22 May 2009
People have the right to stop suffering. Freedom of choice. These are probably the most common reasons people give for being in favor of euthanasia, and although their arguments are valid, how many of these people, who claim euthanasia is right, know euthanasia’s role during World War II? For example, do they know Hitler started his massive killings by doing “racial cleaning” which basically was to euthanize the sick or handicapped? How many of them know infant euthanasia is about to be approved in the Netherlands? Doesn’t that baby born with what they call “intolerable deformity of illness” has the right to decide if it is truly intolerable? Yet worse, do they know that, for example in France 74% of the population agrees with infant euthanasia as well as 68% of the Dutch? How far will society go? Is it possible to know if euthanasia is right or wrong?
First of all, before attempting to judge euthanasia we must have a clear idea of what it is. Merriam-Webster online dictionary describes euthanasia like this: Euthanasia (from the Greek=eu + thanatos=death) is the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy. Euthanasia may be conducted in 3 different ways: Active Euthanasia: Active euthanasia entails the use of lethal substances and forces to kill the “patient” and is by far the most controversial of them all. The role of the so- called patient may be involuntary, which might be taken as a murder, or voluntary, in which the physician helps in an assisted suicide. Ceniceros 2
Non-active Euthanasia: This kind of euthanasia entails the withdrawing of life support, such as mechanical respiration or feeding tubes, in order to let the patient die, this kind of euthanasia is pretty controversial. Passive Euthanasia: it entails the withdrawing of common treatments (such as antibiotics or chemotherapy) or distribution of medication (such as morphine) to relieve pain knowing it may result in death (principle of double effect).
Several countries have already approved euthanasia under some regulations, that although good, in my opinion, are not enough as they leave some space for “interpretation” from the physician, which can result in people being euthanized in cases were it wasn’t supposed to. The first country to ever approve an euthanasia legislation, The Rights of the Terminally Ill Act of 1995, was Australia; under this act four persons died using a device designed by Dr. Philip Nitschke, however the legislation was overturned in 1997 by the Australian Federal Parliament. The United States have also taken several steps toward legalizing euthanasia, for instance, in 1994, Oregon made it legal for doctors to write legal lethal prescriptions to people who are diagnosed with a terminal illness, since then pro-euthanasia bills have been passed in several states, for example, Washington. As of today, some forms of euthanasia are legal in Belgium, Luxemburg, The Netherlands, Switzerland, some places of Spain, and Thailand among others. It is also important to mention that before these policies were accepted, people were still euthanized in some countries, like for example, the Netherlands, where they gave a 20 year margin to doctors who had applied euthanasia on a patient, or in Belgium, where, before the Parliament legalized euthanasia in late September 2002, several thousand euthanasia acts were carried per year.
The Act of the Terminally Ill of 1995, above mentioned, had a lot to do with euthanasia policies applied nowadays, for example, in 1999, Albania accepted any form of voluntary euthanasia, while passive euthanasia is allowed if, and only if, 3 or more members of the family agree with it. Now, most of these policies are supposed to be pretty effective and all, but still, there are many cases of euthanasia being...