Euthanasia otherwise known as assisted suicide refers to the painless extermination of a patient suffering from terminal illnesses or painful or incurable disease. According to Cavan & Dolan, euthanasia is the practice or act of permitting the death of hopelessly injured or sick individuals in a painless means for the purpose of mercy (Cavan & Dolan 12). The techniques used in euthanasia induce numerous artifacts such as shifts in regional brain chemistry, liver metabolism and epinephrine levels causing death. Advocates of euthanasia trust that sparing a patient needless suffering or pain is a good thing. If an individual is hopelessly hurt or ill with no hope of ever getting well, if such a person is in an unending and unbearable pain and cannot experience the things that make life meaningful, the best option for such patients is euthanasia. Euthanasia raises questions on morals, legal and essence of medicine. The essence of medicine is to advocate for human life, and doctors are supposed to conserve life and find treatment to all types of illness.
Types of Euthanasia
The society and legal provisions, are supposed to safeguard human life and uphold individuals' rights to life. There are three forms of euthanasia. They include voluntary euthanasia, which is a form of active euthanasia conducted at the request of a client. The other form of euthanasia is involuntary euthanasia also known as mercy killing or taking of a patient life without the consent of the patient, but with the aim of relieving suffering. The third type of euthanasia is nonvoluntary euthanasia, which refers to the euthanasia conducted even if the client is not competent enough to give consent. Nonvoluntary euthanasia is illegal in almost all countries including Netherlands (Devettere 317).
The History of Euthanasia
The debate regarding euthanasia dates from the ancient Rome and Greece. Physicians started to advocate for the utilization of anesthetics to mitigate pain of death. In 1870, a physician by the name Samuel Williams recommended the use of morphine and anesthetics to end the life of a patient deliberately. This followed debates regarding euthanasia ethics in Britain and the United States. The debate ended in 1906 with Ohio State sanctioning a bill to make euthanasia legal, but the bill was defeated.
According to McDougall & Gorman, the translation "good death" implies that the Romans and Greeks who coined this term agreed on the fundamental aspects (Dowbiggin 6). With official permission, people of Athens could get a dose of poison, which allowed them to choose between life and death. The Romans never punished people who tried to committed suicide unless such people were irrational. The dearth of cases of assisted suicide does not imply that euthanasia was not evident in the ancient times. The tale narrated by Pliny the Younger, a renowned roman writer who lived between 62-and114 AD says much about the nonjudgmental stance of the ancient Romans toward fathoming what constituted a "good death." Later in the 20th Century, advocates of euthanasia looked back fondly on the attitude and cited it as a reason for overturning accepted interpretations of the human life value (Dowbiggin 7). However, the ancient Roman definition of a "good death" toppled by the revolutionary Christian doctrine maintaining the inviolability of life and condemning suicide, mercy killing or assisted suicide.
Euthanasia is illegal in scores of countries, but doctors perform it even in nations where it is illegal. The legal prohibition of euthanasia and the refusal in the law to accept a patient's consent to act as possible justification of homicide are due to intricacies in legal processes. When processes are designed and establish the voluntariness of a patient's request for assisted suicide, such process portrays a cautiously circumscribed qualification. The illegality of euthanasia defer with states and countries. For instance, in Britain, euthanasia is illegal and killing a person intentionally is manslaughter or murder even though the person requests to die Under the Suicide Act endorsed in 1961, it is a criminal act in Britain to counsel or assist someone to take his own life, and this crime is punishable by law.
Euthanasia is illegal in almost all states in the United States apart from Oregon state, Washington state and Montana, and it is punishable by law. For instance, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, known for helping terminal patients to die received an imprisonment for a second-degree murder for providing suicide advice to patients. He served 8 years of his ten to twenty five years prison sentence and he got released on parole in 2007 (McDougall & Gorman 584). In 1977, in the case between Quill v, Vacco and Washington v. Glucksberg, the Supreme Court declared that banning euthanasia is constitutional. This was when Dr. Jack Kevorkian's string of helping patient commit suicide came to halt when the Michigan jury found him guilty of murder Thomas Youk (McDougall & Gorman 584).
On the other hand, Netherlands legalized euthanasia through endorsing the Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide Act (Cohen-Almagor 169) .The Act allows patients above twelve years to request or undergo euthanasia. However, patients between 12 and 16 years require the consent of their parents. The country does not punish those who conduct assisted suicide in respect to the principle of due care (Cohen-Almagor 169). Patients experiencing hopeless and unbearable pain can request euthanasia to put to an end their humiliation, and the physician conducting it reports to the review committee. In May 2005, Terri Schiavo died at 41 years. Her death followed numerous years in a persistent vegetative state and prolonged legal battle between her husband and her parents concerning the husband's decision to remove life support machine including a feeding tube and hydration. The husband believed that his wife was in unbearable and unmanageable condition, which abased her for over five years.
For many years, doctors declare an expletive to defend a standard of care and ethics developed for the advantage of patients. In this regard, conducting assisted suicide challenges the moral and ethical principles of the medical provision. The essence of medicine is to uphold human life and seek solutions to health issues that affect human beings. If the society allows assisted suicide, then the essence of medicine becomes jeopardized (Baird 117). It is important to appreciate that medicine is an imperative healing endeavor, which does not advocate for euthanasia. People who help patients to end their agony through administration of injections and deadly drugs, such as morphine, to individuals who have lost sanguinity in life disregard the healing process. Doctors should not be in a hurry to ignore the knowledge that God has given them.
Legalizing euthanasia would make people who believe that they have lost optimism in life and those who spend substantial amount of money on medical bills feel free to appeal for assisted suicide. Such people can emote and pretend they are in great pain to seek sympathy and permission to end their lives (Baird 117). Most states' constitutions stresses on the rights to life, and not rights to death. Some laws provide that more steps that are effective should be applicable in ensuring that superlative concern of the dying is provided. Life persists to be sought-after even when it is not promising and hence illegalization of euthanasia. In event when assisted suicide is legalized, the handicapped, the marginalized and the underprivileged that are forever in distress would capriciously request for assisted suicide and demand for their rights when they demand for euthanasia (Baird 117).
Legalizing euthanasia would question the human conscience and the role of doctors in supporting life. Doctors are not in the business of assisting people to die neither are they in the business of prompting premature deaths to benefit those in the mortuary trade. Owing to the fact that, roles of medical practitioners is to do the best for his/her patient, most doctors would not choose assisted suicide as the best thing for their patients. They would make all efforts to try to look for solutions even when they know fatality is knocking. Under the Geneva Declaration, the health of a patient should be first consideration of a medical practitioner and medical practitioners should uphold utmost respect for human life.
Under the same declaration, medical practitioners should not utilize their medical knowledge to infringe civil liberties and human rights even when under threat. As a result, euthanasia whether given on patient or family request fails to respect the ethics of medicine since the code of conducts of medical doctors and physicians provides that,' no deadly medicine should be administered to any patient. Legalizing euthanasia also jeopardizes the trust between a doctor and a patient. Doctors' role is to preserve life and not to kill even if the patient desires to die. In addition, assisted death fails to respect God's supreme role in human life, and if legalized would fail to recognize the possible case of misdiagnosis. Legalizing euthanasia would contravene the most important discrepancy between active and non-active measures whereby they fail to let the nature acquire its course…