Relation Between Euthanasia Attitudes and Religion Among Canadian Post-Secondary Students

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Relation Between Euthanasia Attitudes and Religion Among Canadian Post-Secondary Students

All over the world, Euthanasia explores the widespread and contrasting opinions in its morality and justness. It is a very sensitive topic due to its involvement in the ending of one’s life. Wikipedia defines Euthanasia as the act of killing a person who is terminally ill to alleviate their suffering. There is also a distinction between active and passive euthanasia, as well as voluntary and involuntary euthanasia. Active euthanasia is the act of taking active steps to inject a patient with poison to intentionally cause death (Wikipedia, “Euthanasia”, 2010, para. 1). Where as passive euthanasia involves stopping medical treatment (such as disconnecting kidney dialysis) to intentionally cause death. Voluntary euthanasia entails a patient has full knowledge and consent to his death. While involuntary euthanasia indicates that the patient is unconscious or too sick to be aware of what is happening, therefore the decision to die is made by another person on their behalf (Wikipedia, 2010). The history of euthanasia dates back to ancient Roman and Greek civilizations when the practice was believed to be morally acceptable; the meaning of euthanasia in Greek is “good death” (Wikipedia, 2010). During the 1930’s, involuntary euthanasia was used by the Nazis to kill 300,000 handicapped and mentally ill Germans (Faulstich, 2000). Although euthanasia was very commonly practiced in history, it is now highly controversial and is now a global issue with varying opinions of its morality. Euthanasia is illegal in most countries and also in Canada; the criminal code (Canadian Department of Justice, 2010) implies that euthanasia is illegal: 14. No person is entitled to consent to have death inflicted on him, and such consent does not affect the criminal responsibility of any person by whom death may be inflicted on the person by whom consent is given (consent to death, para 14). 241. Everyone who counsels a person to commit suicide or aids or abets a person to commit suicide, whether suicide ensues or not, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years (counseling or aiding suicide, para 241).

Legalizing euthanasia would permit doctors to kill patients (wanting to die that are terminally ill or in a vegetative state). It would de-value and change the symbolization of human life and may open doors to more extreme legalizations. Legalizing euthanasia would give doctors an immense responsibility that they may or may not desire due to the mental stress load that comes along with it. Making euthanasia legal may change the amount of people entering the medical work force, either increasing or decreasing it. On the other hand, it gives a person the freedom to do as they wish and frees up medical resources to help others in need. In a study of attitudes towards euthanasia among Swedish medical students (Karisson, Strang & Milberg, 2007), many students supported euthanasia because they believed that an individual has the right to autonomy (i.e. the right to choose to die). Another argument for euthanasia was the “relief of suffering” for patients in a vegetable state or of terminal diagnosis such as cancer and AIDS. Students believed that a patient living on life support machines or are painfully dying, should have the option to die if they want to. Other opinions in Karisson et al’s study that supported euthanasia included “hopelessness” and “social factors”; a person should have the right to die in situations where death is awaiting, feelings of loneliness and where a burden on family members is present. Euthanasia was also supported in the cases where ill elderly have “lost the will to live” and are lonely (p. 618). Karisson et al’s study also found others opposed euthanasia due to religious beliefs, namely that taking one’s life is only in the hands of God; they also believe that the...
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