Euthanasia is any action directed on putting an end to the life of a human being, fulfilling his/her own desire, and executed by a disinterested person. Besides Holland, «the good death» (a translation of the Greek word) is legalized and recognized by human rights in such countries as Belgium, Switzerland, Northern province of Australia, a single state in the US – Oregon, and a few more countries. In recent years, the world’s attention to the issue of euthanasia has raised. Naturally, this attention is no coincidence. This attention is caused first of all by high morbidity rate, chronic illnesses, the incurability of many of them, and the oppressed morally-psychological and physical condition of this category of patients. It is intolerable difficult to live in constant sufferings and they ask for death. In this regard, a question arises: what doctors should do with the people who are doomed to suffer?
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The idea of euthanasia naturally has found not only supporters, but also opponents. Many euthanasia opponents consider the question of euthanasia very complex that does not have an unequivocal answer. In regard of the aforementioned, this paper analyzes the issue of euthanasia and the controversy surrounding it, providing the different perspectives that deal with that matter.
With all the difficulties and imperfections of modern medicine, people wish to see in the doctor, first of all a merciful benefactor, a healer of physical illnesses and a consoler in sufferings. If because of the joint efforts of the doctor and the patient the picture of death is removed or replaced by a recovery and a return to life, then the gratitude of the patient expressed by a word and a look, can be compared only to a pray. Opponents of euthanasia refer, as a rule, to the same arguments according to which euthanasia is considered antihuman. As a justification they bring separate cases when a desperate condition of the patient changes and the patient recovers. Certainly, such cases happen, where long-term conclusions are made on which basis the euthanasia is absolutely rejected.
More often authors, and among them known scientists and doctors, give examples of how it was possible to rescue the life of patients on the operational table or in the resuscitation department, and to bring them back from the condition of clinical death. Such happy cases happen. They testify that it is necessary to struggle in any conditions for the life of a patient. Another argument against euthanasia is the fact “the legalization of voluntary euthanasia cannot be regulated and that it leads increasingly to involuntary euthanasia and to patients who are not ready to die or whose suffering could be alleviated by palliative medicine.” (Hendin). Most doctors see themselves as forces of life, not death. And the fear of prosecution among those who might otherwise be willing to supply patients with lethal doses of sedatives, however gradually, is all too realistic (BRODY).
Another point of view considers euthanasia as an option for hopeless cases. Many consider that if the patient is in consciousness, understands that there is little time left, and cannot suffer any more terrible pains and asks the doctor to accelerate his death, the doctor will satisfy the request, simply by stopping the treatment (passive euthanasia). The sufferings of the patient can amplify, although they could be less intensive and long as in the case of the treatment’s continuation. In this situation the deadly injection (active euthanasia), is more humane, as it will stop the sufferings of the patient once and for all. It is more often said that people should have the possibility to use the right of dying in case of incurable illness which all the same will lead to the inevitable end in a week, two, or maybe three.
Supporters of euthanasia argue that if the medicine is given at the desire of the patient, and if there is a consent and arrangement between the patient and the doctor, euthanasia cannot be considered a murder, as “most right-to-die advocates today stress that they seek only the freedom of competent, terminally ill individuals to choose medical assistance in dying.”(Dowbiggin xiii). The right to live, given to people owing to their birth on the Earth, cannot be torn off from their right for adequate and worthy death.
In conclusion of this sad theme it should be said that the euthanasia should be applied only voluntarily, and under careful medical, and even legal control. With that taken in consideration it is necessary to underline, that this is a compulsory measure and if it is decided to resort to it, it should be applied in exceptional case. The goals of doctors before making the decision of applying euthanasia consists in putting the maximum efforts to dissuade the patient from the necessity of applying this dramatically measure.
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- BRODY, JANE E. “Terminal Options for the Irreversibly Ill.” The New York Times 2008.
- Dowbiggin, Ian Robert. A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America. 2003.
- Hendin, Herbert. “The Practice of Euthanasia.” The Hastings Center Report 33 (2003).