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Transcript of Euthanasia
The case of euthanasia So what is euthanasia? To be able to understand that Euthanasia is a controversial subject we need to look at its history A theory of knowledge perspective on euthanasia Conclusions Refers to the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering
Forms: In 5th Century B.C: Ancient Greeks and Romans tend to support euthanasia. Pagan physicians likely performed frequent abortions as well as both voluntary and involuntary mercy killings. However the Hippocratic Oath prohibited doctors from giving “a deadly drug to anybody, not even if asked for
During the middle Ages, the Renaissance, Christians and Jews tend to oppose euthanasia as it goes against god’s will. The common law’s during that time prohibited suicide and assisted suicide. However many writers during the enlightenment period challenge the church opposition to Euthanasia.
During the mid 20th century many movements for Euthanasia were formed and many debates occurred about the subject. In 1935 voluntary Euthanasia Legislation Society was founded.
In 1952 groups petitioned the UN to amend the declaration of human rights to include euthanasia “the right of incurable sufferers to euthanasia or merciful death … In as much as this right is, then, not only consonant with the rights and freedoms set forth in the Declaration of Human Rights but essential to their realization, we hereby petition the United Nations to proclaim the right of incurable suffers to euthanasia".However Eleanor Roosevelt, the chairperson of the commission did not present the petition to the commission.
June 26 1997 the US Supreme Court rules there is no right to die.
In 2001 Netherlands legalized euthanasia.
On Feb 19 2008 Luxembourg legalized physician assisted suicide and euthanasia.
On December 5th 2008 the state of Montana legalizes physician-assisted suicide Perceptions of euthanasia definitely vary:
The individual right of choosing to die
The importance of dying with dignity
The simple fact that pain can make life unbearable
Life is sacred and is in the hands of gods
Many countries legally ban it because it is considered ethically repulsive In conclusion, as we have seen, we all live in a society that determines boundaries and rules under which we live, they relate to mutual responsibilities
Culture, language essentially the society we live in may lead to different perspectives on what is acceptable
Religion, views on ethics and emotions all play a role in that and Natural Sciences and reason are important considerations
Where do we draw the line in determining how far we go in trying to extend somebody's life given the fact that we spend large sums of money to keep people alive who might actually prefer to die, but we seem to think its acceptable that people in developing poor countries die prematurely because they cant afford the treatment
Combining it all together, euthanasia seems to be an option that shouldn't be ruled out with the exception of involuntarily as it could lead to the abuse of that option. Active Vs. Passive Euthanasia
In active euthanasia a person directly and deliberately causes the patient's death. In passive euthanasia they don't directly take the patient's life, they just allow them to die. Active euthanasia is when death is brought about by an act - for example when a person is killed by being given an overdose of pain-killers.
Passive euthanasia is when death is brought about by not doing something. This can be by withdrawing or withholding treatment Voluntary Vs. non-voluntary euthanasia
Voluntary euthanasia occurs at the request of the person who dies.
Non-voluntary euthanasia occurs when the person is unconscious or otherwise unable to make a meaningful choice between living and dying, and an appropriate person takes the decision on their behalf. Involuntary Euthanasia:
Involuntary euthanasia occurs when the person who dies chooses life and is killed anyway. This is usually called murder. Indirect Vs. Assisted Suicide:
This means providing treatment (usually to reduce pain) that has the side effect of speeding the patient's death.
This usually refers to cases where the person who is going to die needs help to kill themselves and asks for it Areas of knowledge most relevant:
The natural sciences
Ethics Ways of knowing:
Language How does this affect different people in different societies? Two real life scenarios from two different societies: Ibu Yati in a small village in Indonesia is diagnosed with breast cancer by her local doctor. He informs her that treatment is available in the city but will be very expensive. Ibu Yati who cannot afford the treatment does not go for medical treatment and relies on traditional herbal medicine. She is fine for a year, but then gets very sick. When she returns to the doctor, he tells her that the cancer has spread. Since she cannot afford treatment she dies a painful death in her home. Medical treatment that could have cured her was not provided.
How is this relevant to euthanasia? Mrs. Nijns from a town in the Netherlands goes for her regular checkup at the doctors only to be diagnosed with breast cancer. The doctor explains to her the various treatments available and as she has a health insurance she opts for the most advanced treatment. She undergoes treatment and is in remission for 8 years. However, one day during a routine check up she is informed that the cancer has returned and has spread to her bones. She goes for treatment again but the cancer is too aggressive. With the cancer already too advanced she is immobilized in the hospital, bedridden enduring extreme bone pain. Doctors tell her that it is terminal and there is no cure. As she prefers to die in dignity and conscious with her kids around her, she asks the doctor to put an end to it. As this is legal in the Netherlands, the doctor complies and she dies peacefully with her family around her. Analyzing our real life scenarios (ethics) The most invoked area of knowledge when one talks about euthanasia is ethics but ethics is relative and depends on your view point.
For those who are religious, it is pretty straight forward "thou shall not kill"
For those who are not religious actions should be judged in the context of culture, time, or circumstance. The case of Ibu Yati:
Her death would have not been seen as passive euthanasia
In their culture and the language they use to describe such situations, this would be seen as an unfortunate event, possibly even the will of god.
However, in a western perspective, withholding treatment can be seen as a form of passive euthanasia The case of Mrs.Nijns:
Mrs.Nijns got access to all possible health services that could have cured her. In the western world this is considered ethically the norm. By law, euthanasia in the Netherlands is legal.
The case of Mrs.Nijns shows that she was able to die in dignity based on her own choice with the consent of her children. Analyzing our real life scenarios (The Natural Sciences) Sharing and applying knowledge in the area of Natural Sciences, medicine in particular is often considered to be a ethical responsibility.
Applying this to euthanasia, the treatments currently available were not necessarily available a couple of decades ago. So with more knowledge about how to cure people, where can the line be drawn in terms of the obligation to extend somebody's life. On the flip side, where does the obligation start to use that knowledge to end somebody's life in dignity and to end suffering? Ibu Yati's case:
In Indonesia the treatment is available for those who can afford it
The knowledge to end somebody's life in dignity is available as well. None of those were provided to Ibu Yati resulting in a painful and agonizing death for her
The law would prohibit ending her life which is affordable yet there is no law forcing doctors to provide treatments that could save peoples lives Mrs.Nijns Case:
The knowledge from Natural Sciences in her case is being applied to the fullest extent in her benefit.
First to try to cure her and when that did not work, to give her a dignified death through active voluntary euthanasia
Science is in this case being used to provide the best possible deal to the patient Ways of knowing and euthanasia When it comes to sense perception we can ask ourselves how reliable intuition and perception can be when it comes to scientific matter such as deciding when euthanasia is medically justified.
Emotions affects our ability to make critical decisions/evaluate evidence. As we have seen in our example, culture perceptions and religion can lead to different interpretations of what is considered legally and morally correct.
Language: language is also an important factor because in Ibu Yatis situation we would describe it as passive euthanasia, but it may be communicated differently in other societies
Reason: perhaps most powerful way to analyze euthanasia because if we think in terms of medical science, it should be applied in the interest of the patient whether that is extending life or terminating suffering.