As medicine and its technology has advanced, so has the question of human euthanasia and the ethical opinions behind it. The attitudes and thoughts behind this topic are different in many different countries and throughout this paper I will compare the differences of euthanasia in certain countries and also, explain how I feel the topic. This is a topic that has rapidly grown over the past few years but has been a part of history since there were indigenous tribes before their lands were even colonized.
From the beginning of time, like I mentioned in my previous paragraph, indigenous tribes were practicing euthanasia far before ethics and laws were prominent in the world. For these tribes, euthanasia was used for a number of reasons such as, population control during times of hunger and famine, as well as for the terminally ill as a mercy act. Today, euthanasia is still used as a form of mercy for the terminally ill that are going to spend the rest of their life suffering until they eventually die a slow, painful death.
Although euthanasia is mainly frowned upon and discouraged in Western medicine, there are still countries that have laws set in place for the people who wish to pursue their own death. In the Netherlands, physicians have been practicing human euthanasia since around 1973 even though they were considered illegal until 2002. Between the years of this, the Dutch Parliament came to the conclusion that euthanasia and assisted suicide were not punishable if they had been committed by a physician who has met the requirements of due care.
Under this legislation, minor between the ages of sixteen and eighteen years of age may request the termination of their lives by a physician and although parents or guardians may be consulted they have no authority over the decision of death. In contrast, parents of children between the ages of twelve and fifteen must approve the request. There are three reasons for which physicians in the Netherlands granted people euthanasia were, “pointless suffering,” “loss of dignity,” and “constant weakness. There were several other requests that were denied with the most common of requests for euthanasia being, “I do not want to be a burden,” “I am tired of living,” and “I suffer from depression. ” I feel that in the Netherlands, euthanasia is not looked down on like it is in Western medicine and that they have an understanding about why people would like to end their life and respect these decisions.
Australia’s Northern Territory became the first jurisdiction in the world to legalize and assisted suicide and euthanasia in 1995, this passage was called “Right of the Terminally III Act. This law went into effect in 1996 but was quickly repealed in 1997 by the National Parliament. While this law was intact there were four assisted deaths that were performed by the same physician and this involved the people’s death being done by a computer attached by plastic tubing to a pump-driven syringe filled with barbiturates. This computer would then ask three questions and if the person answered all three of the questions with the answer”yes” then the computer would administer a lethal dose and end the person’s life, peacefully.
By the computer technically ending the person’s life, it could not be turned around onto the physician. Also, the procedure only costed $100 for the drugs and the consultations were paid for by the Australian Medicare Systems. Australia is not as open as the Netherlands in my opinion considering at this time, they do not have a law for assisted suicide or human euthanasia. Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002 with the exceptions being competent adults and “emancipated minors. ” There is a pharmaceutical company that made a euthanasia kit for Belgians to use in the comfort of their own home with a prescription from a physician.
These kits include a barbiturate, an anesthetic, a paralyzing agent, and instructions for use and also come at a reasonable price making it accessible for almost all Belgians. In Brussels, The Association for the Right to Die with Dignity believes that people should be the masters of their own lives and I feel that this statement explains Belgium perfectly in how they feel about euthanasia. Compared to the other countries I have talked about, Belgium appears to have a more forward and open-minded opinion towards this topic and believe in people making their own choices about their own lives.
In the United States, there is “Compassion and Choice” which was formerly known as the Hemlock Society. This organization is dedicated to bringing “dignity, choice, and compassion” into the lives of terminally ill people. There is a document in which members must sign, which states, “If a time comes when I am suffering from an incurable and terminal illness, and choose to end my suffering, I wish to have physician aid-in-dying. ” Compassion and Choice supports the state of Oregon and allows the terminally ill to make the decision to their own life by prescribed drugs from two practicing physicians.
The Oregon law has strict conditions, requiring that: 1. Two physicians certify that the patient is 18 years or older and has no more than six months to live. 2. The patient has made three requests to the physician for a lethal dose of medication, twice orally and once in writing. 3. The prescription will be filled only after a 15-day waiting period. 4. Patients will take the drug themselves. I feel that with these guidelines it gives the patient time to really think about if they want to end their life and if they do decide to go through with it.
Human euthanasia is legal in the states of Washington, Oregon, California, Vermont and Bernalillo County, New Mexico. The United States is obviously not pro human euthanasia as a whole but I feel that they are making progress considering there are five places currently allowing human euthanasia. Euthanasia in my opinion, is a completely reasonable outlook for people who suffer from terminal illnesses, debilitating diseases, or after deadly accidents and do not have a way out except for a long, slow, suffering death.
This outlook allows people to die peacefully without the suffering they would inevitably be experiencing. People euthanize family pets when they begin to suffer and no longer have a quality of life, this I can relate this to human euthanization as well. When there is no longer a quality of life and one is dependent on someone else to make choices for them, feed them, change them, etc. , then it is time to let go. Personally, if I was in the position, I would opt for euthanization because I do not want to live in a life where I am unable to recall my family, former life, or accomplishments.
People should have the right to choose how they go out of this world and if I am to the point where I am suffering, then I want out. It is that simple for me. There are many people who do not agree with my opinion of human euthanization. Many people feel that euthanization is selfish and should not even be an option but these people are being selfish by trying to keep someone who is suffering around regardless of how they actually feel. This topic can also be based on one’s religion and what they believe constitutes a death that gets them into what they believe is the place they go after death such as heaven or hell.
As a non-religious person, I feel that one must do what they feel will benefit them in their life and if that is euthanasia then so be it. This is a topic that I feel is growing and becoming more “normalized” as the world progresses. I feel that one day human euthanization will no longer be so taboo and out of the norm in Western medicine or anywhere else in the world for that matter. This is a topic based on human rights and each and every person should have the right to decide when they go in a respectful way without having to go the route of blatant suicide, which occurs over 2,000 times per day around the world.
Human euthanization allows one to get their personal affairs in order and for them to properly say goodbye to loved ones before they go. Lastly, I do foresee where there could be consequences with human euthanasia in the Netherlands where one can propose death for whatever reason they feel is necessary to precipitate death and in Belgium where one can simply get a prescription to get the “at home euthanasia kit. ” These types of laws can be abused and used for the wrong reasons much like other laws in the world except this law is literally life or death.
One cannot simply “change their mind” about dying once the medications have been given and their heart stops beating. So in that case, I do feel that this law can be a bit extreme but should be an option for the people that truly quality and are suffering or no longer sustaining a life of quality. In conclusion, human euthanasia is a matter of opinion and I do not think it is something that will advance much soon.
I feel that there are so many people completely against it that will hold up the progression of it but I hope that people look past how they feel and look at it as if they were the one that was suffering from an incurable disease. If people were able to take a walk in someone else’s shoes and see what it is like to experience life as a terminally ill person then their opinions would more than likely change. All in all, I feel that the world will eventually progress and become open-minded enough to allow people to make their own choices and determine how they decide to go out of this world.