Assisted Suicide?


| 4 Comments

Today, in my sociology class we discussed the topic of euthanasia. Euthanasia, defined as "the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma", is a very controversial issue in the world today with many people unsure where they stand on the issue. 

 

There are several types of euthanasia, passive, which is when medication that is keeping the patient alive is purposely withheld, and active, which is doing something, like giving a lethal injection, that kills the patient. Active euthanasia is the type of the euthanasia that receives the most attention and the most controversy.

 

An article in the Washington Post tells the story of Mars Cramer, and his wife Mathilde, and their decision to use euthanasia to end her life. In the Netherlands, where the Cramers lived at the time, euthanasia is legal as long as the patient is terminally ill with no chance of recovery, and is suffering serious pain. After suffering from cancer for years, Mathilde was injected with a muscle relaxant to stop her heart,  ending her life the way she wanted to, on her terms.

 

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Another article from 2011 tells of two more people using euthanasia to end their lives. The first is an elderly woman in pain similar to Mathilde, but it also talks about a man named Dan James, a 23 year old who traveled from Britain to Switzerland to be euthanized after he became paralyzed from the chest down following a rugby accident. I thought this was an interesting tidbit because it opens up a dangerous possibility. Even though some countries may continue to ban the use of euthanasia, people can travel to a country where it is legal. It also brings up the question of the qualifications needed to be able to be euthanized. 


You could say that Dan James may not have been in suffering physical pain from his paralysis, but the psychological suffering is a different element. That made me wonder, is psychological pain considered when deciding if someone is suffering? Also how much pain is "suffering"? Is there a certain level of pain needed to be eligible for euthanasia? The fact that there are people like Dan James who feel the need to turn to euthanasia at such an early age is sad, but should it be his right to be able to make that decision if he wants to?

 

 

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/euthanasia-was-the-right-decision-for-my-wife/2012/10/22/1b355e96-0bd5-11e2-a310-2363842b7057_story.html

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1372871/The-pain-overcome-pleasure-Leading-euthanasia-campaigner-85-dies-Swiss-suicide-clinic.html

 

http://www.euthanasia.com/

 

4 Comments

This post was very interesting to me because my friends and I have argued over this topic many times. I personally think that euthanasia should be legal. If someone is in so much pain that they don't want to live, and they have no chance of recovery and are mentally sane to make the decision, they should be able to stop their suffering and peacefully end their life. Your questions raise interesting points though... I said that I think that people should be able to choose for themselves as long as they are mentally sane.. But, who determines if someone is mentally sane enough to make this decision? Also, it seems weird to me that the countries where euthanasia is illegal haven't made laws banning people from going to different countries to do it. Do you think countries will do this?

Judging mental and physical pain is an incredibly difficult task for doctors. If a patient says they are in terrible pain who is a doctor to say they aren't? Also, mental pain should by no means be a legitimate reason because it is often very temporary. If a person is on the edge of a building about to jump would you try to talk them out of it or would you give them a push? Is this in a hospital bed any different? Active euthanasia is much more of a moral issue than a scientific one and in my personal opinion I view it as an immoral practice that could lead to other questionable medical practices.

Judging mental and physical pain is an incredibly difficult task for doctors. If a patient says they are in terrible pain who is a doctor to say they aren't? Also, mental pain should by no means be a legitimate reason because it is often very temporary. If a person is on the edge of a building about to jump would you try to talk them out of it or would you give them a push? Is this in a hospital bed any different? Active euthanasia is much more of a moral issue than a scientific one and in my personal opinion I view it as an immoral practice that could lead to other questionable medical practices.

Whether psychological pain should be considered when deciding euthanasia is a really good question. I agree with what the previous person said above that psychological pain could just be a period of time. People can seek therapy to help them through that. But I do understand that psychological pain can be the worst kind of pain and not the way anyone should have to live.
An ethical way to go about it would be to try to measure the level of pain a person could take but that would be very difficult. Everyone deals with pain differently so it would be hard to measure what level different people can handle. I don’t believe doctors will able to measure a universal level of pain that everyone could handle.
Topics like these are extremely hard for me to answer because I am very open-minded. I can see both sides. If someone wants to end their life, who are you to stop them and decide for them. People should be able to live the way they want to live. And if they are not happy they should have the right to change it, even if its permanently.
But then there are people that are really just going through a tough time and just need guidance. I would hate for someone to kill himself or herself who could have been fine if they found someone to talk to.
At this point in time I do not believe psychological pain should be a factor when considering ending life but physical pain should be.

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