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What is Euthanasia?

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Introduction

What Is Euthanasia? One of the biggest problems in discussing the rights and wrongs of euthanasia is that people use the word to mean different things. For some of us, euthanasia conjures up pictures of granny snuggling under the duvet as her doctor mixes the fatal potion at her bedside. Others might associate it with the decision to turn off the life support machine attached to an unconscious road accident victim. Yet for others euthanasia will bring to mind something more personal - we may be reminded of a friend or relative who died in what seemed like unnecessary pain. Could 'euthanasia' have been an option there? A lot depends on what we mean by the word 'euthanasia'. Because unless we know what we're talking about, we won't be able to decide whether it is right or wrong. And the best place to start is to find out what euthanasia is not! What Euthanasia Is Not In the examples that follow we can see that the doctor has no intention of killing his patient - that is why they do not count as 'euthanasia'. Stopping treatment If a person is near death, a doctor may decide to stop life prolonging treatment. This may be because the drugs and treatment are no longer giving effect or because their side effects are causing the patient a lot of distress for very little gain. This is not euthanasia. Doctors should be able to recognise when a person is dying and should do all they can to help the patient die in peace. ...read more.

Middle

How can we be sure it is their decision and that no one has pressurised them into it? We all know how many old people are afraid of 'being a burden' to their children and grandchildren. Subtle pressure from the family - even things like lack of living space may all push an old person into asking for euthanasia if it were available. * Euthanasia is not simply a personal affair as some would have us believe. It is about one person agreeing with another person that their life is no longer worth living. Clearly, any doctor who thought that his patient's life was worth living wouldn't perform euthanasia! If this change were incorporated in law, this would be a radical threat to all of us. We would no longer be protected from attack because we are human beings but because certain other members of society think we have worthwhile lives. The danger for those who may not be considered to have worthwhile lives - the elderly, the handicapped, psychiatric patients, long term prisoners - is all too clear. The logic of voluntary euthanasia is involuntary euthanasia. * A damaged medical profession. A good relationship between patient and doctor has to be based on trust. If we knew that our doctor had killed as well as cured other patients in the past, would we really trust our doctor with all our hang ups and fears? One survey in Holland (where euthanasia is practised openly) ...read more.

Conclusion

Yet those who most 'needed' this sort of help were not the ones to take it: Job, David, Jeremiah, Jesus. Only the apostate King Saul saw suicide as a helpful option. When Job's wife told him to 'curse God and die' he knew that she spoke as an unbeliever, someone who did not recognise God as Creator of all things. The Alternatives * Good medical care. Research has shown that 85% of patients with pain can be totally relieved with the help of drugs; a further 10% can be relieved almost completely; and the remaining 5% can have their pain removed for much of the time. No one need die in pain. Doctors need specialised training in this area to learn how to use drugs in the most efficient way. * Hospices. Hospices provide a positive homely environment for the seriously ill and dying patient. One woman said "I came here to die of cancer. Now I have learned how to live with cancer." Hospices allow people to live to the full right to the end and they are staffed by people who are specially trained in the needs of the dying. * Company. Some 2.2 million old people live alone in the U.K. seldom going out or seeing friends. Loneliness is one of the main causes of depression and illness - one of the main reasons for requesting euthanasia. We must keep in touch with our neighbours and our family; a visit once a week could make a world of difference to someone who may otherwise live and die unnoticed. ...read more.

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