3 types of euthanasia, voluntary euthanasia, non-voluntary, Involuntary euthanasia

There are 3 types of euthanasia, voluntary euthanasia (euthanasia performed with the patient's consent), non-voluntary euthanasia (where the patient is unable to give their informed consent, for example child euthanasia).and Involuntary euthanasia (which performed on a patient against their will). In this essay, I will merely focus on voluntary euthanasia which is the only acceptable and sensible situation for carrying out euthanasia, as the other two options are not approved by the patient. The most crucial thing we have to consider and follow is the will of patient on grounds that people have no rights to determine others life.

I do not support any form of suicide for mental health or emotional reasons. But I do say that there is a second form of suicide -- justifiable suicide, that is, rational and planned self-deliverance from a painful and hopeless disease which will shortly end in death.


Let me point out here for those who might not know it that suicide is no longer a crime anywhere in the English-speaking world. (It used to be, and was punishable by giving all the dead person's money and goods to the government.) Attempted suicide is no longer a crime, although under health laws a person can in most states be forcibly placed in a psychiatric hospital for three days for evaluation.


     But giving assistance in suicide remains a crime, except in the Netherlands in recent times under certain conditions, and it has never been a crime in Switzerland, Germany, Norway and Uruguay. The rest of the world punishes assistance in suicide for both the mentally ill and the terminally ill, although the state of Oregon recently (Nov. l994) passed by ballot Measure 16 a limited physician-assisted suicide law. At present (Feb. l995) this is held up in the law courts.


     Even if a hopelessly ill person is requesting assistance in dying for the most compassionate reasons, and the helper is acting from the most noble of motives, it remains a crime in the Anglo-American world. Punishments range from fines to fourteen years in prison. It is this catch- all prohibition which I and others wish to change. In a caring society, under the rule of law, we claim that there must be exceptions.

Reason for Euthanasia-

Advanced terminal illness that is causing unbearable suffering to the individual. This is the most common reason to seek an early end.

     Grave physical handicap which is so restricting that the individual cannot, even after due consideration, counseling and re-training, tolerate such a limited existence. This is a fairly rare reason for suicide -- most impaired people cope remarkably well with their affliction -- but there are some who would, at a certain point, rather die.

What are the ethical parameters for euthanasia?  

Avoid black market

     If euthanasia were legalized in the United States, it would reduce the current number of deaths caused in a highly unprofessional manner because of the legality issues. Presently, many physicians aid in the suicides of terminally ill patients by giving them the drugs necessary to commit the act on their own. The physician will frequently list the cause of death as the actual illness, rather than (assisted) suicide. This is to prevent public delving into the patient's history and illness, and causing limitless pain for the patient's family. This is very unprofessional because though the intent is good, it is not a guaranteed method and could result in merely more pain for the patient and his or her relatives. Ronald Dworkin, an author of books about euthanasia and other ethical issues summarized this idea when he stated, "Patients might be better rather than less well protected if assisted suicide were legalized with appropriate safeguards" (Leone 36). The intent of this statement is to make it clear that safeguards could ensure the safety, rather than keeping it at the high risk it is at now. The issue of safeguarding euthanasia methods has many variations, and doesn't end with the legal and professional controversies.





The person is a mature adult. This is essential. The exact age will depend on the individual but the person should not be a minor who come under quite different laws.


     The person has clearly made a considered decision. An individual has the ability nowadays to indicate this with a "Living Will" (which applies only to disconnection of life supports) and can also, in today's more open and tolerant climate about such actions, freely discuss the option of euthanasia with health professionals, family, lawyers, etc.

     The euthanasia has not been carried out at the first knowledge of a life-threatening illness, and reasonable medical help has been sought to cure or at least slow down the terminal disease. I do not believe in giving up life the minute a person is informed that he or she has a terminal illness. (This is a common misconception spread by our critics.) Life is precious, you only pass this way once, and is worth a fight. It is when the fight is clearly hopeless and the agony, physical and mental, is unbearable that a final exit is an option.

The person leaves a note saying exactly why he or she is taking their life. This statement in writing obviates the chance of subsequent misunderstandings or blame. It also demonstrates that the departing person is taking full responsibility for the action.

Case (commit suicide illegally)

Sue Rodriguez

The most prominent case opposing this the law was that of Sue Rodriguez, who after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) requested that the Canadian Supreme Court allow someone to aid her in ending her life. Her request appealed to the principle of autonomy and respect for every person, which states that “everyone has the right to self-determination subject only to an unjust infringement on the equal and competing rights of others." [5]

Her main argument for her assisted suicide, however, appealed to the principle of equality and justice which states that “everyone should be treated equally, and deviations from equality of treatment are permissible only to achieve equity and justice." [6] The application of this principle to the case is as follows. Ms. Rodriquez’s ALS would eventually lead her to lose her voluntary motor control. Therefore, this loss of motor control is a “handicap of ALS-sufferers" [7]

Because suicide is not a crime, Ms. Rodriquez was being discriminated against in her option of deciding to commit suicide with the help of another person due to her disability, without the law "providing a compensatory and equitable relief" [8] Though in 1992, the Court refused her request, two years later, Sue Rodriquez, with the help of an unknown doctor ended her life despite the Court’s decision. Due to her death, the Canadian medical profession issued a statement through Dr.Tom Perry and Dr.Peter Graff, who both said that they had assisted some of their patients in speeding up their death.

[edit] Robert Latimer

Robert Latimer is a Canadian canola and wheat farmer, who was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of his daughter Tracy (November 23, 1980 – October 24, 1993). This case sparked a national controversy on the definition and ethics of euthanasia as well as the rights of people with disabilities, and two Supreme Court decisions, R. v. Latimer (1997), on section 10 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and later R. v. Latimer (2001), on cruel and unusual punishments under section 12 of the Charter.


           Euthanasia, in its many forms, is an inherent right that should not be infringed upon through its not being legalized. Euthanasia refers to choosing a dignified death, rather than one set for the individual, and in a slow and painful manner at that. When palliative care is no longer an option and treatment has failed time and again, the option to choose "the good death" should remain open at all times. Despite slight possibilities in a lack of responsible actions taken in the name of euthanasia, the act itself will always be a personal choice, based on the amount of suffering one will allow oneself to go through before one must give in. Euthanasia will always be in existence, now it is merely a choice of making it "acceptable" or "unacceptable" as far as the government is concerned. After all, whose life is it?