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Euthanasia Case

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Euthanasia, or the painless ending of a patient's life with the intention to end one's suffering, is illegal in most countries. This word was derived from the Greeks meaning easy, or "good death" (1). The subject of the legalization of euthanasia is a passionate conflict, in which views have been expressed involving social, religious, and political beliefs. However, in order to thoroughly understand this complex issue, we must first differentiate between the different types of euthanasia; non voluntary euthanasia, involuntary euthanasia, voluntary active euthanasia, and physician-assisted suicide. Non voluntary euthanasia is when an individual lacks sentience (in a coma, for example) and therefore cannot make a decision, or make a distinction between life and death. They are euthanize d without consent because they are unable to give informed permission. Involuntary euthanasia is when the person who is killed made an expressed wish to the contrary, therefore being killed against their wishes. Voluntary active euthanasia is when the person who is killed has requested to be killed. Lastly, physician assisted suicide is when someone provides an individual with the information, guidance, and means to take his or her own life with the intention that they will be used for this purpose. When it is a doctor who helps another person to kill themselves it is called "physician assisted suicide." The two most commonly debated types of euthanasia; voluntary active euthanasia (V.A.E) and physician- assisted suicide (P.A.S), will be the intended focus for the purpose of this paper.

The debate in Canada rages on as to whether or not voluntary euthanasia and physician assisted suicide should be legalized. There is an increasing trend in Western societies to allow euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. There are many arguments in support of euthanasia, some of which are completely rational for certain circumstances. For instance, those suffering from unbearable pain due to an incurable disease, where treatment would clearly not increase the quality of life, are allowed under the law to discontinue treatment effectively shortening a person's life. One could make the argument that euthanasia under these circumstances is just an extension of the same principle; people should be given the liberty to choose their time of death, or to limit the amount of their intolerable suffering. However, there are serious potential consequences at institutional, governmental, and societal levels that may arise as a result of authorizing the practice of euthanasia; diluting the sanctity of life, the relationship between the physician and his/her patient, pressure to choose death in order to assuage guilt, possibility of mistaken diagnosis, a new cure, or spontaneous remission with the idea their lives would not be prolonged but could have been. Also, choosing euthanasia during a period of instability can have irreversible tragic consequences. Aside from euthanasia that satisfies human, moral, and legal demands, there are other alternatives that ought to be considered.

We ought to look at euthanasia as it relates not to death but to life. If we assume accepting euthanasia could drastically influence the collective perception of the vast mystery of life and virtually harm our souls, particularly our gift to unearth the meaning of life, it should not be allowed. People should cherish every moment of their lives and try to find positives out of every situation. They should clutch to the life they were blessed with rather then cut it short. Why cease to live when there are people who would do anything for a chance at survival? The graphic and explicit images that we cannot escape from in publicity, modern affairs, and entertainment programs may have numbed our understanding of death and equally, of intentionally imposing it. Monica Roddis, President of Life Canada says "Canadians have been confused about euthanasia and what it means. The more they learn through debates at the federal level and this fall during the Quebec hearing, the less comfortable they become" (2). Life was bestowed upon us as a gift and it would not be right for us to decide when it ends. Suffering is a part of the eternal plan that was created for us. There is not one person who has not endured his share of suffering. Professor Margaret Somerville, the founding director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law shares her beliefs on the matter. "The need for euthanasia to relieve pain and suffering is the justification given, and the one the public accepts in supporting its legalization. Yet, research shows that dying people request euthanasia far more frequently because of fear of social isolation and of being a burden on others, than pain."(3) Dan W. Brock, one of the world's preeminent bioethicist, refutes Somerville's view on the matter by saying that because the conditions for wanting or not wanting euthanasia are so wide and varied, it is not advisable to restrict it. "To permit it only in cases where virtually everyone would want it would be to deny it to most who would want it." (4) Trusting the creator of life to allow what ultimately benefits us does not give us a passive role, but means to stand for compassionate care of the dying while standing against any form of killing. Every innocent person has the right to a valuable future, and as killing deprives a person of this right, killing is wrong. We should embrace opportunities to love one another, especially the needy and suffering. Love can overcome the pain and fear of dying. The most powerful argument to the question of euthanasia is the reason to live.

Euthanasia is prohibited in all countries, with the exception of Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, but is practiced in various countries regardless of present devices which permit the artificial extension of human lives. Euthanasia has always been outlawed in Canada, so why is it now that we are deliberating whether to validate it? Advocates today think they know better than the billions of people throughout history who have outlawed euthanasia. They are essentially discarding the amassed wisdom of almost all nations by opening the door to the killing of the most vulnerable people in society. People argue that if euthanasia becomes legal, the concern is that it will inevitably be used by the government to eliminate individuals. The former governor of Delaware, Pete Du Pont acknowledged ""From the Soviet gulag to the Nazi concentration camps and the killing fields of Cambodia; history teaches that granting the state legal authority to kill innocent individuals has dreadful consequences."(5) Laws against Euthanasia are in place to protect all citizens. They are not, and never have been, intended to make anyone suffer.



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