Sunday, 25 June 2017

Medical Ethics: Euthanasia

by Janel Richardson

Euthanasia:physician-assisted dying and physician-assisted suicide

How do you feel physically? How do you feel mentally? How do you feel emotionally? Do you suffer from a terminally ill condition? Do you suffer so much that you just don't want to wake up anymore? Is life worth living?

What do these questions mean? Euthanasia has been a controversial topic around the world deciding whether it is right or wrong to end a person life with their permission. States in the USA (such as Colorado who recently passed it as a law last year) and countries like Belgium and Holland have this law permitted that euthanasia is acceptable. However, both countries differ in there legislations. Belgium, Holland and other countries standardise their law under the condition of: are they suffering and is it irremediable? Is it suffering that cannot be done away with and cannot be controlled? This law has been used on people who have been through bitter divorces, losing their job, going blind and have very severe depression. Medically “healthy” people are successfully receiving help in dying from doctors on the ground that their life has lost its meaning or they have nothing to live for and they just don't want to go on any longer. In the United States, the laws states that two doctors have to pronounce a patient terminally ill before the patient can request lethal medication.

It's one thing to help people who are on the verge of death anyways – the terminally ill – manage their death they way they see fit (physician-assisted dying). It's another thing to offer help to those who are otherwise “healthy” but have mental disabilities, emotional upsets, or overall unhappiness which could be categorised as physician-assisted suicide. This raise ethical questions about physician assisted death. People do have the right to die but under what circumstances is it ethical to allow it to happen? A libertarian would agree that if their death doesn't harm others or the states than people should not interfere. If voluntary euthanasia is legalised then a slippery slope would lead to involuntary euthanasia to kill people who are undesirable. Will euthanasia weaken society's respect for the sanctity of life?

The question is: is the world going to follow in Belgium and Holland’s footsteps and expand the right to physician-assisted suicide to people who are otherwise not dying? In my opinion, euthanasia should be legalised but under certain circumstances that ones suffering and pain can not be reversed or weakened by drugs. The USA’s regulations on the matter is an appropriate way to balance those who need it and those who want it. 

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