In North America most people die that can be called a bad death. A study found that "More often than not, patients died in pain, their desires concerning treatment neglected, after spending 10 days or more in an intensive care unit" (Horgan, 1996).
The term Euthanasia has originated from the Greek language: eu meaning "good" and thanatos meaning "death." However, according to the Netherlands State Commission, another meaning given to the word is "the intentional termination of life by another at the explicit request of the person who dies" (Netherlands State Commission).
Thus, the word euthanasia generally means that the person who wishes to commit suicide must commence the action. However, according to some people definition, euthanasia comprises both voluntary as well as involuntary execution of life. According to the moral, religious, ethical terms, the word "euthanasia" has many meanings, resulting in mass confusion. Therefore, it is vital to distinguish among a number of unclear related terms:
Passive Euthanasia: This form of euthanasia means speeding up the death of a person by changing some kind of support and allowing nature to take its course. For instance; removing life support equipment such as turning off a respirator or halting medical procedures or medications etc., or preventing food and water and making the person to dehydrate or starve to death. Also, not providing Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and allow a person, whose heart has stopped, to die.
Active Euthanasia: Active Euthanasia is in response to a request from a person to make the death by means of a direct action. For instance, a doctor injected controlled substances into the patient, thus making the death by direct action.
Physician-Assisted Suicide: Either a physician provides information or the means of committing suicide to a person in order for the person to terminate their life easily. For example, the information or means may include a prescription for lethal dose of sleeping pills, or a supply of carbon monoxide gas.
Involuntary Euthanasia: Some describe this term as killing of a person who has not openly requested aid in dying. This term is usually applied to patients who are in a Persistent Vegetative State and will most likely never get back to their consciousness.
Euthanasia in the United States
Committing suicide or trying to commit suicide throughout North America is no longer considered a criminal offense. On the other hand, supporting or assisting any kind of help to another person to commit suicide is a criminal act. In the state of Oregon, one exception is that it permits people who are terminally ill and in difficult pain to get a lethal prescription from their physician called "Physician-Assisted Suicide" (PAS).
Further, in 1994-November elections, the citizens of the Oregon State approved Ballot Measure 16, that has legalized euthanasia under limited conditions (DeathNet, Rights.org). Also, several informal polls in Oregon time after time had shown that a great number of people are in favor of such a law along with many physicians as well (Matas, 1997).
During the 2000-year, approximately twenty-seven Oregonians finished their lives by means of this supported suicide law. Over the first three years after the law has been passed the number of patients who chose legal PAS remained at six to nine per 10,000 deaths. The number of college-educated patients were much more likely to choose PAS than those with less than a high school degree.
The proportions of PAS patients married, widowed, divorced or never married resemble those seen among other Oregonians dying from similar diseases" (Oregon Health Division, 2000).
During the year 2001, the Oregon physicians gave deadly prescriptions to almost 44 terminally ill patients in which around twenty-one of the recipients used them to commit suicide. Thus, since the Death With Dignity law became affected in 1997, the total number of physician-assisted suicide cases is 91 (New England Journal of Medicine, 2002).
In the year 2002, physicians in Oregon gave fatal prescriptions to about 75 terminally ill individuals. Among which thirty-eight of the receivers used them to commit suicide. Thus, the total number of physician helped suicide cases since the Death With Dignity law from 1997 is 129 (Toronto Star, 2003).
The second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in April 1996, declared unconstitutional a State of New York law that criminalized physician aided suicide for terminally ill patients. A panel of three judges was made that found that the law infringes the balance as well as same protection guaranteed by the 14 Amendment to the U.S. constitution. However, this rule affected only three states namely, Connecticut, New York and Vermont. However, the Attorney General of the state of New York in same year in April asked that the ruling to be suspended for a brief time, while the State makes an appeal of the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, on 7th March 1996, affirmed that fatally ill patients were aided by felonious physician for their completion of suicidal needs. The law breaches the equivalent security article curtained by the 14 Amendment to the U.S. constitution, this, the court adjudicated by an 8 to 3 majority.
Precise decrees have been conceded in over 40 countries that criminalize supported suicide influencing only Western states and regions: N. Mariana Islands, Alaska, Montana, Hawaii, Arizona, Guam, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, California and Washington.
The U.S. Supreme Court Decision
On 1997-JUN-26, the Supreme Court determined and proclaimed their edicts on the cases of New York and Washington. No regular American has the legitimate right to a physician-assisted suicide. An odd result of 9 to 0 was affirmed, making the decrees of New York and Washington that forbid such suicides, constitutional. Whereas, there is no constitutional bar that would prevent a state, the court implied, from passing a law that permits physician-assisted suicide. Oregon doing exactly that, has forced the result of the battle being fought on a state by state foundation.
Laws confining physician aided suicide to cases concerning fatal painful sickness will only be justifiable for those people who request for aided demises.
Justification of Euthanasia: Mass Opinion, Ethical and Religious Aspects
In truth, the main question establishes by euthanasia/assisted suicide is: Whether a person:
Who is terminally sick, and Who frequently and vigorously request for assistance in committing suicide and Who feels that their life is not much of a value to live on either due to some difficult pain, and/or loss of self-respect, and/or loss of ability and Who is of sound mind and not undergoing from depression should be given any kind of help or support in dying?
Euthanasia eventually is a question of choice, which is allowing people to have power over their own bodies. However, unless an individual is inhabitant of Colombia, the Netherlands Japan, or the state of Oregon, the only legal alternative for them to remain alive is till their body collapses finally or when sometimes they in difficult pain.
From ethical point f view, some terminally ill patients are in very difficult pain and/or suffering an unbearably pitiable quality of life. In such cases they usually prefer to end their life rather than continue until their body gives them up finally. The ethical question is whether the state has a right to reject them their wish?
Being a legal act, suicide is theoretically accessible to everyone. However, person suffering from some difficult sickness or who is hospitalized or may be in a disabled position may not be able to use this alternative, either due to some mental or physical restrictions. As a result, they are being distinguished against due to their disability. Thus, many argue that shouldn't they be given the same right to the suicide alternative as those with able-bodied?
However, many argue that the anguish and suffering a person going through by terminally ill is controllable to tolerable extents by means of proper management. Also, according to such people there is no need for physician-assisted suicide. Though, there are tens of millions of people in North America who do not have access to ample pain management and tens of millions who are not even getting proper healthcare coverage.
Moreover, many doctors hold back sufficient levels of pain killers since their concern is that their patient becomes addicted to the drugs. While anticipated limitations to health funding will further make the situation worse.
In a time when complete medical funding has not only been made limited but also continually reduced, so is it ethical to keep in exceptionally expensive treatment of terminally ill patients just to extend their lives by a few weeks, even if they don't support to live longer? The money that is being used in this way is not accessible for prenatal care or infant care, etc. so where and how it would save lives, and considerably improves the long-term quality of life for such people?
According to two main arguments by Christians, along with other faiths, that recommended against an individual seeking suicide, for whatever reason are…