Lim 1Qi Xun LimMr PrinslooSecondary Technology12 October 2012 Euthanasia Death, is not a new thing to us, this is the cycle of life, everyone, every living thing will definitely go through this stage in their life. But, people have been debating the ethicality of euthanasia for the past few decades. People often ask these questions: Is it right to commit suicide? Isit ethical to help someone to commit suicide? Is it right to put others to death at their ownrequest? These questions are important to be asked because they help to define our society andculture. Euthanasia, this word kept popping up in any ethical issues discussed in the world.However, what is euthanasia exactly? Originated from the Greek terms “eu” (happy or good) and“thanos” (death), euthanasia means happy death or mercy killing literally. According to theAmerican Medical Association’s Council of Ethical and Judicial Affairs, euthanasia is “the act ofbringing about the death of a hopelessly ill and suffering person in a relatively quick and painlessway for reasons of mercy.” There are several types of euthanasia generally. Voluntaryeuthanasia which is death performed by another with the request of the person being killed;involuntary euthanasia which can be defined as death performed by another without the consent
Lim 2of the person being killed. Active Euthanasia which is taking actions that lead to death, forinstance, fatal injection; and, passive euthanasia in which a physician allows a patient to die byremoving artificial life support systems. However, keep in mind that euthanasia is not the same as physician assisted death.Euthanasia is the intentional killing of a person, voluntary or not; physician assisted death is apractice in which the physician supplies the patients with the means to end his life, but thephysician does not carry out the action. Euthanasia is controversial in medical ethics and medical law. Debates about this topichave been going on for the past few decades. In the debate, arguments against the acceptabilityand legal feasibility of euthanasia can be found. One argument is about euthanasia is the same askilling intentionally, and that killing people is wrong morally. And this should apply to medicalpractitioners, physicians, as stated in the Hippocratic Oath, which explicitly states that “nodeadly medicine will be given to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel”, which can beinterpreted as any form of physician assisted death and euthanasia is not to be practiced by anymedical doctors. Euthanasia, if abused, can be used as an excuse to murder people. Doctors orany physicians will not be sentenced to any crime if they claimed that they did not murdersomeone but simply euthanize someone.Another argument that is against euthanasiais the potential for disagreement in how andwhen to carry out euthanasia? In what stateof health should the patient be in order toagree to be euthanized? If a patient is
Lim 3mentally or physically incapable to agree, can the patient be freed from his or her sufferingthrough the use of euthanasia or any form of it? There are still a lot of question to be asked aboutlegalizing euthanasia globally. Although there are countless arguments against euthanasia, there are some arguments thatare in favor for the use of euthanasia especially in the medical field. Their argument mainlybased on the one’s “Right to Die”. The “right to die” is the ethical right for someone to commitsuicide or to undergo voluntary euthanasia or physician assisted death especially one who issuffering extremely great mental or physical pain. Normally, patients that are in coma or have suffered serious injuries will opt for physician assisted death or active euthanasia. Euthanasia and physician assisted death is illegal in most countries throughout the world, with a few exception such as Netherlands wherephysician will not be prosecuted for terminating a patient’s life, provided that the physiciansfollowed the established protocol and acts based on the patient’s request to be euthanized. Peopleshould have the right to choose when and how they should die, especially when they are in anunbearable pain. It can be assumed that, most human beings prefer and easy way to die, not toendure all those pain or suffering, and also to die with dignity. Unfortunately, this does notnormally happen to most people, especially the elders, and the patients suffering from chronicdisease. For them, dying involves a long and miserable process, from mental stress todegeneration of organs or the spread of cancer cells. Euthanasia provides them this gate-way tobe relieved and freed from all these pains and sufferings. In the medical law and medical ethic,
Lim 4patient’s autonomy is everything. Patients have the right to decide whether they want to beterminated or not. If no treatment is available or there is no improvement but the situation isgetting worse, a patient can choose whether they want to end the treatment or not, even afterknowing that by removing any treatments or any artificial life support system may lead to thedeath of that patients. However, not every physician will agree to carry out this act because somemay still think that this is not ethical. As a conclusion, the debate about the ethicality of euthanasia will still continue because itis impossible to come to a conclusion because people have different opinions on whetherterminating a person’s life, whether voluntary or involuntary morally right or wrong. There aremany aspects that need to be considered in deciding whether euthanasia is ethical or is it a crimethat has the same level of offense as murder.
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