf* Warnock, Mary
`A good and merciful judgement?
Sunday, September second, 2001