Opinions On.. Euthanasia

We're tackling a difficult one this week. Euthanasia is a controversial topic and divides the opinions of not only the general public but medical practitioners too.

What is it?

Euthanasia is categorized in three different ways: voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary.

·      Voluntary euthanasia is conducted with the consent of the patient. Active voluntary euthanasia is currently legal in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands; whilst passive euthanasia, more commonly known as assisted suicide, is legal in the U.S. states of Oregon, Washington and Montana along with Switzerland.

·      Non-voluntary euthanasia is conducted where the consent of the patient is unavailable. Child euthanasia falls under this category and is illegal worldwide, however; it can be decriminalised in the Netherlands under specific circumstances under the Groningen Protocol.

·      Involuntary euthanasia is conducted against the will of the patient and is viewed as murder.

Within all of the above categories there is the subdivision of active and passive euthanasia. Active euthanasia involves using lethal substances or forces, such as a lethal injection, to end the patient’s life. This is the most controversial out of the two. Passive euthanasia is not as severe and entails withholding the necessary treatment that would be necessary for the continuance of life.

The subject of euthanasia remains an on-going debate. Those in favour of legalizing the practice argue that:

·      People have a right to self-termination and therefore, have a right to decide their own fate.

·      Assisting a patient to die might be a better choice than prolonging their suffering.

·      Permitting euthanasia will not necessarily lead to it being carried out in unacceptable circumstances.

On the other side, the case against the legalization and practice of euthanasia argue that:

·      Not all natural deaths are painful.

·      Other solutions such as cessation of treatment and the provision of painkillers are available.

·      Legalizing euthanasia could have a damaging effect on the morals of society and could lead to the practice being carried out immorally.