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What are the consequences of
legalizing euthanasia on a global scale?

Introduction

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            Euthanasia
is one of the most controversial ways of death that many nations around the
world deal with. Euthanasia, also know as a ‘mercy
killing’, is a practice of killing a patient who suffers from extreme pain or incapacitating physical
disorder and putting people down with painless procedures. The physician
administers a fatal dose of a suitable drug to the patient thus painlessly
killing them. There have been many court cases on the legalizing of euthanasia
because of its reoccurrence of being legal in certain countries. To list out a
few cases, there was Common Cause v. The union
of India, which stated that “The petitioner, in this case, has sought a
declaration to the effect that the ‘right to die with dignity’ be held a facet
of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.” As well
In Vacco v. Quill, the US Supreme Court, in its June 26, 1997, ruling (9-0) stated: “Even as the States move to protect and promote patients’
dignity at the end of life, they remain opposed to euthanasia.” More and
more case studies go in depth on the controversial family issues and religious
ties that deal with euthanasia, which in return affects euthanasia’s
legalization. While it may have the same outcome, euthanasia in different
regions already are dealing with issues
related to its political perspective.

 

 

Government Perspective: Europe

            While not all of Europe practices euthanasia,
it’s legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. As stated from
ProCon.org, a website that contains credible professors and case studies that
are sourced from the publishers, “Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide
were legalized on Apr. 1, 2002 by the Termination of Life on Request
and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act for Dutch citizens over
12 years old.” This brought up some debate and controversy over the years, but
it was due to the fact that 10% of the death in the Netherlands was as a result of involuntary euthanasia. To many
people, the Netherlands is either seen as a model for the world to follow or
represents danger rather than a promise. While
visiting the Netherlands and going to different conventions talking about the
fields of medicine and law, Raphael Cohen-Almagor, a Professor and Chair in
Politics and the Founder and Director of the Middle East Study Group (MESG) at
the University of Hull, stated in his report “The three dominant critical
voices in the interviews, Koerselman, Rutenfrans and Jochemsen, complained
about the atmosphere surrounding the policy and practice of euthanasia, and
voiced their dissent against the institutional mechanisms that are used to
de-legitimize them and undermine their position.” The main concern overall in
his research was how the committees who treat cases in euthanasia were being
treated as well as their commitment to their responsibility. Before the Dutch
laws stated that euthanasia must be
voluntary and that the patient must request it over a period of time, several
thousand patients were euthanized in the Netherlands each year without their
consent. Following Belgium’s and Netherlands system, Luxembourg created a law
that was adopted by Parliament on Feb. 19, 2008,
and went into effect in Apr. 2009. This law allowed doctors to euthanize
patients that have “grave and incurable condition”. On top of that,
Denmark doctors help kill terminally ill patients which is a high risk for them
since they can be thrown in jail for an act of murder.

Government Perspective: United States

            Before
taking actions with euthanasia in Europe, some states within the United States
already legalized a similar procedure called Physician-Assisted
Suicide with similar controversies it deals with, like governmental matters. The Orange
County Register, Orange County
California’s source of local news and information, wrote in its Apr. 1, 2005
article “Legacy For Life and Death Schiavo Case Likely to Affect
End-of-Life Discussions – At Home, in Church and in Government”: “In a
poll on the Schiavo question conducted by Fox News last year, just 1 in 50 said
the decision to keep a patient alive should be made by the government. While
lawmakers say this case was an exception, they disagree on government’s
role.” There reasoning behind this was due to fear of California becoming
the ‘Next Netherlands Influence’ and healers following the fashion of Dr. Jack
Kevorkian, the pathologist imprisoned in Michigan on a murder conviction in an
assisted-suicide case. Similar to
this topic, Charlie Crist, the Attorney General of Florida, and Diane E. Meier,
MD, Director of the Center for Advance Palliative Care, stated in their own
words, “These kinds of end-of-life matters do not belong in government.” And
“Legalizing assisted suicide is coercive in and of itself.” Another controversy was when Oregon released their Death with Dignity Act back in 1994.
The act made it legal for doctors to provide terminally ill patients with
lethal doses of medication. The follow up to
this was 5 other states legalizing physician-assisted suicide
through legislation or judicial decision in 2014. However, euthanasia was
still illegal in every jurisdiction, due to the fact, according to what American
Medical Association (AMA) states, that, “euthanasia violates the physician’s
role as healer.” Similar to the point of view the Orange County
Register had on euthanasia as well.

Benefits

            While
the idea of Euthanasia, and Physician-Assisted
Suicide, is a global controversy because of the idea of having them fully
legalized, there are good reasons on why it could be a likely possibility. Jasper
Emmering, an MD Research Physician from the University of Amsterdam, states
“First comes the principle of sovereignty of the individual over his own body.
Then there is a practical matter: the moral distinction between abstaining from
life-saving treatment…” Including the words of Philip Nitschke, PhD, MBBS, and
Director and Founder of Exit International, who states “if we believe that
there is a right to live, then we must
accept that people have a right to dispose of that life whenever they want…”
both arguments of legalizing Euthanasia tie together to clarify that humans
have the right to live and the right to die. If a person wants to die, they
would want it done by a doctor who was given consent about it, and this would
apply to people who are suffering from
severe pain and mental problems. This goes into the news of one of Australia’s
states, Victoria, that legalized euthanasia. Within Adam Baidawi’s article, a publisher form the New Your
Times, he stated the different perspectives
about euthanasia’s legalization in Victoria, Australia. An example is Mr.
Andrew’s comment towards the law that would give those with terminal illnesses
”the compassion and dignity they deserve at the end of their lives.” And
while some may agree and have voted for this, others feel as if this is wrong.
Dr. Baker proclaims that watching people die is no easy task, it’s a challenge
for the people around the patient. She ultimately
agrees, though, that “it’s a matter for society and the government.”

Conclusion

Government controversy in many different regions
of the world has been on the rise because of the
idea of Euthanasia. While it maybe is
legal for people the age of 60 and up to have the right to die in the
Netherlands, its seen as an act of crime in the US. And while physician-assisted suicide is legal to most
states in the US like Washington and Oregon, the acts of Euthanasia doesn’t
come close to its legalization in those states,
even if both acts of the patient is guaranteed death. Major governments globally
should find a way to lower the consequences for doctors committing euthanasia on a patient if the patient is experiencing
extreme internal pain and is fully committed
to his/her death. Only by then can people fully agree to its terms, not because
people can simply die by doctors using euthanasia that which the Netherlands go
by.

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