Euthanasia: Mercy or Murder?

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According to the Collins Canadian English Dictionary euthanasia is defined as “the act of killing someone painlessly, especially to relieve his or her suffering” (2004). Not everyone agrees with this definition. I have always believed that euthanasia was the human choice of ending another person's life because of the excruciating pain they are suffering due to an incurable disease. Some disciplines think that euthanasia should never be an option no matter what the situation. While other disciplines question the validity of the actions of the person helping with the actual euthanasia. Still others support euthanasia in all forms as long as it is performed for the sake of the patient who is suffering. There are three types of euthanasia; voluntary active euthanasia, passive euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. In all cases where euthanasia is used the patient must be suffering from an incurable, fatal disease. Voluntary active euthanasia is a deliberate intervention by an individual other than the patient, with the pure intention of terminating that patient's life. Passive euthanasia takes place when the attending physician decides to discontinue therapy or treatment that would help to keep the patient alive, basically letting the patient die without the benefit of medicine or medical procedures. Finally, physician assisted suicide is where a physician helps to bring on the patient's death by providing the means to do it (narcotic prescription to overdose on) or by giving the necessary information on how to do it, but the patient performs the lethal act. Each of these methods is a form of euthanasia or mercy killing but each is different in the amount of involvement by the physician. A severely handicapped or terminally ill person should have the right to choose to live or die. The right to live; the right to choose to live or die should not only be a right allocated for bodied individuals of sound mind but for all human beings. Euthanasia is a controversial issue which encompasses the morals, values and beliefs of our society.

Currently, under Canadian law euthanasia is prohibited. In Holland euthanasia has been accepted, in principle for terminally- ill patients, on request. It comes to be seen as practice for those whose quality of life is judged by themselves as worthless. Even though euthanasia is not yet legal in Holland, it is legally tolerated. Doctors are rarely prosecuted and even more rarely convicted. If euthanasia were to be decriminalized in Canada certain restrictions would have to be put into place, to ensure that a patient's rights are not infringed upon. A living will should be made when the patient is of lucid mind. Also, a council should be selected and outlined in the living will. The council should be chosen by the patient, when the patient is of sound mind and is able to make decisions. The council might consist of the patient's family, doctor or any other he or she feels have the same view or perception of life. Presently in Canada, a living will is not a legally binding document. A living will is a document prepared and siged in advance of illness, in which a person may specify which treatment or care is to be withheld or withdrawn from him or her in certain situations. It is extremely general, trying to cover a wide range of accidents or illnesses and possible treatments. Living wills are created to protect the individual who is unable to participate in decisions regarding their medical care. In Canada, even with a living will in many cases any decisions on the removal of medical care must be passed through the court system. This system must be amended. The living will should be made a legally binding document. In the United States, living wills have become legally binding documents, in most states. The recognition of the living will as a legally binding document is one of the first necessary steps required in the legalization of euthanasia and the recognition of ones right to...
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