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Euthanasia Essay, Research Paper

Several people in society are in favour of euthanasia mostly because they feel that as a democratic country, we as free individuals, have the right to decide for ourselves whether or not to end our lives. The stronger and more widely held opinion of society are against Euthanasia primarily because society feels that it is gods’ task to decide when one of his creations time has come, and we as human beings are in no position to behave as god and end someone’s life. When humans take it upon themselves to shorten their lives or to have others to do it for them by withdrawing life-sustaining apparatus, they play god. They usurp the divine function, and interfere with the divine plan. Euthanasia is the practice of painlessly putting to death persons who have incurable, painful, or distressing diseases or disabilities. It comes from the Greek eu, “good” and thanatos, “death” for good death, and is commonly called mercy killing. Voluntary euthanasia may occur when incurably ill persons ask their physician, friend or relative, to put them to death. The patients or their relatives may ask a doctor to withhold treatment and let them die. Many critics of the medical profession contend that too often doctors play god on operating tables and in recovery rooms. They argue that no doctor should be allowed to decide who lives and who dies. The issue of euthanasia is having a tremendous impact on medicine in Canada today. It was only in the nineteenth century that the word came to be used in the sense of speeding up the process of dying and the destruction of so-called useless lives. Today it is defined as the deliberate ending of life of a person suffering from an incurable disease. A distinction is made between positive, or active, and negative, or passive, euthanasia. Positive euthanasia is the deliberate ending of life, an action taken to cause death in a person. Negative euthanasia is defined as the withholding of life preserving procedures and treatments that would prolong the life of one who is incurably and terminally ill and could not survive without them. The principal of euthanasia itself forces doctors to violate historically accepted codes of medical ethics and puts them in a position to play God. The decision of an individual to request euthanasia are rarely free of choice they are pressured into the decision by society’s view of them as unproductive and an inconvenience. If a parliament would legalize euthanasia it would eventually lead to involuntary euthanasia leaving the elderly, disabled and minorities at risk of one day being deemed as valueless and put to death. Euthanasia is unnecessary because with innovative technology and medical breakthroughs terminally ill patients can receive treatments that can eliminate virtually all pain and discomfort. It is for these reasons that the Canadian Parliament must not legalize euthanasia to protect the rights of terminally ill patients and ensure that we do not evolve into a corrupt society. Traditional medical ethical codes have never sanctioned euthanasia, even on request for compassionate motives. The Hippocratic Oath states ‘I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest such council . . . ‘ The International Code of Medical Ethics as originally adopted by the World Medical Association in 1949, in response to the Nazi holocaust, declares ‘a doctor must always bear in mind the obligation of preserving human life from the time of conception until death’. In its 1992 Statement of Marbella, the World Medical Association confirmed that assisted suicide, like euthanasia, is unethical and must be condemned by the medical profession. When a doctor intentionally and deliberately enables an individual to end his life, the doctor acts unethically. This causes the patient to be uncertain of his or hers doctor’s motives.

A patient with a terminal illness is vulnerable. He lacks the knowledge and skills to alleviate his own symptoms, and may be suffering from fear about the future and anxiety about the effect his illness is having on others. It is very difficult for him to be entirely objective about his own situation. Those who regularly manage terminally ill patients recognise that they often suffer from depression or a false sense of worthlessness that may affect their judgment. Their decision-making may equally be affected by confusion, paranoia or troublesome symptoms that could be relieved with appropriate treatment. Patients who on admission say ‘let me die’ usually after effective symptom relief are appreciative that their request was not granted. Terminally ill patients also adapt to a level of disability that they would not have previously anticipated they could live with. They come to value what little quality of life they have left. Many elderly people already feel a financial burden to their family and society. They may feel great pressure to request euthanasia ‘freely and voluntarily’. These patients need to hear that they are valued and loved as they are. They need to know that we are committed first and foremost to their well-being, even if this does involve spending more time and money. The way we treat the weakest and most vulnerable people tells people about that we are a moral and civilized society that values all forms of life. When voluntary euthanasia has been previously accepted and legalised, it has led inevitably to involuntary euthanasia, regardless of the intentions of the legislators. According to the Remmelink Report, commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Justice, there were more than 3,000 deaths from euthanasia in the Netherlands in 1990. More than 1,000 of these were not voluntary. Holland is quickly changing the public conscience is changing quickly to accept such action as acceptable. The Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) and the Dutch Commission for the acceptability of life terminating Action have recommended that the active termination of the lives of patients suffering from dementia is morally acceptable under certain conditions. Two earlier reports of the commission confirmed the acceptability of similar action for severely disabled infants and comatose patients. History has shown clearly that once voluntary euthanasia is legal, involuntary euthanasia inevitably follows. It is widely believed that there are only two options open to patients with terminal illness: either they die slowly in unrelieved suffering or they receive euthanasia. In fact, now there is another option. Continuous research in palliative medicine has in recent years shown that virtually all unpleasant symptoms experienced in the process of terminal illness can be either relieved or substantially alleviated by techniques already available. The law is a very powerful educator of the public conscience. When a practice becomes legal, accepted and widely practised in society, people cease to have strong feelings about it and euthanasia that is the act of killing hopelessly sick or injured individuals must not become a common practice. We need to recognise that requests for voluntary euthanasia are extremely rare in situations where the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of terminally ill patients are properly met. As the symptoms that prompt the request for euthanasia can be almost always managed with therapies currently available, our highest priority must be to ensure that top quality terminal care is readily available. We need to show compassion and love toward terminally ill patients so that they may live their lives to their full potential. Its for these reasons that the Canadian parliament must not legalize euthanasia to protect the rights of terminally ill patients and to ensure that we do not evolve into a corrupt society.

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