Fall 2013 1
Can Euthanasia be SafelyCan Euthanasia be Safely
Legalized in United States?Legalized in United States?
Reading and Composition 1: Section 1920Reading and Composition 1: Section 1920
Professor: Timothy CramerProfessor: Timothy Cramer
Presented by:Presented by:
Fall 2013 2
What is Euthanasia?What is Euthanasia?
EuthanasiaEuthanasia (from(from GreekGreek:: ε θανασίαὐε θανασίαὐ ; "good; "good
death": ε ,ὖdeath": ε ,ὖ eueu; "well" or "good" - θάνατος,; "well" or "good" - θάνατος,
thanatosthanatos; "death") refers to the practice of; "death") refers to the practice of
intentionally ending a life in order to relieve painintentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain
and suffering.and suffering.
The challenge of legalizing euthanasia is dividedThe challenge of legalizing euthanasia is divided
into the issues such as legal, moral, family, andinto the issues such as legal, moral, family, and
health care.health care.
Medicine has become increasingly capable ofMedicine has become increasingly capable of
postponing death.postponing death.
Fall 2013 3
Categories of EuthanasiaCategories of Euthanasia
Passive Euthanasia: not taking the necessaryPassive Euthanasia: not taking the necessary
actions to maintain life by refusing water, food,actions to maintain life by refusing water, food,
drugs, medical or surgical procedures.drugs, medical or surgical procedures.
Voluntary Active Euthanasia:Voluntary Active Euthanasia: a competenta competent
person makes a voluntary and enduring requestperson makes a voluntary and enduring request
to be helped to die.to be helped to die.
Non-voluntary Active Euthanasia: killing aNon-voluntary Active Euthanasia: killing a
person not competent to give consent in order toperson not competent to give consent in order to
relieve suffering.relieve suffering.
Involuntary Active Euthanasia: killing someoneInvoluntary Active Euthanasia: killing someone
to relieve suffering without consent whento relieve suffering without consent when
consent could be given.consent could be given.
Fall 2013 4
Assisted SuicideAssisted Suicide
Suicide: SuicideSuicide: Suicide
accomplished with theaccomplished with the
help of a medicalhelp of a medical
Assisted Suicide:Assisted Suicide:
Suicide accomplishedSuicide accomplished
with the help ofwith the help of
another person.another person.
Fall 2013 5
History of EuthanasiaHistory of Euthanasia
In ancient Greece and Rome, euthanasia wasIn ancient Greece and Rome, euthanasia was
an everyday reality where many peoplean everyday reality where many people
preferred to die voluntarily instead to suffer inpreferred to die voluntarily instead to suffer in
pain for a prolonged time.pain for a prolonged time.
Christianity reinforced the Hippocratic view on
euthanasia – prohibiting the human killing and
forbidding any aid in suicide –– and culminated in
the steady opposition to euthanasia among
Fall 2013 6
Revival of Euthanasia DebateRevival of Euthanasia Debate
The proposals for euthanasia
revived in the 19th century with
the revolution in the use of
anesthesia. In 1870, Samuel
Williams first proposed using
anesthetics and morphine to
intentionally end a patient's life..
By the 1890s, the euthanasiaBy the 1890s, the euthanasia
debate has expanded beyonddebate has expanded beyond
the medical profession to includethe medical profession to include
lawyers and social scientists.lawyers and social scientists.
Fall 2013 7
Parliamentary BillsParliamentary Bills
In 1906, first Parliamentary bill to
legalize euthanasia was introduced
in Ohio but it was ultimately
Two more Parliamentary bills wereTwo more Parliamentary bills were
introduced; this time in Britain inintroduced; this time in Britain in
1936 and 1969.1936 and 1969.
With the increasing acceptance ofWith the increasing acceptance of
patient autonomy and the right-to-patient autonomy and the right-to-
die in the United States thedie in the United States the
euthanasia debate has once againeuthanasia debate has once again
become a matter of public concern.become a matter of public concern.
Fall 2013 8
Public Awareness of EuthanasiaPublic Awareness of Euthanasia
During the 1990s huge public attention wasDuring the 1990s huge public attention was
given to euthanasia: books, articles, and TVgiven to euthanasia: books, articles, and TV
programs promoted the concept to a wide public.programs promoted the concept to a wide public.
Activist groups supporting the legalization of
physician-assisted suicide or medical
euthanasia, such as the Hemlock Society and
Compassion in Dying, sprung up.
Fall 2013 9
Ballot InitiativesBallot Initiatives
Bills on the topic surfaced in state legislatures
around the country and voters in five states
faced ballot initiatives to legalize physician-
Oregon Death With Dignity Act, passed by a
51% to 49% margin in 1994.
In New York and Washington State, concerned
physicians and patients filed suits in federal
court to overturn state statutes against assisting
Fall 2013 10
Supreme Court DecisionSupreme Court Decision
Those lawsuits that ended in the United
States Supreme Court in 1997 became the
central issue of the political and moral
debatedebate over euthanasia in the country.
The Court refused to recognize a
constitutionally protected liberty interest in
The justices expressly reserved the matter
to resolution through state political
Fall 2013 11
Pros and Cons of Euthanasia
The arguments and justifications advanced
both for and against euthanasia have hardly
changed in over a century.
The history of euthanasia in America
suggests this is a gravely complex social,
political, economic, and cultural matter.
Talk of a right to die raises the troubling
question: once legalized for the dying, who
can be denied such a right?
Where does the freedom to die end and the
duty to die begin??
Fall 2013 12
Pro Euthanasia ArgumentPro Euthanasia Argumentss
It is human right born of self-determination.
Patients have rights, autonomy, and
freedom of choice in deciding when and
how their life should end.
Legalizing euthanasia would help alleviateLegalizing euthanasia would help alleviate
suffering of terminally ill patients. It would besuffering of terminally ill patients. It would be
inhuman and unfair to make them endureinhuman and unfair to make them endure
the unbearable pain.the unbearable pain.
Fall 2013 13
Cons of EuthanasiaCons of Euthanasia
Once granted to some, many infirm,
depressed, or simply suicidal people might
claim it, too.
Parents or other surrogate decision-makers
might demand it on behalf of minors or other
The infirm and disabled might feel obligated
to die to lessen the burden that they impose
on society and family members.
Euthanasia legislation will be a step towards
a callous attitude regarding human life.
Fall 2013 14
The Legal Status of EuthanasiaThe Legal Status of Euthanasia
In the United States, individual states enact
their own laws regarding murder, homicide,
and end-of-life situations.
Passive euthanasia is legal in all states,
where the medical professionals establish
guidelines for what types of treatment can
be withheld from dying patients.
No state permits active euthanasia.
Only four states permits assisted suicide:
Oregon, Washington, Montana, and
Fall 2013 15
What about other Countries?What about other Countries?
Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide
are prohibited in most countries worldwide.
However, end-of-life debates tend to occur
more in North America, Europe, and
Australia than they do in Asia, Africa, South
America, and the Middle East, although
there are exceptions to this trend.
Active euthanasia is legal only in the
Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg.
Assisted suicide is also legal in these three
Assisted suicide is also legal in Albania,Assisted suicide is also legal in Albania,
Switzerland, and Germany.Switzerland, and Germany.
Fall 2013 16
Safe Legalization of EuthanasiaSafe Legalization of Euthanasia
I believe that euthanasia should be legalized
on the national level, following the strict
guidelines of Oregon’s “Death With Dignity
Act”, among others that the person must be
suffering from a terminal disease and
voluntarily express and repeat a wish to die.
A national government has to be prepared
to enact a law.
Medical professional organizations should
not block such a law.
Fall 2013 17
If healthy adults are given the choice of
themselves or their loved ones dying with
unrelieved pain and suffering or legalizing
assisted suicide, most caring people will
vote for latter. But the terminally ill are the
ones who make a final decision and may
demonstrate different ideas. Why don’t we
give THEM a choice?