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Euthanasia – Wikipedia

Euthanasia (from Greek: ; “good death”: , eu; “well” or “good” , thanatos; “death”) is the practice of intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering.[1][2]

There are different euthanasia laws in each country. The British House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics defines euthanasia as “a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering”.[3] In the Netherlands and Belgium, euthanasia is understood as “termination of life by a doctor at the request of a patient”.[4] The Dutch law however, does not use the term ‘euthanasia’ but includes it under the broader definition of “assisted suicide and termination of life on request”.[5]

Euthanasia is categorized in different ways, which include voluntary, non-voluntary, or involuntary. Voluntary euthanasia is legal in some countries. Non-voluntary euthanasia (patient’s consent unavailable) is illegal in all countries. Involuntary euthanasia (without asking consent or against the patient’s will) is also illegal in all countries and is usually considered murder.[6] As of 2006, euthanasia is the most active area of research in contemporary bioethics.[7] In some countries there is a divisive public controversy over the moral, ethical, and legal issues of euthanasia. Passive euthanasia (known as “pulling the plug”) is legal under some circumstances in many countries. Active euthanasia however is legal or de facto legal in only a handful of countries (e.g. Belgium, Canada, Switzerland) and is limited to specific circumstances and the approval of councilors and doctors or other specialists. In some countries such as Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, support for active euthanasia is almost non-existent.

Like other terms borrowed from history, “euthanasia” has had different meanings depending on usage. The first apparent usage of the term “euthanasia” belongs to the historian Suetonius, who described how the Emperor Augustus, “dying quickly and without suffering in the arms of his wife, Livia, experienced the ‘euthanasia’ he had wished for.”[8] The word “euthanasia” was first used in a medical context by Francis Bacon in the 17th century, to refer to an easy, painless, happy death, during which it was a “physician’s responsibility to alleviate the ‘physical sufferings’ of the body.” Bacon referred to an “outward euthanasia”the term “outward” he used to distinguish from a spiritual conceptthe euthanasia “which regards the preparation of the soul.”[9]

In current usage, euthanasia has been defined as the “painless inducement of a quick death”.[10] However, it is argued that this approach fails to properly define euthanasia, as it leaves open a number of possible actions which would meet the requirements of the definition, but would not be seen as euthanasia. In particular, these include situations where a person kills another, painlessly, but for no reason beyond that of personal gain; or accidental deaths that are quick and painless, but not intentional.[11][12]

Another approach incorporates the notion of suffering into the definition.[11] The definition offered by the Oxford English Dictionary incorporates suffering as a necessary condition, with “the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma”,[13] This approach is included in Marvin Khol and Paul Kurtz’s definition of it as “a mode or act of inducing or permitting death painlessly as a relief from suffering”.[14] Counterexamples can be given: such definitions may encompass killing a person suffering from an incurable disease for personal gain (such as to claim an inheritance), and commentators such as Tom Beauchamp and Arnold Davidson have argued that doing so would constitute “murder simpliciter” rather than euthanasia.[11]

The third element incorporated into many definitions is that of intentionality the death must be intended, rather than being accidental, and the intent of the action must be a “merciful death”.[11] Michael Wreen argued that “the principal thing that distinguishes euthanasia from intentional killing simpliciter is the agent’s motive: it must be a good motive insofar as the good of the person killed is concerned.”[15] Similarly, Heather Draper speaks to the importance of motive, arguing that “the motive forms a crucial part of arguments for euthanasia, because it must be in the best interests of the person on the receiving end.”[12] Definitions such as that offered by the House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics take this path, where euthanasia is defined as “a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering.”[3] Beauchamp and Davidson also highlight Baruch Brody’s “an act of euthanasia is one in which one person… (A) kills another person (B) for the benefit of the second person, who actually does benefit from being killed”.[16]

Draper argued that any definition of euthanasia must incorporate four elements: an agent and a subject; an intention; a causal proximity, such that the actions of the agent lead to the outcome; and an outcome. Based on this, she offered a definition incorporating those elements, stating that euthanasia “must be defined as death that results from the intention of one person to kill another person, using the most gentle and painless means possible, that is motivated solely by the best interests of the person who dies.”[17] Prior to Draper, Beauchamp and Davidson had also offered a definition that includes these elements. Their definition specifically discounts fetuses to distinguish between abortions and euthanasia:[18]

“In summary, we have argued… that the death of a human being, A, is an instance of euthanasia if and only if (1) A’s death is intended by at least one other human being, B, where B is either the cause of death or a causally relevant feature of the event resulting in death (whether by action or by omission); (2) there is either sufficient current evidence for B to believe that A is acutely suffering or irreversibly comatose, or there is sufficient current evidence related to A’s present condition such that one or more known causal laws supports B’s belief that A will be in a condition of acute suffering or irreversible comatoseness; (3) (a) B’s primary reason for intending A’s death is cessation of A’s (actual or predicted future) suffering or irreversible comatoseness, where B does not intend A’s death for a different primary reason, though there may be other relevant reasons, and (b) there is sufficient current evidence for either A or B that causal means to A’s death will not produce any more suffering than would be produced for A if B were not to intervene; (4) the causal means to the event of A’s death are chosen by A or B to be as painless as possible, unless either A or B has an overriding reason for a more painful causal means, where the reason for choosing the latter causal means does not conflict with the evidence in 3b; (5) A is a nonfetal organism.”[19]

Wreen, in part responding to Beauchamp and Davidson, offered a six-part definition:

“Person A committed an act of euthanasia if and only if (1) A killed B or let her die; (2) A intended to kill B; (3) the intention specified in (2) was at least partial cause of the action specified in (1); (4) the causal journey from the intention specified in (2) to the action specified in (1) is more or less in accordance with A’s plan of action; (5) A’s killing of B is a voluntary action; (6) the motive for the action specified in (1), the motive standing behind the intention specified in (2), is the good of the person killed.”[20]

Wreen also considered a seventh requirement: “(7) The good specified in (6) is, or at least includes, the avoidance of evil”, although as Wreen noted in the paper, he was not convinced that the restriction was required.[21]

In discussing his definition, Wreen noted the difficulty of justifying euthanasia when faced with the notion of the subject’s “right to life”. In response, Wreen argued that euthanasia has to be voluntary, and that “involuntary euthanasia is, as such, a great wrong”.[21] Other commentators incorporate consent more directly into their definitions. For example, in a discussion of euthanasia presented in 2003 by the European Association of Palliative Care (EPAC) Ethics Task Force, the authors offered: “Medicalized killing of a person without the person’s consent, whether nonvoluntary (where the person in unable to consent) or involuntary (against the person’s will) is not euthanasia: it is murder. Hence, euthanasia can be voluntary only.”[22] Although the EPAC Ethics Task Force argued that both non-voluntary and involuntary euthanasia could not be included in the definition of euthanasia, there is discussion in the literature about excluding one but not the other.[21]

Euthanasia may be classified into three types, according to whether a person gives informed consent: voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary.[23][24]

There is a debate within the medical and bioethics literature about whether or not the non-voluntary (and by extension, involuntary) killing of patients can be regarded as euthanasia, irrespective of intent or the patient’s circumstances. In the definitions offered by Beauchamp and Davidson and, later, by Wreen, consent on the part of the patient was not considered as one of their criteria, although it may have been required to justify euthanasia.[11][25] However, others see consent as essential.

Voluntary euthanasia is conducted with the consent of the patient. Active voluntary euthanasia is legal in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Passive voluntary euthanasia is legal throughout the US per Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health. When the patient brings about his or her own death with the assistance of a physician, the term assisted suicide is often used instead. Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland and the U.S. states of California, Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont.

Non-voluntary euthanasia is conducted when the consent of the patient is unavailable. Examples include child euthanasia, which is illegal worldwide but decriminalised under certain specific circumstances in the Netherlands under the Groningen Protocol.

Involuntary euthanasia is conducted against the will of the patient.

Voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary types can be further divided into passive or active variants.[26] Passive euthanasia entails the withholding treatment necessary for the continuance of life.[3] Active euthanasia entails the use of lethal substances or forces (such as administering a lethal injection), and is the more controversial. While some authors consider these terms to be misleading and unhelpful, they are nonetheless commonly used. In some cases, such as the administration of increasingly necessary, but toxic doses of painkillers, there is a debate whether or not to regard the practice as active or passive.[3]

Euthanasia was practiced in Ancient Greece and Rome: for example, hemlock was employed as a means of hastening death on the island of Kea, a technique also employed in Marseilles. Euthanasia, in the sense of the deliberate hastening of a person’s death, was supported by Socrates, Plato and Seneca the Elder in the ancient world, although Hippocrates appears to have spoken against the practice, writing “I will not prescribe a deadly drug to please someone, nor give advice that may cause his death” (noting there is some debate in the literature about whether or not this was intended to encompass euthanasia).[27][28][29]

The term euthanasia in the earlier sense of supporting someone as they died, was used for the first time by Francis Bacon. In his work, Euthanasia medica, he chose this ancient Greek word and, in doing so, distinguished between euthanasia interior, the preparation of the soul for death, and euthanasia exterior, which was intended to make the end of life easier and painless, in exceptional circumstances by shortening life. That the ancient meaning of an easy death came to the fore again in the early modern period can be seen from its definition in the 18th century Zedlers Universallexikon:

Euthanasia: a very gentle and quiet death, which happens without painful convulsions. The word comes from , bene, well, and , mors, death.[30]

The concept of euthanasia in the sense of alleviating the process of death goes back to the medical historian, Karl Friedrich Heinrich Marx, who drew on Bacon’s philosophical ideas. According to Marx, a doctor had a moral duty to ease the suffering of death through encouragement, support and mitigation using medication. Such an “alleviation of death” reflected the contemporary zeitgeist, but was brought into the medical canon of responsibility for the first time by Marx. Marx also stressed the distinction between the theological care of the soul of sick people from the physical care and medical treatment by doctors.[31][32]

Euthanasia in its modern sense has always been strongly opposed in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Thomas Aquinas opposed both and argued that the practice of euthanasia contradicted our natural human instincts of survival,[33] as did Francois Ranchin (15651641), a French physician and professor of medicine, and Michael Boudewijns (16011681), a physician and teacher.[28]:208[34] Other voices argued for euthanasia, such as John Donne in 1624,[35] and euthanasia continued to be practised. In 1678, the publication of Caspar Questel’s De pulvinari morientibus non-subtrahend, (“On the pillow of which the dying should not be deprived”), initiated debate on the topic. Questel described various customs which were employed at the time to hasten the death of the dying, (including the sudden removal of a pillow, which was believed to accelerate death), and argued against their use, as doing so was “against the laws of God and Nature”.[28]:209211 This view was shared by others who followed, including Philipp Jakob Spener, Veit Riedlin and Johann Georg Krnitz.[28]:211 Despite opposition, euthanasia continued to be practised, involving techniques such as bleeding, suffocation, and removing people from their beds to be placed on the cold ground.[28]:211214

Suicide and euthanasia became more accepted during the Age of Enlightenment.[34] Thomas More wrote of euthanasia in Utopia, although it is not clear if More was intending to endorse the practice.[28]:208209 Other cultures have taken different approaches: for example, in Japan suicide has not traditionally been viewed as a sin, as it is used in cases of honor, and accordingly, the perceptions of euthanasia are different from those in other parts of the world.[36]

In the mid-1800s, the use of morphine to treat “the pains of death” emerged, with John Warren recommending its use in 1848. A similar use of chloroform was revealed by Joseph Bullar in 1866. However, in neither case was it recommended that the use should be to hasten death. In 1870 Samuel Williams, a schoolteacher, initiated the contemporary euthanasia debate through a speech given at the Birmingham Speculative Club in England, which was subsequently published in a one-off publication entitled Essays of the Birmingham Speculative Club, the collected works of a number of members of an amateur philosophical society.[37]:794 Williams’ proposal was to use chloroform to deliberately hasten the death of terminally ill patients:

That in all cases of hopeless and painful illness, it should be the recognized duty of the medical attendant, whenever so desired by the patient, to administer chloroform or such other anaesthetic as may by-and-bye supersede chloroform so as to destroy consciousness at once, and put the sufferer to a quick and painless death; all needful precautions being adopted to prevent any possible abuse of such duty; and means being taken to establish, beyond the possibility of doubt or question, that the remedy was applied at the express wish of the patient.

The essay was favourably reviewed in The Saturday Review, but an editorial against the essay appeared in The Spectator.[38] From there it proved to be influential, and other writers came out in support of such views: Lionel Tollemache wrote in favour of euthanasia, as did Annie Besant, the essayist and reformer who later became involved with the National Secular Society, considering it a duty to society to “die voluntarily and painlessly” when one reaches the point of becoming a ‘burden’.[38][39] Popular Science analyzed the issue in May 1873, assessing both sides of the argument.[40] Kemp notes that at the time, medical doctors did not participate in the discussion; it was “essentially a philosophical enterprise… tied inextricably to a number of objections to the Christian doctrine of the sanctity of human life”.[38]

The rise of the euthanasia movement in the United States coincided with the so-called Gilded Age, a time of social and technological change that encompassed an “individualistic conservatism that praised laissez-faire economics, scientific method, and rationalism”, along with major depressions, industrialisation and conflict between corporations and labour unions.[37]:794 It was also the period in which the modern hospital system was developed, which has been seen as a factor in the emergence of the euthanasia debate.[41]

Robert Ingersoll argued for euthanasia, stating in 1894 that where someone is suffering from a terminal illness, such as terminal cancer, they should have a right to end their pain through suicide. Felix Adler offered a similar approach, although, unlike Ingersoll, Adler did not reject religion. In fact, he argued from an Ethical Culture framework. In 1891, Alder argued that those suffering from overwhelming pain should have the right to commit suicide, and, furthermore, that it should be permissible for a doctor to assist thus making Adler the first “prominent American” to argue for suicide in cases where people were suffering from chronic illness.[42] Both Ingersoll and Adler argued for voluntary euthanasia of adults suffering from terminal ailments.[42] Dowbiggin argues that by breaking down prior moral objections to euthanasia and suicide, Ingersoll and Adler enabled others to stretch the definition of euthanasia.[43]

The first attempt to legalise euthanasia took place in the United States, when Henry Hunt introduced legislation into the General Assembly of Ohio in 1906.[44]:614 Hunt did so at the behest of Anna S. Hall, a wealthy heiress who was a major figure in the euthanasia movement during the early 20th century in the United States. Hall had watched her mother die after an extended battle with liver cancer, and had dedicated herself to ensuring that others would not have to endure the same suffering. Towards this end she engaged in an extensive letter writing campaign, recruited Lurana Sheldon and Maud Ballington Booth, and organised a debate on euthanasia at the annual meeting of the American Humane Association in 1905 described by Jacob Appel as the first significant public debate on the topic in the 20th century.[44]:614616

Hunt’s bill called for the administration of an anesthetic to bring about a patient’s death, so long as the person is of lawful age and sound mind, and was suffering from a fatal injury, an irrevocable illness, or great physical pain. It also required that the case be heard by a physician, required informed consent in front of three witnesses, and required the attendance of three physicians who had to agree that the patient’s recovery was impossible. A motion to reject the bill outright was voted down, but the bill failed to pass, 79 to 23.[37]:796[44]:618619

Along with the Ohio euthanasia proposal, in 1906 Assemblyman Ross Gregory introduced a proposal to permit euthanasia to the Iowa legislature. However, the Iowa legislation was broader in scope than that offered in Ohio. It allowed for the death of any person of at least ten years of age who suffered from an ailment that would prove fatal and cause extreme pain, should they be of sound mind and express a desire to artificially hasten their death. In addition, it allowed for infants to be euthanised if they were sufficiently deformed, and permitted guardians to request euthanasia on behalf of their wards. The proposed legislation also imposed penalties on physicians who refused to perform euthanasia when requested: a 612 month prison term and a fine of between $200 and $1,000. The proposal proved to be controversial.[44]:619621 It engendered considerable debate and failed to pass, having been withdrawn from consideration after being passed to the Committee on Public Health.[44]:623

After 1906 the euthanasia debate reduced in intensity, resurfacing periodically, but not returning to the same level of debate until the 1930s in the United Kingdom.[37]:796

Euthanasia opponent Ian Dowbiggin argues that the early membership of the Euthanasia Society of America (ESA) reflected how many perceived euthanasia at the time, often seeing it as a eugenics matter rather than an issue concerning individual rights.[42] Dowbiggin argues that not every eugenist joined the ESA “solely for eugenic reasons”, but he postulates that there were clear ideological connections between the eugenics and euthanasia movements.[42]

The Voluntary Euthanasia Legalisation Society was founded in 1935 by Charles Killick Millard (now called Dignity in Dying). The movement campaigned for the legalisation of euthanasia in Great Britain.

In January 1936, King George V was given a fatal dose of morphine and cocaine to hasten his death. At the time he was suffering from cardio-respiratory failure, and the decision to end his life was made by his physician, Lord Dawson.[45] Although this event was kept a secret for over 50 years, the death of George V coincided with proposed legislation in the House of Lords to legalise euthanasia.[46]

A 24 July 1939 killing of a severely disabled infant in Nazi Germany was described in a BBC “Genocide Under the Nazis Timeline” as the first “state-sponsored euthanasia”.[47] Parties that consented to the killing included Hitler’s office, the parents, and the Reich Committee for the Scientific Registration of Serious and Congenitally Based Illnesses.[47] The Telegraph noted that the killing of the disabled infantwhose name was Gerhard Kretschmar, born blind, with missing limbs, subject to convulsions, and reportedly “an idiot” provided “the rationale for a secret Nazi decree that led to ‘mercy killings’ of almost 300,000 mentally and physically handicapped people”.[48] While Kretchmar’s killing received parental consent, most of the 5,000 to 8,000 children killed afterwards were forcibly taken from their parents.[47][48]

The “euthanasia campaign” of mass murder gathered momentum on 14 January 1940 when the “handicapped” were killed with gas vans and killing centres, eventually leading to the deaths of 70,000 adult Germans.[49] Professor Robert Jay Lifton, author of The Nazi Doctors and a leading authority on the T4 program, contrasts this program with what he considers to be a genuine euthanasia. He explains that the Nazi version of “euthanasia” was based on the work of Adolf Jost, who published The Right to Death (Das Recht auf den Tod) in 1895. Lifton writes:

Jost argued that control over the death of the individual must ultimately belong to the social organism, the state. This concept is in direct opposition to the Anglo-American concept of euthanasia, which emphasizes the individual’s ‘right to die’ or ‘right to death’ or ‘right to his or her own death,’ as the ultimate human claim. In contrast, Jost was pointing to the state’s right to kill…. Ultimately the argument was biological: ‘The rights to death [are] the key to the fitness of life.’ The state must own deathmust killin order to keep the social organism alive and healthy.[50]

In modern terms, the use of “euthanasia” in the context of Action T4 is seen to be a euphemism to disguise a program of genocide, in which people were killed on the grounds of “disabilities, religious beliefs, and discordant individual values”.[51] Compared to the discussions of euthanasia that emerged post-war, the Nazi program may have been worded in terms that appear similar to the modern use of “euthanasia”, but there was no “mercy” and the patients were not necessarily terminally ill.[51] Despite these differences, historian and euthanasia opponent Ian Dowbiggin writes that “the origins of Nazi euthanasia, like those of the American euthanasia movement, predate the Third Reich and were intertwined with the history of eugenics and Social Darwinism, and with efforts to discredit traditional morality and ethics.”[42]:65

On 6 January 1949, the Euthanasia Society of America presented to the New York State Legislature a petition to legalize euthanasia, signed by 379 leading Protestant and Jewish ministers, the largest group of religious leaders ever to have taken this stance. A similar petition had been sent to the New York Legislature in 1947, signed by approximately 1,000 New York physicians. Catholic religious leaders criticized the petition, saying that such a bill would “legalize a suicide-murder pact” and a “rationalization of the fifth commandment of God, ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill.'”[52] The Right Reverend Robert E. McCormick stated that

“The ultimate object of the Euthanasia Society is based on the Totalitarian principle that the state is supreme and that the individual does not have the right to live if his continuance in life is a burden or hindrance to the state. The Nazis followed this principle and compulsory Euthanasia was practiced as a part of their program during the recent war. We American citizens of New York State must ask ourselves this question: ‘Are we going to finish Hitler’s job?'”[52]

The petition brought tensions between the American Euthanasia Society and the Catholic Church to a head that contributed to a climate of anti-Catholic sentiment generally, regarding issues such as birth control, eugenics, and population control. However, the petition did not result in any legal changes.[42]

Historically, the euthanasia debate has tended to focus on a number of key concerns. According to euthanasia opponent Ezekiel Emanuel, proponents of euthanasia have presented four main arguments: a) that people have a right to self-determination, and thus should be allowed to choose their own fate; b) assisting a subject to die might be a better choice than requiring that they continue to suffer; c) the distinction between passive euthanasia, which is often permitted, and active euthanasia, which is not substantive (or that the underlying principlethe doctrine of double effectis unreasonable or unsound); and d) permitting euthanasia will not necessarily lead to unacceptable consequences. Pro-euthanasia activists often point to countries like the Netherlands and Belgium, and states like Oregon, where euthanasia has been legalized, to argue that it is mostly unproblematic.

Similarly, Emanuel argues that there are four major arguments presented by opponents of euthanasia: a) not all deaths are painful; b) alternatives, such as cessation of active treatment, combined with the use of effective pain relief, are available; c) the distinction between active and passive euthanasia is morally significant; and d) legalising euthanasia will place society on a slippery slope,[53] which will lead to unacceptable consequences.[37]:797-8 In fact, in Oregon, in 2013, pain wasn’t one of the top five reasons people sought euthanasia. Top reasons were a loss of dignity, and a fear of burdening others.[54]

In the United States in 2013, 47% nationwide supported doctor-assisted suicide. This included 32% of Latinos, 29% of African-Americans, and almost nobody with disabilities.[54]

A 2015 Populus poll in the United Kingdom found broad public support for assisted dying. 82% of people supported the introduction of assisted dying laws, including 86% of people with disabilities.[55]

West’s Encyclopedia of American Law states that “a ‘mercy killing’ or euthanasia is generally considered to be a criminal homicide”[56] and is normally used as a synonym of homicide committed at a request made by the patient.[57]

The judicial sense of the term “homicide” includes any intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, even to relieve intractable suffering.[57][58][59] Not all homicide is unlawful.[60] Two designations of homicide that carry no criminal punishment are justifiable and excusable homicide.[60] In most countries this is not the status of euthanasia. The term “euthanasia” is usually confined to the active variety; the University of Washington website states that “euthanasia generally means that the physician would act directly, for instance by giving a lethal injection, to end the patient’s life”.[61] Physician-assisted suicide is thus not classified as euthanasia by the US State of Oregon, where it is legal under the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, and despite its name, it is not legally classified as suicide either.[62] Unlike physician-assisted suicide, withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatments with patient consent (voluntary) is almost unanimously considered, at least in the United States, to be legal.[63] The use of pain medication to relieve suffering, even if it hastens death, has been held as legal in several court decisions.[61]

Some governments around the world have legalized voluntary euthanasia but most commonly it is still considered to be criminal homicide. In the Netherlands and Belgium, where euthanasia has been legalized, it still remains homicide although it is not prosecuted and not punishable if the perpetrator (the doctor) meets certain legal conditions.[64][65][66][67]

In a historic judgment, the Supreme court of India legalized passive euthanasia. The apex court remarked in the judgment that the Constitution of India values liberty, dignity, autonomy, and privacy. A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra delivered a unanimous judgment.[68]

A 2010 survey in the United States of more than 10,000 physicians found that 16.3% of physicians would consider halting life-sustaining therapy because the family demanded it, even if they believed that it was premature. Approximately 54.5% would not, and the remaining 29.2% responded “it depends”.[69] The study also found that 45.8% of physicians agreed that physician-assisted suicide should be allowed in some cases; 40.7% did not, and the remaining 13.5% felt it depended.[69]

In the United Kingdom, the assisted dying campaign group Dignity in Dying cites research in which 54% of General Practitioners support or are neutral towards a law change on assisted dying.[70] Similarly, a 2017 Doctors.net.uk poll reported in the British Medical Journal stated that 55% of doctors believe assisted dying, in defined circumstances, should be legalised in the UK.[71]

The Roman Catholic Church strongly opposes and condemns euthanasia and assisted suicide as morally wrong. The Catholic Church states that, “Intentional euthanasia, whatever its forms or motives, is murder. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator”. Because of this, the practice is unacceptable within the Church.[72] The Orthodox Church in America, along with other Eastern Orthodox Churches, also opposes euthanasia stating that it must be condemned as murder stating that, “Euthanasia is the deliberate cessation to end human life.”[73]

Many non-Catholic churches in the United States take a stance against euthanasia. Among Protestant denominations, the Episcopal Church passed a resolution in 1991 opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide stating that it is “morally wrong and unacceptable to take a human life to relieve the suffering caused by incurable illnesses.” [73] Other Protestant churches which oppose euthanasia include:

The Church of England accepts passive euthanasia under some circumstances, but is strongly against active euthanasia, and has led opposition against recent attempt to legalise it.[83] The United Church of Canada accepts passive euthanasia under some circumstances, but is in general against active euthanasia, with growing acceptance now that active euthanasia has been partly legalised in Canada.[84].

Euthanasia is a complex issue in Islamic theology; however, in general it is considered contrary to Islamic law and holy texts. Among interpretations of the Koran and Hadith, the early termination of life is a crime, be it by suicide or helping one commit suicide. The various positions on the cessation of medical treatment are mixed and considered a different class of action than direct termination of life, especially if the patient is suffering. Suicide and euthanasia are both crimes in almost all Muslim majority countries.[85]

There is much debate on the topic of euthanasia in Judaic theology, ethics, and general opinion (especially in Israel and the United States). Passive euthanasia was declared legal by Israel’s highest court under certain conditions and has reached some level of acceptance. Active euthanasia remains illegal, however the topic is actively under debate with no clear consensus through legal, ethical, theological and spiritual perspectives.[86]

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Euthanasia – Wikipedia

Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide & Health Care Decisions …

Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide & Health Care Decisions:Protecting Yourself & Your Family

Table of Contents |Part 1 |Part 2

byRita L. Marker

INTRODUCTION

The words euthanasia and assisted suicide are often used interchangeably. However, they are different and, in the law, they are treated differently. In this report, euthanasia is defined as intentionally, knowingly and directly acting to cause the death of another person (e.g., giving a lethal injection). Assisted suicide is defined as intentionally, knowingly and directly providing the means of death to another person so that the person can use that means to commit suicide (e.g., providing a prescription for a lethal dose of drugs).

Part I of this report discusses the reasons used by activists to promote changes in the law; the contradictions that the actual proposals have with those reasons; and the logical progression that occurs when euthanasia and assisted suicide are transformed into medical treatments. It explores the failure of so-called safeguards and outlines the impact that euthanasia and assisted suicide have on families and society in general.

Withholding and withdrawing medical treatment and care are not legally considered euthanasia or assisted suicide. Withholding or withdrawing food and fluids is considered acceptable removal of a medical treatment.

Part II of this report includes information about practical ways to protect oneself and loved ones during any time of incapacity and a discussion of some of the policies that have led to patients being denied care that they or their decision-makers have requested. It concludes with an examination of the ethical distinction between treatment and care.

PART I

EUTHANASIA & ASSISTED SUICIDE

MOVING THE BOUNDARIES

In 2002, the International Task Force report, Assisted Suicide: Not for Adults Only? (1) discussed euthanasia and assisted suicide for children and teens. At that time, such concerns were largely considered outside the realm of possibility.

Then, as now, assisted-suicide advocates claimed that they were only trying to offer compassionate options for competent, terminally ill adults who were suffering unbearably. By and large, their claims went unchallenged.

A crack in that carefully honed image appeared in 2004 when the Groningen Protocol elicited worldwide outrage. The primary purpose of that protocol formulated by doctors at the Groningen Academic Hospital in the Netherlands was to legally and professionally protect Dutch doctors who kill severely disabled newborns. (2)

While euthanasia for infants (infanticide) was not new, widespread discussion of it was. Dutch doctors were now explaining that it was a necessary part of pediatric care.

Also in 2004, Hollands most prestigious medical society (KNMG) urged the Health Ministry to set up a board to review euthanasia for people who had no free will, including children and individuals with mental retardation or severe brain damage following accidents. (3)

At first, it seemed that these revelations would be harmful to the euthanasia movement, but the opposite was true.

Why?

Awareness of infanticide and euthanasia deaths of other incompetent patients moved the boundaries.

Prior to the widespread realization that involuntary euthanasia was taking place, advocacy of assisted suicide for those who request it seemed to be on one end of the spectrum. Opposition to it was on the other end.

Now, the practice of involuntary euthanasia took its place as one extreme, opposition to it as the other extreme, and assisted suicide for terminally ill competent adults appeared to be in the moderate middle a very advantageous political position and expansion of the practice to others had entered the realm of respectable debate.

This repositioning has become a tool in the assisted-suicide arsenal. In May 2006, an assisted-suicide bill, patterned after Oregons law permitting assisted suicide, failed to gain approval in the British Parliament. The bills supporters immediately declared that they would reintroduce it during the next parliamentary session.

Within two weeks, Professor Len Doyal a former member of the British Medical Associations ethics committee who is considered one of Englands leading experts on medical ethics called for doctors to be able to end the lives of some patients swiftly, humanely and without guilt, even without the patients consent. (4) Doyals proposal was widely reported and, undoubtedly, when the next assisted-suicide bill is introduced in England, a measure that would permit assisted suicide only for consenting adults will appear less radical than it might have seemed prior to Doyals suggestion.

Currently, euthanasia is a medical treatment in the Netherlands and Belgium. Assisted suicide is a medical treatment in the Netherlands, Belgium and Oregon. Their advocates erroneously portray both practices as personal, private acts. However, legalization is not about the private and the personal. It is about public policy, and it affects ethics, medicine, law, families and children.

A FAMILY AFFAIR

In December 2005, ABC News World News Tonight reported, Anita and Frank go often to the burial place of their daughter Chanou. Chanou died when, with her parents consent, doctors gave her a lethal dose of morphine. Im convinced that if we meet again somewhere in heaven, her father said, shell tell us we reached the most perfect solution.'(5)

The report about the six-month-old Dutch childs death was introduced as a report on the debate over euthanizing infants. A Dutch legislator who agrees that doctors who intentionally end their tiny patients lives should not be prosecuted said, Im certainly pro-life. But Im also a human being. I think when there is extreme, unbearable suffering, then there can be extreme relief. (6)

Gone was the previous years outrage over the Groningen Protocols. Infanticide had entered the realm of respectable debate in the mainstream media. The message given to viewers was that loving parents, compassionate doctors and caring legislators favor infanticide. It left the impression that opposing such a death would be cold, unfeeling and, perhaps, intentionally cruel.

In Oregon, some assisted-suicide deaths have become family or social events.

Oregons law does not require family members to know that a loved one is planning to commit suicide with a doctors help. (7) Thus, the first knowledge of those plans could come when a family member finds the body. However, as two news features illustrate, some Oregonians who die from assisted suicide make it a teachable moment for children or a party event for friends and family.

According to the Mail Tribune (Medford, Oregon), on a sunny afternoon, Joan Lucas rode around looking at houses, then she sat in a park eating an ice cream cone. A few hours later, she committed suicide with a prescribed deadly drug overdose. Grandchildren were made to understand that Grandma Joan would be going away soon. Those who were old enough to understand were told what was happening. (8

Did these children learn from Grandma Joan that suicide is a good thing?

UCLAs student newspaper, the Daily Bruin, carried an article favoring assisted suicide. It described how Karen Janoch who committed suicide under the Oregon law, sent invitations for her suicide to about two dozen of her closest friends and family. The invitation read, You are invited to attend the actual ending of my life. (9) At the same time Californias legislature was considering an assisted-suicide bill that was virtually identical to Oregons law, UCLA students learned that suicide can be the occasion for a party.

In Oregon, assisted suicide has gone from the appalling to the appealing, from the tragic to the banal.

During the last half of 2005 and the first half of 2006, bills to legalize assisted suicide were under consideration in various states and countries including, but not limited to, Canada, Great Britain, California, Hawaii, Vermont, and Washington. All had met failure by the end of June 2006. But plans to reintroduce them with some cosmetic changes are currently underway. A brief examination of arguments used to promote them illustrates the small world nature of assisted-suicide advocacy.

TWO PILLARS OF ADVOCACY

Wherever an assisted-suicide measure is proposed, proponents arguments and strategies are similar. Invariably, promotion rests on two pillars: autonomy and the elimination of suffering.

Autonomy

Autonomy (independence and the right of self-determination) is certainly valued in modern society and patients do, and should, have the right to accept or reject medical treatment. However, those who favor assisted suicide claim that autonomy extends to the right of a patient to decide when, where, how and why to die as the following examples illustrate.

During debate over an assisted-suicide measure then pending before the British Parliament, proponents emphasized personal choice. The bill, titled The Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill, was introduced by Lord Joel Joffe. Dr. Margaret Branthwaite, a physician, barrister and former head of Englands Voluntary Euthanasia Society (recently renamed Dignity in Dying (10)), called for passage of the Joffe bill in an article in the British Medical Journal. As a matter of principle, she wrote, it reinforces current trends towards greater respect for personal autonomy. (11)

The focus on autonomy was also reflected in remarks about a plan to introduce an assisted-suicide initiative in Washington. Booth Gardner, former governor of Washington, said he plans to promote the initiative because it should be his decision when and how he dies. He told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, When I go, I want to decide. (12)

The rationale is that when, where, why and how one dies should be a matter of self-determination, a matter of independent choice, and a matter of personal autonomy.

Elimination of suffering

The second pillar of assisted-suicide advocacy is elimination of suffering. During each and every attempt to permit euthanasia and assisted suicide, its advocates stress that ending suffering justifies legalization of the practices.

California Assemblywoman Patty Berg, the co-sponsor of Californias euphemistically named Compassionate Choices Act, (13) said the assisted-suicide measure was necessary so that people would have the comfort of knowing they could escape unbearable suffering if that were to occur. (14)

In an opinion piece supporting the failed 1998 assisted-suicide initiative in Michigan, a spokesperson for those favoring the measure wrote that the patients targeted by the proposal were those who were tortured by the unbearable suffering of a slow and agonizing death. (15)

In the United Kingdom, Lord Joffe said his bill would enable those who are suffering unbearably to get medical assistance to die. (16) Testimony before the British House of Lords Select Committee studying the bill noted that, where assisted dying has been legalized, it has done so as a response to patients who were suffering. (17)

The centerpiece of the 1994 Measure 16 campaign that resulted in Oregons assisted-suicide law was a television commercial featuring Patti Rosen. Describing her daughter who had cancer, Rosen said, The pain was so great that she couldnt bear to be touched. Measure 16 would have allowed my daughter to die with dignity. (18)

When an assisted-suicide proposal that later failed was being considered by the Hawaiian legislature in 2002, a public relations consultant who was working on behalf of the bill, e-mailed a template for use in written or oral testimony. The template suggested inclusion of the phrases agonizingly painful, pain was uncontrollable, and pain beyond my understanding. (19)

During consideration of an assisted-suicide bill in Vermont, the states former governor Philip Hoff said, The last thing I would want in this world is to be around and be in pain, and have no quality of life, and be a burden to my family and others. (20) Dick Walters, chairman of Death with Dignity Vermont, said the proposal would permit a person to peacefully end suffering and hasten death. (21)

Thus, the rationale given by euthanasia and assisted-suicide proponents for legalization always includes autonomy and/or elimination of suffering. However, the laws they propose actually contradict this rationale.

CONTRADICTIONS

When proposed, laws such as those now in existence in Oregon and similar measures introduced elsewhere include conditions or requirements limiting assisted suicide to certain groups of qualified patients. A patient qualified to receive the treatment of assisted suicide must be an adult who is capable of making decisions and must be diagnosed with a terminal condition.

If one accepts the premise that assisted suicide is a good medical treatment that should be permitted on the basis of personal autonomy or elimination of suffering, other questions must be raised.

If the reason for permitting assisted suicide is autonomy, why should assisted suicide be limited to the terminally ill?

Does ones autonomy depend upon a doctors diagnosis (or misdiagnosis) of a terminal illness? If a person is not terminally ill, but is suffering whether physically, psychologically or emotionally why isnt it up to that person to decide when, why and how to die? Does a person only have autonomy if he or she has a particular condition or illness? Is autonomy a basis for the law?

If assisted suicide is a good and acceptable medical treatment for the purpose of ending suffering, why should it be limited to adults who are capable of decision-making?

Isnt it both discriminatory and cruel to deny that good and acceptable medical treatment to a child or an incompetent adult? Why is a medical treatment that has been deemed appropriate to end suffering available to an 18-year-old, but not to a 16-year-old or 17-year-old? Why is a person only eligible to have his or her suffering ended if he or she has reached an arbitrary age?

And, what of the adult who never was, or no longer is, capable of decision-making? Should that person be denied medical treatment that ends suffering? Are euthanasia and assisted-suicide laws based on the need to eliminate suffering, or not?

Establishing arbitrary requirements that must be met prior to qualifying for the medical treatment of euthanasia or assisted suicide does, without doubt, contradict the two pillars on which justification for the practices is based.

The question then must be asked: Why are those arbitrary requirements included in Oregons law and other similar proposals? The answer is simple. After a series of defeats, euthanasia and assisted-suicide proponents learned that they had to propose laws that appeared palatable.

In April 2005, Lord Joffe, the British bills sponsor, acknowledged that his bill was intended to be only the first step. During hearings regarding the measure, he said that this is the first stage and went on to explain that one should go forward in incremental stages. I believe that this bill should initially be limited. (22)

He repeated his remarks a year later when discussing hearings about his bill. I can assure you that I would prefer that the [proposed] law did apply to patients who were younger and who were not terminally ill but who were suffering unbearable, he said and added, I believe that this bill should initially be limited. (23)

STEP-BY-STEP APPROACH

Proposals for euthanasia and assisted suicide have always emanated from advocacy groups, not from any grassroots desire. Those groups learned that attempting to go too far, too fast, leads to certain defeat.

After many failed attempts, most recently those in the early 90s in Washington and California when ballot initiatives that would have permitted both euthanasia by lethal injection and assisted suicide by lethal prescription were resoundingly defeated death with dignity activists changed their strategy. They decided to take a step-by-step approach, proposing an assisted-suicide-only bill which, when passed, would serve as a model for subsequent laws. Only after several such laws were passed, would they begin to expand them. That was the strategy that led to Oregons Measure 16, the Oregon Death with Dignity Act.

Those who were most involved in the successful Oregon strategy were not new to the scene.

Cheryl K. Smith, who wrote the first draft of Oregons law, had served as a special counsel to the political action group Oregon Right to Die (ORD). Smith had been the National Hemlock Societys legal advisor after her graduation from law school in 1989 and had been a top aide to Hemlocks co-founder, Derek Humphry. While a student at the University of Iowa College of Law, Smith helped draft a Model Aid-in-Dying Act that provided for childrens lives to be terminated either at their own request or, if under 6 years of age, by parental request. (24)

Barbara Coombs Lee was Measure 16s chief petitioner. At the time, she was a vice president for a large Oregon managed care program. After the laws passage, she took over the leadership of Compassion in Dying. (25) [Note: In early 2005, Compassion in Dying merged with the Hemlock Society. The combined organization is now called Compassion and Choices.]

Coombs Lees promotion of assisted suicide and euthanasia began prior to her involvement with the Death with Dignity Act. As a legislative aide to Oregon Senator Frank Roberts in 1991, she worked on Senate Bill 114 that would have permitted euthanasia on request of a patient and, if the patient was not competent, a designated representative would have been authorized to request the patients death. (26)

Upon passage of the Oregon law in 1994, many assisted-suicide supporters were certain that other states would immediately fall in line. However, that did not occur. Between 1994 and mid-2006, assisted-suicide measures were introduced in state after state.(27) Each and every proposal failed. All of the proposals were assisted-suicide-only bills and, with one exception, (28) every one was virtually identical to the Oregon law.

Among supporters of assisted suicide and euthanasia, though, the Oregon law is seen as the model for success and is referred to in debates about assisted suicide throughout the world. For that reason, a careful examination of the Oregon experience is vital to understanding the problems with legalized assisted suicide.

OREGON

Under Oregons law permitting physician-assisted suicide, the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) previously called the Oregon Health Division (OHD) is required to collect information, review a sample of cases and publish a yearly statistical report. (29)

However, due to major flaws in the law and the states reporting system, there is no way to know for sure how many or under what circumstances patients have died from physician-assisted suicide. Statistics from official reports are particularly questionable and have left some observers skeptical about their validity.

For example, when a similar proposal was under consideration in the British Parliament, members of a House of Lords Committee traveled to Oregon seeking information regarding Oregons law for use in their deliberations. The public and press were not present during the closed-door hearings. However, the House of Lords published the committees proceedings in three lengthy volumes, which included the exact wording of questions and answers.

After hearing witnesses claim that there have been no complications associated with more than 200 assisted-suicide deaths, committee member Lord McColl of Dulwich, a surgeon, said, If any surgeon or physician had told me that he did 200 procedures without any complications, I knew that he possibly needed counseling and had no insight. We come here and I am told there are no complications. There is something strange going on. (30)

The following includes statistical data from official reports and other published information dealing with troubling aspects of the practice of assisted suicide in Oregon. Statements from the 744-page second volume of the House of Lords committee proceedings are also included. None of the included statements from the committee hearings were made by opponents of Oregons law.

OFFICIAL REPORTS

Assisted-suicide deaths reported during the first eight years

Official Reports: 246Actual Number: Unknown

The latest annual report indicates that reported assisted-suicide deaths have increased by more than 230% since the first year of legal assisted suicide in Oregon. (31) The numbers, however, could be far greater. From the time the law went into effect, Oregon officials in charge of formulating annual reports have conceded theres no way to know if additional deaths went unreported because Oregon DHS has no regulatory authority or resources to ensure compliance with the law. (32)

The DHS has to rely on the word of doctors who prescribe the lethal drugs. (33) Referring to physicians reports, the reporting division admitted: For that matter the entire account [received from a prescribing doctor] could have been a cock-and-bull story. We assume, however, that physicians were their usual careful and accurate selves. (34)

The Death with Dignity law contains no penalties for doctors who do not report prescribing lethal doses for the purpose of suicide.

Complications occurring during assisted suicide

Official Reports: 13 (12 instances of vomiting & one patient who did not die fromlethal dose.)

Actual number: Unknown

Prescribing doctors may not know about all complications since, over the course of eight years, physicians who prescribed the lethal drugs for assisted suicide were present at only 19.5% of reported deaths. (35) Information they provide might come from secondhand accounts of those present at the deaths (36) or may be based on guesswork.

When asked if there is any systematic way of finding out and recording complications, Dr. Katrina Hedberg who was a lead author of most of Oregons official reports said, Not other than asking physicians. (37) She acknowledged that after they write the prescription, the physician may not keep track of the patient. (38) Dr. Melvin Kohn, a lead author of the eighth annual report, noted that, in every case that they hear about, it is the self-report, if you will, of the physician involved. (39)

Complications contained in news reports are not included in official reports

Patrick Matheny received his lethal prescription from Oregon Health Science University via Federal Express. He had difficulty when he tried to take the drugs four months later. His brother-in-law, Joe Hayes, said he had to help Matheny die. According to Hayes, It doesnt go smoothly for everyone. For Pat it was a huge problem. It would have not worked without help. (40) The annual report did not make note of this situation.

Speaking at Portland Community College, pro-assisted-suicide attorney Cynthia Barrett described a botched assisted suicide. The man was at home. There was no doctor there, she said. After he took it [the lethal dose], he began to have some physical symptoms. The symptoms were hard for his wife to handle. Well, she called 911. The guy ended up being taken by 911 to a local Portland hospital. Revived. In the middle of it. And taken to a local nursing facility. I dont know if he went back home. He died shortly someperiod of time after that. (41)

Overdoses of barbiturates are known to cause vomiting as a person begins to lose consciousness. The patient then inhales the vomit. In other cases, panic, feelings of terror and assaultive behavior can occur from the drug-induced confusion. (42) But Barrett would not say exactly which symptoms had taken place in this instance. She has refused any further discussion of the case.

Complications are not investigated

David Prueitt took the prescribed lethal dose in the presence of his family and members of Compassion & Choices. After being unconscious for 65 hours, he awoke. It was only after his family told the media about the botched assisted suicide that Compassion & Choices publicly acknowledged the case. (43) DHS issued a release saying it has no authority to investigate individual Death with Dignity cases. (44)

Referring to DHSs ability to look into complications, Dr. Hedberg explained that we are not given the resources to investigate and not only do we not have the resources to do it, but we do not have any legal authority to insert ourselves. (45)

David Hopkins, Data Analyst for the Eighth Annual Report, said, We do not report to the Board of Medical Examiners if complications occur; no, it is not required by law and it is not part of our duty. (46)

Jim Kronenberg, the Oregon Medical Associations (OMA) Chief Operating Officer, explained that the way the law is set up there is really no way to determine that [complications occurred] unless there is some kind of disaster. [P]ersonally I have never had a report where there was a true disaster, he said. Certainly that does not mean that you should infer there has not been, I just do not know. (47)

In the Netherlands, assisted-suicide complications and problems are not uncommon. One Dutch study found that, because of problems or complications, doctors in the Netherlands felt compelled to intervene (by giving a lethal injection) in 18% of cases.(48)

This led Dr. Sherwin Nuland of Yale University School of Medicine to question the credibility of Oregons lack of reported complications. Nuland, who favors physician-assisted suicide, noted that the Dutch have had years of practice to learn ways to overcome complications, yet complications are still reported. The Dutch findings seem more credible [than the Oregon reports], he wrote. (49)

Read the original post:

Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide & Health Care Decisions …

Euthanasia – ProCon.org

Proponents of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (PAS) contend that terminally ill people should have the right to end their suffering with a quick, dignified, and compassionate death. They argue that the right to die is protected by the same constitutional safeguards that guarantee such rights as marriage, procreation, and the refusal or termination of life-saving medical treatment.

Opponents of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide contend that doctors have a moral responsibility to keep their patients alive as reflected by the Hippocratic Oath. They argue there may be a “slippery slope” from euthanasia to murder, and that legalizing euthanasia will unfairly target the poor and disabled and create incentives for insurance companies to terminate lives in order to save money.

PROS & CONS BY CATEGORY

CORE QUESTION

Definitions

Euthanasia in Practice

Legal Right and End-of-Life Documents

American Healthcare System

Physician Involvement in Euthanasia and PAS

Moral Differences in Forms of Assisted Dying

Historical Issues

Opponents of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide contend that doctors have a moral responsibility to keep their patients alive as reflected by the Hippocratic Oath. They argue there may be a “slippery slope” from euthanasia to murder, and that legalizing euthanasia will unfairly target the poor and disabled and create incentives for insurance companies to terminate lives in order to save money.

PROS & CONS BY CATEGORY

CORE QUESTION

Definitions

Euthanasia in Practice

Legal Right and End-of-Life Documents

American Healthcare System

Physician Involvement in Euthanasia and PAS

Moral Differences in Forms of Assisted Dying

Historical Issues

Read more here:

Euthanasia – ProCon.org

Euthanasia – ProCon.org

Proponents of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (PAS) contend that terminally ill people should have the right to end their suffering with a quick, dignified, and compassionate death. They argue that the right to die is protected by the same constitutional safeguards that guarantee such rights as marriage, procreation, and the refusal or termination of life-saving medical treatment.

Opponents of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide contend that doctors have a moral responsibility to keep their patients alive as reflected by the Hippocratic Oath. They argue there may be a “slippery slope” from euthanasia to murder, and that legalizing euthanasia will unfairly target the poor and disabled and create incentives for insurance companies to terminate lives in order to save money.

PROS & CONS BY CATEGORY

CORE QUESTION

Definitions

Euthanasia in Practice

Legal Right and End-of-Life Documents

American Healthcare System

Physician Involvement in Euthanasia and PAS

Moral Differences in Forms of Assisted Dying

Historical Issues

Opponents of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide contend that doctors have a moral responsibility to keep their patients alive as reflected by the Hippocratic Oath. They argue there may be a “slippery slope” from euthanasia to murder, and that legalizing euthanasia will unfairly target the poor and disabled and create incentives for insurance companies to terminate lives in order to save money.

PROS & CONS BY CATEGORY

CORE QUESTION

Definitions

Euthanasia in Practice

Legal Right and End-of-Life Documents

American Healthcare System

Physician Involvement in Euthanasia and PAS

Moral Differences in Forms of Assisted Dying

Historical Issues

See the rest here:

Euthanasia – ProCon.org

Euthanasia – Wikipedia

Euthanasia (from Greek: ; “good death”: , eu; “well” or “good” , thanatos; “death”) is the practice of intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering.[1][2]

There are different euthanasia laws in each country. The British House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics defines euthanasia as “a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering”.[3] In the Netherlands and Belgium, euthanasia is understood as “termination of life by a doctor at the request of a patient”.[4] The Dutch law however, does not use the term ‘euthanasia’ but includes it under the broader definition of “assisted suicide and termination of life on request”.[5]

Euthanasia is categorized in different ways, which include voluntary, non-voluntary, or involuntary. Voluntary euthanasia is legal in some countries. Non-voluntary euthanasia (patient’s consent unavailable) is illegal in all countries. Involuntary euthanasia (without asking consent or against the patient’s will) is also illegal in all countries and is usually considered murder.[6] As of 2006, euthanasia is the most active area of research in contemporary bioethics.[7] In some countries there is a divisive public controversy over the moral, ethical, and legal issues of euthanasia. Passive euthanasia (known as “pulling the plug”) is legal under some circumstances in many countries. Active euthanasia however is legal or de facto legal in only a handful of countries (ex. Belgium, Canada, Switzerland) and is limited to specific circumstances and the approval of councilors and doctors or other specialists. In some countries such as Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, support for active euthanasia is almost non-existent.

Like other terms borrowed from history, “euthanasia” has had different meanings depending on usage. The first apparent usage of the term “euthanasia” belongs to the historian Suetonius, who described how the Emperor Augustus, “dying quickly and without suffering in the arms of his wife, Livia, experienced the ‘euthanasia’ he had wished for.”[8] The word “euthanasia” was first used in a medical context by Francis Bacon in the 17th century, to refer to an easy, painless, happy death, during which it was a “physician’s responsibility to alleviate the ‘physical sufferings’ of the body.” Bacon referred to an “outward euthanasia”the term “outward” he used to distinguish from a spiritual conceptthe euthanasia “which regards the preparation of the soul.”[9]

In current usage, euthanasia has been defined as the “painless inducement of a quick death”.[10] However, it is argued that this approach fails to properly define euthanasia, as it leaves open a number of possible actions which would meet the requirements of the definition, but would not be seen as euthanasia. In particular, these include situations where a person kills another, painlessly, but for no reason beyond that of personal gain; or accidental deaths that are quick and painless, but not intentional.[11][12]

Another approach incorporates the notion of suffering into the definition.[11] The definition offered by the Oxford English Dictionary incorporates suffering as a necessary condition, with “the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma”,[13] This approach is included in Marvin Khol and Paul Kurtz’s definition of it as “a mode or act of inducing or permitting death painlessly as a relief from suffering”.[14] Counterexamples can be given: such definitions may encompass killing a person suffering from an incurable disease for personal gain (such as to claim an inheritance), and commentators such as Tom Beauchamp and Arnold Davidson have argued that doing so would constitute “murder simpliciter” rather than euthanasia.[11]

The third element incorporated into many definitions is that of intentionality the death must be intended, rather than being accidental, and the intent of the action must be a “merciful death”.[11] Michael Wreen argued that “the principal thing that distinguishes euthanasia from intentional killing simpliciter is the agent’s motive: it must be a good motive insofar as the good of the person killed is concerned.”[15] Similarly, Heather Draper speaks to the importance of motive, arguing that “the motive forms a crucial part of arguments for euthanasia, because it must be in the best interests of the person on the receiving end.”[12] Definitions such as that offered by the House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics take this path, where euthanasia is defined as “a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering.”[3] Beauchamp and Davidson also highlight Baruch Brody’s “an act of euthanasia is one in which one person… (A) kills another person (B) for the benefit of the second person, who actually does benefit from being killed”.[16]

Draper argued that any definition of euthanasia must incorporate four elements: an agent and a subject; an intention; a causal proximity, such that the actions of the agent lead to the outcome; and an outcome. Based on this, she offered a definition incorporating those elements, stating that euthanasia “must be defined as death that results from the intention of one person to kill another person, using the most gentle and painless means possible, that is motivated solely by the best interests of the person who dies.”[17] Prior to Draper, Beauchamp and Davidson had also offered a definition that includes these elements. Their definition specifically discounts fetuses to distinguish between abortions and euthanasia:[18]

“In summary, we have argued… that the death of a human being, A, is an instance of euthanasia if and only if (1) A’s death is intended by at least one other human being, B, where B is either the cause of death or a causally relevant feature of the event resulting in death (whether by action or by omission); (2) there is either sufficient current evidence for B to believe that A is acutely suffering or irreversibly comatose, or there is sufficient current evidence related to A’s present condition such that one or more known causal laws supports B’s belief that A will be in a condition of acute suffering or irreversible comatoseness; (3) (a) B’s primary reason for intending A’s death is cessation of A’s (actual or predicted future) suffering or irreversible comatoseness, where B does not intend A’s death for a different primary reason, though there may be other relevant reasons, and (b) there is sufficient current evidence for either A or B that causal means to A’s death will not produce any more suffering than would be produced for A if B were not to intervene; (4) the causal means to the event of A’s death are chosen by A or B to be as painless as possible, unless either A or B has an overriding reason for a more painful causal means, where the reason for choosing the latter causal means does not conflict with the evidence in 3b; (5) A is a nonfetal organism.”[19]

Wreen, in part responding to Beauchamp and Davidson, offered a six-part definition:

“Person A committed an act of euthanasia if and only if (1) A killed B or let her die; (2) A intended to kill B; (3) the intention specified in (2) was at least partial cause of the action specified in (1); (4) the causal journey from the intention specified in (2) to the action specified in (1) is more or less in accordance with A’s plan of action; (5) A’s killing of B is a voluntary action; (6) the motive for the action specified in (1), the motive standing behind the intention specified in (2), is the good of the person killed.”[20]

Wreen also considered a seventh requirement: “(7) The good specified in (6) is, or at least includes, the avoidance of evil”, although as Wreen noted in the paper, he was not convinced that the restriction was required.[21]

In discussing his definition, Wreen noted the difficulty of justifying euthanasia when faced with the notion of the subject’s “right to life”. In response, Wreen argued that euthanasia has to be voluntary, and that “involuntary euthanasia is, as such, a great wrong”.[21] Other commentators incorporate consent more directly into their definitions. For example, in a discussion of euthanasia presented in 2003 by the European Association of Palliative Care (EPAC) Ethics Task Force, the authors offered: “Medicalized killing of a person without the person’s consent, whether nonvoluntary (where the person in unable to consent) or involuntary (against the person’s will) is not euthanasia: it is murder. Hence, euthanasia can be voluntary only.”[22] Although the EPAC Ethics Task Force argued that both non-voluntary and involuntary euthanasia could not be included in the definition of euthanasia, there is discussion in the literature about excluding one but not the other.[21]

Euthanasia may be classified into three types, according to whether a person gives informed consent: voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary.[23][24]

There is a debate within the medical and bioethics literature about whether or not the non-voluntary (and by extension, involuntary) killing of patients can be regarded as euthanasia, irrespective of intent or the patient’s circumstances. In the definitions offered by Beauchamp and Davidson and, later, by Wreen, consent on the part of the patient was not considered as one of their criteria, although it may have been required to justify euthanasia.[11][25] However, others see consent as essential.

Voluntary euthanasia is conducted with the consent of the patient. Active voluntary euthanasia is legal in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Passive voluntary euthanasia is legal throughout the US per Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health. When the patient brings about his or her own death with the assistance of a physician, the term assisted suicide is often used instead. Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland and the U.S. states of California, Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont.

Non-voluntary euthanasia is conducted when the consent of the patient is unavailable. Examples include child euthanasia, which is illegal worldwide but decriminalised under certain specific circumstances in the Netherlands under the Groningen Protocol.

Involuntary euthanasia is conducted against the will of the patient.

Voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary types can be further divided into passive or active variants.[26] Passive euthanasia entails the withholding treatment necessary for the continuance of life.[3] Active euthanasia entails the use of lethal substances or forces (such as administering a lethal injection), and is the more controversial. While some authors consider these terms to be misleading and unhelpful, they are nonetheless commonly used. In some cases, such as the administration of increasingly necessary, but toxic doses of painkillers, there is a debate whether or not to regard the practice as active or passive.[3]

Euthanasia was practiced in Ancient Greece and Rome: for example, hemlock was employed as a means of hastening death on the island of Kea, a technique also employed in Marseilles. Euthanasia, in the sense of the deliberate hastening of a person’s death, was supported by Socrates, Plato and Seneca the Elder in the ancient world, although Hippocrates appears to have spoken against the practice, writing “I will not prescribe a deadly drug to please someone, nor give advice that may cause his death” (noting there is some debate in the literature about whether or not this was intended to encompass euthanasia).[27][28][29]

The term euthanasia in the earlier sense of supporting someone as they died, was used for the first time by Francis Bacon. In his work, Euthanasia medica, he chose this ancient Greek word and, in doing so, distinguished between euthanasia interior, the preparation of the soul for death, and euthanasia exterior, which was intended to make the end of life easier and painless, in exceptional circumstances by shortening life. That the ancient meaning of an easy death came to the fore again in the early modern period can be seen from its definition in the 18th century Zedlers Universallexikon:

Euthanasia: a very gentle and quiet death, which happens without painful convulsions. The word comes from , bene, well, and , mors, death.[30]

The concept of euthanasia in the sense of alleviating the process of death goes back to the medical historian, Karl Friedrich Heinrich Marx, who drew on Bacon’s philosophical ideas. According to Marx, a doctor had a moral duty to ease the suffering of death through encouragement, support and mitigation using medication. Such an “alleviation of death” reflected the contemporary zeitgeist, but was brought into the medical canon of responsibility for the first time by Marx. Marx also stressed the distinction between the theological care of the soul of sick people from the physical care and medical treatment by doctors.[31][32]

Euthanasia in its modern sense has always been strongly opposed in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Thomas Aquinas opposed both and argued that the practice of euthanasia contradicted our natural human instincts of survival,[33] as did Francois Ranchin (15651641), a French physician and professor of medicine, and Michael Boudewijns (16011681), a physician and teacher.[28]:208[34] Other voices argued for euthanasia, such as John Donne in 1624,[35] and euthanasia continued to be practised. In 1678, the publication of Caspar Questel’s De pulvinari morientibus non-subtrahend, (“On the pillow of which the dying should not be deprived”), initiated debate on the topic. Questel described various customs which were employed at the time to hasten the death of the dying, (including the sudden removal of a pillow, which was believed to accelerate death), and argued against their use, as doing so was “against the laws of God and Nature”.[28]:209211 This view was shared by others who followed, including Philipp Jakob Spener, Veit Riedlin and Johann Georg Krnitz.[28]:211 Despite opposition, euthanasia continued to be practised, involving techniques such as bleeding, suffocation, and removing people from their beds to be placed on the cold ground.[28]:211214

Suicide and euthanasia became more accepted during the Age of Enlightenment.[34] Thomas More wrote of euthanasia in Utopia, although it is not clear if More was intending to endorse the practice.[28]:208209 Other cultures have taken different approaches: for example, in Japan suicide has not traditionally been viewed as a sin, as it is used in cases of honor, and accordingly, the perceptions of euthanasia are different from those in other parts of the world.[36]

In the mid-1800s, the use of morphine to treat “the pains of death” emerged, with John Warren recommending its use in 1848. A similar use of chloroform was revealed by Joseph Bullar in 1866. However, in neither case was it recommended that the use should be to hasten death. In 1870 Samuel Williams, a schoolteacher, initiated the contemporary euthanasia debate through a speech given at the Birmingham Speculative Club in England, which was subsequently published in a one-off publication entitled Essays of the Birmingham Speculative Club, the collected works of a number of members of an amateur philosophical society.[37]:794 Williams’ proposal was to use chloroform to deliberately hasten the death of terminally ill patients:

That in all cases of hopeless and painful illness, it should be the recognized duty of the medical attendant, whenever so desired by the patient, to administer chloroform or such other anaesthetic as may by-and-bye supersede chloroform so as to destroy consciousness at once, and put the sufferer to a quick and painless death; all needful precautions being adopted to prevent any possible abuse of such duty; and means being taken to establish, beyond the possibility of doubt or question, that the remedy was applied at the express wish of the patient.

The essay was favourably reviewed in The Saturday Review, but an editorial against the essay appeared in The Spectator.[38] From there it proved to be influential, and other writers came out in support of such views: Lionel Tollemache wrote in favour of euthanasia, as did Annie Besant, the essayist and reformer who later became involved with the National Secular Society, considering it a duty to society to “die voluntarily and painlessly” when one reaches the point of becoming a ‘burden’.[38][39] Popular Science analyzed the issue in May 1873, assessing both sides of the argument.[40] Kemp notes that at the time, medical doctors did not participate in the discussion; it was “essentially a philosophical enterprise… tied inextricably to a number of objections to the Christian doctrine of the sanctity of human life”.[38]

The rise of the euthanasia movement in the United States coincided with the so-called Gilded Age, a time of social and technological change that encompassed an “individualistic conservatism that praised laissez-faire economics, scientific method, and rationalism”, along with major depressions, industrialisation and conflict between corporations and labour unions.[37]:794 It was also the period in which the modern hospital system was developed, which has been seen as a factor in the emergence of the euthanasia debate.[41]

Robert Ingersoll argued for euthanasia, stating in 1894 that where someone is suffering from a terminal illness, such as terminal cancer, they should have a right to end their pain through suicide. Felix Adler offered a similar approach, although, unlike Ingersoll, Adler did not reject religion. In fact, he argued from an Ethical Culture framework. In 1891, Alder argued that those suffering from overwhelming pain should have the right to commit suicide, and, furthermore, that it should be permissible for a doctor to assist thus making Adler the first “prominent American” to argue for suicide in cases where people were suffering from chronic illness.[42] Both Ingersoll and Adler argued for voluntary euthanasia of adults suffering from terminal ailments.[42] Dowbiggin argues that by breaking down prior moral objections to euthanasia and suicide, Ingersoll and Adler enabled others to stretch the definition of euthanasia.[43]

The first attempt to legalise euthanasia took place in the United States, when Henry Hunt introduced legislation into the General Assembly of Ohio in 1906.[44]:614 Hunt did so at the behest of Anna S. Hall, a wealthy heiress who was a major figure in the euthanasia movement during the early 20th century in the United States. Hall had watched her mother die after an extended battle with liver cancer, and had dedicated herself to ensuring that others would not have to endure the same suffering. Towards this end she engaged in an extensive letter writing campaign, recruited Lurana Sheldon and Maud Ballington Booth, and organised a debate on euthanasia at the annual meeting of the American Humane Association in 1905 described by Jacob Appel as the first significant public debate on the topic in the 20th century.[44]:614616

Hunt’s bill called for the administration of an anesthetic to bring about a patient’s death, so long as the person is of lawful age and sound mind, and was suffering from a fatal injury, an irrevocable illness, or great physical pain. It also required that the case be heard by a physician, required informed consent in front of three witnesses, and required the attendance of three physicians who had to agree that the patient’s recovery was impossible. A motion to reject the bill outright was voted down, but the bill failed to pass, 79 to 23.[37]:796[44]:618619

Along with the Ohio euthanasia proposal, in 1906 Assemblyman Ross Gregory introduced a proposal to permit euthanasia to the Iowa legislature. However, the Iowa legislation was broader in scope than that offered in Ohio. It allowed for the death of any person of at least ten years of age who suffered from an ailment that would prove fatal and cause extreme pain, should they be of sound mind and express a desire to artificially hasten their death. In addition, it allowed for infants to be euthanised if they were sufficiently deformed, and permitted guardians to request euthanasia on behalf of their wards. The proposed legislation also imposed penalties on physicians who refused to perform euthanasia when requested: a 612 month prison term and a fine of between $200 and $1,000. The proposal proved to be controversial.[44]:619621 It engendered considerable debate and failed to pass, having been withdrawn from consideration after being passed to the Committee on Public Health.[44]:623

After 1906 the euthanasia debate reduced in intensity, resurfacing periodically, but not returning to the same level of debate until the 1930s in the United Kingdom.[37]:796

Euthanasia opponent Ian Dowbiggin argues that the early membership of the Euthanasia Society of America (ESA) reflected how many perceived euthanasia at the time, often seeing it as a eugenics matter rather than an issue concerning individual rights.[42] Dowbiggin argues that not every eugenist joined the ESA “solely for eugenic reasons”, but he postulates that there were clear ideological connections between the eugenics and euthanasia movements.[42]

The Voluntary Euthanasia Legalisation Society was founded in 1935 by Charles Killick Millard (now called Dignity in Dying). The movement campaigned for the legalisation of euthanasia in Great Britain.

In January 1936, King George V was given a fatal dose of morphine and cocaine to hasten his death. At the time he was suffering from cardio-respiratory failure, and the decision to end his life was made by his physician, Lord Dawson.[45] Although this event was kept a secret for over 50 years, the death of George V coincided with proposed legislation in the House of Lords to legalise euthanasia.[46]

A 24 July 1939 killing of a severely disabled infant in Nazi Germany was described in a BBC “Genocide Under the Nazis Timeline” as the first “state-sponsored euthanasia”.[47] Parties that consented to the killing included Hitler’s office, the parents, and the Reich Committee for the Scientific Registration of Serious and Congenitally Based Illnesses.[47] The Telegraph noted that the killing of the disabled infantwhose name was Gerhard Kretschmar, born blind, with missing limbs, subject to convulsions, and reportedly “an idiot” provided “the rationale for a secret Nazi decree that led to ‘mercy killings’ of almost 300,000 mentally and physically handicapped people”.[48] While Kretchmar’s killing received parental consent, most of the 5,000 to 8,000 children killed afterwards were forcibly taken from their parents.[47][48]

The “euthanasia campaign” of mass murder gathered momentum on 14 January 1940 when the “handicapped” were killed with gas vans and killing centres, eventually leading to the deaths of 70,000 adult Germans.[49] Professor Robert Jay Lifton, author of The Nazi Doctors and a leading authority on the T4 program, contrasts this program with what he considers to be a genuine euthanasia. He explains that the Nazi version of “euthanasia” was based on the work of Adolf Jost, who published The Right to Death (Das Recht auf den Tod) in 1895. Lifton writes:

Jost argued that control over the death of the individual must ultimately belong to the social organism, the state. This concept is in direct opposition to the Anglo-American concept of euthanasia, which emphasizes the individual’s ‘right to die’ or ‘right to death’ or ‘right to his or her own death,’ as the ultimate human claim. In contrast, Jost was pointing to the state’s right to kill…. Ultimately the argument was biological: ‘The rights to death [are] the key to the fitness of life.’ The state must own deathmust killin order to keep the social organism alive and healthy.[50]

In modern terms, the use of “euthanasia” in the context of Action T4 is seen to be a euphemism to disguise a program of genocide, in which people were killed on the grounds of “disabilities, religious beliefs, and discordant individual values”.[51] Compared to the discussions of euthanasia that emerged post-war, the Nazi program may have been worded in terms that appear similar to the modern use of “euthanasia”, but there was no “mercy” and the patients were not necessarily terminally ill.[51] Despite these differences, historian and euthanasia opponent Ian Dowbiggin writes that “the origins of Nazi euthanasia, like those of the American euthanasia movement, predate the Third Reich and were intertwined with the history of eugenics and Social Darwinism, and with efforts to discredit traditional morality and ethics.”[42]:65

On 6 January 1949, the Euthanasia Society of America presented to the New York State Legislature a petition to legalize euthanasia, signed by 379 leading Protestant and Jewish ministers, the largest group of religious leaders ever to have taken this stance. A similar petition had been sent to the New York Legislature in 1947, signed by approximately 1,000 New York physicians. Catholic religious leaders criticized the petition, saying that such a bill would “legalize a suicide-murder pact” and a “rationalization of the fifth commandment of God, ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill.'”[52] The Right Reverend Robert E. McCormick stated that

“The ultimate object of the Euthanasia Society is based on the Totalitarian principle that the state is supreme and that the individual does not have the right to live if his continuance in life is a burden or hindrance to the state. The Nazis followed this principle and compulsory Euthanasia was practiced as a part of their program during the recent war. We American citizens of New York State must ask ourselves this question: ‘Are we going to finish Hitler’s job?'”[52]

The petition brought tensions between the American Euthanasia Society and the Catholic Church to a head that contributed to a climate of anti-Catholic sentiment generally, regarding issues such as birth control, eugenics, and population control. However, the petition did not result in any legal changes.[42]

Historically, the euthanasia debate has tended to focus on a number of key concerns. According to euthanasia opponent Ezekiel Emanuel, proponents of euthanasia have presented four main arguments: a) that people have a right to self-determination, and thus should be allowed to choose their own fate; b) assisting a subject to die might be a better choice than requiring that they continue to suffer; c) the distinction between passive euthanasia, which is often permitted, and active euthanasia, which is not substantive (or that the underlying principlethe doctrine of double effectis unreasonable or unsound); and d) permitting euthanasia will not necessarily lead to unacceptable consequences. Pro-euthanasia activists often point to countries like the Netherlands and Belgium, and states like Oregon, where euthanasia has been legalized, to argue that it is mostly unproblematic.

Similarly, Emanuel argues that there are four major arguments presented by opponents of euthanasia: a) not all deaths are painful; b) alternatives, such as cessation of active treatment, combined with the use of effective pain relief, are available; c) the distinction between active and passive euthanasia is morally significant; and d) legalising euthanasia will place society on a slippery slope,[53] which will lead to unacceptable consequences.[37]:797-8 In fact, in Oregon, in 2013, pain wasn’t one of the top five reasons people sought euthanasia. Top reasons were a loss of dignity, and a fear of burdening others.[54]

In the United States in 2013, 47% nationwide supported doctor-assisted suicide. This included 32% of Latinos, 29% of African-Americans, and almost nobody with disabilities.[54]

A 2015 Populus poll in the United Kingdom found broad public support for assisted dying. 82% of people supported the introduction of assisted dying laws, including 86% of people with disabilities.[55]

West’s Encyclopedia of American Law states that “a ‘mercy killing’ or euthanasia is generally considered to be a criminal homicide”[56] and is normally used as a synonym of homicide committed at a request made by the patient.[57]

The judicial sense of the term “homicide” includes any intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, even to relieve intractable suffering.[57][58][59] Not all homicide is unlawful.[60] Two designations of homicide that carry no criminal punishment are justifiable and excusable homicide.[60] In most countries this is not the status of euthanasia. The term “euthanasia” is usually confined to the active variety; the University of Washington website states that “euthanasia generally means that the physician would act directly, for instance by giving a lethal injection, to end the patient’s life”.[61] Physician-assisted suicide is thus not classified as euthanasia by the US State of Oregon, where it is legal under the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, and despite its name, it is not legally classified as suicide either.[62] Unlike physician-assisted suicide, withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatments with patient consent (voluntary) is almost unanimously considered, at least in the United States, to be legal.[63] The use of pain medication to relieve suffering, even if it hastens death, has been held as legal in several court decisions.[61]

Some governments around the world have legalized voluntary euthanasia but most commonly it is still considered to be criminal homicide. In the Netherlands and Belgium, where euthanasia has been legalized, it still remains homicide although it is not prosecuted and not punishable if the perpetrator (the doctor) meets certain legal conditions.[64][65][66][67]

In a historic judgment, the Supreme court of India legalized passive euthanasia. The apex court remarked in the judgment that the Constitution of India values liberty, dignity, autonomy, and privacy. A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra delivered a unanimous judgment.[68]

A 2010 survey in the United States of more than 10,000 physicians found that 16.3% of physicians would consider halting life-sustaining therapy because the family demanded it, even if they believed that it was premature. Approximately 54.5% would not, and the remaining 29.2% responded “it depends”.[69] The study also found that 45.8% of physicians agreed that physician-assisted suicide should be allowed in some cases; 40.7% did not, and the remaining 13.5% felt it depended.[69]

In the United Kingdom, the assisted dying campaign group Dignity in Dying cites research in which 54% of General Practitioners support or are neutral towards a law change on assisted dying.[70] Similarly, a 2017 Doctors.net.uk poll reported in the British Medical Journal stated that 55% of doctors believe assisted dying, in defined circumstances, should be legalised in the UK.[71]

The Roman Catholic Church strongly opposes and condemns euthanasia and assisted suicide as morally wrong. The Catholic Church states that, “Intentional euthanasia, whatever its forms or motives, is murder. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator”. Because of this, the practice is unacceptable within the Church.[72] The Orthodox Church in America, along with other Eastern Orthodox Churches, also opposes euthanasia stating that it must be condemned as murder stating that, “Euthanasia is the deliberate cessation to end human life.”[73]

Many non-Catholic churches in the United States take a stance against euthanasia. Among Protestant denominations, the Episcopal Church passed a resolution in 1991 opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide stating that it is “morally wrong and unacceptable to take a human life to relieve the suffering caused by incurable illnesses.” [73] Other Protestant churches which oppose euthanasia include:

The Church of England accepts passive euthanasia under some circumstances, but is strongly against active euthanasia, and has led opposition against recent attempt to legalise it.[83] The United Church of Canada accepts passive euthanasia under some circumstances, but is in general against active euthanasia, with growing acceptance now that active euthanasia has been partly legalised in Canada.[84].

Euthanasia is a complex issue in Islamic theology; however, in general it is considered contrary to Islamic law and holy texts. Among interpretations of the Koran and Hadith, the early termination of life is a crime, be it by suicide or helping one commit suicide. The various positions on the cessation of medical treatment are mixed and considered a different class of action than direct termination of life, especially if the patient is suffering. Suicide and euthanasia are both crimes in almost all Muslim majority countries.[85]

There is much debate on the topic of euthanasia in Judaic theology, ethics, and general opinion (especially in Israel and the United States). Passive euthanasia was declared legal by Israel’s highest court under certain conditions and has reached some level of acceptance. Active euthanasia remains illegal, however the topic is actively under debate with no clear consensus through legal, ethical, theological and spiritual perspectives.[86]

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Euthanasia – Wikipedia

Euthanasia | law | Britannica.com

Euthanasia, also called mercy killing, act or practice of painlessly putting to death persons suffering from painful and incurable disease or incapacitating physical disorder or allowing them to die by withholding treatment or withdrawing artificial life-support measures. Because there is no specific provision for it in most legal systems, it is usually regarded as either suicide (if performed by the patient himself) or murder (if performed by another). A physician may, however, lawfully decide not to prolong life in cases of extreme suffering, and he may administer drugs to relieve pain even if this shortens the patients life. In the late 20th century, several European countries had special provisions in their criminal codes for lenient sentencing and the consideration of extenuating circumstances in prosecutions for euthanasia.

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ethics: Abortion, euthanasia, and the value of human life

A number of ethical questions are concerned with the endpoints of the human life span. The question of whether abortion or the use of human embryos as sources of stem cells can be morally justified was exhaustively discussed

The opinion that euthanasia is morally permissible is traceable to Socrates, Plato, and the Stoics. It is rejected in traditional Christian belief, chiefly because it is thought to contravene the prohibition of murder in the Ten Commandments. The organized movement for legalization of euthanasia commenced in England in 1935, when C. Killick Millard founded the Voluntary Euthanasia Legalisation Society (later called the Euthanasia Society). The societys bill was defeated in the House of Lords in 1936, as was a motion on the same subject in the House of Lords in 1950. In the United States the Euthanasia Society of America was founded in 1938.

The first countries to legalize euthanasia were the Netherlands in 2001 and Belgium in 2002. In 1997 Oregon became the first state in the United States to decriminalize physician-assisted suicide; opponents of the controversial law, however, attempted to have it overturned. In 2009 the Supreme Court of South Korea recognized a right to die with dignity in its decision to approve a request by the family of a brain-dead woman that she be removed from life-support systems.

The potential of modern medical practice to prolong life through technological means has provoked the question of what courses of action should be available to the physician and the family in cases of extreme physical or emotional suffering, especially if the patient is incapable of choice. Passively doing nothing to prolong life or withdrawing life-support measures has resulted in criminal charges being brought against physicians; on the other hand, the families of comatose and apparently terminal patients have instituted legal action against the medical establishment to make them stop the use of extraordinary life support.

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Euthanasia | law | Britannica.com

Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide & Health Care Decisions …

Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide & Health Care Decisions:Protecting Yourself & Your Family

Table of Contents |Part 1 |Part 2

byRita L. Marker

INTRODUCTION

The words euthanasia and assisted suicide are often used interchangeably. However, they are different and, in the law, they are treated differently. In this report, euthanasia is defined as intentionally, knowingly and directly acting to cause the death of another person (e.g., giving a lethal injection). Assisted suicide is defined as intentionally, knowingly and directly providing the means of death to another person so that the person can use that means to commit suicide (e.g., providing a prescription for a lethal dose of drugs).

Part I of this report discusses the reasons used by activists to promote changes in the law; the contradictions that the actual proposals have with those reasons; and the logical progression that occurs when euthanasia and assisted suicide are transformed into medical treatments. It explores the failure of so-called safeguards and outlines the impact that euthanasia and assisted suicide have on families and society in general.

Withholding and withdrawing medical treatment and care are not legally considered euthanasia or assisted suicide. Withholding or withdrawing food and fluids is considered acceptable removal of a medical treatment.

Part II of this report includes information about practical ways to protect oneself and loved ones during any time of incapacity and a discussion of some of the policies that have led to patients being denied care that they or their decision-makers have requested. It concludes with an examination of the ethical distinction between treatment and care.

PART I

EUTHANASIA & ASSISTED SUICIDE

MOVING THE BOUNDARIES

In 2002, the International Task Force report, Assisted Suicide: Not for Adults Only? (1) discussed euthanasia and assisted suicide for children and teens. At that time, such concerns were largely considered outside the realm of possibility.

Then, as now, assisted-suicide advocates claimed that they were only trying to offer compassionate options for competent, terminally ill adults who were suffering unbearably. By and large, their claims went unchallenged.

A crack in that carefully honed image appeared in 2004 when the Groningen Protocol elicited worldwide outrage. The primary purpose of that protocol formulated by doctors at the Groningen Academic Hospital in the Netherlands was to legally and professionally protect Dutch doctors who kill severely disabled newborns. (2)

While euthanasia for infants (infanticide) was not new, widespread discussion of it was. Dutch doctors were now explaining that it was a necessary part of pediatric care.

Also in 2004, Hollands most prestigious medical society (KNMG) urged the Health Ministry to set up a board to review euthanasia for people who had no free will, including children and individuals with mental retardation or severe brain damage following accidents. (3)

At first, it seemed that these revelations would be harmful to the euthanasia movement, but the opposite was true.

Why?

Awareness of infanticide and euthanasia deaths of other incompetent patients moved the boundaries.

Prior to the widespread realization that involuntary euthanasia was taking place, advocacy of assisted suicide for those who request it seemed to be on one end of the spectrum. Opposition to it was on the other end.

Now, the practice of involuntary euthanasia took its place as one extreme, opposition to it as the other extreme, and assisted suicide for terminally ill competent adults appeared to be in the moderate middle a very advantageous political position and expansion of the practice to others had entered the realm of respectable debate.

This repositioning has become a tool in the assisted-suicide arsenal. In May 2006, an assisted-suicide bill, patterned after Oregons law permitting assisted suicide, failed to gain approval in the British Parliament. The bills supporters immediately declared that they would reintroduce it during the next parliamentary session.

Within two weeks, Professor Len Doyal a former member of the British Medical Associations ethics committee who is considered one of Englands leading experts on medical ethics called for doctors to be able to end the lives of some patients swiftly, humanely and without guilt, even without the patients consent. (4) Doyals proposal was widely reported and, undoubtedly, when the next assisted-suicide bill is introduced in England, a measure that would permit assisted suicide only for consenting adults will appear less radical than it might have seemed prior to Doyals suggestion.

Currently, euthanasia is a medical treatment in the Netherlands and Belgium. Assisted suicide is a medical treatment in the Netherlands, Belgium and Oregon. Their advocates erroneously portray both practices as personal, private acts. However, legalization is not about the private and the personal. It is about public policy, and it affects ethics, medicine, law, families and children.

A FAMILY AFFAIR

In December 2005, ABC News World News Tonight reported, Anita and Frank go often to the burial place of their daughter Chanou. Chanou died when, with her parents consent, doctors gave her a lethal dose of morphine. Im convinced that if we meet again somewhere in heaven, her father said, shell tell us we reached the most perfect solution.'(5)

The report about the six-month-old Dutch childs death was introduced as a report on the debate over euthanizing infants. A Dutch legislator who agrees that doctors who intentionally end their tiny patients lives should not be prosecuted said, Im certainly pro-life. But Im also a human being. I think when there is extreme, unbearable suffering, then there can be extreme relief. (6)

Gone was the previous years outrage over the Groningen Protocols. Infanticide had entered the realm of respectable debate in the mainstream media. The message given to viewers was that loving parents, compassionate doctors and caring legislators favor infanticide. It left the impression that opposing such a death would be cold, unfeeling and, perhaps, intentionally cruel.

In Oregon, some assisted-suicide deaths have become family or social events.

Oregons law does not require family members to know that a loved one is planning to commit suicide with a doctors help. (7) Thus, the first knowledge of those plans could come when a family member finds the body. However, as two news features illustrate, some Oregonians who die from assisted suicide make it a teachable moment for children or a party event for friends and family.

According to the Mail Tribune (Medford, Oregon), on a sunny afternoon, Joan Lucas rode around looking at houses, then she sat in a park eating an ice cream cone. A few hours later, she committed suicide with a prescribed deadly drug overdose. Grandchildren were made to understand that Grandma Joan would be going away soon. Those who were old enough to understand were told what was happening. (8

Did these children learn from Grandma Joan that suicide is a good thing?

UCLAs student newspaper, the Daily Bruin, carried an article favoring assisted suicide. It described how Karen Janoch who committed suicide under the Oregon law, sent invitations for her suicide to about two dozen of her closest friends and family. The invitation read, You are invited to attend the actual ending of my life. (9) At the same time Californias legislature was considering an assisted-suicide bill that was virtually identical to Oregons law, UCLA students learned that suicide can be the occasion for a party.

In Oregon, assisted suicide has gone from the appalling to the appealing, from the tragic to the banal.

During the last half of 2005 and the first half of 2006, bills to legalize assisted suicide were under consideration in various states and countries including, but not limited to, Canada, Great Britain, California, Hawaii, Vermont, and Washington. All had met failure by the end of June 2006. But plans to reintroduce them with some cosmetic changes are currently underway. A brief examination of arguments used to promote them illustrates the small world nature of assisted-suicide advocacy.

TWO PILLARS OF ADVOCACY

Wherever an assisted-suicide measure is proposed, proponents arguments and strategies are similar. Invariably, promotion rests on two pillars: autonomy and the elimination of suffering.

Autonomy

Autonomy (independence and the right of self-determination) is certainly valued in modern society and patients do, and should, have the right to accept or reject medical treatment. However, those who favor assisted suicide claim that autonomy extends to the right of a patient to decide when, where, how and why to die as the following examples illustrate.

During debate over an assisted-suicide measure then pending before the British Parliament, proponents emphasized personal choice. The bill, titled The Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill, was introduced by Lord Joel Joffe. Dr. Margaret Branthwaite, a physician, barrister and former head of Englands Voluntary Euthanasia Society (recently renamed Dignity in Dying (10)), called for passage of the Joffe bill in an article in the British Medical Journal. As a matter of principle, she wrote, it reinforces current trends towards greater respect for personal autonomy. (11)

The focus on autonomy was also reflected in remarks about a plan to introduce an assisted-suicide initiative in Washington. Booth Gardner, former governor of Washington, said he plans to promote the initiative because it should be his decision when and how he dies. He told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, When I go, I want to decide. (12)

The rationale is that when, where, why and how one dies should be a matter of self-determination, a matter of independent choice, and a matter of personal autonomy.

Elimination of suffering

The second pillar of assisted-suicide advocacy is elimination of suffering. During each and every attempt to permit euthanasia and assisted suicide, its advocates stress that ending suffering justifies legalization of the practices.

California Assemblywoman Patty Berg, the co-sponsor of Californias euphemistically named Compassionate Choices Act, (13) said the assisted-suicide measure was necessary so that people would have the comfort of knowing they could escape unbearable suffering if that were to occur. (14)

In an opinion piece supporting the failed 1998 assisted-suicide initiative in Michigan, a spokesperson for those favoring the measure wrote that the patients targeted by the proposal were those who were tortured by the unbearable suffering of a slow and agonizing death. (15)

In the United Kingdom, Lord Joffe said his bill would enable those who are suffering unbearably to get medical assistance to die. (16) Testimony before the British House of Lords Select Committee studying the bill noted that, where assisted dying has been legalized, it has done so as a response to patients who were suffering. (17)

The centerpiece of the 1994 Measure 16 campaign that resulted in Oregons assisted-suicide law was a television commercial featuring Patti Rosen. Describing her daughter who had cancer, Rosen said, The pain was so great that she couldnt bear to be touched. Measure 16 would have allowed my daughter to die with dignity. (18)

When an assisted-suicide proposal that later failed was being considered by the Hawaiian legislature in 2002, a public relations consultant who was working on behalf of the bill, e-mailed a template for use in written or oral testimony. The template suggested inclusion of the phrases agonizingly painful, pain was uncontrollable, and pain beyond my understanding. (19)

During consideration of an assisted-suicide bill in Vermont, the states former governor Philip Hoff said, The last thing I would want in this world is to be around and be in pain, and have no quality of life, and be a burden to my family and others. (20) Dick Walters, chairman of Death with Dignity Vermont, said the proposal would permit a person to peacefully end suffering and hasten death. (21)

Thus, the rationale given by euthanasia and assisted-suicide proponents for legalization always includes autonomy and/or elimination of suffering. However, the laws they propose actually contradict this rationale.

CONTRADICTIONS

When proposed, laws such as those now in existence in Oregon and similar measures introduced elsewhere include conditions or requirements limiting assisted suicide to certain groups of qualified patients. A patient qualified to receive the treatment of assisted suicide must be an adult who is capable of making decisions and must be diagnosed with a terminal condition.

If one accepts the premise that assisted suicide is a good medical treatment that should be permitted on the basis of personal autonomy or elimination of suffering, other questions must be raised.

If the reason for permitting assisted suicide is autonomy, why should assisted suicide be limited to the terminally ill?

Does ones autonomy depend upon a doctors diagnosis (or misdiagnosis) of a terminal illness? If a person is not terminally ill, but is suffering whether physically, psychologically or emotionally why isnt it up to that person to decide when, why and how to die? Does a person only have autonomy if he or she has a particular condition or illness? Is autonomy a basis for the law?

If assisted suicide is a good and acceptable medical treatment for the purpose of ending suffering, why should it be limited to adults who are capable of decision-making?

Isnt it both discriminatory and cruel to deny that good and acceptable medical treatment to a child or an incompetent adult? Why is a medical treatment that has been deemed appropriate to end suffering available to an 18-year-old, but not to a 16-year-old or 17-year-old? Why is a person only eligible to have his or her suffering ended if he or she has reached an arbitrary age?

And, what of the adult who never was, or no longer is, capable of decision-making? Should that person be denied medical treatment that ends suffering? Are euthanasia and assisted-suicide laws based on the need to eliminate suffering, or not?

Establishing arbitrary requirements that must be met prior to qualifying for the medical treatment of euthanasia or assisted suicide does, without doubt, contradict the two pillars on which justification for the practices is based.

The question then must be asked: Why are those arbitrary requirements included in Oregons law and other similar proposals? The answer is simple. After a series of defeats, euthanasia and assisted-suicide proponents learned that they had to propose laws that appeared palatable.

In April 2005, Lord Joffe, the British bills sponsor, acknowledged that his bill was intended to be only the first step. During hearings regarding the measure, he said that this is the first stage and went on to explain that one should go forward in incremental stages. I believe that this bill should initially be limited. (22)

He repeated his remarks a year later when discussing hearings about his bill. I can assure you that I would prefer that the [proposed] law did apply to patients who were younger and who were not terminally ill but who were suffering unbearable, he said and added, I believe that this bill should initially be limited. (23)

STEP-BY-STEP APPROACH

Proposals for euthanasia and assisted suicide have always emanated from advocacy groups, not from any grassroots desire. Those groups learned that attempting to go too far, too fast, leads to certain defeat.

After many failed attempts, most recently those in the early 90s in Washington and California when ballot initiatives that would have permitted both euthanasia by lethal injection and assisted suicide by lethal prescription were resoundingly defeated death with dignity activists changed their strategy. They decided to take a step-by-step approach, proposing an assisted-suicide-only bill which, when passed, would serve as a model for subsequent laws. Only after several such laws were passed, would they begin to expand them. That was the strategy that led to Oregons Measure 16, the Oregon Death with Dignity Act.

Those who were most involved in the successful Oregon strategy were not new to the scene.

Cheryl K. Smith, who wrote the first draft of Oregons law, had served as a special counsel to the political action group Oregon Right to Die (ORD). Smith had been the National Hemlock Societys legal advisor after her graduation from law school in 1989 and had been a top aide to Hemlocks co-founder, Derek Humphry. While a student at the University of Iowa College of Law, Smith helped draft a Model Aid-in-Dying Act that provided for childrens lives to be terminated either at their own request or, if under 6 years of age, by parental request. (24)

Barbara Coombs Lee was Measure 16s chief petitioner. At the time, she was a vice president for a large Oregon managed care program. After the laws passage, she took over the leadership of Compassion in Dying. (25) [Note: In early 2005, Compassion in Dying merged with the Hemlock Society. The combined organization is now called Compassion and Choices.]

Coombs Lees promotion of assisted suicide and euthanasia began prior to her involvement with the Death with Dignity Act. As a legislative aide to Oregon Senator Frank Roberts in 1991, she worked on Senate Bill 114 that would have permitted euthanasia on request of a patient and, if the patient was not competent, a designated representative would have been authorized to request the patients death. (26)

Upon passage of the Oregon law in 1994, many assisted-suicide supporters were certain that other states would immediately fall in line. However, that did not occur. Between 1994 and mid-2006, assisted-suicide measures were introduced in state after state.(27) Each and every proposal failed. All of the proposals were assisted-suicide-only bills and, with one exception, (28) every one was virtually identical to the Oregon law.

Among supporters of assisted suicide and euthanasia, though, the Oregon law is seen as the model for success and is referred to in debates about assisted suicide throughout the world. For that reason, a careful examination of the Oregon experience is vital to understanding the problems with legalized assisted suicide.

OREGON

Under Oregons law permitting physician-assisted suicide, the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) previously called the Oregon Health Division (OHD) is required to collect information, review a sample of cases and publish a yearly statistical report. (29)

However, due to major flaws in the law and the states reporting system, there is no way to know for sure how many or under what circumstances patients have died from physician-assisted suicide. Statistics from official reports are particularly questionable and have left some observers skeptical about their validity.

For example, when a similar proposal was under consideration in the British Parliament, members of a House of Lords Committee traveled to Oregon seeking information regarding Oregons law for use in their deliberations. The public and press were not present during the closed-door hearings. However, the House of Lords published the committees proceedings in three lengthy volumes, which included the exact wording of questions and answers.

After hearing witnesses claim that there have been no complications associated with more than 200 assisted-suicide deaths, committee member Lord McColl of Dulwich, a surgeon, said, If any surgeon or physician had told me that he did 200 procedures without any complications, I knew that he possibly needed counseling and had no insight. We come here and I am told there are no complications. There is something strange going on. (30)

The following includes statistical data from official reports and other published information dealing with troubling aspects of the practice of assisted suicide in Oregon. Statements from the 744-page second volume of the House of Lords committee proceedings are also included. None of the included statements from the committee hearings were made by opponents of Oregons law.

OFFICIAL REPORTS

Assisted-suicide deaths reported during the first eight years

Official Reports: 246Actual Number: Unknown

The latest annual report indicates that reported assisted-suicide deaths have increased by more than 230% since the first year of legal assisted suicide in Oregon. (31) The numbers, however, could be far greater. From the time the law went into effect, Oregon officials in charge of formulating annual reports have conceded theres no way to know if additional deaths went unreported because Oregon DHS has no regulatory authority or resources to ensure compliance with the law. (32)

The DHS has to rely on the word of doctors who prescribe the lethal drugs. (33) Referring to physicians reports, the reporting division admitted: For that matter the entire account [received from a prescribing doctor] could have been a cock-and-bull story. We assume, however, that physicians were their usual careful and accurate selves. (34)

The Death with Dignity law contains no penalties for doctors who do not report prescribing lethal doses for the purpose of suicide.

Complications occurring during assisted suicide

Official Reports: 13 (12 instances of vomiting & one patient who did not die fromlethal dose.)

Actual number: Unknown

Prescribing doctors may not know about all complications since, over the course of eight years, physicians who prescribed the lethal drugs for assisted suicide were present at only 19.5% of reported deaths. (35) Information they provide might come from secondhand accounts of those present at the deaths (36) or may be based on guesswork.

When asked if there is any systematic way of finding out and recording complications, Dr. Katrina Hedberg who was a lead author of most of Oregons official reports said, Not other than asking physicians. (37) She acknowledged that after they write the prescription, the physician may not keep track of the patient. (38) Dr. Melvin Kohn, a lead author of the eighth annual report, noted that, in every case that they hear about, it is the self-report, if you will, of the physician involved. (39)

Complications contained in news reports are not included in official reports

Patrick Matheny received his lethal prescription from Oregon Health Science University via Federal Express. He had difficulty when he tried to take the drugs four months later. His brother-in-law, Joe Hayes, said he had to help Matheny die. According to Hayes, It doesnt go smoothly for everyone. For Pat it was a huge problem. It would have not worked without help. (40) The annual report did not make note of this situation.

Speaking at Portland Community College, pro-assisted-suicide attorney Cynthia Barrett described a botched assisted suicide. The man was at home. There was no doctor there, she said. After he took it [the lethal dose], he began to have some physical symptoms. The symptoms were hard for his wife to handle. Well, she called 911. The guy ended up being taken by 911 to a local Portland hospital. Revived. In the middle of it. And taken to a local nursing facility. I dont know if he went back home. He died shortly someperiod of time after that. (41)

Overdoses of barbiturates are known to cause vomiting as a person begins to lose consciousness. The patient then inhales the vomit. In other cases, panic, feelings of terror and assaultive behavior can occur from the drug-induced confusion. (42) But Barrett would not say exactly which symptoms had taken place in this instance. She has refused any further discussion of the case.

Complications are not investigated

David Prueitt took the prescribed lethal dose in the presence of his family and members of Compassion & Choices. After being unconscious for 65 hours, he awoke. It was only after his family told the media about the botched assisted suicide that Compassion & Choices publicly acknowledged the case. (43) DHS issued a release saying it has no authority to investigate individual Death with Dignity cases. (44)

Referring to DHSs ability to look into complications, Dr. Hedberg explained that we are not given the resources to investigate and not only do we not have the resources to do it, but we do not have any legal authority to insert ourselves. (45)

David Hopkins, Data Analyst for the Eighth Annual Report, said, We do not report to the Board of Medical Examiners if complications occur; no, it is not required by law and it is not part of our duty. (46)

Jim Kronenberg, the Oregon Medical Associations (OMA) Chief Operating Officer, explained that the way the law is set up there is really no way to determine that [complications occurred] unless there is some kind of disaster. [P]ersonally I have never had a report where there was a true disaster, he said. Certainly that does not mean that you should infer there has not been, I just do not know. (47)

In the Netherlands, assisted-suicide complications and problems are not uncommon. One Dutch study found that, because of problems or complications, doctors in the Netherlands felt compelled to intervene (by giving a lethal injection) in 18% of cases.(48)

This led Dr. Sherwin Nuland of Yale University School of Medicine to question the credibility of Oregons lack of reported complications. Nuland, who favors physician-assisted suicide, noted that the Dutch have had years of practice to learn ways to overcome complications, yet complications are still reported. The Dutch findings seem more credible [than the Oregon reports], he wrote. (49)

See the rest here:

Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide & Health Care Decisions …

Euthanasia – Wikipedia

Euthanasia (from Greek: ; “good death”: , eu; “well” or “good” , thanatos; “death”) is the practice of intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering.[1][2]

There are different euthanasia laws in each country. The British House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics defines euthanasia as “a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering”.[3] In the Netherlands and Belgium, euthanasia is understood as “termination of life by a doctor at the request of a patient”.[4] The Dutch law however, does not use the term ‘euthanasia’ but includes it under the broader definition of “assisted suicide and termination of life on request”.[5]

Euthanasia is categorized in different ways, which include voluntary, non-voluntary, or involuntary. Voluntary euthanasia is legal in some countries. Non-voluntary euthanasia (patient’s consent unavailable) is illegal in all countries. Involuntary euthanasia (without asking consent or against the patient’s will) is also illegal in all countries and is usually considered murder.[6] As of 2006, euthanasia is the most active area of research in contemporary bioethics.[7] In some countries there is a divisive public controversy over the moral, ethical, and legal issues of euthanasia. Passive euthanasia (known as “pulling the plug”) is legal under some circumstances in many countries. Active euthanasia however is legal or de facto legal in only a handful of countries (ex. Belgium, Canada, Switzerland) and is limited to specific circumstances and the approval of councilors and doctors or other specialists. In some countries such as Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, support for active euthanasia is almost non-existent.

Like other terms borrowed from history, “euthanasia” has had different meanings depending on usage. The first apparent usage of the term “euthanasia” belongs to the historian Suetonius, who described how the Emperor Augustus, “dying quickly and without suffering in the arms of his wife, Livia, experienced the ‘euthanasia’ he had wished for.”[8] The word “euthanasia” was first used in a medical context by Francis Bacon in the 17th century, to refer to an easy, painless, happy death, during which it was a “physician’s responsibility to alleviate the ‘physical sufferings’ of the body.” Bacon referred to an “outward euthanasia”the term “outward” he used to distinguish from a spiritual conceptthe euthanasia “which regards the preparation of the soul.”[9]

In current usage, euthanasia has been defined as the “painless inducement of a quick death”.[10] However, it is argued that this approach fails to properly define euthanasia, as it leaves open a number of possible actions which would meet the requirements of the definition, but would not be seen as euthanasia. In particular, these include situations where a person kills another, painlessly, but for no reason beyond that of personal gain; or accidental deaths that are quick and painless, but not intentional.[11][12]

Another approach incorporates the notion of suffering into the definition.[11] The definition offered by the Oxford English Dictionary incorporates suffering as a necessary condition, with “the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma”,[13] This approach is included in Marvin Khol and Paul Kurtz’s definition of it as “a mode or act of inducing or permitting death painlessly as a relief from suffering”.[14] Counterexamples can be given: such definitions may encompass killing a person suffering from an incurable disease for personal gain (such as to claim an inheritance), and commentators such as Tom Beauchamp and Arnold Davidson have argued that doing so would constitute “murder simpliciter” rather than euthanasia.[11]

The third element incorporated into many definitions is that of intentionality the death must be intended, rather than being accidental, and the intent of the action must be a “merciful death”.[11] Michael Wreen argued that “the principal thing that distinguishes euthanasia from intentional killing simpliciter is the agent’s motive: it must be a good motive insofar as the good of the person killed is concerned.”[15] Similarly, Heather Draper speaks to the importance of motive, arguing that “the motive forms a crucial part of arguments for euthanasia, because it must be in the best interests of the person on the receiving end.”[12] Definitions such as that offered by the House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics take this path, where euthanasia is defined as “a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering.”[3] Beauchamp and Davidson also highlight Baruch Brody’s “an act of euthanasia is one in which one person… (A) kills another person (B) for the benefit of the second person, who actually does benefit from being killed”.[16]

Draper argued that any definition of euthanasia must incorporate four elements: an agent and a subject; an intention; a causal proximity, such that the actions of the agent lead to the outcome; and an outcome. Based on this, she offered a definition incorporating those elements, stating that euthanasia “must be defined as death that results from the intention of one person to kill another person, using the most gentle and painless means possible, that is motivated solely by the best interests of the person who dies.”[17] Prior to Draper, Beauchamp and Davidson had also offered a definition that includes these elements. Their definition specifically discounts fetuses to distinguish between abortions and euthanasia:[18]

“In summary, we have argued… that the death of a human being, A, is an instance of euthanasia if and only if (1) A’s death is intended by at least one other human being, B, where B is either the cause of death or a causally relevant feature of the event resulting in death (whether by action or by omission); (2) there is either sufficient current evidence for B to believe that A is acutely suffering or irreversibly comatose, or there is sufficient current evidence related to A’s present condition such that one or more known causal laws supports B’s belief that A will be in a condition of acute suffering or irreversible comatoseness; (3) (a) B’s primary reason for intending A’s death is cessation of A’s (actual or predicted future) suffering or irreversible comatoseness, where B does not intend A’s death for a different primary reason, though there may be other relevant reasons, and (b) there is sufficient current evidence for either A or B that causal means to A’s death will not produce any more suffering than would be produced for A if B were not to intervene; (4) the causal means to the event of A’s death are chosen by A or B to be as painless as possible, unless either A or B has an overriding reason for a more painful causal means, where the reason for choosing the latter causal means does not conflict with the evidence in 3b; (5) A is a nonfetal organism.”[19]

Wreen, in part responding to Beauchamp and Davidson, offered a six-part definition:

“Person A committed an act of euthanasia if and only if (1) A killed B or let her die; (2) A intended to kill B; (3) the intention specified in (2) was at least partial cause of the action specified in (1); (4) the causal journey from the intention specified in (2) to the action specified in (1) is more or less in accordance with A’s plan of action; (5) A’s killing of B is a voluntary action; (6) the motive for the action specified in (1), the motive standing behind the intention specified in (2), is the good of the person killed.”[20]

Wreen also considered a seventh requirement: “(7) The good specified in (6) is, or at least includes, the avoidance of evil”, although as Wreen noted in the paper, he was not convinced that the restriction was required.[21]

In discussing his definition, Wreen noted the difficulty of justifying euthanasia when faced with the notion of the subject’s “right to life”. In response, Wreen argued that euthanasia has to be voluntary, and that “involuntary euthanasia is, as such, a great wrong”.[21] Other commentators incorporate consent more directly into their definitions. For example, in a discussion of euthanasia presented in 2003 by the European Association of Palliative Care (EPAC) Ethics Task Force, the authors offered: “Medicalized killing of a person without the person’s consent, whether nonvoluntary (where the person in unable to consent) or involuntary (against the person’s will) is not euthanasia: it is murder. Hence, euthanasia can be voluntary only.”[22] Although the EPAC Ethics Task Force argued that both non-voluntary and involuntary euthanasia could not be included in the definition of euthanasia, there is discussion in the literature about excluding one but not the other.[21]

Euthanasia may be classified into three types, according to whether a person gives informed consent: voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary.[23][24]

There is a debate within the medical and bioethics literature about whether or not the non-voluntary (and by extension, involuntary) killing of patients can be regarded as euthanasia, irrespective of intent or the patient’s circumstances. In the definitions offered by Beauchamp and Davidson and, later, by Wreen, consent on the part of the patient was not considered as one of their criteria, although it may have been required to justify euthanasia.[11][25] However, others see consent as essential.

Voluntary euthanasia is conducted with the consent of the patient. Active voluntary euthanasia is legal in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Passive voluntary euthanasia is legal throughout the US per Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health. When the patient brings about his or her own death with the assistance of a physician, the term assisted suicide is often used instead. Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland and the U.S. states of California, Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont.

Non-voluntary euthanasia is conducted when the consent of the patient is unavailable. Examples include child euthanasia, which is illegal worldwide but decriminalised under certain specific circumstances in the Netherlands under the Groningen Protocol.

Involuntary euthanasia is conducted against the will of the patient.

Voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary types can be further divided into passive or active variants.[26] Passive euthanasia entails the withholding treatment necessary for the continuance of life.[3] Active euthanasia entails the use of lethal substances or forces (such as administering a lethal injection), and is the more controversial. While some authors consider these terms to be misleading and unhelpful, they are nonetheless commonly used. In some cases, such as the administration of increasingly necessary, but toxic doses of painkillers, there is a debate whether or not to regard the practice as active or passive.[3]

Euthanasia was practiced in Ancient Greece and Rome: for example, hemlock was employed as a means of hastening death on the island of Kea, a technique also employed in Marseilles. Euthanasia, in the sense of the deliberate hastening of a person’s death, was supported by Socrates, Plato and Seneca the Elder in the ancient world, although Hippocrates appears to have spoken against the practice, writing “I will not prescribe a deadly drug to please someone, nor give advice that may cause his death” (noting there is some debate in the literature about whether or not this was intended to encompass euthanasia).[27][28][29]

The term euthanasia in the earlier sense of supporting someone as they died, was used for the first time by Francis Bacon. In his work, Euthanasia medica, he chose this ancient Greek word and, in doing so, distinguished between euthanasia interior, the preparation of the soul for death, and euthanasia exterior, which was intended to make the end of life easier and painless, in exceptional circumstances by shortening life. That the ancient meaning of an easy death came to the fore again in the early modern period can be seen from its definition in the 18th century Zedlers Universallexikon:

Euthanasia: a very gentle and quiet death, which happens without painful convulsions. The word comes from , bene, well, and , mors, death.[30]

The concept of euthanasia in the sense of alleviating the process of death goes back to the medical historian, Karl Friedrich Heinrich Marx, who drew on Bacon’s philosophical ideas. According to Marx, a doctor had a moral duty to ease the suffering of death through encouragement, support and mitigation using medication. Such an “alleviation of death” reflected the contemporary zeitgeist, but was brought into the medical canon of responsibility for the first time by Marx. Marx also stressed the distinction between the theological care of the soul of sick people from the physical care and medical treatment by doctors.[31][32]

Euthanasia in its modern sense has always been strongly opposed in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Thomas Aquinas opposed both and argued that the practice of euthanasia contradicted our natural human instincts of survival,[33] as did Francois Ranchin (15651641), a French physician and professor of medicine, and Michael Boudewijns (16011681), a physician and teacher.[28]:208[34] Other voices argued for euthanasia, such as John Donne in 1624,[35] and euthanasia continued to be practised. In 1678, the publication of Caspar Questel’s De pulvinari morientibus non-subtrahend, (“On the pillow of which the dying should not be deprived”), initiated debate on the topic. Questel described various customs which were employed at the time to hasten the death of the dying, (including the sudden removal of a pillow, which was believed to accelerate death), and argued against their use, as doing so was “against the laws of God and Nature”.[28]:209211 This view was shared by others who followed, including Philipp Jakob Spener, Veit Riedlin and Johann Georg Krnitz.[28]:211 Despite opposition, euthanasia continued to be practised, involving techniques such as bleeding, suffocation, and removing people from their beds to be placed on the cold ground.[28]:211214

Suicide and euthanasia became more accepted during the Age of Enlightenment.[34] Thomas More wrote of euthanasia in Utopia, although it is not clear if More was intending to endorse the practice.[28]:208209 Other cultures have taken different approaches: for example, in Japan suicide has not traditionally been viewed as a sin, as it is used in cases of honor, and accordingly, the perceptions of euthanasia are different from those in other parts of the world.[36]

In the mid-1800s, the use of morphine to treat “the pains of death” emerged, with John Warren recommending its use in 1848. A similar use of chloroform was revealed by Joseph Bullar in 1866. However, in neither case was it recommended that the use should be to hasten death. In 1870 Samuel Williams, a schoolteacher, initiated the contemporary euthanasia debate through a speech given at the Birmingham Speculative Club in England, which was subsequently published in a one-off publication entitled Essays of the Birmingham Speculative Club, the collected works of a number of members of an amateur philosophical society.[37]:794 Williams’ proposal was to use chloroform to deliberately hasten the death of terminally ill patients:

That in all cases of hopeless and painful illness, it should be the recognized duty of the medical attendant, whenever so desired by the patient, to administer chloroform or such other anaesthetic as may by-and-bye supersede chloroform so as to destroy consciousness at once, and put the sufferer to a quick and painless death; all needful precautions being adopted to prevent any possible abuse of such duty; and means being taken to establish, beyond the possibility of doubt or question, that the remedy was applied at the express wish of the patient.

The essay was favourably reviewed in The Saturday Review, but an editorial against the essay appeared in The Spectator.[38] From there it proved to be influential, and other writers came out in support of such views: Lionel Tollemache wrote in favour of euthanasia, as did Annie Besant, the essayist and reformer who later became involved with the National Secular Society, considering it a duty to society to “die voluntarily and painlessly” when one reaches the point of becoming a ‘burden’.[38][39] Popular Science analyzed the issue in May 1873, assessing both sides of the argument.[40] Kemp notes that at the time, medical doctors did not participate in the discussion; it was “essentially a philosophical enterprise… tied inextricably to a number of objections to the Christian doctrine of the sanctity of human life”.[38]

The rise of the euthanasia movement in the United States coincided with the so-called Gilded Age, a time of social and technological change that encompassed an “individualistic conservatism that praised laissez-faire economics, scientific method, and rationalism”, along with major depressions, industrialisation and conflict between corporations and labour unions.[37]:794 It was also the period in which the modern hospital system was developed, which has been seen as a factor in the emergence of the euthanasia debate.[41]

Robert Ingersoll argued for euthanasia, stating in 1894 that where someone is suffering from a terminal illness, such as terminal cancer, they should have a right to end their pain through suicide. Felix Adler offered a similar approach, although, unlike Ingersoll, Adler did not reject religion. In fact, he argued from an Ethical Culture framework. In 1891, Alder argued that those suffering from overwhelming pain should have the right to commit suicide, and, furthermore, that it should be permissible for a doctor to assist thus making Adler the first “prominent American” to argue for suicide in cases where people were suffering from chronic illness.[42] Both Ingersoll and Adler argued for voluntary euthanasia of adults suffering from terminal ailments.[42] Dowbiggin argues that by breaking down prior moral objections to euthanasia and suicide, Ingersoll and Adler enabled others to stretch the definition of euthanasia.[43]

The first attempt to legalise euthanasia took place in the United States, when Henry Hunt introduced legislation into the General Assembly of Ohio in 1906.[44]:614 Hunt did so at the behest of Anna S. Hall, a wealthy heiress who was a major figure in the euthanasia movement during the early 20th century in the United States. Hall had watched her mother die after an extended battle with liver cancer, and had dedicated herself to ensuring that others would not have to endure the same suffering. Towards this end she engaged in an extensive letter writing campaign, recruited Lurana Sheldon and Maud Ballington Booth, and organised a debate on euthanasia at the annual meeting of the American Humane Association in 1905 described by Jacob Appel as the first significant public debate on the topic in the 20th century.[44]:614616

Hunt’s bill called for the administration of an anesthetic to bring about a patient’s death, so long as the person is of lawful age and sound mind, and was suffering from a fatal injury, an irrevocable illness, or great physical pain. It also required that the case be heard by a physician, required informed consent in front of three witnesses, and required the attendance of three physicians who had to agree that the patient’s recovery was impossible. A motion to reject the bill outright was voted down, but the bill failed to pass, 79 to 23.[37]:796[44]:618619

Along with the Ohio euthanasia proposal, in 1906 Assemblyman Ross Gregory introduced a proposal to permit euthanasia to the Iowa legislature. However, the Iowa legislation was broader in scope than that offered in Ohio. It allowed for the death of any person of at least ten years of age who suffered from an ailment that would prove fatal and cause extreme pain, should they be of sound mind and express a desire to artificially hasten their death. In addition, it allowed for infants to be euthanised if they were sufficiently deformed, and permitted guardians to request euthanasia on behalf of their wards. The proposed legislation also imposed penalties on physicians who refused to perform euthanasia when requested: a 612 month prison term and a fine of between $200 and $1,000. The proposal proved to be controversial.[44]:619621 It engendered considerable debate and failed to pass, having been withdrawn from consideration after being passed to the Committee on Public Health.[44]:623

After 1906 the euthanasia debate reduced in intensity, resurfacing periodically, but not returning to the same level of debate until the 1930s in the United Kingdom.[37]:796

Euthanasia opponent Ian Dowbiggin argues that the early membership of the Euthanasia Society of America (ESA) reflected how many perceived euthanasia at the time, often seeing it as a eugenics matter rather than an issue concerning individual rights.[42] Dowbiggin argues that not every eugenist joined the ESA “solely for eugenic reasons”, but he postulates that there were clear ideological connections between the eugenics and euthanasia movements.[42]

The Voluntary Euthanasia Legalisation Society was founded in 1935 by Charles Killick Millard (now called Dignity in Dying). The movement campaigned for the legalisation of euthanasia in Great Britain.

In January 1936, King George V was given a fatal dose of morphine and cocaine to hasten his death. At the time he was suffering from cardio-respiratory failure, and the decision to end his life was made by his physician, Lord Dawson.[45] Although this event was kept a secret for over 50 years, the death of George V coincided with proposed legislation in the House of Lords to legalise euthanasia.[46]

A 24 July 1939 killing of a severely disabled infant in Nazi Germany was described in a BBC “Genocide Under the Nazis Timeline” as the first “state-sponsored euthanasia”.[47] Parties that consented to the killing included Hitler’s office, the parents, and the Reich Committee for the Scientific Registration of Serious and Congenitally Based Illnesses.[47] The Telegraph noted that the killing of the disabled infantwhose name was Gerhard Kretschmar, born blind, with missing limbs, subject to convulsions, and reportedly “an idiot” provided “the rationale for a secret Nazi decree that led to ‘mercy killings’ of almost 300,000 mentally and physically handicapped people”.[48] While Kretchmar’s killing received parental consent, most of the 5,000 to 8,000 children killed afterwards were forcibly taken from their parents.[47][48]

The “euthanasia campaign” of mass murder gathered momentum on 14 January 1940 when the “handicapped” were killed with gas vans and killing centres, eventually leading to the deaths of 70,000 adult Germans.[49] Professor Robert Jay Lifton, author of The Nazi Doctors and a leading authority on the T4 program, contrasts this program with what he considers to be a genuine euthanasia. He explains that the Nazi version of “euthanasia” was based on the work of Adolf Jost, who published The Right to Death (Das Recht auf den Tod) in 1895. Lifton writes:

Jost argued that control over the death of the individual must ultimately belong to the social organism, the state. This concept is in direct opposition to the Anglo-American concept of euthanasia, which emphasizes the individual’s ‘right to die’ or ‘right to death’ or ‘right to his or her own death,’ as the ultimate human claim. In contrast, Jost was pointing to the state’s right to kill…. Ultimately the argument was biological: ‘The rights to death [are] the key to the fitness of life.’ The state must own deathmust killin order to keep the social organism alive and healthy.[50]

In modern terms, the use of “euthanasia” in the context of Action T4 is seen to be a euphemism to disguise a program of genocide, in which people were killed on the grounds of “disabilities, religious beliefs, and discordant individual values”.[51] Compared to the discussions of euthanasia that emerged post-war, the Nazi program may have been worded in terms that appear similar to the modern use of “euthanasia”, but there was no “mercy” and the patients were not necessarily terminally ill.[51] Despite these differences, historian and euthanasia opponent Ian Dowbiggin writes that “the origins of Nazi euthanasia, like those of the American euthanasia movement, predate the Third Reich and were intertwined with the history of eugenics and Social Darwinism, and with efforts to discredit traditional morality and ethics.”[42]:65

On 6 January 1949, the Euthanasia Society of America presented to the New York State Legislature a petition to legalize euthanasia, signed by 379 leading Protestant and Jewish ministers, the largest group of religious leaders ever to have taken this stance. A similar petition had been sent to the New York Legislature in 1947, signed by approximately 1,000 New York physicians. Catholic religious leaders criticized the petition, saying that such a bill would “legalize a suicide-murder pact” and a “rationalization of the fifth commandment of God, ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill.'”[52] The Right Reverend Robert E. McCormick stated that

“The ultimate object of the Euthanasia Society is based on the Totalitarian principle that the state is supreme and that the individual does not have the right to live if his continuance in life is a burden or hindrance to the state. The Nazis followed this principle and compulsory Euthanasia was practiced as a part of their program during the recent war. We American citizens of New York State must ask ourselves this question: ‘Are we going to finish Hitler’s job?'”[52]

The petition brought tensions between the American Euthanasia Society and the Catholic Church to a head that contributed to a climate of anti-Catholic sentiment generally, regarding issues such as birth control, eugenics, and population control. However, the petition did not result in any legal changes.[42]

Historically, the euthanasia debate has tended to focus on a number of key concerns. According to euthanasia opponent Ezekiel Emanuel, proponents of euthanasia have presented four main arguments: a) that people have a right to self-determination, and thus should be allowed to choose their own fate; b) assisting a subject to die might be a better choice than requiring that they continue to suffer; c) the distinction between passive euthanasia, which is often permitted, and active euthanasia, which is not substantive (or that the underlying principlethe doctrine of double effectis unreasonable or unsound); and d) permitting euthanasia will not necessarily lead to unacceptable consequences. Pro-euthanasia activists often point to countries like the Netherlands and Belgium, and states like Oregon, where euthanasia has been legalized, to argue that it is mostly unproblematic.

Similarly, Emanuel argues that there are four major arguments presented by opponents of euthanasia: a) not all deaths are painful; b) alternatives, such as cessation of active treatment, combined with the use of effective pain relief, are available; c) the distinction between active and passive euthanasia is morally significant; and d) legalising euthanasia will place society on a slippery slope,[53] which will lead to unacceptable consequences.[37]:797-8 In fact, in Oregon, in 2013, pain wasn’t one of the top five reasons people sought euthanasia. Top reasons were a loss of dignity, and a fear of burdening others.[54]

In the United States in 2013, 47% nationwide supported doctor-assisted suicide. This included 32% of Latinos, 29% of African-Americans, and almost nobody with disabilities.[54]

A 2015 Populus poll in the United Kingdom found broad public support for assisted dying. 82% of people supported the introduction of assisted dying laws, including 86% of people with disabilities.[55]

West’s Encyclopedia of American Law states that “a ‘mercy killing’ or euthanasia is generally considered to be a criminal homicide”[56] and is normally used as a synonym of homicide committed at a request made by the patient.[57]

The judicial sense of the term “homicide” includes any intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, even to relieve intractable suffering.[57][58][59] Not all homicide is unlawful.[60] Two designations of homicide that carry no criminal punishment are justifiable and excusable homicide.[60] In most countries this is not the status of euthanasia. The term “euthanasia” is usually confined to the active variety; the University of Washington website states that “euthanasia generally means that the physician would act directly, for instance by giving a lethal injection, to end the patient’s life”.[61] Physician-assisted suicide is thus not classified as euthanasia by the US State of Oregon, where it is legal under the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, and despite its name, it is not legally classified as suicide either.[62] Unlike physician-assisted suicide, withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatments with patient consent (voluntary) is almost unanimously considered, at least in the United States, to be legal.[63] The use of pain medication to relieve suffering, even if it hastens death, has been held as legal in several court decisions.[61]

Some governments around the world have legalized voluntary euthanasia but most commonly it is still considered to be criminal homicide. In the Netherlands and Belgium, where euthanasia has been legalized, it still remains homicide although it is not prosecuted and not punishable if the perpetrator (the doctor) meets certain legal conditions.[64][65][66][67]

In a historic judgment, the Supreme court of India legalized passive euthanasia. The apex court remarked in the judgment that the Constitution of India values liberty, dignity, autonomy, and privacy. A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra delivered a unanimous judgment.[68]

A 2010 survey in the United States of more than 10,000 physicians found that 16.3% of physicians would consider halting life-sustaining therapy because the family demanded it, even if they believed that it was premature. Approximately 54.5% would not, and the remaining 29.2% responded “it depends”.[69] The study also found that 45.8% of physicians agreed that physician-assisted suicide should be allowed in some cases; 40.7% did not, and the remaining 13.5% felt it depended.[69]

In the United Kingdom, the assisted dying campaign group Dignity in Dying cites research in which 54% of General Practitioners support or are neutral towards a law change on assisted dying.[70] Similarly, a 2017 Doctors.net.uk poll reported in the British Medical Journal stated that 55% of doctors believe assisted dying, in defined circumstances, should be legalised in the UK.[71]

The Roman Catholic Church strongly opposes and condemns euthanasia and assisted suicide as morally wrong. The Catholic Church states that, “Intentional euthanasia, whatever its forms or motives, is murder. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator”. Because of this, the practice is unacceptable within the Church.[72] The Orthodox Church in America, along with other Eastern Orthodox Churches, also opposes euthanasia stating that it must be condemned as murder stating that, “Euthanasia is the deliberate cessation to end human life.”[73]

Many non-Catholic churches in the United States take a stance against euthanasia. Among Protestant denominations, the Episcopal Church passed a resolution in 1991 opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide stating that it is “morally wrong and unacceptable to take a human life to relieve the suffering caused by incurable illnesses.” [73] Other Protestant churches which oppose euthanasia include:

The Church of England accepts passive euthanasia under some circumstances, but is strongly against active euthanasia, and has led opposition against recent attempt to legalise it.[83] The United Church of Canada accepts passive euthanasia under some circumstances, but is in general against active euthanasia, with growing acceptance now that active euthanasia has been partly legalised in Canada.[84].

Euthanasia is a complex issue in Islamic theology; however, in general it is considered contrary to Islamic law and holy texts. Among interpretations of the Koran and Hadith, the early termination of life is a crime, be it by suicide or helping one commit suicide. The various positions on the cessation of medical treatment are mixed and considered a different class of action than direct termination of life, especially if the patient is suffering. Suicide and euthanasia are both crimes in almost all Muslim majority countries.[85]

There is much debate on the topic of euthanasia in Judaic theology, ethics, and general opinion (especially in Israel and the United States). Passive euthanasia was declared legal by Israel’s highest court under certain conditions and has reached some level of acceptance. Active euthanasia remains illegal, however the topic is actively under debate with no clear consensus through legal, ethical, theological and spiritual perspectives.[86]

See the rest here:

Euthanasia – Wikipedia

Euthanasia – Wikipedia

Euthanasia (from Greek: ; “good death”: , eu; “well” or “good” , thanatos; “death”) is the practice of intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering.[1][2]

There are different euthanasia laws in each country. The British House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics defines euthanasia as “a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering”.[3] In the Netherlands and Belgium, euthanasia is understood as “termination of life by a doctor at the request of a patient”.[4] The Dutch law however, does not use the term ‘euthanasia’ but includes it under the broader definition of “assisted suicide and termination of life on request”.[5]

Euthanasia is categorized in different ways, which include voluntary, non-voluntary, or involuntary. Voluntary euthanasia is legal in some countries. Non-voluntary euthanasia (patient’s consent unavailable) is illegal in all countries. Involuntary euthanasia (without asking consent or against the patient’s will) is also illegal in all countries and is usually considered murder.[6] As of 2006, euthanasia is the most active area of research in contemporary bioethics.[7] In some countries there is a divisive public controversy over the moral, ethical, and legal issues of euthanasia. Passive euthanasia (known as “pulling the plug”) is legal under some circumstances in many countries. Active euthanasia however is legal or de facto legal in only a handful of countries (ex. Belgium, Canada, Switzerland) and is limited to specific circumstances and the approval of councilors and doctors or other specialists. In some countries such as Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, support for active euthanasia is almost non-existent.

Like other terms borrowed from history, “euthanasia” has had different meanings depending on usage. The first apparent usage of the term “euthanasia” belongs to the historian Suetonius, who described how the Emperor Augustus, “dying quickly and without suffering in the arms of his wife, Livia, experienced the ‘euthanasia’ he had wished for.”[8] The word “euthanasia” was first used in a medical context by Francis Bacon in the 17th century, to refer to an easy, painless, happy death, during which it was a “physician’s responsibility to alleviate the ‘physical sufferings’ of the body.” Bacon referred to an “outward euthanasia”the term “outward” he used to distinguish from a spiritual conceptthe euthanasia “which regards the preparation of the soul.”[9]

In current usage, euthanasia has been defined as the “painless inducement of a quick death”.[10] However, it is argued that this approach fails to properly define euthanasia, as it leaves open a number of possible actions which would meet the requirements of the definition, but would not be seen as euthanasia. In particular, these include situations where a person kills another, painlessly, but for no reason beyond that of personal gain; or accidental deaths that are quick and painless, but not intentional.[11][12]

Another approach incorporates the notion of suffering into the definition.[11] The definition offered by the Oxford English Dictionary incorporates suffering as a necessary condition, with “the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma”,[13] This approach is included in Marvin Khol and Paul Kurtz’s definition of it as “a mode or act of inducing or permitting death painlessly as a relief from suffering”.[14] Counterexamples can be given: such definitions may encompass killing a person suffering from an incurable disease for personal gain (such as to claim an inheritance), and commentators such as Tom Beauchamp and Arnold Davidson have argued that doing so would constitute “murder simpliciter” rather than euthanasia.[11]

The third element incorporated into many definitions is that of intentionality the death must be intended, rather than being accidental, and the intent of the action must be a “merciful death”.[11] Michael Wreen argued that “the principal thing that distinguishes euthanasia from intentional killing simpliciter is the agent’s motive: it must be a good motive insofar as the good of the person killed is concerned.”[15] Similarly, Heather Draper speaks to the importance of motive, arguing that “the motive forms a crucial part of arguments for euthanasia, because it must be in the best interests of the person on the receiving end.”[12] Definitions such as that offered by the House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics take this path, where euthanasia is defined as “a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering.”[3] Beauchamp and Davidson also highlight Baruch Brody’s “an act of euthanasia is one in which one person… (A) kills another person (B) for the benefit of the second person, who actually does benefit from being killed”.[16]

Draper argued that any definition of euthanasia must incorporate four elements: an agent and a subject; an intention; a causal proximity, such that the actions of the agent lead to the outcome; and an outcome. Based on this, she offered a definition incorporating those elements, stating that euthanasia “must be defined as death that results from the intention of one person to kill another person, using the most gentle and painless means possible, that is motivated solely by the best interests of the person who dies.”[17] Prior to Draper, Beauchamp and Davidson had also offered a definition that includes these elements. Their definition specifically discounts fetuses to distinguish between abortions and euthanasia:[18]

“In summary, we have argued… that the death of a human being, A, is an instance of euthanasia if and only if (1) A’s death is intended by at least one other human being, B, where B is either the cause of death or a causally relevant feature of the event resulting in death (whether by action or by omission); (2) there is either sufficient current evidence for B to believe that A is acutely suffering or irreversibly comatose, or there is sufficient current evidence related to A’s present condition such that one or more known causal laws supports B’s belief that A will be in a condition of acute suffering or irreversible comatoseness; (3) (a) B’s primary reason for intending A’s death is cessation of A’s (actual or predicted future) suffering or irreversible comatoseness, where B does not intend A’s death for a different primary reason, though there may be other relevant reasons, and (b) there is sufficient current evidence for either A or B that causal means to A’s death will not produce any more suffering than would be produced for A if B were not to intervene; (4) the causal means to the event of A’s death are chosen by A or B to be as painless as possible, unless either A or B has an overriding reason for a more painful causal means, where the reason for choosing the latter causal means does not conflict with the evidence in 3b; (5) A is a nonfetal organism.”[19]

Wreen, in part responding to Beauchamp and Davidson, offered a six-part definition:

“Person A committed an act of euthanasia if and only if (1) A killed B or let her die; (2) A intended to kill B; (3) the intention specified in (2) was at least partial cause of the action specified in (1); (4) the causal journey from the intention specified in (2) to the action specified in (1) is more or less in accordance with A’s plan of action; (5) A’s killing of B is a voluntary action; (6) the motive for the action specified in (1), the motive standing behind the intention specified in (2), is the good of the person killed.”[20]

Wreen also considered a seventh requirement: “(7) The good specified in (6) is, or at least includes, the avoidance of evil”, although as Wreen noted in the paper, he was not convinced that the restriction was required.[21]

In discussing his definition, Wreen noted the difficulty of justifying euthanasia when faced with the notion of the subject’s “right to life”. In response, Wreen argued that euthanasia has to be voluntary, and that “involuntary euthanasia is, as such, a great wrong”.[21] Other commentators incorporate consent more directly into their definitions. For example, in a discussion of euthanasia presented in 2003 by the European Association of Palliative Care (EPAC) Ethics Task Force, the authors offered: “Medicalized killing of a person without the person’s consent, whether nonvoluntary (where the person in unable to consent) or involuntary (against the person’s will) is not euthanasia: it is murder. Hence, euthanasia can be voluntary only.”[22] Although the EPAC Ethics Task Force argued that both non-voluntary and involuntary euthanasia could not be included in the definition of euthanasia, there is discussion in the literature about excluding one but not the other.[21]

Euthanasia may be classified into three types, according to whether a person gives informed consent: voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary.[23][24]

There is a debate within the medical and bioethics literature about whether or not the non-voluntary (and by extension, involuntary) killing of patients can be regarded as euthanasia, irrespective of intent or the patient’s circumstances. In the definitions offered by Beauchamp and Davidson and, later, by Wreen, consent on the part of the patient was not considered as one of their criteria, although it may have been required to justify euthanasia.[11][25] However, others see consent as essential.

Voluntary euthanasia is conducted with the consent of the patient. Active voluntary euthanasia is legal in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Passive voluntary euthanasia is legal throughout the US per Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health. When the patient brings about his or her own death with the assistance of a physician, the term assisted suicide is often used instead. Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland and the U.S. states of California, Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont.

Non-voluntary euthanasia is conducted when the consent of the patient is unavailable. Examples include child euthanasia, which is illegal worldwide but decriminalised under certain specific circumstances in the Netherlands under the Groningen Protocol.

Involuntary euthanasia is conducted against the will of the patient.

Voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary types can be further divided into passive or active variants.[26] Passive euthanasia entails the withholding treatment necessary for the continuance of life.[3] Active euthanasia entails the use of lethal substances or forces (such as administering a lethal injection), and is the more controversial. While some authors consider these terms to be misleading and unhelpful, they are nonetheless commonly used. In some cases, such as the administration of increasingly necessary, but toxic doses of painkillers, there is a debate whether or not to regard the practice as active or passive.[3]

Euthanasia was practiced in Ancient Greece and Rome: for example, hemlock was employed as a means of hastening death on the island of Kea, a technique also employed in Marseilles. Euthanasia, in the sense of the deliberate hastening of a person’s death, was supported by Socrates, Plato and Seneca the Elder in the ancient world, although Hippocrates appears to have spoken against the practice, writing “I will not prescribe a deadly drug to please someone, nor give advice that may cause his death” (noting there is some debate in the literature about whether or not this was intended to encompass euthanasia).[27][28][29]

The term euthanasia in the earlier sense of supporting someone as they died, was used for the first time by Francis Bacon. In his work, Euthanasia medica, he chose this ancient Greek word and, in doing so, distinguished between euthanasia interior, the preparation of the soul for death, and euthanasia exterior, which was intended to make the end of life easier and painless, in exceptional circumstances by shortening life. That the ancient meaning of an easy death came to the fore again in the early modern period can be seen from its definition in the 18th century Zedlers Universallexikon:

Euthanasia: a very gentle and quiet death, which happens without painful convulsions. The word comes from , bene, well, and , mors, death.[30]

The concept of euthanasia in the sense of alleviating the process of death goes back to the medical historian, Karl Friedrich Heinrich Marx, who drew on Bacon’s philosophical ideas. According to Marx, a doctor had a moral duty to ease the suffering of death through encouragement, support and mitigation using medication. Such an “alleviation of death” reflected the contemporary zeitgeist, but was brought into the medical canon of responsibility for the first time by Marx. Marx also stressed the distinction between the theological care of the soul of sick people from the physical care and medical treatment by doctors.[31][32]

Euthanasia in its modern sense has always been strongly opposed in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Thomas Aquinas opposed both and argued that the practice of euthanasia contradicted our natural human instincts of survival,[33] as did Francois Ranchin (15651641), a French physician and professor of medicine, and Michael Boudewijns (16011681), a physician and teacher.[28]:208[34] Other voices argued for euthanasia, such as John Donne in 1624,[35] and euthanasia continued to be practised. In 1678, the publication of Caspar Questel’s De pulvinari morientibus non-subtrahend, (“On the pillow of which the dying should not be deprived”), initiated debate on the topic. Questel described various customs which were employed at the time to hasten the death of the dying, (including the sudden removal of a pillow, which was believed to accelerate death), and argued against their use, as doing so was “against the laws of God and Nature”.[28]:209211 This view was shared by others who followed, including Philipp Jakob Spener, Veit Riedlin and Johann Georg Krnitz.[28]:211 Despite opposition, euthanasia continued to be practised, involving techniques such as bleeding, suffocation, and removing people from their beds to be placed on the cold ground.[28]:211214

Suicide and euthanasia became more accepted during the Age of Enlightenment.[34] Thomas More wrote of euthanasia in Utopia, although it is not clear if More was intending to endorse the practice.[28]:208209 Other cultures have taken different approaches: for example, in Japan suicide has not traditionally been viewed as a sin, as it is used in cases of honor, and accordingly, the perceptions of euthanasia are different from those in other parts of the world.[36]

In the mid-1800s, the use of morphine to treat “the pains of death” emerged, with John Warren recommending its use in 1848. A similar use of chloroform was revealed by Joseph Bullar in 1866. However, in neither case was it recommended that the use should be to hasten death. In 1870 Samuel Williams, a schoolteacher, initiated the contemporary euthanasia debate through a speech given at the Birmingham Speculative Club in England, which was subsequently published in a one-off publication entitled Essays of the Birmingham Speculative Club, the collected works of a number of members of an amateur philosophical society.[37]:794 Williams’ proposal was to use chloroform to deliberately hasten the death of terminally ill patients:

That in all cases of hopeless and painful illness, it should be the recognized duty of the medical attendant, whenever so desired by the patient, to administer chloroform or such other anaesthetic as may by-and-bye supersede chloroform so as to destroy consciousness at once, and put the sufferer to a quick and painless death; all needful precautions being adopted to prevent any possible abuse of such duty; and means being taken to establish, beyond the possibility of doubt or question, that the remedy was applied at the express wish of the patient.

The essay was favourably reviewed in The Saturday Review, but an editorial against the essay appeared in The Spectator.[38] From there it proved to be influential, and other writers came out in support of such views: Lionel Tollemache wrote in favour of euthanasia, as did Annie Besant, the essayist and reformer who later became involved with the National Secular Society, considering it a duty to society to “die voluntarily and painlessly” when one reaches the point of becoming a ‘burden’.[38][39] Popular Science analyzed the issue in May 1873, assessing both sides of the argument.[40] Kemp notes that at the time, medical doctors did not participate in the discussion; it was “essentially a philosophical enterprise… tied inextricably to a number of objections to the Christian doctrine of the sanctity of human life”.[38]

The rise of the euthanasia movement in the United States coincided with the so-called Gilded Age, a time of social and technological change that encompassed an “individualistic conservatism that praised laissez-faire economics, scientific method, and rationalism”, along with major depressions, industrialisation and conflict between corporations and labour unions.[37]:794 It was also the period in which the modern hospital system was developed, which has been seen as a factor in the emergence of the euthanasia debate.[41]

Robert Ingersoll argued for euthanasia, stating in 1894 that where someone is suffering from a terminal illness, such as terminal cancer, they should have a right to end their pain through suicide. Felix Adler offered a similar approach, although, unlike Ingersoll, Adler did not reject religion. In fact, he argued from an Ethical Culture framework. In 1891, Alder argued that those suffering from overwhelming pain should have the right to commit suicide, and, furthermore, that it should be permissible for a doctor to assist thus making Adler the first “prominent American” to argue for suicide in cases where people were suffering from chronic illness.[42] Both Ingersoll and Adler argued for voluntary euthanasia of adults suffering from terminal ailments.[42] Dowbiggin argues that by breaking down prior moral objections to euthanasia and suicide, Ingersoll and Adler enabled others to stretch the definition of euthanasia.[43]

The first attempt to legalise euthanasia took place in the United States, when Henry Hunt introduced legislation into the General Assembly of Ohio in 1906.[44]:614 Hunt did so at the behest of Anna S. Hall, a wealthy heiress who was a major figure in the euthanasia movement during the early 20th century in the United States. Hall had watched her mother die after an extended battle with liver cancer, and had dedicated herself to ensuring that others would not have to endure the same suffering. Towards this end she engaged in an extensive letter writing campaign, recruited Lurana Sheldon and Maud Ballington Booth, and organised a debate on euthanasia at the annual meeting of the American Humane Association in 1905 described by Jacob Appel as the first significant public debate on the topic in the 20th century.[44]:614616

Hunt’s bill called for the administration of an anesthetic to bring about a patient’s death, so long as the person is of lawful age and sound mind, and was suffering from a fatal injury, an irrevocable illness, or great physical pain. It also required that the case be heard by a physician, required informed consent in front of three witnesses, and required the attendance of three physicians who had to agree that the patient’s recovery was impossible. A motion to reject the bill outright was voted down, but the bill failed to pass, 79 to 23.[37]:796[44]:618619

Along with the Ohio euthanasia proposal, in 1906 Assemblyman Ross Gregory introduced a proposal to permit euthanasia to the Iowa legislature. However, the Iowa legislation was broader in scope than that offered in Ohio. It allowed for the death of any person of at least ten years of age who suffered from an ailment that would prove fatal and cause extreme pain, should they be of sound mind and express a desire to artificially hasten their death. In addition, it allowed for infants to be euthanised if they were sufficiently deformed, and permitted guardians to request euthanasia on behalf of their wards. The proposed legislation also imposed penalties on physicians who refused to perform euthanasia when requested: a 612 month prison term and a fine of between $200 and $1,000. The proposal proved to be controversial.[44]:619621 It engendered considerable debate and failed to pass, having been withdrawn from consideration after being passed to the Committee on Public Health.[44]:623

After 1906 the euthanasia debate reduced in intensity, resurfacing periodically, but not returning to the same level of debate until the 1930s in the United Kingdom.[37]:796

Euthanasia opponent Ian Dowbiggin argues that the early membership of the Euthanasia Society of America (ESA) reflected how many perceived euthanasia at the time, often seeing it as a eugenics matter rather than an issue concerning individual rights.[42] Dowbiggin argues that not every eugenist joined the ESA “solely for eugenic reasons”, but he postulates that there were clear ideological connections between the eugenics and euthanasia movements.[42]

The Voluntary Euthanasia Legalisation Society was founded in 1935 by Charles Killick Millard (now called Dignity in Dying). The movement campaigned for the legalisation of euthanasia in Great Britain.

In January 1936, King George V was given a fatal dose of morphine and cocaine to hasten his death. At the time he was suffering from cardio-respiratory failure, and the decision to end his life was made by his physician, Lord Dawson.[45] Although this event was kept a secret for over 50 years, the death of George V coincided with proposed legislation in the House of Lords to legalise euthanasia.[46]

A 24 July 1939 killing of a severely disabled infant in Nazi Germany was described in a BBC “Genocide Under the Nazis Timeline” as the first “state-sponsored euthanasia”.[47] Parties that consented to the killing included Hitler’s office, the parents, and the Reich Committee for the Scientific Registration of Serious and Congenitally Based Illnesses.[47] The Telegraph noted that the killing of the disabled infantwhose name was Gerhard Kretschmar, born blind, with missing limbs, subject to convulsions, and reportedly “an idiot” provided “the rationale for a secret Nazi decree that led to ‘mercy killings’ of almost 300,000 mentally and physically handicapped people”.[48] While Kretchmar’s killing received parental consent, most of the 5,000 to 8,000 children killed afterwards were forcibly taken from their parents.[47][48]

The “euthanasia campaign” of mass murder gathered momentum on 14 January 1940 when the “handicapped” were killed with gas vans and killing centres, eventually leading to the deaths of 70,000 adult Germans.[49] Professor Robert Jay Lifton, author of The Nazi Doctors and a leading authority on the T4 program, contrasts this program with what he considers to be a genuine euthanasia. He explains that the Nazi version of “euthanasia” was based on the work of Adolf Jost, who published The Right to Death (Das Recht auf den Tod) in 1895. Lifton writes:

Jost argued that control over the death of the individual must ultimately belong to the social organism, the state. This concept is in direct opposition to the Anglo-American concept of euthanasia, which emphasizes the individual’s ‘right to die’ or ‘right to death’ or ‘right to his or her own death,’ as the ultimate human claim. In contrast, Jost was pointing to the state’s right to kill…. Ultimately the argument was biological: ‘The rights to death [are] the key to the fitness of life.’ The state must own deathmust killin order to keep the social organism alive and healthy.[50]

In modern terms, the use of “euthanasia” in the context of Action T4 is seen to be a euphemism to disguise a program of genocide, in which people were killed on the grounds of “disabilities, religious beliefs, and discordant individual values”.[51] Compared to the discussions of euthanasia that emerged post-war, the Nazi program may have been worded in terms that appear similar to the modern use of “euthanasia”, but there was no “mercy” and the patients were not necessarily terminally ill.[51] Despite these differences, historian and euthanasia opponent Ian Dowbiggin writes that “the origins of Nazi euthanasia, like those of the American euthanasia movement, predate the Third Reich and were intertwined with the history of eugenics and Social Darwinism, and with efforts to discredit traditional morality and ethics.”[42]:65

On 6 January 1949, the Euthanasia Society of America presented to the New York State Legislature a petition to legalize euthanasia, signed by 379 leading Protestant and Jewish ministers, the largest group of religious leaders ever to have taken this stance. A similar petition had been sent to the New York Legislature in 1947, signed by approximately 1,000 New York physicians. Catholic religious leaders criticized the petition, saying that such a bill would “legalize a suicide-murder pact” and a “rationalization of the fifth commandment of God, ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill.'”[52] The Right Reverend Robert E. McCormick stated that

“The ultimate object of the Euthanasia Society is based on the Totalitarian principle that the state is supreme and that the individual does not have the right to live if his continuance in life is a burden or hindrance to the state. The Nazis followed this principle and compulsory Euthanasia was practiced as a part of their program during the recent war. We American citizens of New York State must ask ourselves this question: ‘Are we going to finish Hitler’s job?'”[52]

The petition brought tensions between the American Euthanasia Society and the Catholic Church to a head that contributed to a climate of anti-Catholic sentiment generally, regarding issues such as birth control, eugenics, and population control. However, the petition did not result in any legal changes.[42]

Historically, the euthanasia debate has tended to focus on a number of key concerns. According to euthanasia opponent Ezekiel Emanuel, proponents of euthanasia have presented four main arguments: a) that people have a right to self-determination, and thus should be allowed to choose their own fate; b) assisting a subject to die might be a better choice than requiring that they continue to suffer; c) the distinction between passive euthanasia, which is often permitted, and active euthanasia, which is not substantive (or that the underlying principlethe doctrine of double effectis unreasonable or unsound); and d) permitting euthanasia will not necessarily lead to unacceptable consequences. Pro-euthanasia activists often point to countries like the Netherlands and Belgium, and states like Oregon, where euthanasia has been legalized, to argue that it is mostly unproblematic.

Similarly, Emanuel argues that there are four major arguments presented by opponents of euthanasia: a) not all deaths are painful; b) alternatives, such as cessation of active treatment, combined with the use of effective pain relief, are available; c) the distinction between active and passive euthanasia is morally significant; and d) legalising euthanasia will place society on a slippery slope,[53] which will lead to unacceptable consequences.[37]:797-8 In fact, in Oregon, in 2013, pain wasn’t one of the top five reasons people sought euthanasia. Top reasons were a loss of dignity, and a fear of burdening others.[54]

In the United States in 2013, 47% nationwide supported doctor-assisted suicide. This included 32% of Latinos, 29% of African-Americans, and almost nobody with disabilities.[54]

A 2015 Populus poll in the United Kingdom found broad public support for assisted dying. 82% of people supported the introduction of assisted dying laws, including 86% of people with disabilities.[55]

West’s Encyclopedia of American Law states that “a ‘mercy killing’ or euthanasia is generally considered to be a criminal homicide”[56] and is normally used as a synonym of homicide committed at a request made by the patient.[57]

The judicial sense of the term “homicide” includes any intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, even to relieve intractable suffering.[57][58][59] Not all homicide is unlawful.[60] Two designations of homicide that carry no criminal punishment are justifiable and excusable homicide.[60] In most countries this is not the status of euthanasia. The term “euthanasia” is usually confined to the active variety; the University of Washington website states that “euthanasia generally means that the physician would act directly, for instance by giving a lethal injection, to end the patient’s life”.[61] Physician-assisted suicide is thus not classified as euthanasia by the US State of Oregon, where it is legal under the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, and despite its name, it is not legally classified as suicide either.[62] Unlike physician-assisted suicide, withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatments with patient consent (voluntary) is almost unanimously considered, at least in the United States, to be legal.[63] The use of pain medication to relieve suffering, even if it hastens death, has been held as legal in several court decisions.[61]

Some governments around the world have legalized voluntary euthanasia but most commonly it is still considered to be criminal homicide. In the Netherlands and Belgium, where euthanasia has been legalized, it still remains homicide although it is not prosecuted and not punishable if the perpetrator (the doctor) meets certain legal conditions.[64][65][66][67]

In a historic judgment, the Supreme court of India legalized passive euthanasia. The apex court remarked in the judgment that the Constitution of India values liberty, dignity, autonomy, and privacy. A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra delivered a unanimous judgment.[68]

A 2010 survey in the United States of more than 10,000 physicians found that 16.3% of physicians would consider halting life-sustaining therapy because the family demanded it, even if they believed that it was premature. Approximately 54.5% would not, and the remaining 29.2% responded “it depends”.[69] The study also found that 45.8% of physicians agreed that physician-assisted suicide should be allowed in some cases; 40.7% did not, and the remaining 13.5% felt it depended.[69]

In the United Kingdom, the assisted dying campaign group Dignity in Dying cites research in which 54% of General Practitioners support or are neutral towards a law change on assisted dying.[70] Similarly, a 2017 Doctors.net.uk poll reported in the British Medical Journal stated that 55% of doctors believe assisted dying, in defined circumstances, should be legalised in the UK.[71]

The Roman Catholic Church strongly opposes and condemns euthanasia and assisted suicide as morally wrong. The Catholic Church states that, “Intentional euthanasia, whatever its forms or motives, is murder. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator”. Because of this, the practice is unacceptable within the Church.[72] The Orthodox Church in America, along with other Eastern Orthodox Churches, also opposes euthanasia stating that it must be condemned as murder stating that, “Euthanasia is the deliberate cessation to end human life.”[73]

Many non-Catholic churches in the United States take a stance against euthanasia. Among Protestant denominations, the Episcopal Church passed a resolution in 1991 opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide stating that it is “morally wrong and unacceptable to take a human life to relieve the suffering caused by incurable illnesses.” [73] Other Protestant churches which oppose euthanasia include:

The Church of England accepts passive euthanasia under some circumstances, but is strongly against active euthanasia, and has led opposition against recent attempt to legalise it.[83] The United Church of Canada accepts passive euthanasia under some circumstances, but is in general against active euthanasia, with growing acceptance now that active euthanasia has been partly legalised in Canada.[84].

Euthanasia is a complex issue in Islamic theology; however, in general it is considered contrary to Islamic law and holy texts. Among interpretations of the Koran and Hadith, the early termination of life is a crime, be it by suicide or helping one commit suicide. The various positions on the cessation of medical treatment are mixed and considered a different class of action than direct termination of life, especially if the patient is suffering. Suicide and euthanasia are both crimes in almost all Muslim majority countries.[85]

There is much debate on the topic of euthanasia in Judaic theology, ethics, and general opinion (especially in Israel and the United States). Passive euthanasia was declared legal by Israel’s highest court under certain conditions and has reached some level of acceptance. Active euthanasia remains illegal, however the topic is actively under debate with no clear consensus through legal, ethical, theological and spiritual perspectives.[86]

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Euthanasia – Wikipedia

euthanasia – Wiktionary

English[edit]Etymology[edit]

First attested in 1606, from Ancient Greek (euthanasa), from – (eu-, good) + (thnatos, death)

euthanasia (usually uncountable, plural euthanasias)

Euthanasia is the most difficult part of a veterinarian’s job.

Terms derived from euthanasia

practice of killing a human being or animal

euthanasia

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euthanasia – Wiktionary

What Is Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide?

Euthanasia is the act of a physician or other third party ending a patient’s life in response to severe, persistent and untreatable pain and suffering. It is sometimes referred to as assisted suicide, physician-assisted death, physician-assisted suicide, mercy killingand other variations; however, assisted suicide and euthanasia have differences.

Assisted suicide is intentionally and knowingly providing the means for another to commit suicide. For example, providing a prescription medication to someone with the knowledge that they intend to use it for the purpose of suicide.

Euthanasia involves a person, such as a physician, knowingly acting to cause the death of a person suffering from severe and incurable pain. For example, a physician giving injections of drugs to induce coma and then stop the heart.

There are two primary classifications of euthanasia.

Voluntary euthanasia is not legal in most parts of the world. The Netherlands and Belgium are currently the only countries who allow the practice. Involuntary euthanasia is not legal anywhere.

Physician-assisted suicide is currently legal in the United States in several states, including Oregon and Washington, and in a handful of other countries.

Physician-assisted suicide is only done when a patient has a terminal diagnosis and is suffering, with little or no relief. In such cases, a patient may wish to control when and how they die. A key part of physician-assisted suicide involves how the suicide is enacted: The patient must be the one to take the medication. It is illegal for a friend, family member, physician or anyone else to administer the medication; to do so crosses the legal line into the definition of euthanasia.

Sometimes called terminal sedation, palliative sedation is the progressive use of sedatives to achieve a desirable level of comfortpatients who are terminally ill and experiencing unrelievedsuffering.Death usually follows shortly after a patient becomes sedated.

Palliative sedation is neither euthanasia nor is itphysician-assisted suicide as the intent is not to cause death. Though death may occur, it is often unclear whether the death occurred because of the sedation or the terminal illness itself.

Palliative sedation requires the consent of the patient. If a patient is unable to make decisions for himself or herself, the decision falls to the patient’s designated health care decision maker. The patient is unable to deliver the correct dosage of a palliative sedative, which is usually given as a suppository or an infusion. Because the sedation is fast-acting, the sedatives can be only given by a physician, nurse or another of the patient’s primary caregivers.

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What Is Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide?

Euthanasia | law | Britannica.com

Euthanasia, also called mercy killing, act or practice of painlessly putting to death persons suffering from painful and incurable disease or incapacitating physical disorder or allowing them to die by withholding treatment or withdrawing artificial life-support measures. Because there is no specific provision for it in most legal systems, it is usually regarded as either suicide (if performed by the patient himself) or murder (if performed by another). A physician may, however, lawfully decide not to prolong life in cases of extreme suffering, and he may administer drugs to relieve pain even if this shortens the patients life. In the late 20th century, several European countries had special provisions in their criminal codes for lenient sentencing and the consideration of extenuating circumstances in prosecutions for euthanasia.

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ethics: Abortion, euthanasia, and the value of human life

A number of ethical questions are concerned with the endpoints of the human life span. The question of whether abortion or the use of human embryos as sources of stem cells can be morally justified was exhaustively discussed

The opinion that euthanasia is morally permissible is traceable to Socrates, Plato, and the Stoics. It is rejected in traditional Christian belief, chiefly because it is thought to contravene the prohibition of murder in the Ten Commandments. The organized movement for legalization of euthanasia commenced in England in 1935, when C. Killick Millard founded the Voluntary Euthanasia Legalisation Society (later called the Euthanasia Society). The societys bill was defeated in the House of Lords in 1936, as was a motion on the same subject in the House of Lords in 1950. In the United States the Euthanasia Society of America was founded in 1938.

The first countries to legalize euthanasia were the Netherlands in 2001 and Belgium in 2002. In 1997 Oregon became the first state in the United States to decriminalize physician-assisted suicide; opponents of the controversial law, however, attempted to have it overturned. In 2009 the Supreme Court of South Korea recognized a right to die with dignity in its decision to approve a request by the family of a brain-dead woman that she be removed from life-support systems.

The potential of modern medical practice to prolong life through technological means has provoked the question of what courses of action should be available to the physician and the family in cases of extreme physical or emotional suffering, especially if the patient is incapable of choice. Passively doing nothing to prolong life or withdrawing life-support measures has resulted in criminal charges being brought against physicians; on the other hand, the families of comatose and apparently terminal patients have instituted legal action against the medical establishment to make them stop the use of extraordinary life support.

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Euthanasia | law | Britannica.com

Euthanasia – Wikipedia

Euthanasia (from Greek: ; “good death”: , eu; “well” or “good” , thanatos; “death”) is the practice of intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering.[1][2]

There are different euthanasia laws in each country. The British House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics defines euthanasia as “a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering”.[3] In the Netherlands and Belgium, euthanasia is understood as “termination of life by a doctor at the request of a patient”.[4] The Dutch law however, does not use the term ‘euthanasia’ but includes it under the broader definition of “assisted suicide and termination of life on request”.[5]

Euthanasia is categorized in different ways, which include voluntary, non-voluntary, or involuntary. Voluntary euthanasia is legal in some countries. Non-voluntary euthanasia (patient’s consent unavailable) is illegal in all countries. Involuntary euthanasia (without asking consent or against the patient’s will) is also illegal in all countries and is usually considered murder.[6] As of 2006, euthanasia is the most active area of research in contemporary bioethics.[7] In some countries there is a divisive public controversy over the moral, ethical, and legal issues of euthanasia. Passive euthanasia (known as “pulling the plug”) is legal under some circumstances in many countries. Active euthanasia however is legal or de facto legal in only a handful of countries (ex. Belgium, Canada, Switzerland) and is limited to specific circumstances and the approval of councilors and doctors or other specialists. In some countries such as Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, support for active euthanasia is almost non-existent.

Like other terms borrowed from history, “euthanasia” has had different meanings depending on usage. The first apparent usage of the term “euthanasia” belongs to the historian Suetonius, who described how the Emperor Augustus, “dying quickly and without suffering in the arms of his wife, Livia, experienced the ‘euthanasia’ he had wished for.”[8] The word “euthanasia” was first used in a medical context by Francis Bacon in the 17th century, to refer to an easy, painless, happy death, during which it was a “physician’s responsibility to alleviate the ‘physical sufferings’ of the body.” Bacon referred to an “outward euthanasia”the term “outward” he used to distinguish from a spiritual conceptthe euthanasia “which regards the preparation of the soul.”[9]

In current usage, euthanasia has been defined as the “painless inducement of a quick death”.[10] However, it is argued that this approach fails to properly define euthanasia, as it leaves open a number of possible actions which would meet the requirements of the definition, but would not be seen as euthanasia. In particular, these include situations where a person kills another, painlessly, but for no reason beyond that of personal gain; or accidental deaths that are quick and painless, but not intentional.[11][12]

Another approach incorporates the notion of suffering into the definition.[11] The definition offered by the Oxford English Dictionary incorporates suffering as a necessary condition, with “the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma”,[13] This approach is included in Marvin Khol and Paul Kurtz’s definition of it as “a mode or act of inducing or permitting death painlessly as a relief from suffering”.[14] Counterexamples can be given: such definitions may encompass killing a person suffering from an incurable disease for personal gain (such as to claim an inheritance), and commentators such as Tom Beauchamp and Arnold Davidson have argued that doing so would constitute “murder simpliciter” rather than euthanasia.[11]

The third element incorporated into many definitions is that of intentionality the death must be intended, rather than being accidental, and the intent of the action must be a “merciful death”.[11] Michael Wreen argued that “the principal thing that distinguishes euthanasia from intentional killing simpliciter is the agent’s motive: it must be a good motive insofar as the good of the person killed is concerned.”[15] Similarly, Heather Draper speaks to the importance of motive, arguing that “the motive forms a crucial part of arguments for euthanasia, because it must be in the best interests of the person on the receiving end.”[12] Definitions such as that offered by the House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics take this path, where euthanasia is defined as “a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering.”[3] Beauchamp and Davidson also highlight Baruch Brody’s “an act of euthanasia is one in which one person… (A) kills another person (B) for the benefit of the second person, who actually does benefit from being killed”.[16]

Draper argued that any definition of euthanasia must incorporate four elements: an agent and a subject; an intention; a causal proximity, such that the actions of the agent lead to the outcome; and an outcome. Based on this, she offered a definition incorporating those elements, stating that euthanasia “must be defined as death that results from the intention of one person to kill another person, using the most gentle and painless means possible, that is motivated solely by the best interests of the person who dies.”[17] Prior to Draper, Beauchamp and Davidson had also offered a definition that includes these elements. Their definition specifically discounts fetuses to distinguish between abortions and euthanasia:[18]

“In summary, we have argued… that the death of a human being, A, is an instance of euthanasia if and only if (1) A’s death is intended by at least one other human being, B, where B is either the cause of death or a causally relevant feature of the event resulting in death (whether by action or by omission); (2) there is either sufficient current evidence for B to believe that A is acutely suffering or irreversibly comatose, or there is sufficient current evidence related to A’s present condition such that one or more known causal laws supports B’s belief that A will be in a condition of acute suffering or irreversible comatoseness; (3) (a) B’s primary reason for intending A’s death is cessation of A’s (actual or predicted future) suffering or irreversible comatoseness, where B does not intend A’s death for a different primary reason, though there may be other relevant reasons, and (b) there is sufficient current evidence for either A or B that causal means to A’s death will not produce any more suffering than would be produced for A if B were not to intervene; (4) the causal means to the event of A’s death are chosen by A or B to be as painless as possible, unless either A or B has an overriding reason for a more painful causal means, where the reason for choosing the latter causal means does not conflict with the evidence in 3b; (5) A is a nonfetal organism.”[19]

Wreen, in part responding to Beauchamp and Davidson, offered a six-part definition:

“Person A committed an act of euthanasia if and only if (1) A killed B or let her die; (2) A intended to kill B; (3) the intention specified in (2) was at least partial cause of the action specified in (1); (4) the causal journey from the intention specified in (2) to the action specified in (1) is more or less in accordance with A’s plan of action; (5) A’s killing of B is a voluntary action; (6) the motive for the action specified in (1), the motive standing behind the intention specified in (2), is the good of the person killed.”[20]

Wreen also considered a seventh requirement: “(7) The good specified in (6) is, or at least includes, the avoidance of evil”, although as Wreen noted in the paper, he was not convinced that the restriction was required.[21]

In discussing his definition, Wreen noted the difficulty of justifying euthanasia when faced with the notion of the subject’s “right to life”. In response, Wreen argued that euthanasia has to be voluntary, and that “involuntary euthanasia is, as such, a great wrong”.[21] Other commentators incorporate consent more directly into their definitions. For example, in a discussion of euthanasia presented in 2003 by the European Association of Palliative Care (EPAC) Ethics Task Force, the authors offered: “Medicalized killing of a person without the person’s consent, whether nonvoluntary (where the person in unable to consent) or involuntary (against the person’s will) is not euthanasia: it is murder. Hence, euthanasia can be voluntary only.”[22] Although the EPAC Ethics Task Force argued that both non-voluntary and involuntary euthanasia could not be included in the definition of euthanasia, there is discussion in the literature about excluding one but not the other.[21]

Euthanasia may be classified into three types, according to whether a person gives informed consent: voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary.[23][24]

There is a debate within the medical and bioethics literature about whether or not the non-voluntary (and by extension, involuntary) killing of patients can be regarded as euthanasia, irrespective of intent or the patient’s circumstances. In the definitions offered by Beauchamp and Davidson and, later, by Wreen, consent on the part of the patient was not considered as one of their criteria, although it may have been required to justify euthanasia.[11][25] However, others see consent as essential.

Voluntary euthanasia is conducted with the consent of the patient. Active voluntary euthanasia is legal in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Passive voluntary euthanasia is legal throughout the US per Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health. When the patient brings about his or her own death with the assistance of a physician, the term assisted suicide is often used instead. Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland and the U.S. states of California, Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont.

Non-voluntary euthanasia is conducted when the consent of the patient is unavailable. Examples include child euthanasia, which is illegal worldwide but decriminalised under certain specific circumstances in the Netherlands under the Groningen Protocol.

Involuntary euthanasia is conducted against the will of the patient.

Voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary types can be further divided into passive or active variants.[26] Passive euthanasia entails the withholding treatment necessary for the continuance of life.[3] Active euthanasia entails the use of lethal substances or forces (such as administering a lethal injection), and is the more controversial. While some authors consider these terms to be misleading and unhelpful, they are nonetheless commonly used. In some cases, such as the administration of increasingly necessary, but toxic doses of painkillers, there is a debate whether or not to regard the practice as active or passive.[3]

Euthanasia was practiced in Ancient Greece and Rome: for example, hemlock was employed as a means of hastening death on the island of Kea, a technique also employed in Marseilles. Euthanasia, in the sense of the deliberate hastening of a person’s death, was supported by Socrates, Plato and Seneca the Elder in the ancient world, although Hippocrates appears to have spoken against the practice, writing “I will not prescribe a deadly drug to please someone, nor give advice that may cause his death” (noting there is some debate in the literature about whether or not this was intended to encompass euthanasia).[27][28][29]

The term euthanasia in the earlier sense of supporting someone as they died, was used for the first time by Francis Bacon. In his work, Euthanasia medica, he chose this ancient Greek word and, in doing so, distinguished between euthanasia interior, the preparation of the soul for death, and euthanasia exterior, which was intended to make the end of life easier and painless, in exceptional circumstances by shortening life. That the ancient meaning of an easy death came to the fore again in the early modern period can be seen from its definition in the 18th century Zedlers Universallexikon:

Euthanasia: a very gentle and quiet death, which happens without painful convulsions. The word comes from , bene, well, and , mors, death.[30]

The concept of euthanasia in the sense of alleviating the process of death goes back to the medical historian, Karl Friedrich Heinrich Marx, who drew on Bacon’s philosophical ideas. According to Marx, a doctor had a moral duty to ease the suffering of death through encouragement, support and mitigation using medication. Such an “alleviation of death” reflected the contemporary zeitgeist, but was brought into the medical canon of responsibility for the first time by Marx. Marx also stressed the distinction between the theological care of the soul of sick people from the physical care and medical treatment by doctors.[31][32]

Euthanasia in its modern sense has always been strongly opposed in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Thomas Aquinas opposed both and argued that the practice of euthanasia contradicted our natural human instincts of survival,[33] as did Francois Ranchin (15651641), a French physician and professor of medicine, and Michael Boudewijns (16011681), a physician and teacher.[28]:208[34] Other voices argued for euthanasia, such as John Donne in 1624,[35] and euthanasia continued to be practised. In 1678, the publication of Caspar Questel’s De pulvinari morientibus non-subtrahend, (“On the pillow of which the dying should not be deprived”), initiated debate on the topic. Questel described various customs which were employed at the time to hasten the death of the dying, (including the sudden removal of a pillow, which was believed to accelerate death), and argued against their use, as doing so was “against the laws of God and Nature”.[28]:209211 This view was shared by others who followed, including Philipp Jakob Spener, Veit Riedlin and Johann Georg Krnitz.[28]:211 Despite opposition, euthanasia continued to be practised, involving techniques such as bleeding, suffocation, and removing people from their beds to be placed on the cold ground.[28]:211214

Suicide and euthanasia became more accepted during the Age of Enlightenment.[34] Thomas More wrote of euthanasia in Utopia, although it is not clear if More was intending to endorse the practice.[28]:208209 Other cultures have taken different approaches: for example, in Japan suicide has not traditionally been viewed as a sin, as it is used in cases of honor, and accordingly, the perceptions of euthanasia are different from those in other parts of the world.[36]

In the mid-1800s, the use of morphine to treat “the pains of death” emerged, with John Warren recommending its use in 1848. A similar use of chloroform was revealed by Joseph Bullar in 1866. However, in neither case was it recommended that the use should be to hasten death. In 1870 Samuel Williams, a schoolteacher, initiated the contemporary euthanasia debate through a speech given at the Birmingham Speculative Club in England, which was subsequently published in a one-off publication entitled Essays of the Birmingham Speculative Club, the collected works of a number of members of an amateur philosophical society.[37]:794 Williams’ proposal was to use chloroform to deliberately hasten the death of terminally ill patients:

That in all cases of hopeless and painful illness, it should be the recognized duty of the medical attendant, whenever so desired by the patient, to administer chloroform or such other anaesthetic as may by-and-bye supersede chloroform so as to destroy consciousness at once, and put the sufferer to a quick and painless death; all needful precautions being adopted to prevent any possible abuse of such duty; and means being taken to establish, beyond the possibility of doubt or question, that the remedy was applied at the express wish of the patient.

The essay was favourably reviewed in The Saturday Review, but an editorial against the essay appeared in The Spectator.[38] From there it proved to be influential, and other writers came out in support of such views: Lionel Tollemache wrote in favour of euthanasia, as did Annie Besant, the essayist and reformer who later became involved with the National Secular Society, considering it a duty to society to “die voluntarily and painlessly” when one reaches the point of becoming a ‘burden’.[38][39] Popular Science analyzed the issue in May 1873, assessing both sides of the argument.[40] Kemp notes that at the time, medical doctors did not participate in the discussion; it was “essentially a philosophical enterprise… tied inextricably to a number of objections to the Christian doctrine of the sanctity of human life”.[38]

The rise of the euthanasia movement in the United States coincided with the so-called Gilded Age, a time of social and technological change that encompassed an “individualistic conservatism that praised laissez-faire economics, scientific method, and rationalism”, along with major depressions, industrialisation and conflict between corporations and labour unions.[37]:794 It was also the period in which the modern hospital system was developed, which has been seen as a factor in the emergence of the euthanasia debate.[41]

Robert Ingersoll argued for euthanasia, stating in 1894 that where someone is suffering from a terminal illness, such as terminal cancer, they should have a right to end their pain through suicide. Felix Adler offered a similar approach, although, unlike Ingersoll, Adler did not reject religion. In fact, he argued from an Ethical Culture framework. In 1891, Alder argued that those suffering from overwhelming pain should have the right to commit suicide, and, furthermore, that it should be permissible for a doctor to assist thus making Adler the first “prominent American” to argue for suicide in cases where people were suffering from chronic illness.[42] Both Ingersoll and Adler argued for voluntary euthanasia of adults suffering from terminal ailments.[42] Dowbiggin argues that by breaking down prior moral objections to euthanasia and suicide, Ingersoll and Adler enabled others to stretch the definition of euthanasia.[43]

The first attempt to legalise euthanasia took place in the United States, when Henry Hunt introduced legislation into the General Assembly of Ohio in 1906.[44]:614 Hunt did so at the behest of Anna S. Hall, a wealthy heiress who was a major figure in the euthanasia movement during the early 20th century in the United States. Hall had watched her mother die after an extended battle with liver cancer, and had dedicated herself to ensuring that others would not have to endure the same suffering. Towards this end she engaged in an extensive letter writing campaign, recruited Lurana Sheldon and Maud Ballington Booth, and organised a debate on euthanasia at the annual meeting of the American Humane Association in 1905 described by Jacob Appel as the first significant public debate on the topic in the 20th century.[44]:614616

Hunt’s bill called for the administration of an anesthetic to bring about a patient’s death, so long as the person is of lawful age and sound mind, and was suffering from a fatal injury, an irrevocable illness, or great physical pain. It also required that the case be heard by a physician, required informed consent in front of three witnesses, and required the attendance of three physicians who had to agree that the patient’s recovery was impossible. A motion to reject the bill outright was voted down, but the bill failed to pass, 79 to 23.[37]:796[44]:618619

Along with the Ohio euthanasia proposal, in 1906 Assemblyman Ross Gregory introduced a proposal to permit euthanasia to the Iowa legislature. However, the Iowa legislation was broader in scope than that offered in Ohio. It allowed for the death of any person of at least ten years of age who suffered from an ailment that would prove fatal and cause extreme pain, should they be of sound mind and express a desire to artificially hasten their death. In addition, it allowed for infants to be euthanised if they were sufficiently deformed, and permitted guardians to request euthanasia on behalf of their wards. The proposed legislation also imposed penalties on physicians who refused to perform euthanasia when requested: a 612 month prison term and a fine of between $200 and $1,000. The proposal proved to be controversial.[44]:619621 It engendered considerable debate and failed to pass, having been withdrawn from consideration after being passed to the Committee on Public Health.[44]:623

After 1906 the euthanasia debate reduced in intensity, resurfacing periodically, but not returning to the same level of debate until the 1930s in the United Kingdom.[37]:796

Euthanasia opponent Ian Dowbiggin argues that the early membership of the Euthanasia Society of America (ESA) reflected how many perceived euthanasia at the time, often seeing it as a eugenics matter rather than an issue concerning individual rights.[42] Dowbiggin argues that not every eugenist joined the ESA “solely for eugenic reasons”, but he postulates that there were clear ideological connections between the eugenics and euthanasia movements.[42]

The Voluntary Euthanasia Legalisation Society was founded in 1935 by Charles Killick Millard (now called Dignity in Dying). The movement campaigned for the legalisation of euthanasia in Great Britain.

In January 1936, King George V was given a fatal dose of morphine and cocaine to hasten his death. At the time he was suffering from cardio-respiratory failure, and the decision to end his life was made by his physician, Lord Dawson.[45] Although this event was kept a secret for over 50 years, the death of George V coincided with proposed legislation in the House of Lords to legalise euthanasia.[46]

A 24 July 1939 killing of a severely disabled infant in Nazi Germany was described in a BBC “Genocide Under the Nazis Timeline” as the first “state-sponsored euthanasia”.[47] Parties that consented to the killing included Hitler’s office, the parents, and the Reich Committee for the Scientific Registration of Serious and Congenitally Based Illnesses.[47] The Telegraph noted that the killing of the disabled infantwhose name was Gerhard Kretschmar, born blind, with missing limbs, subject to convulsions, and reportedly “an idiot” provided “the rationale for a secret Nazi decree that led to ‘mercy killings’ of almost 300,000 mentally and physically handicapped people”.[48] While Kretchmar’s killing received parental consent, most of the 5,000 to 8,000 children killed afterwards were forcibly taken from their parents.[47][48]

The “euthanasia campaign” of mass murder gathered momentum on 14 January 1940 when the “handicapped” were killed with gas vans and killing centres, eventually leading to the deaths of 70,000 adult Germans.[49] Professor Robert Jay Lifton, author of The Nazi Doctors and a leading authority on the T4 program, contrasts this program with what he considers to be a genuine euthanasia. He explains that the Nazi version of “euthanasia” was based on the work of Adolf Jost, who published The Right to Death (Das Recht auf den Tod) in 1895. Lifton writes:

Jost argued that control over the death of the individual must ultimately belong to the social organism, the state. This concept is in direct opposition to the Anglo-American concept of euthanasia, which emphasizes the individual’s ‘right to die’ or ‘right to death’ or ‘right to his or her own death,’ as the ultimate human claim. In contrast, Jost was pointing to the state’s right to kill…. Ultimately the argument was biological: ‘The rights to death [are] the key to the fitness of life.’ The state must own deathmust killin order to keep the social organism alive and healthy.[50]

In modern terms, the use of “euthanasia” in the context of Action T4 is seen to be a euphemism to disguise a program of genocide, in which people were killed on the grounds of “disabilities, religious beliefs, and discordant individual values”.[51] Compared to the discussions of euthanasia that emerged post-war, the Nazi program may have been worded in terms that appear similar to the modern use of “euthanasia”, but there was no “mercy” and the patients were not necessarily terminally ill.[51] Despite these differences, historian and euthanasia opponent Ian Dowbiggin writes that “the origins of Nazi euthanasia, like those of the American euthanasia movement, predate the Third Reich and were intertwined with the history of eugenics and Social Darwinism, and with efforts to discredit traditional morality and ethics.”[42]:65

On 6 January 1949, the Euthanasia Society of America presented to the New York State Legislature a petition to legalize euthanasia, signed by 379 leading Protestant and Jewish ministers, the largest group of religious leaders ever to have taken this stance. A similar petition had been sent to the New York Legislature in 1947, signed by approximately 1,000 New York physicians. Catholic religious leaders criticized the petition, saying that such a bill would “legalize a suicide-murder pact” and a “rationalization of the fifth commandment of God, ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill.'”[52] The Right Reverend Robert E. McCormick stated that

“The ultimate object of the Euthanasia Society is based on the Totalitarian principle that the state is supreme and that the individual does not have the right to live if his continuance in life is a burden or hindrance to the state. The Nazis followed this principle and compulsory Euthanasia was practiced as a part of their program during the recent war. We American citizens of New York State must ask ourselves this question: ‘Are we going to finish Hitler’s job?'”[52]

The petition brought tensions between the American Euthanasia Society and the Catholic Church to a head that contributed to a climate of anti-Catholic sentiment generally, regarding issues such as birth control, eugenics, and population control. However, the petition did not result in any legal changes.[42]

Historically, the euthanasia debate has tended to focus on a number of key concerns. According to euthanasia opponent Ezekiel Emanuel, proponents of euthanasia have presented four main arguments: a) that people have a right to self-determination, and thus should be allowed to choose their own fate; b) assisting a subject to die might be a better choice than requiring that they continue to suffer; c) the distinction between passive euthanasia, which is often permitted, and active euthanasia, which is not substantive (or that the underlying principlethe doctrine of double effectis unreasonable or unsound); and d) permitting euthanasia will not necessarily lead to unacceptable consequences. Pro-euthanasia activists often point to countries like the Netherlands and Belgium, and states like Oregon, where euthanasia has been legalized, to argue that it is mostly unproblematic.

Similarly, Emanuel argues that there are four major arguments presented by opponents of euthanasia: a) not all deaths are painful; b) alternatives, such as cessation of active treatment, combined with the use of effective pain relief, are available; c) the distinction between active and passive euthanasia is morally significant; and d) legalising euthanasia will place society on a slippery slope,[53] which will lead to unacceptable consequences.[37]:797-8 In fact, in Oregon, in 2013, pain wasn’t one of the top five reasons people sought euthanasia. Top reasons were a loss of dignity, and a fear of burdening others.[54]

In the United States in 2013, 47% nationwide supported doctor-assisted suicide. This included 32% of Latinos, 29% of African-Americans, and almost nobody with disabilities.[54]

A 2015 Populus poll in the United Kingdom found broad public support for assisted dying. 82% of people supported the introduction of assisted dying laws, including 86% of people with disabilities.[55]

West’s Encyclopedia of American Law states that “a ‘mercy killing’ or euthanasia is generally considered to be a criminal homicide”[56] and is normally used as a synonym of homicide committed at a request made by the patient.[57]

The judicial sense of the term “homicide” includes any intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, even to relieve intractable suffering.[57][58][59] Not all homicide is unlawful.[60] Two designations of homicide that carry no criminal punishment are justifiable and excusable homicide.[60] In most countries this is not the status of euthanasia. The term “euthanasia” is usually confined to the active variety; the University of Washington website states that “euthanasia generally means that the physician would act directly, for instance by giving a lethal injection, to end the patient’s life”.[61] Physician-assisted suicide is thus not classified as euthanasia by the US State of Oregon, where it is legal under the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, and despite its name, it is not legally classified as suicide either.[62] Unlike physician-assisted suicide, withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatments with patient consent (voluntary) is almost unanimously considered, at least in the United States, to be legal.[63] The use of pain medication to relieve suffering, even if it hastens death, has been held as legal in several court decisions.[61]

Some governments around the world have legalized voluntary euthanasia but most commonly it is still considered to be criminal homicide. In the Netherlands and Belgium, where euthanasia has been legalized, it still remains homicide although it is not prosecuted and not punishable if the perpetrator (the doctor) meets certain legal conditions.[64][65][66][67]

In a historic judgment, the Supreme court of India legalized passive euthanasia. The apex court remarked in the judgment that the Constitution of India values liberty, dignity, autonomy, and privacy. A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra delivered a unanimous judgment.[68]

A 2010 survey in the United States of more than 10,000 physicians found that 16.3% of physicians would consider halting life-sustaining therapy because the family demanded it, even if they believed that it was premature. Approximately 54.5% would not, and the remaining 29.2% responded “it depends”.[69] The study also found that 45.8% of physicians agreed that physician-assisted suicide should be allowed in some cases; 40.7% did not, and the remaining 13.5% felt it depended.[69]

In the United Kingdom, the assisted dying campaign group Dignity in Dying cites research in which 54% of General Practitioners support or are neutral towards a law change on assisted dying.[70] Similarly, a 2017 Doctors.net.uk poll reported in the British Medical Journal stated that 55% of doctors believe assisted dying, in defined circumstances, should be legalised in the UK.[71]

The Roman Catholic Church strongly opposes and condemns euthanasia and assisted suicide as morally wrong. The Catholic Church states that, “Intentional euthanasia, whatever its forms or motives, is murder. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator”. Because of this, the practice is unacceptable within the Church.[72] The Orthodox Church in America, along with other Eastern Orthodox Churches, also opposes euthanasia stating that it must be condemned as murder stating that, “Euthanasia is the deliberate cessation to end human life.”[73]

Many non-Catholic churches in the United States take a stance against euthanasia. Among Protestant denominations, the Episcopal Church passed a resolution in 1991 opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide stating that it is “morally wrong and unacceptable to take a human life to relieve the suffering caused by incurable illnesses.” [73] Other Protestant churches which oppose euthanasia include:

The Church of England accepts passive euthanasia under some circumstances, but is strongly against active euthanasia, and has led opposition against recent attempt to legalise it.[83] The United Church of Canada accepts passive euthanasia under some circumstances, but is in general against active euthanasia, with growing acceptance now that active euthanasia has been partly legalised in Canada.[84].

Euthanasia is a complex issue in Islamic theology; however, in general it is considered contrary to Islamic law and holy texts. Among interpretations of the Koran and Hadith, the early termination of life is a crime, be it by suicide or helping one commit suicide. The various positions on the cessation of medical treatment are mixed and considered a different class of action than direct termination of life, especially if the patient is suffering. Suicide and euthanasia are both crimes in almost all Muslim majority countries.[85]

There is much debate on the topic of euthanasia in Judaic theology, ethics, and general opinion (especially in Israel and the United States). Passive euthanasia was declared legal by Israel’s highest court under certain conditions and has reached some level of acceptance. Active euthanasia remains illegal, however the topic is actively under debate with no clear consensus through legal, ethical, theological and spiritual perspectives.[86]

https://philpeople.org/profiles/stanley-sfekas-1 The End Of LifePhilosophical Inquiry 15 (1-2): 75-77. 1993.

See the article here:

Euthanasia – Wikipedia

Euthanasia | definition of euthanasia by Medical dictionary

euthanasia[uthah-nazhah]

1. an easy or painless death.

1. A quiet, painless death.

2. The intentional putting to death of a person with an incurable or painful disease intended as an act of mercy.

[eu- + G. thanatos, death]

1. an easy or painless death.

2. mercy killing; the deliberate ending of life of a person suffering from an incurable disease.

The act or practice of ending the life of a person or animal having a terminal illness or a medical condition that causes suffering perceived as incompatible with an acceptable quality of life, as by lethal injection or the suspension of certain medical treatments.

Etymology: Gk, eu, good; thanatos, death

2 an easy, quiet, painless death.

1. The intentional putting to death of a person with an incurable or painful disease, intended as an act of mercy.

[eu- + G. thanatos, death]

The act of putting a person or animal to death painlessly or allowing them to die by withholding medical services, usually because of a painful and incurable disease. Mercy killing is another term for euthanasia.

n the act of facilitating death in a terminally ill patient, whether by deliberate activity, such as the administration of drugs that hasten death (known as active euthanasia), or passive, as in the withholding of life-extending treatment (passive euthanasia).

1. A quiet, painless death.

2. The intentional putting to death of a person with an incurable or painful disease intended as an act of mercy.

[eu- + G. thanatos, death]

(thnzh), n an act of deliberately bringing about the death of a person who is suffering from an incurable disease or condition; also called mercy killing. Active euthanasia is illegal in most jurisdictions; passive euthanasia, or the withholding of some life support systems, has legal standing in some jurisdictions.

1. an easy or painless death.

2. the deliberate ending of life of an animal suffering from an incurable disease; called also mercy killing, to put down, to put to sleep.

For the individual animal intravenous injection of a massive dose of barbiturate is best. Any narcotizing drug creates difficulties if the carcass is to be disposed of for pet meat. In those cases shooting with a bullet or captive bolt pistol is recommended because of the speed of the despatch. For large numbers of animals at a pound or shelter, injection procedures are still superior to the bulk methods which all have the fallibility of poorly managed and supervised machinery. Carbon monoxide is very fast but dangerous to the operators of the cabinet. Electrocution cannot be performed en masse and gassing with carbon monoxide or lowering of the atmospheric pressure are not really quick enough. Small laboratory animals are still despatched by a sharp blow to the head and birds by guillotine or separation of the cervical vertebrae.

uses mains electrical current passed through the subject’s body via clips applied to the skin of the ear and the tail. Not much employed because of danger to human operators, likelihood of equipment failure and need for close contact with device.

The rest is here:

Euthanasia | definition of euthanasia by Medical dictionary

Euthanasia – ProCon.org

Proponents of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (PAS) contend that terminally ill people should have the right to end their suffering with a quick, dignified, and compassionate death. They argue that the right to die is protected by the same constitutional safeguards that guarantee such rights as marriage, procreation, and the refusal or termination of life-saving medical treatment.

Opponents of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide contend that doctors have a moral responsibility to keep their patients alive as reflected by the Hippocratic Oath. They argue there may be a “slippery slope” from euthanasia to murder, and that legalizing euthanasia will unfairly target the poor and disabled and create incentives for insurance companies to terminate lives in order to save money.

PROS & CONS BY CATEGORY

CORE QUESTION

Definitions

Euthanasia in Practice

Legal Right and End-of-Life Documents

American Healthcare System

Physician Involvement in Euthanasia and PAS

Moral Differences in Forms of Assisted Dying

Historical Issues

Opponents of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide contend that doctors have a moral responsibility to keep their patients alive as reflected by the Hippocratic Oath. They argue there may be a “slippery slope” from euthanasia to murder, and that legalizing euthanasia will unfairly target the poor and disabled and create incentives for insurance companies to terminate lives in order to save money.

PROS & CONS BY CATEGORY

CORE QUESTION

Definitions

Euthanasia in Practice

Legal Right and End-of-Life Documents

American Healthcare System

Physician Involvement in Euthanasia and PAS

Moral Differences in Forms of Assisted Dying

Historical Issues

See more here:

Euthanasia – ProCon.org

Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide & Health Care Decisions …

Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide & Health Care Decisions:Protecting Yourself & Your Family

Table of Contents |Part 1 |Part 2

byRita L. Marker

INTRODUCTION

The words euthanasia and assisted suicide are often used interchangeably. However, they are different and, in the law, they are treated differently. In this report, euthanasia is defined as intentionally, knowingly and directly acting to cause the death of another person (e.g., giving a lethal injection). Assisted suicide is defined as intentionally, knowingly and directly providing the means of death to another person so that the person can use that means to commit suicide (e.g., providing a prescription for a lethal dose of drugs).

Part I of this report discusses the reasons used by activists to promote changes in the law; the contradictions that the actual proposals have with those reasons; and the logical progression that occurs when euthanasia and assisted suicide are transformed into medical treatments. It explores the failure of so-called safeguards and outlines the impact that euthanasia and assisted suicide have on families and society in general.

Withholding and withdrawing medical treatment and care are not legally considered euthanasia or assisted suicide. Withholding or withdrawing food and fluids is considered acceptable removal of a medical treatment.

Part II of this report includes information about practical ways to protect oneself and loved ones during any time of incapacity and a discussion of some of the policies that have led to patients being denied care that they or their decision-makers have requested. It concludes with an examination of the ethical distinction between treatment and care.

PART I

EUTHANASIA & ASSISTED SUICIDE

MOVING THE BOUNDARIES

In 2002, the International Task Force report, Assisted Suicide: Not for Adults Only? (1) discussed euthanasia and assisted suicide for children and teens. At that time, such concerns were largely considered outside the realm of possibility.

Then, as now, assisted-suicide advocates claimed that they were only trying to offer compassionate options for competent, terminally ill adults who were suffering unbearably. By and large, their claims went unchallenged.

A crack in that carefully honed image appeared in 2004 when the Groningen Protocol elicited worldwide outrage. The primary purpose of that protocol formulated by doctors at the Groningen Academic Hospital in the Netherlands was to legally and professionally protect Dutch doctors who kill severely disabled newborns. (2)

While euthanasia for infants (infanticide) was not new, widespread discussion of it was. Dutch doctors were now explaining that it was a necessary part of pediatric care.

Also in 2004, Hollands most prestigious medical society (KNMG) urged the Health Ministry to set up a board to review euthanasia for people who had no free will, including children and individuals with mental retardation or severe brain damage following accidents. (3)

At first, it seemed that these revelations would be harmful to the euthanasia movement, but the opposite was true.

Why?

Awareness of infanticide and euthanasia deaths of other incompetent patients moved the boundaries.

Prior to the widespread realization that involuntary euthanasia was taking place, advocacy of assisted suicide for those who request it seemed to be on one end of the spectrum. Opposition to it was on the other end.

Now, the practice of involuntary euthanasia took its place as one extreme, opposition to it as the other extreme, and assisted suicide for terminally ill competent adults appeared to be in the moderate middle a very advantageous political position and expansion of the practice to others had entered the realm of respectable debate.

This repositioning has become a tool in the assisted-suicide arsenal. In May 2006, an assisted-suicide bill, patterned after Oregons law permitting assisted suicide, failed to gain approval in the British Parliament. The bills supporters immediately declared that they would reintroduce it during the next parliamentary session.

Within two weeks, Professor Len Doyal a former member of the British Medical Associations ethics committee who is considered one of Englands leading experts on medical ethics called for doctors to be able to end the lives of some patients swiftly, humanely and without guilt, even without the patients consent. (4) Doyals proposal was widely reported and, undoubtedly, when the next assisted-suicide bill is introduced in England, a measure that would permit assisted suicide only for consenting adults will appear less radical than it might have seemed prior to Doyals suggestion.

Currently, euthanasia is a medical treatment in the Netherlands and Belgium. Assisted suicide is a medical treatment in the Netherlands, Belgium and Oregon. Their advocates erroneously portray both practices as personal, private acts. However, legalization is not about the private and the personal. It is about public policy, and it affects ethics, medicine, law, families and children.

A FAMILY AFFAIR

In December 2005, ABC News World News Tonight reported, Anita and Frank go often to the burial place of their daughter Chanou. Chanou died when, with her parents consent, doctors gave her a lethal dose of morphine. Im convinced that if we meet again somewhere in heaven, her father said, shell tell us we reached the most perfect solution.'(5)

The report about the six-month-old Dutch childs death was introduced as a report on the debate over euthanizing infants. A Dutch legislator who agrees that doctors who intentionally end their tiny patients lives should not be prosecuted said, Im certainly pro-life. But Im also a human being. I think when there is extreme, unbearable suffering, then there can be extreme relief. (6)

Gone was the previous years outrage over the Groningen Protocols. Infanticide had entered the realm of respectable debate in the mainstream media. The message given to viewers was that loving parents, compassionate doctors and caring legislators favor infanticide. It left the impression that opposing such a death would be cold, unfeeling and, perhaps, intentionally cruel.

In Oregon, some assisted-suicide deaths have become family or social events.

Oregons law does not require family members to know that a loved one is planning to commit suicide with a doctors help. (7) Thus, the first knowledge of those plans could come when a family member finds the body. However, as two news features illustrate, some Oregonians who die from assisted suicide make it a teachable moment for children or a party event for friends and family.

According to the Mail Tribune (Medford, Oregon), on a sunny afternoon, Joan Lucas rode around looking at houses, then she sat in a park eating an ice cream cone. A few hours later, she committed suicide with a prescribed deadly drug overdose. Grandchildren were made to understand that Grandma Joan would be going away soon. Those who were old enough to understand were told what was happening. (8

Did these children learn from Grandma Joan that suicide is a good thing?

UCLAs student newspaper, the Daily Bruin, carried an article favoring assisted suicide. It described how Karen Janoch who committed suicide under the Oregon law, sent invitations for her suicide to about two dozen of her closest friends and family. The invitation read, You are invited to attend the actual ending of my life. (9) At the same time Californias legislature was considering an assisted-suicide bill that was virtually identical to Oregons law, UCLA students learned that suicide can be the occasion for a party.

In Oregon, assisted suicide has gone from the appalling to the appealing, from the tragic to the banal.

During the last half of 2005 and the first half of 2006, bills to legalize assisted suicide were under consideration in various states and countries including, but not limited to, Canada, Great Britain, California, Hawaii, Vermont, and Washington. All had met failure by the end of June 2006. But plans to reintroduce them with some cosmetic changes are currently underway. A brief examination of arguments used to promote them illustrates the small world nature of assisted-suicide advocacy.

TWO PILLARS OF ADVOCACY

Wherever an assisted-suicide measure is proposed, proponents arguments and strategies are similar. Invariably, promotion rests on two pillars: autonomy and the elimination of suffering.

Autonomy

Autonomy (independence and the right of self-determination) is certainly valued in modern society and patients do, and should, have the right to accept or reject medical treatment. However, those who favor assisted suicide claim that autonomy extends to the right of a patient to decide when, where, how and why to die as the following examples illustrate.

During debate over an assisted-suicide measure then pending before the British Parliament, proponents emphasized personal choice. The bill, titled The Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill, was introduced by Lord Joel Joffe. Dr. Margaret Branthwaite, a physician, barrister and former head of Englands Voluntary Euthanasia Society (recently renamed Dignity in Dying (10)), called for passage of the Joffe bill in an article in the British Medical Journal. As a matter of principle, she wrote, it reinforces current trends towards greater respect for personal autonomy. (11)

The focus on autonomy was also reflected in remarks about a plan to introduce an assisted-suicide initiative in Washington. Booth Gardner, former governor of Washington, said he plans to promote the initiative because it should be his decision when and how he dies. He told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, When I go, I want to decide. (12)

The rationale is that when, where, why and how one dies should be a matter of self-determination, a matter of independent choice, and a matter of personal autonomy.

Elimination of suffering

The second pillar of assisted-suicide advocacy is elimination of suffering. During each and every attempt to permit euthanasia and assisted suicide, its advocates stress that ending suffering justifies legalization of the practices.

California Assemblywoman Patty Berg, the co-sponsor of Californias euphemistically named Compassionate Choices Act, (13) said the assisted-suicide measure was necessary so that people would have the comfort of knowing they could escape unbearable suffering if that were to occur. (14)

In an opinion piece supporting the failed 1998 assisted-suicide initiative in Michigan, a spokesperson for those favoring the measure wrote that the patients targeted by the proposal were those who were tortured by the unbearable suffering of a slow and agonizing death. (15)

In the United Kingdom, Lord Joffe said his bill would enable those who are suffering unbearably to get medical assistance to die. (16) Testimony before the British House of Lords Select Committee studying the bill noted that, where assisted dying has been legalized, it has done so as a response to patients who were suffering. (17)

The centerpiece of the 1994 Measure 16 campaign that resulted in Oregons assisted-suicide law was a television commercial featuring Patti Rosen. Describing her daughter who had cancer, Rosen said, The pain was so great that she couldnt bear to be touched. Measure 16 would have allowed my daughter to die with dignity. (18)

When an assisted-suicide proposal that later failed was being considered by the Hawaiian legislature in 2002, a public relations consultant who was working on behalf of the bill, e-mailed a template for use in written or oral testimony. The template suggested inclusion of the phrases agonizingly painful, pain was uncontrollable, and pain beyond my understanding. (19)

During consideration of an assisted-suicide bill in Vermont, the states former governor Philip Hoff said, The last thing I would want in this world is to be around and be in pain, and have no quality of life, and be a burden to my family and others. (20) Dick Walters, chairman of Death with Dignity Vermont, said the proposal would permit a person to peacefully end suffering and hasten death. (21)

Thus, the rationale given by euthanasia and assisted-suicide proponents for legalization always includes autonomy and/or elimination of suffering. However, the laws they propose actually contradict this rationale.

CONTRADICTIONS

When proposed, laws such as those now in existence in Oregon and similar measures introduced elsewhere include conditions or requirements limiting assisted suicide to certain groups of qualified patients. A patient qualified to receive the treatment of assisted suicide must be an adult who is capable of making decisions and must be diagnosed with a terminal condition.

If one accepts the premise that assisted suicide is a good medical treatment that should be permitted on the basis of personal autonomy or elimination of suffering, other questions must be raised.

If the reason for permitting assisted suicide is autonomy, why should assisted suicide be limited to the terminally ill?

Does ones autonomy depend upon a doctors diagnosis (or misdiagnosis) of a terminal illness? If a person is not terminally ill, but is suffering whether physically, psychologically or emotionally why isnt it up to that person to decide when, why and how to die? Does a person only have autonomy if he or she has a particular condition or illness? Is autonomy a basis for the law?

If assisted suicide is a good and acceptable medical treatment for the purpose of ending suffering, why should it be limited to adults who are capable of decision-making?

Isnt it both discriminatory and cruel to deny that good and acceptable medical treatment to a child or an incompetent adult? Why is a medical treatment that has been deemed appropriate to end suffering available to an 18-year-old, but not to a 16-year-old or 17-year-old? Why is a person only eligible to have his or her suffering ended if he or she has reached an arbitrary age?

And, what of the adult who never was, or no longer is, capable of decision-making? Should that person be denied medical treatment that ends suffering? Are euthanasia and assisted-suicide laws based on the need to eliminate suffering, or not?

Establishing arbitrary requirements that must be met prior to qualifying for the medical treatment of euthanasia or assisted suicide does, without doubt, contradict the two pillars on which justification for the practices is based.

The question then must be asked: Why are those arbitrary requirements included in Oregons law and other similar proposals? The answer is simple. After a series of defeats, euthanasia and assisted-suicide proponents learned that they had to propose laws that appeared palatable.

In April 2005, Lord Joffe, the British bills sponsor, acknowledged that his bill was intended to be only the first step. During hearings regarding the measure, he said that this is the first stage and went on to explain that one should go forward in incremental stages. I believe that this bill should initially be limited. (22)

He repeated his remarks a year later when discussing hearings about his bill. I can assure you that I would prefer that the [proposed] law did apply to patients who were younger and who were not terminally ill but who were suffering unbearable, he said and added, I believe that this bill should initially be limited. (23)

STEP-BY-STEP APPROACH

Proposals for euthanasia and assisted suicide have always emanated from advocacy groups, not from any grassroots desire. Those groups learned that attempting to go too far, too fast, leads to certain defeat.

After many failed attempts, most recently those in the early 90s in Washington and California when ballot initiatives that would have permitted both euthanasia by lethal injection and assisted suicide by lethal prescription were resoundingly defeated death with dignity activists changed their strategy. They decided to take a step-by-step approach, proposing an assisted-suicide-only bill which, when passed, would serve as a model for subsequent laws. Only after several such laws were passed, would they begin to expand them. That was the strategy that led to Oregons Measure 16, the Oregon Death with Dignity Act.

Those who were most involved in the successful Oregon strategy were not new to the scene.

Cheryl K. Smith, who wrote the first draft of Oregons law, had served as a special counsel to the political action group Oregon Right to Die (ORD). Smith had been the National Hemlock Societys legal advisor after her graduation from law school in 1989 and had been a top aide to Hemlocks co-founder, Derek Humphry. While a student at the University of Iowa College of Law, Smith helped draft a Model Aid-in-Dying Act that provided for childrens lives to be terminated either at their own request or, if under 6 years of age, by parental request. (24)

Barbara Coombs Lee was Measure 16s chief petitioner. At the time, she was a vice president for a large Oregon managed care program. After the laws passage, she took over the leadership of Compassion in Dying. (25) [Note: In early 2005, Compassion in Dying merged with the Hemlock Society. The combined organization is now called Compassion and Choices.]

Coombs Lees promotion of assisted suicide and euthanasia began prior to her involvement with the Death with Dignity Act. As a legislative aide to Oregon Senator Frank Roberts in 1991, she worked on Senate Bill 114 that would have permitted euthanasia on request of a patient and, if the patient was not competent, a designated representative would have been authorized to request the patients death. (26)

Upon passage of the Oregon law in 1994, many assisted-suicide supporters were certain that other states would immediately fall in line. However, that did not occur. Between 1994 and mid-2006, assisted-suicide measures were introduced in state after state.(27) Each and every proposal failed. All of the proposals were assisted-suicide-only bills and, with one exception, (28) every one was virtually identical to the Oregon law.

Among supporters of assisted suicide and euthanasia, though, the Oregon law is seen as the model for success and is referred to in debates about assisted suicide throughout the world. For that reason, a careful examination of the Oregon experience is vital to understanding the problems with legalized assisted suicide.

OREGON

Under Oregons law permitting physician-assisted suicide, the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) previously called the Oregon Health Division (OHD) is required to collect information, review a sample of cases and publish a yearly statistical report. (29)

However, due to major flaws in the law and the states reporting system, there is no way to know for sure how many or under what circumstances patients have died from physician-assisted suicide. Statistics from official reports are particularly questionable and have left some observers skeptical about their validity.

For example, when a similar proposal was under consideration in the British Parliament, members of a House of Lords Committee traveled to Oregon seeking information regarding Oregons law for use in their deliberations. The public and press were not present during the closed-door hearings. However, the House of Lords published the committees proceedings in three lengthy volumes, which included the exact wording of questions and answers.

After hearing witnesses claim that there have been no complications associated with more than 200 assisted-suicide deaths, committee member Lord McColl of Dulwich, a surgeon, said, If any surgeon or physician had told me that he did 200 procedures without any complications, I knew that he possibly needed counseling and had no insight. We come here and I am told there are no complications. There is something strange going on. (30)

The following includes statistical data from official reports and other published information dealing with troubling aspects of the practice of assisted suicide in Oregon. Statements from the 744-page second volume of the House of Lords committee proceedings are also included. None of the included statements from the committee hearings were made by opponents of Oregons law.

OFFICIAL REPORTS

Assisted-suicide deaths reported during the first eight years

Official Reports: 246Actual Number: Unknown

The latest annual report indicates that reported assisted-suicide deaths have increased by more than 230% since the first year of legal assisted suicide in Oregon. (31) The numbers, however, could be far greater. From the time the law went into effect, Oregon officials in charge of formulating annual reports have conceded theres no way to know if additional deaths went unreported because Oregon DHS has no regulatory authority or resources to ensure compliance with the law. (32)

The DHS has to rely on the word of doctors who prescribe the lethal drugs. (33) Referring to physicians reports, the reporting division admitted: For that matter the entire account [received from a prescribing doctor] could have been a cock-and-bull story. We assume, however, that physicians were their usual careful and accurate selves. (34)

The Death with Dignity law contains no penalties for doctors who do not report prescribing lethal doses for the purpose of suicide.

Complications occurring during assisted suicide

Official Reports: 13 (12 instances of vomiting & one patient who did not die fromlethal dose.)

Actual number: Unknown

Prescribing doctors may not know about all complications since, over the course of eight years, physicians who prescribed the lethal drugs for assisted suicide were present at only 19.5% of reported deaths. (35) Information they provide might come from secondhand accounts of those present at the deaths (36) or may be based on guesswork.

When asked if there is any systematic way of finding out and recording complications, Dr. Katrina Hedberg who was a lead author of most of Oregons official reports said, Not other than asking physicians. (37) She acknowledged that after they write the prescription, the physician may not keep track of the patient. (38) Dr. Melvin Kohn, a lead author of the eighth annual report, noted that, in every case that they hear about, it is the self-report, if you will, of the physician involved. (39)

Complications contained in news reports are not included in official reports

Patrick Matheny received his lethal prescription from Oregon Health Science University via Federal Express. He had difficulty when he tried to take the drugs four months later. His brother-in-law, Joe Hayes, said he had to help Matheny die. According to Hayes, It doesnt go smoothly for everyone. For Pat it was a huge problem. It would have not worked without help. (40) The annual report did not make note of this situation.

Speaking at Portland Community College, pro-assisted-suicide attorney Cynthia Barrett described a botched assisted suicide. The man was at home. There was no doctor there, she said. After he took it [the lethal dose], he began to have some physical symptoms. The symptoms were hard for his wife to handle. Well, she called 911. The guy ended up being taken by 911 to a local Portland hospital. Revived. In the middle of it. And taken to a local nursing facility. I dont know if he went back home. He died shortly someperiod of time after that. (41)

Overdoses of barbiturates are known to cause vomiting as a person begins to lose consciousness. The patient then inhales the vomit. In other cases, panic, feelings of terror and assaultive behavior can occur from the drug-induced confusion. (42) But Barrett would not say exactly which symptoms had taken place in this instance. She has refused any further discussion of the case.

Complications are not investigated

David Prueitt took the prescribed lethal dose in the presence of his family and members of Compassion & Choices. After being unconscious for 65 hours, he awoke. It was only after his family told the media about the botched assisted suicide that Compassion & Choices publicly acknowledged the case. (43) DHS issued a release saying it has no authority to investigate individual Death with Dignity cases. (44)

Referring to DHSs ability to look into complications, Dr. Hedberg explained that we are not given the resources to investigate and not only do we not have the resources to do it, but we do not have any legal authority to insert ourselves. (45)

David Hopkins, Data Analyst for the Eighth Annual Report, said, We do not report to the Board of Medical Examiners if complications occur; no, it is not required by law and it is not part of our duty. (46)

Jim Kronenberg, the Oregon Medical Associations (OMA) Chief Operating Officer, explained that the way the law is set up there is really no way to determine that [complications occurred] unless there is some kind of disaster. [P]ersonally I have never had a report where there was a true disaster, he said. Certainly that does not mean that you should infer there has not been, I just do not know. (47)

In the Netherlands, assisted-suicide complications and problems are not uncommon. One Dutch study found that, because of problems or complications, doctors in the Netherlands felt compelled to intervene (by giving a lethal injection) in 18% of cases.(48)

This led Dr. Sherwin Nuland of Yale University School of Medicine to question the credibility of Oregons lack of reported complications. Nuland, who favors physician-assisted suicide, noted that the Dutch have had years of practice to learn ways to overcome complications, yet complications are still reported. The Dutch findings seem more credible [than the Oregon reports], he wrote. (49)

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Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide & Health Care Decisions …

Euthanasia – Wikipedia

Euthanasia (from Greek: ; “good death”: , eu; “well” or “good” , thanatos; “death”) is the practice of intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering.[1][2]

There are different euthanasia laws in each country. The British House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics defines euthanasia as “a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering”.[3] In the Netherlands and Belgium, euthanasia is understood as “termination of life by a doctor at the request of a patient”.[4] The Dutch law however, does not use the term ‘euthanasia’ but includes it under the broader definition of “assisted suicide and termination of life on request”.[5]

Euthanasia is categorized in different ways, which include voluntary, non-voluntary, or involuntary. Voluntary euthanasia is legal in some countries. Non-voluntary euthanasia (patient’s consent unavailable) is illegal in all countries. Involuntary euthanasia (without asking consent or against the patient’s will) is also illegal in all countries and is usually considered murder.[6] As of 2006, euthanasia is the most active area of research in contemporary bioethics.[7] In some countries there is a divisive public controversy over the moral, ethical, and legal issues of euthanasia. Passive euthanasia (known as “pulling the plug”) is legal under some circumstances in many countries. Active euthanasia however is legal or de facto legal in only a handful of countries (ex. Belgium, Canada, Switzerland) and is limited to specific circumstances and the approval of councilors and doctors or other specialists. In some countries such as Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, support for active euthanasia is almost non-existent.

Like other terms borrowed from history, “euthanasia” has had different meanings depending on usage. The first apparent usage of the term “euthanasia” belongs to the historian Suetonius, who described how the Emperor Augustus, “dying quickly and without suffering in the arms of his wife, Livia, experienced the ‘euthanasia’ he had wished for.”[8] The word “euthanasia” was first used in a medical context by Francis Bacon in the 17th century, to refer to an easy, painless, happy death, during which it was a “physician’s responsibility to alleviate the ‘physical sufferings’ of the body.” Bacon referred to an “outward euthanasia”the term “outward” he used to distinguish from a spiritual conceptthe euthanasia “which regards the preparation of the soul.”[9]

In current usage, euthanasia has been defined as the “painless inducement of a quick death”.[10] However, it is argued that this approach fails to properly define euthanasia, as it leaves open a number of possible actions which would meet the requirements of the definition, but would not be seen as euthanasia. In particular, these include situations where a person kills another, painlessly, but for no reason beyond that of personal gain; or accidental deaths that are quick and painless, but not intentional.[11][12]

Another approach incorporates the notion of suffering into the definition.[11] The definition offered by the Oxford English Dictionary incorporates suffering as a necessary condition, with “the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma”,[13] This approach is included in Marvin Khol and Paul Kurtz’s definition of it as “a mode or act of inducing or permitting death painlessly as a relief from suffering”.[14] Counterexamples can be given: such definitions may encompass killing a person suffering from an incurable disease for personal gain (such as to claim an inheritance), and commentators such as Tom Beauchamp and Arnold Davidson have argued that doing so would constitute “murder simpliciter” rather than euthanasia.[11]

The third element incorporated into many definitions is that of intentionality the death must be intended, rather than being accidental, and the intent of the action must be a “merciful death”.[11] Michael Wreen argued that “the principal thing that distinguishes euthanasia from intentional killing simpliciter is the agent’s motive: it must be a good motive insofar as the good of the person killed is concerned.”[15] Similarly, Heather Draper speaks to the importance of motive, arguing that “the motive forms a crucial part of arguments for euthanasia, because it must be in the best interests of the person on the receiving end.”[12] Definitions such as that offered by the House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics take this path, where euthanasia is defined as “a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering.”[3] Beauchamp and Davidson also highlight Baruch Brody’s “an act of euthanasia is one in which one person… (A) kills another person (B) for the benefit of the second person, who actually does benefit from being killed”.[16]

Draper argued that any definition of euthanasia must incorporate four elements: an agent and a subject; an intention; a causal proximity, such that the actions of the agent lead to the outcome; and an outcome. Based on this, she offered a definition incorporating those elements, stating that euthanasia “must be defined as death that results from the intention of one person to kill another person, using the most gentle and painless means possible, that is motivated solely by the best interests of the person who dies.”[17] Prior to Draper, Beauchamp and Davidson had also offered a definition that includes these elements. Their definition specifically discounts fetuses to distinguish between abortions and euthanasia:[18]

“In summary, we have argued… that the death of a human being, A, is an instance of euthanasia if and only if (1) A’s death is intended by at least one other human being, B, where B is either the cause of death or a causally relevant feature of the event resulting in death (whether by action or by omission); (2) there is either sufficient current evidence for B to believe that A is acutely suffering or irreversibly comatose, or there is sufficient current evidence related to A’s present condition such that one or more known causal laws supports B’s belief that A will be in a condition of acute suffering or irreversible comatoseness; (3) (a) B’s primary reason for intending A’s death is cessation of A’s (actual or predicted future) suffering or irreversible comatoseness, where B does not intend A’s death for a different primary reason, though there may be other relevant reasons, and (b) there is sufficient current evidence for either A or B that causal means to A’s death will not produce any more suffering than would be produced for A if B were not to intervene; (4) the causal means to the event of A’s death are chosen by A or B to be as painless as possible, unless either A or B has an overriding reason for a more painful causal means, where the reason for choosing the latter causal means does not conflict with the evidence in 3b; (5) A is a nonfetal organism.”[19]

Wreen, in part responding to Beauchamp and Davidson, offered a six-part definition:

“Person A committed an act of euthanasia if and only if (1) A killed B or let her die; (2) A intended to kill B; (3) the intention specified in (2) was at least partial cause of the action specified in (1); (4) the causal journey from the intention specified in (2) to the action specified in (1) is more or less in accordance with A’s plan of action; (5) A’s killing of B is a voluntary action; (6) the motive for the action specified in (1), the motive standing behind the intention specified in (2), is the good of the person killed.”[20]

Wreen also considered a seventh requirement: “(7) The good specified in (6) is, or at least includes, the avoidance of evil”, although as Wreen noted in the paper, he was not convinced that the restriction was required.[21]

In discussing his definition, Wreen noted the difficulty of justifying euthanasia when faced with the notion of the subject’s “right to life”. In response, Wreen argued that euthanasia has to be voluntary, and that “involuntary euthanasia is, as such, a great wrong”.[21] Other commentators incorporate consent more directly into their definitions. For example, in a discussion of euthanasia presented in 2003 by the European Association of Palliative Care (EPAC) Ethics Task Force, the authors offered: “Medicalized killing of a person without the person’s consent, whether nonvoluntary (where the person in unable to consent) or involuntary (against the person’s will) is not euthanasia: it is murder. Hence, euthanasia can be voluntary only.”[22] Although the EPAC Ethics Task Force argued that both non-voluntary and involuntary euthanasia could not be included in the definition of euthanasia, there is discussion in the literature about excluding one but not the other.[21]

Euthanasia may be classified into three types, according to whether a person gives informed consent: voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary.[23][24]

There is a debate within the medical and bioethics literature about whether or not the non-voluntary (and by extension, involuntary) killing of patients can be regarded as euthanasia, irrespective of intent or the patient’s circumstances. In the definitions offered by Beauchamp and Davidson and, later, by Wreen, consent on the part of the patient was not considered as one of their criteria, although it may have been required to justify euthanasia.[11][25] However, others see consent as essential.

Voluntary euthanasia is conducted with the consent of the patient. Active voluntary euthanasia is legal in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Passive voluntary euthanasia is legal throughout the US per Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health. When the patient brings about his or her own death with the assistance of a physician, the term assisted suicide is often used instead. Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland and the U.S. states of California, Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont.

Non-voluntary euthanasia is conducted when the consent of the patient is unavailable. Examples include child euthanasia, which is illegal worldwide but decriminalised under certain specific circumstances in the Netherlands under the Groningen Protocol.

Involuntary euthanasia is conducted against the will of the patient.

Voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary types can be further divided into passive or active variants.[26] Passive euthanasia entails the withholding treatment necessary for the continuance of life.[3] Active euthanasia entails the use of lethal substances or forces (such as administering a lethal injection), and is the more controversial. While some authors consider these terms to be misleading and unhelpful, they are nonetheless commonly used. In some cases, such as the administration of increasingly necessary, but toxic doses of painkillers, there is a debate whether or not to regard the practice as active or passive.[3]

Euthanasia was practiced in Ancient Greece and Rome: for example, hemlock was employed as a means of hastening death on the island of Kea, a technique also employed in Marseilles. Euthanasia, in the sense of the deliberate hastening of a person’s death, was supported by Socrates, Plato and Seneca the Elder in the ancient world, although Hippocrates appears to have spoken against the practice, writing “I will not prescribe a deadly drug to please someone, nor give advice that may cause his death” (noting there is some debate in the literature about whether or not this was intended to encompass euthanasia).[27][28][29]

The term euthanasia in the earlier sense of supporting someone as they died, was used for the first time by Francis Bacon. In his work, Euthanasia medica, he chose this ancient Greek word and, in doing so, distinguished between euthanasia interior, the preparation of the soul for death, and euthanasia exterior, which was intended to make the end of life easier and painless, in exceptional circumstances by shortening life. That the ancient meaning of an easy death came to the fore again in the early modern period can be seen from its definition in the 18th century Zedlers Universallexikon:

Euthanasia: a very gentle and quiet death, which happens without painful convulsions. The word comes from , bene, well, and , mors, death.[30]

The concept of euthanasia in the sense of alleviating the process of death goes back to the medical historian, Karl Friedrich Heinrich Marx, who drew on Bacon’s philosophical ideas. According to Marx, a doctor had a moral duty to ease the suffering of death through encouragement, support and mitigation using medication. Such an “alleviation of death” reflected the contemporary zeitgeist, but was brought into the medical canon of responsibility for the first time by Marx. Marx also stressed the distinction between the theological care of the soul of sick people from the physical care and medical treatment by doctors.[31][32]

Euthanasia in its modern sense has always been strongly opposed in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Thomas Aquinas opposed both and argued that the practice of euthanasia contradicted our natural human instincts of survival,[33] as did Francois Ranchin (15651641), a French physician and professor of medicine, and Michael Boudewijns (16011681), a physician and teacher.[28]:208[34] Other voices argued for euthanasia, such as John Donne in 1624,[35] and euthanasia continued to be practised. In 1678, the publication of Caspar Questel’s De pulvinari morientibus non-subtrahend, (“On the pillow of which the dying should not be deprived”), initiated debate on the topic. Questel described various customs which were employed at the time to hasten the death of the dying, (including the sudden removal of a pillow, which was believed to accelerate death), and argued against their use, as doing so was “against the laws of God and Nature”.[28]:209211 This view was shared by others who followed, including Philipp Jakob Spener, Veit Riedlin and Johann Georg Krnitz.[28]:211 Despite opposition, euthanasia continued to be practised, involving techniques such as bleeding, suffocation, and removing people from their beds to be placed on the cold ground.[28]:211214

Suicide and euthanasia became more accepted during the Age of Enlightenment.[34] Thomas More wrote of euthanasia in Utopia, although it is not clear if More was intending to endorse the practice.[28]:208209 Other cultures have taken different approaches: for example, in Japan suicide has not traditionally been viewed as a sin, as it is used in cases of honor, and accordingly, the perceptions of euthanasia are different from those in other parts of the world.[36]

In the mid-1800s, the use of morphine to treat “the pains of death” emerged, with John Warren recommending its use in 1848. A similar use of chloroform was revealed by Joseph Bullar in 1866. However, in neither case was it recommended that the use should be to hasten death. In 1870 Samuel Williams, a schoolteacher, initiated the contemporary euthanasia debate through a speech given at the Birmingham Speculative Club in England, which was subsequently published in a one-off publication entitled Essays of the Birmingham Speculative Club, the collected works of a number of members of an amateur philosophical society.[37]:794 Williams’ proposal was to use chloroform to deliberately hasten the death of terminally ill patients:

That in all cases of hopeless and painful illness, it should be the recognized duty of the medical attendant, whenever so desired by the patient, to administer chloroform or such other anaesthetic as may by-and-bye supersede chloroform so as to destroy consciousness at once, and put the sufferer to a quick and painless death; all needful precautions being adopted to prevent any possible abuse of such duty; and means being taken to establish, beyond the possibility of doubt or question, that the remedy was applied at the express wish of the patient.

The essay was favourably reviewed in The Saturday Review, but an editorial against the essay appeared in The Spectator.[38] From there it proved to be influential, and other writers came out in support of such views: Lionel Tollemache wrote in favour of euthanasia, as did Annie Besant, the essayist and reformer who later became involved with the National Secular Society, considering it a duty to society to “die voluntarily and painlessly” when one reaches the point of becoming a ‘burden’.[38][39] Popular Science analyzed the issue in May 1873, assessing both sides of the argument.[40] Kemp notes that at the time, medical doctors did not participate in the discussion; it was “essentially a philosophical enterprise… tied inextricably to a number of objections to the Christian doctrine of the sanctity of human life”.[38]

The rise of the euthanasia movement in the United States coincided with the so-called Gilded Age, a time of social and technological change that encompassed an “individualistic conservatism that praised laissez-faire economics, scientific method, and rationalism”, along with major depressions, industrialisation and conflict between corporations and labour unions.[37]:794 It was also the period in which the modern hospital system was developed, which has been seen as a factor in the emergence of the euthanasia debate.[41]

Robert Ingersoll argued for euthanasia, stating in 1894 that where someone is suffering from a terminal illness, such as terminal cancer, they should have a right to end their pain through suicide. Felix Adler offered a similar approach, although, unlike Ingersoll, Adler did not reject religion. In fact, he argued from an Ethical Culture framework. In 1891, Alder argued that those suffering from overwhelming pain should have the right to commit suicide, and, furthermore, that it should be permissible for a doctor to assist thus making Adler the first “prominent American” to argue for suicide in cases where people were suffering from chronic illness.[42] Both Ingersoll and Adler argued for voluntary euthanasia of adults suffering from terminal ailments.[42] Dowbiggin argues that by breaking down prior moral objections to euthanasia and suicide, Ingersoll and Adler enabled others to stretch the definition of euthanasia.[43]

The first attempt to legalise euthanasia took place in the United States, when Henry Hunt introduced legislation into the General Assembly of Ohio in 1906.[44]:614 Hunt did so at the behest of Anna S. Hall, a wealthy heiress who was a major figure in the euthanasia movement during the early 20th century in the United States. Hall had watched her mother die after an extended battle with liver cancer, and had dedicated herself to ensuring that others would not have to endure the same suffering. Towards this end she engaged in an extensive letter writing campaign, recruited Lurana Sheldon and Maud Ballington Booth, and organised a debate on euthanasia at the annual meeting of the American Humane Association in 1905 described by Jacob Appel as the first significant public debate on the topic in the 20th century.[44]:614616

Hunt’s bill called for the administration of an anesthetic to bring about a patient’s death, so long as the person is of lawful age and sound mind, and was suffering from a fatal injury, an irrevocable illness, or great physical pain. It also required that the case be heard by a physician, required informed consent in front of three witnesses, and required the attendance of three physicians who had to agree that the patient’s recovery was impossible. A motion to reject the bill outright was voted down, but the bill failed to pass, 79 to 23.[37]:796[44]:618619

Along with the Ohio euthanasia proposal, in 1906 Assemblyman Ross Gregory introduced a proposal to permit euthanasia to the Iowa legislature. However, the Iowa legislation was broader in scope than that offered in Ohio. It allowed for the death of any person of at least ten years of age who suffered from an ailment that would prove fatal and cause extreme pain, should they be of sound mind and express a desire to artificially hasten their death. In addition, it allowed for infants to be euthanised if they were sufficiently deformed, and permitted guardians to request euthanasia on behalf of their wards. The proposed legislation also imposed penalties on physicians who refused to perform euthanasia when requested: a 612 month prison term and a fine of between $200 and $1,000. The proposal proved to be controversial.[44]:619621 It engendered considerable debate and failed to pass, having been withdrawn from consideration after being passed to the Committee on Public Health.[44]:623

After 1906 the euthanasia debate reduced in intensity, resurfacing periodically, but not returning to the same level of debate until the 1930s in the United Kingdom.[37]:796

Euthanasia opponent Ian Dowbiggin argues that the early membership of the Euthanasia Society of America (ESA) reflected how many perceived euthanasia at the time, often seeing it as a eugenics matter rather than an issue concerning individual rights.[42] Dowbiggin argues that not every eugenist joined the ESA “solely for eugenic reasons”, but he postulates that there were clear ideological connections between the eugenics and euthanasia movements.[42]

The Voluntary Euthanasia Legalisation Society was founded in 1935 by Charles Killick Millard (now called Dignity in Dying). The movement campaigned for the legalisation of euthanasia in Great Britain.

In January 1936, King George V was given a fatal dose of morphine and cocaine to hasten his death. At the time he was suffering from cardio-respiratory failure, and the decision to end his life was made by his physician, Lord Dawson.[45] Although this event was kept a secret for over 50 years, the death of George V coincided with proposed legislation in the House of Lords to legalise euthanasia.[46]

A 24 July 1939 killing of a severely disabled infant in Nazi Germany was described in a BBC “Genocide Under the Nazis Timeline” as the first “state-sponsored euthanasia”.[47] Parties that consented to the killing included Hitler’s office, the parents, and the Reich Committee for the Scientific Registration of Serious and Congenitally Based Illnesses.[47] The Telegraph noted that the killing of the disabled infantwhose name was Gerhard Kretschmar, born blind, with missing limbs, subject to convulsions, and reportedly “an idiot” provided “the rationale for a secret Nazi decree that led to ‘mercy killings’ of almost 300,000 mentally and physically handicapped people”.[48] While Kretchmar’s killing received parental consent, most of the 5,000 to 8,000 children killed afterwards were forcibly taken from their parents.[47][48]

The “euthanasia campaign” of mass murder gathered momentum on 14 January 1940 when the “handicapped” were killed with gas vans and killing centres, eventually leading to the deaths of 70,000 adult Germans.[49] Professor Robert Jay Lifton, author of The Nazi Doctors and a leading authority on the T4 program, contrasts this program with what he considers to be a genuine euthanasia. He explains that the Nazi version of “euthanasia” was based on the work of Adolf Jost, who published The Right to Death (Das Recht auf den Tod) in 1895. Lifton writes:

Jost argued that control over the death of the individual must ultimately belong to the social organism, the state. This concept is in direct opposition to the Anglo-American concept of euthanasia, which emphasizes the individual’s ‘right to die’ or ‘right to death’ or ‘right to his or her own death,’ as the ultimate human claim. In contrast, Jost was pointing to the state’s right to kill…. Ultimately the argument was biological: ‘The rights to death [are] the key to the fitness of life.’ The state must own deathmust killin order to keep the social organism alive and healthy.[50]

In modern terms, the use of “euthanasia” in the context of Action T4 is seen to be a euphemism to disguise a program of genocide, in which people were killed on the grounds of “disabilities, religious beliefs, and discordant individual values”.[51] Compared to the discussions of euthanasia that emerged post-war, the Nazi program may have been worded in terms that appear similar to the modern use of “euthanasia”, but there was no “mercy” and the patients were not necessarily terminally ill.[51] Despite these differences, historian and euthanasia opponent Ian Dowbiggin writes that “the origins of Nazi euthanasia, like those of the American euthanasia movement, predate the Third Reich and were intertwined with the history of eugenics and Social Darwinism, and with efforts to discredit traditional morality and ethics.”[42]:65

On 6 January 1949, the Euthanasia Society of America presented to the New York State Legislature a petition to legalize euthanasia, signed by 379 leading Protestant and Jewish ministers, the largest group of religious leaders ever to have taken this stance. A similar petition had been sent to the New York Legislature in 1947, signed by approximately 1,000 New York physicians. Catholic religious leaders criticized the petition, saying that such a bill would “legalize a suicide-murder pact” and a “rationalization of the fifth commandment of God, ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill.'”[52] The Right Reverend Robert E. McCormick stated that

“The ultimate object of the Euthanasia Society is based on the Totalitarian principle that the state is supreme and that the individual does not have the right to live if his continuance in life is a burden or hindrance to the state. The Nazis followed this principle and compulsory Euthanasia was practiced as a part of their program during the recent war. We American citizens of New York State must ask ourselves this question: ‘Are we going to finish Hitler’s job?'”[52]

The petition brought tensions between the American Euthanasia Society and the Catholic Church to a head that contributed to a climate of anti-Catholic sentiment generally, regarding issues such as birth control, eugenics, and population control. However, the petition did not result in any legal changes.[42]

Historically, the euthanasia debate has tended to focus on a number of key concerns. According to euthanasia opponent Ezekiel Emanuel, proponents of euthanasia have presented four main arguments: a) that people have a right to self-determination, and thus should be allowed to choose their own fate; b) assisting a subject to die might be a better choice than requiring that they continue to suffer; c) the distinction between passive euthanasia, which is often permitted, and active euthanasia, which is not substantive (or that the underlying principlethe doctrine of double effectis unreasonable or unsound); and d) permitting euthanasia will not necessarily lead to unacceptable consequences. Pro-euthanasia activists often point to countries like the Netherlands and Belgium, and states like Oregon, where euthanasia has been legalized, to argue that it is mostly unproblematic.

Similarly, Emanuel argues that there are four major arguments presented by opponents of euthanasia: a) not all deaths are painful; b) alternatives, such as cessation of active treatment, combined with the use of effective pain relief, are available; c) the distinction between active and passive euthanasia is morally significant; and d) legalising euthanasia will place society on a slippery slope,[53] which will lead to unacceptable consequences.[37]:797-8 In fact, in Oregon, in 2013, pain wasn’t one of the top five reasons people sought euthanasia. Top reasons were a loss of dignity, and a fear of burdening others.[54]

In the United States in 2013, 47% nationwide supported doctor-assisted suicide. This included 32% of Latinos, 29% of African-Americans, and almost nobody with disabilities.[54]

West’s Encyclopedia of American Law states that “a ‘mercy killing’ or euthanasia is generally considered to be a criminal homicide”[55] and is normally used as a synonym of homicide committed at a request made by the patient.[56]

The judicial sense of the term “homicide” includes any intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, even to relieve intractable suffering.[56][57][58] Not all homicide is unlawful.[59] Two designations of homicide that carry no criminal punishment are justifiable and excusable homicide.[59] In most countries this is not the status of euthanasia. The term “euthanasia” is usually confined to the active variety; the University of Washington website states that “euthanasia generally means that the physician would act directly, for instance by giving a lethal injection, to end the patient’s life”.[60] Physician-assisted suicide is thus not classified as euthanasia by the US State of Oregon, where it is legal under the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, and despite its name, it is not legally classified as suicide either.[61] Unlike physician-assisted suicide, withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatments with patient consent (voluntary) is almost unanimously considered, at least in the United States, to be legal.[62] The use of pain medication to relieve suffering, even if it hastens death, has been held as legal in several court decisions.[60]

Some governments around the world have legalized voluntary euthanasia but most commonly it is still considered to be criminal homicide. In the Netherlands and Belgium, where euthanasia has been legalized, it still remains homicide although it is not prosecuted and not punishable if the perpetrator (the doctor) meets certain legal conditions.[63][64][65][66]

In a historic judgment, the Supreme court of India legalized passive euthanasia. The apex court remarked in the judgment that the Constitution of India values liberty, dignity, autonomy, and privacy. A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra delivered a unanimous judgment.[67]

A 2010 survey in the United States of more than 10,000 physicians found that 16.3% of physicians would consider halting life-sustaining therapy because the family demanded it, even if they believed that it was premature. Approximately 54.5% would not, and the remaining 29.2% responded “it depends”.[68] The study also found that 45.8% of physicians agreed that physician-assisted suicide should be allowed in some cases; 40.7% did not, and the remaining 13.5% felt it depended.[68]

In the United Kingdom, the pro-assisted dying group Dignity in Dying cite conflicting research on attitudes by doctors to assisted dying: with a 2009 Palliative Medicine-published survey showing 64% support (to 34% oppose) for assisted dying in cases where a patient has an incurable and painful disease, while 49% of doctors in a study published in BMC Medical Ethics oppose changing the law on assisted dying to 39% in favour.[69]

The Roman Catholic Church strongly opposes and condemns euthanasia and assisted suicide as morally wrong. The Catholic Church states that, “Intentional euthanasia, whatever its forms or motives, is murder. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator”. Because of this, the practice is unacceptable within the Church.[70] The Orthodox Church in America, along with other Eastern Orthodox Churches, also opposes euthanasia stating that it must be condemned as murder stating that, “Euthanasia is the deliberate cessation to end human life.”[71]

Many non-Catholic churches in the United States take a stance against euthanasia. Among Protestant denominations, the Episcopal Church passed a resolution in 1991 opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide stating that it is “morally wrong and unacceptable to take a human life to relieve the suffering caused by incurable illnesses.” [71] Other Protestant churches which oppose euthanasia include:

The Church of England accepts passive euthanasia under some circumstances, but is strongly against active euthanasia, and has led opposition against recent attempt to legalise it.[81] The United Church of Canada accepts passive euthanasia under some circumstances, but is in general against active euthanasia, with growing acceptance now that active euthanasia has been partly legalised in Canada.[82].

Euthanasia is a complex issue in Islamic theology; however, in general it is considered contrary to Islamic law and holy texts. Among interpretations of the Koran and Hadith, the early termination of life is a crime, be it by suicide or helping one commit suicide. The various positions on the cessation of medical treatment are mixed and considered a different class of action than direct termination of life, especially if the patient is suffering. Suicide and euthanasia are both crimes in almost all Muslim majority countries.[83]

There is much debate on the topic of euthanasia in Judaic theology, ethics, and general opinion (especially in Israel and the United States). Passive euthanasia was declared legal by Israel’s highest court under certain conditions and has reached some level of acceptance. Active euthanasia remains illegal, however the topic is actively under debate with no clear consensus through legal, ethical, theological and spiritual perspectives.[84]

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Euthanasia – Wikipedia

Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide: All sides to …

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A root cause for the desire to commit suicide is often depression. This can often be controlled with medication. If you are depressed, I strongly recommend that you seek medical help to see if your depression can be lifted.

Another cause of suicidal ideation is often intolerable levels of pain associated with a terminal illness, like cancer. Many physicians are reluctant to prescribe high levels of some pain killers out of fear that the person will become addicted to them. If you are suffering from pain in spite of medication, try insisting on better levels or types of pain killers. Recruit friends and family to intercede with your physician if you can.

If you feel overwhelmed and lack an effective support system of friends and family, consider tapping into the services of a crisis hotline. These are called by various names: distress centers, crisis centers, suicide prevention centers, etc. Their telephone numbers can often be found in the first page(s) of your telephone directory. If you cannot find a number for a center in your area, try phoning directory assistance at 4-1-1.

In the United States, you can call 1-800-273-TALK. See: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ They will direct you to a crisis center in your area.

U.S. Crisis Center map

Crisis centers/distress centers/ etc are often confidential services that you can phone up at any time of the day or night for support. You can usually remain anonymous.

Wikipedia lists suicide crisis lines for many countries from Australia to the United States at: https://en.wikipedia.org/ Although these lines are often called “suicide prevention lines” or “crisis lines.” most of the people calling are not suicidal, not in crisis, but are in distress. So, don’t be reluctant to call them because you are not suicidal or in crisis.

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Throughout North America, committing suicide or attempting to commit suicide is no longer a criminal offense. However, helping another person commit suicide is generally considered a criminal act. A few exceptions are:

There were four failed ballot initiatives between 1991 and 2000:

Between 1994 and 2016, there have been in excess of 75 legislative bills to legalize PAS in at least 21 states. Almost all failed to become law. 4

The author of this section is approaching his 80th birthday and is in good health. To him, end of life issues have taken on a personal aspect. Being an Agnostic, he doubts the existence of an afterlife. He does not fear death. He does not fear being dead. However, he has considerable fear about the process of dying, For many people in North America is an agonizingly painful and lengthy process during which time one’s enjoyment of life often drops to zero and becomes negative without any hope that it will return to positive territory. Fortunately for him, he lives in Canada which — like all other developed countries except for the U.S. — has universal health care. So he will receive competent medical attention. Unfortunately, pain management is often as poorly managed in Canada as it is in the U.S. He regards suicide as a civil right and would prefer that he have access to a means of suicide if life becomes unbearable. He thus strongly supports legalizing physician assisted suicide.

He is critical of PAS laws that have been passed to date because they generally give access to assisted dying only to terminally ill people who are expected to die in the near future of natural causes. They do not do anything for people who experience chronic, overwhelming pain with no hope of relief for years.

He has attempted to remain impartial, objective and fair while writing these essays.

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Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide: All sides to …

Euthanasia – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Euthanasia is when a person’s life is ended because of disease or pain, which has made them suffer. This is different from assisted suicide, where a person helps someone kill themselves. It is also different to murder, where the reason is not suffering, but to kill for the killer’s own ends. Euthanasia can be voluntary, where the person who dies asks for help in ending their life. Where the person is unable to make their decision known, it is usually called non-voluntary euthanasia. Where someone is killed against their will, it is usually called murder.

Euthanasia is illegal in most countries. It is permitted in a small number of countries, such as the Netherlands, Belgium and Victoria, Australia.[1] Where it is permitted there are many rules, and only in cases where the patient is terminally ill. Though euthanasia is not legal in the United States, doctors can assist people to kill themselves. This is legal in Washington, Oregon, and Montana. Physician Assisted Suicide (PAD) is different to euthanasia; it is about who gives the medication to end a patients life. The World Federation of Right to Die Societies says physician-assisted suicide means “making lethal means available to the patient to be used at a time of the patients own choosing.” In these cases the patient takes the legal dose of poison themselves, it is not given by the doctor. It is euthanasia when the doctor has the main role in ending the patients life by giving the poison.

Euthanasia can be active or passive, and voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary. Many people see important differences and they can accept some types but not others.

Passive euthanasia means letting a person die. A terminally ill person is allowed to die, even if treatment could help them to live longer. This includes removing life support, such as a ventilator which is being used to keep the person alive, or by not giving them food or water. Active euthanasia means doing something to end a person’s life. This could be giving them an injection or pills that will cause their death.[2]

Some people see passive euthanasia as a more acceptable choice, because it is not a deliberate act to kill. However, others argue that once someone has decided to allow another person to die, they should make it as fast and as painless as possible, and then act to bring about their death. This is also known as mercy killing.[3]

Voluntary euthanasia is when someone asks to be allowed to die or to be killed. This is often seen as the best option by people who believe in euthanasia, because it is clear that the person wants to die. If the person can not say that they want to die, but people think that they would ask to die if they could, then it is non-voluntary euthanasia. Non-voluntary euthanasia is a choice for people who are in a coma or who are very young, as they can not say what they want. Involuntary euthanasia is when someone is killed even though they asked not to die, or when they could have asked to die but did not.[4] Many people think that this is murder, not euthanasia.[5]

These types of euthanasia can be mixed. If someone asks to die, and another person gives them an injection that will kill them, then it is active voluntary euthanasia. Someone in a coma who is kept alive with a ventilator, and the doctors turn it off and they die, would be passive non-voluntary euthanasia.[6]

Some people believe that euthanasia should be allowed, and some people think that it should not.

Some people believe that allowing euthanasia will result in bad things happening. If it is allowed for people asking to die, then it might be allowed for people who are very sick but are not able to ask to die. If that happens, then maybe it would be allowed for people who are very sick and will not recover, but do not want to die. This is called the “slippery slope” argument.[7]

People who believe in the slippery slope argument point to times when this happened. In Germany, Adolf Hitler allowed disabled children to be killed, and called it euthanasia. People now agree that this was wrong, but if euthanasia was allowed it could happen again. They think it is too big a risk to allow euthanasia at all.[7]

Other people say there is a big difference between killing a very sick person who asks to die, and killing a child with a disability. They do not think euthanasia will lead to bad things. They say that Hitler’s actions were not euthanasia.[7]

The American Medical Association (AMA) and other doctors believe it is a doctor’s role to help, not kill people.[source?] In one study 76% of doctors said they would not carry out euthanasia, even if it was legal.[source?] They feel patients would not trust them. In the Netherlands where euthanasia is legal, 60% of older people in one study were scared that their their doctors would kill them.[source?]

Palliative care is when people who are ill and going to die are given special care to make them more comfortable. It may include hospice care, when the patient is sent to a special hospital for people who are dying. Palliative care can involve pain relief and help for the patient and family to come to terms with death. In some cases, doctors will give patient drugs which make them stay asleep, so that they will not feel pain.[8][9]

Palliative care is not perfect, and so it is not always seen as a replacement for euthanasia. There is still some pain, and there can be other side-effects, where the patient can still feel very sick. Palliative care is not available for all people, and not all people who wish to die through euthanasia are so sick that they will die soon. Some people have healthy bodies, but they are suffering in other ways, and palliative care will not always help them.[7]

The principle of double effect was first described by Thomas Aquinas over 700 years ago. It says that it is sometimes alright to do a bad thing if something good happens, and if a bad ending was not wanted.[10] Aquinas used the example of self defense: sometimes a person will kill someone who attacks them, but killing was not what the person was trying to do. They only wanted to protect themselves. So even though killing someone is bad, wanting to protect themselves was not.[11]

Some people say that doctors may treat a person to reduce the their pain, and as a result the person will die sooner. If the doctor gives the treatment in order to help the patient die, then it is euthanasia. But if the doctor gives the treatment in order to stop the pain, and does not intend for the patient to die, then it may not be euthanasia, even if the doctor knew that the treatment would kill the patient.[11]

Suicide is when a person kills themselves. Sometimes when a person is very sick they need help to die, and this is called assisted suicide.[12] In some countries people are allowed to help as long as they do not kill the person,[13] and it can be seen as a more acceptable option because it must be the person’s own decision.[12] Because the assisting person did not kill, it is not always considered to be euthanasia. [7]

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Euthanasia – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


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