Euthanasia is the deliberate killing of a person for the benefit of that person.
What is Euthanasia:
Euthanasia is the deliberate killing of a person for the benefit of that person.
In most cases euthanasia is carried out because the person who dies asks for it, but there are cases called euthanasia where a person can't make such a request.
A person who undergoes euthanasia is usually terminally ill, but there are other situations in which some people want euthanasia.
What is euthanasia?
Euthanasia is the intentional killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit.
Voluntary euthanasia is when the person who is killed has requested to be killed.
Non-voluntary euthanasia is when the person who is killed made no request and gave no consent.
Involuntary euthanasia is when the person who is killed made an expressed wish to the contrary.
Assisted suicide is when someone provides an individual with the information, guidance, and means to take his or her own life with the intention that they will be used for this purpose. When it is a doctor who helps another person to kill himself it is called "Physician-assisted suicide".
Euthanasia by action is intentionally causing a person's death by performing an action such as by giving a lethal injection.
Euthanasia by omission is intentionally causing death by not providing necessary and ordinary (usual and customary) care or food and water.
Why people want euthanasia:
Most people think unbearable pain is the main reason people seek euthanasia, but some surveys in the USA and the Netherlands showed that less than a third of requests for euthanasia were because of severe pain.
Terminally ill people can have their quality of life severely damaged by physical conditions such as incontinence, nausea and vomiting, breathlessness, paralysis, difficulty in swallowing...
Psychological factors that cause people to think of euthanasia include depression, fear of loss of control or of dignity, feeling a burden, or dislike of being dependent.
What about uncontrollable pain? Shouldn't cancer sufferers and others experiencing unremitting agony be allowed the choice to end their own lives?
The better response to patients in pain is not to kill them, but to make sure that the medicine and technology currently available to control pain is used more widely and completely. According to a 1992 manual produced by the Washington Medical Association, Pain Management and Care of the Terminal Patient, "adequate interventions exist to control pain in 90 to 99% of patients." The problem is that uninformed medical personnel using outdated or inadequate methods often fail in practice to bring patients relief from pain that today's advanced techniques make possible.
But one thing that people who want euthanasia forget to asked themselves is:
This is a preview of the whole essay
You don't cure the disease by killing the patient!
Euthanasia - what religions think?
The Christian view
Christians are mostly against euthanasia. The arguments are usually based on the beliefs that life is given by God, and that human beings are made in God's image. Some churches also emphasise the importance of not interfering with the natural process of death.
- Life is a gift from God
- all life is God-given
- birth and death are part of the life processes which God has created, so we should respect them
- therefore no human being has the authority to take the life of any innocent person, even if that person wants to die
The Muslim view:
Muslims are against euthanasia. They believe that all human life is sacred because Allah gives it, and that Allah chooses how long each person will live. Human beings should not interfere in this.
Allah decides how long each of us will live
- "When their time comes they cannot delay it for a single hour nor can they bring it forward by a single hour." (Qur'an 16.61)
- "And no person can ever die except by Allah's leave and at an appointed term." (Qur'an 3.145)
The Buddhist view
Buddhists are not unanimous in their view of euthanasia, and the teachings of the Buddha don't explicitly deal with it.
Most Buddhists (like almost everyone else) are against involuntary euthanasia. Their position on voluntary euthanasia is less clear.
States of mind
The most common position is that voluntary euthanasia is wrong, because it demonstrates that one's mind is in a bad state and that one has allowed physical suffering to cause mental suffering.
Legal Or Not Legal:
Euthanasia has massive public support in Holland - but there are fears that bad practice is leading to abuse of the relaxed laws in the country.
Euthanasia has been commonplace in Holland for 25 years, and legal challenge has been rare.
It has not been a criminal offence in Holland since 1984, when courts and the Royal Dutch Medical Association drew up strict guidelines for doctors.
When it became legal:
In April 2001, The Netherlands became the first European country to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide. Since January 2002, stringent Dutch constitutional legislation has been in place, whereby regional euthanasia committees, made up of judges, medical and ethical professionals, assisted by a second medical opinion, can grant incurable patients' requests (including children above the age of 12 - 15 with parental consent) to have their life shortened by a medical expert.
Fighting for the right to die
Euthanasia campaigners claim that Annie Lindsell's court battle for the right to die with dignity was a landmark. Her greatest fear was the prospect of suffocating or choking to death when breathing and swallowing became difficult
Everyone wants a good death, which is why opinion polls show 85% of the population support us.
Many people have seen friends and relatives die long drawn-out deaths and thought: "In their shoes I would like to have a choice about how and when I die."
Many people who attempt suicide are stopped by others. Many then seek counselling and go on to lead happier and better lives. If they had been "assisted" in their attempts they would never have had that chance. Here are the results of a couple of studies:
One study of 886 people who were rescued from attempted suicides found that five years later only 3.84 percent had gone on to kill themselves.
Almost three out of four doctors (74%) would refuse to perform assisted suicide if it were legalised. A clear majority (56%) also consider that it would be impossible to set safe bounds to euthanasia as compared to 37% who disagree. In addition there are marked differences in attitudes to hospice and geriatric care between doctors opposed to euthanasia and those who support such a policy.
These facts emerge from a major survey completed by 986 doctors by the Opinion Research Business (ORB) over a two-week period - March 26-April 9, 2003. To ensure impartiality, ORB had the final decision on all questions. The survey was administered by the foremost medical internet company in the UK, Doctors.Net.UK, who contacted 9,000 doctors and medical specialists, including those in palliative care, oncology, psychiatry, geriatrics, general surgery and general practice. There was an 11% response which is typical for an Internet survey of this nature.
The survey was commissioned by Right To Life and the initial results were launched at a press conference held by the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group in the House of Commons on Tuesday, May 13. Chairman of the parliamentary group, Jim Dobbin MP (Labour - Heywood & Middleton) said:
"We welcome these initial results. They are very much in keeping with a survey published in Hospital Doctor (13th March, 2003) which showed that 57% of doctors were opposed to the law in Britain being changed to allow euthanasia. In the ORB survey, Doctors were also invited to make comments and we have been amazed by the response. They have provided a wealth of information and demonstrate that a clear majority of doctors are opposed to the Lord Joffe Bill - The Patient (Assisted Dying) Bill - which aims to legalise assisted suicide and is to have its Second Reading in the House of Lords in June."
"We intend to present additional data (together with doctors' comments) from the survey to parliamentary officers in the Lord Chancellor's Office and the Department of Health. The validity of doctors' concerns about the difficulties of setting safe bounds to euthanasia can be seen when we consider the manner in which we have been stampeded in the last few weeks from the tragedy of the late Mr Reginald Crew who had Motor Neurone Disease, followed by the second tragedy of Robert and Jennifer Stokes, neither of whom was terminally ill. Yet, all three went to Switzerland for assisted suicide and there is no doubt that all three cases could be covered by Lord Joffe's Bill which has the complete support of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society."
To the question "As a doctor do you agree with assisted suicide?" 25% agreed, 60% disagreed and 13% were undecided.
The number who rejected euthanasia was higher - 61% as compared with 22% in favour and 14% undecided.
However, the numbers of those rejecting both euthanasia and assisted suicide rose steeply when doctors were asked would they actually take part in such procedures. 26%, said they were willing actually to practice assisted suicide as compared with 74% who would refuse.
The number who would refuse to practice positive euthanasia if made legal was even higher at 76% in comparison with 23% who would do so.
Not one palliative care doctor who responded to the survey would practice either euthanasia or assisted suicide.
In response to a question on the British Medical Association policy which opposes the legalisation of euthanasia/assisted suicide, a majority (59%) felt it should not change. in comparison 28% felt it should alter, while 13% were undecided. More than four out of five (82%) doctors who reject euthanasia/assisted suicide support the BMA policy as compared with only 9% of those doctors who favour euthanasia.
Throughout the survey there were marked differences in the attitudes of doctors who support euthanasia/assisted suicide and those who are opposed. This was particularly significant on the BMA, on setting safe limits to euthanasia and on the development of hospice and geriatric care.
Overall 56% of doctors agreed with the House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics which considered that it would be impossible to set safe bounds on euthanasia. 37% did not agree and 7% did not know. However, the number who agreed with the Lords Committee was very much lower (only 7%) among doctors who support euthanasia/assisted suicide compared with 75% of doctors who reject euthanasia.
Most doctors evidently support greater developments in both Hospice and Geriatric care. The survey revealed that overall 66% of doctors considered that the pressure for euthanasia would be lessened if there were more resources for the hospice movement, whereas 22% did not agree and 12% were undecided. However, less than half (48%) of those who support euthanasia/assisted suicide felt that developments in the hospice movement would have any effect, compared with almost three in four (72%) of doctors opposed to these practices. Palliative care doctors were the most supportive of increased resources for hospices.
A majority of doctors (55%) also felt that pressure would be reduced if greater resources were allocated to geriatric care. 30% disagreed and 15% did not know. The comparative figures for doctors opposed to euthanasia/assisted suicide with those in support were 61% as compared to 35%.
The survey explodes the idea that many people are clamouring for euthanasia. The experiences of doctors reveal otherwise.
In response to a question asking how many patients had requested euthanasia during the past three years nearly half (48%) of the doctors said not one. 37% quoted less than five; 11% gave numbers between 5 and 10 patients; only 2% gave figures of more than ten. In their comments doctors said that in their experience requests for euthanasia were often "cries for help that have been resolved with good symptom control…they almost invariably want relief from distress"
The number of relatives requesting euthanasia was even lower than from patients themselves. 68% of doctors said that none had approached them in the last three years; 22% quoted less than five such experiences; 5% quoted figures between 5 and 10; and 1% gave numbers of more than ten. 3% said they did not know or that the question was not applicable to them.
Nonetheless, a substantial minority of doctors were concerned about possible pressures from families and colleagues if euthanasia and assisted suicide were legalised. Nearly half (47%) felt that if euthanasia and assisted suicide were made legal they would not be confident of being able to exercise their judgment without pressure from relatives. 29% were confident and 24% did not know.
On the other hand over half of doctors (58%) were confident of being able to exercise their judgment free from beneficiaries. 29% were not confident and 12% did not know.
A disturbing figure was that relating to pressure from colleagues. Overall 43% were not confident that they would be able to exercise their judgment free from pressure from medical and nursing colleagues. 28% were confident and a further 28% did not know.
A majority of doctors (57%) felt that they could withstand pressures resulting from NHS resources. In comparison 28% were not confident and 15% did not know. Palliative care doctors showed the most concern on this issue.
Although a majority of doctors were confident that they would be able to detect whether a request for assisted suicide was part of a depressive illness - 10% very confident and 53% quite confident - a substantial minority lacked such confidence. 30% said they were not very confident and 7% not at all confident.
Not surprisingly, psychiatrists were the most confident (86%) as compared with 63% of general practitioners