Euthanasia - Dream Health

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Monday 4 August 2014


Euthanasia – Intentionally ending life to Relieve Pain/Suffering

Euthanasia refers to the practice of intentionally putting an end to life to relieve the pain and suffering experienced by the victim.

It is an act of deliberately ending life to get away from physical suffering. It is considered as assisted suicide to deliberately assist or encourage a person to commit or attempt to suicide. Such as a doctor who may give a patient having terminal cancer, an overdose of muscle relaxants in order to end his life, will be considered to have carried out euthanasia.

 If a relative of an individual having terminal illness were given powerful sedative inspite of knowing that the person has intention of taking an overdose of sedatives in order to end his life, they would be assisting that person in committing suicide.

Assisted suicide and euthanasia are both considered illegal under the English law. Under the terms of the Suicide Act 1961 assisted suicide is illegal and is punishable by 14 years imprisonment.

Active/Passive/Voluntary/Non Voluntary Euthanasia

Euthanasia is classified in different ways such as active euthanasia wherein a person may deliberately intervene to end someone’s life for instance by injecting them with sedatives.

Another classification is passive euthanasia where the person may cause death by withdrawing or withholding his treatment which would be necessary for his life, namely withholding antibiotics for someone with pneumonia.

It could also be classified as voluntary euthanasia where the person would make a conscious decision to end his life seeking help from others to do so. Non voluntary euthanasia is when a person is unable to give his consent due to coma state or is experiencing severebrain damage and another person may take the decision on his behalf.

 This could be due to the desire of the victim who may have earlier expressed his desire to end his life in these types of circumstances. Involuntary euthanasia is when a person is killed against his desire to live.

Based on the situation, voluntary as well as non-voluntary euthanasia can be taken into consideration as either voluntary man slaughter, wherein a person’s life is ended though circumstance may partly justify their action or it could be termed as murder and involuntary euthanasia is often regarded as murder.

Ethical & Pragmatic Arguments 

Opponents as well as supporters have been debating on euthanasia and assisted suicide which are ethical argument and pragmatic argument.

In ethical arguments they argument is that people should have the right to choice, which includes the right to control their own body and life and the state should not develop laws that could prevent people from choosing when and how they should die.

Pragmatic arguments are that euthanasia, especially passive euthanasia is already a widespread practice currently.

It states that several of the practices used in ending life are a type of euthanasia but in name like in the case of `do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation –DNACPR order when a person requests not to receive treatment when their they stop breathing or their heart stops beating.

Critics are of the opinion that DNACPR is a kind of passive euthanasia since the person is denied treatment which could possibly save their life.

When one is approaching the end of life, they have the right to proper treatment to control pain together with other symptoms to a social, psychological and spiritual support and are entitled to have a say in the treatments they may need at a given stage.

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