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Published: Fri, 02 Feb 2018
Legal issues in euthanasia the pain inside and out
Euthanasia is the way of ending the life of an individual who is having terminal pain or disease. Nowadays euthanasia considered as an ethical issue that from time to time comes into view mainly from its followers .On the other hand to more conventional opinions ,consider that when the existence has turn into an intolerable from the ache and ill health no one else can force him to stay alive that the man is the master of his life .There is not an exact explanation for this dilemma .The word euthanasia means an easy and mild death and it comes from the Greek words “Eu” means well and “thanatos” means death but the argument surrounding is just the reverse. In contemporary practice it means that someone’s life is ended for sympathetic reasons by some active or passive steps taken by another person. In addition, at present euthanasia is like two steps passive or active and that are differentiated on the basis of the performance and the aim of the individual. In recent years this topic has turn into an argument .In case the topic is rejecting prolonged life mechanically , active euthanasia or else supporting suicide .We ultimately deal with our society’s fear on the way to death itself. Our culture produce dread and anxiety .For the western world it is not simple to notice death as an unavoidable part of life.
On the other hand the things that enclose euthanasia are not only in relation to death but in relation to ones freedom, power over his body and right to privacy .there are evident differences between the two types of euthanasia under the current U.S law. Euthanasia can be voluntary or involuntary .Voluntary means that the individual has requesting his death and ivoluntary means that the individual hasn’t clearly asked the death. Another two forms of euthanasia are that it can also be active or passive . Active euthanasia happens when deliberate action is taken such as giving drugs to cause death for someone, When an individual is allowed to die by withdrawing life-sustaining treatment passive euthanasia takes place
The idea of euthanasia is not new. Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato all favored euthanasia in ancient times but only under particular situation.All Religions consider life of a human being to be blessed, condemned euthanasia, morally and ethically, as organized religion flourished .Euthanasia is an extremely controversial subject, and how the power to euthanize can get out of hand can be easily imagined. An incurable condition will be present for the person who usually undergoes euthanasia. But some individual want their life to be ended for some other instances. In many cases the decision is upon the individuals request .Sometimes the family or relatives will take the decision. In the UK it is illegal to help anyone kill themselves and euthanasia is against the law also. An imprisonment of up to 14 years can be sentenced for voluntary euthanasia or assisted suicide.
Euthanasia raises lots of worrying ethical dilemmas like in what condition can euthanasia be justify , is there any ethical differentiation among killing some one and letting them die, is there any right to end the life of an individual who is suffering from serious pain .At the heart of these arguments are the different ideas that people have about the meaning and value of human existence. Should individual have the right to make a choice on issues of life and death?. Even though it was ethically right, Based on realistic issues there are lots of arguments Some group thinks that euthanasia shouldn’t be permitted since it could be roughly treated and used as a cover for murder. Moreover it can be acceptable, by administering toxic medicines or by not doing anything to keep an individual alive .Usually the people use the word Mercy killing instead of euthanasia because it is the only way to get away from permanently sick and intolerable pain. People usually imagine intolerable pain is the major reason for people to request euthanasia, but the surveys and studies in Netherlands and USA shows that hopelessness ,fear and anxiety like psychological factors that leads people to think of euthanasia. The people who support euthanasia argue that cultured people be supposed to let individual to die with no pain and dignity and should permit others to help them if they unable to do themselves. They say that our bodies are our own and we should be allowed to do what we want with them .Therefore its wrong to make a person live longer than they want. In fact making people go on living when they don’t want to violates their personal freedom and human rights. It’s immoral; they say to force people to continue living in suffering and pain.
Euthanasia be supposed to be illegal. Religious arguments about euthanasia is like only God can make a decision about life because the life is given by god .The dread of the other people is that if the euthanasia was made permissible..Those who doesn’t wish to die really would be murder and the law would be abused
The legal issues in euthanasia are like it is illegal in almost all countries .In U.K it is against the law. The 1961 suicide Act , Killing some other intentionally is an illegal offence and legally they have to be in prison for fourteen years. However the system may come to a decision like not to take legal action in euthanasia cases after taking the into account the conditions of the death In September 2009 the Director of Public Prosecutions was forced by an appeal to the House of Lords to make public the criteria that influence whether a person is prosecuted. The factors put a large emphasis on the suspect knowing the person who died and on the death being a one-off occurrence in order to avoid a prosecution. In 24th January 2007 British Social Attitudes reported that ,80 percentage of the community required the law to be altered to give incurably ill patients the right to die with a doctors help and 45% in the same study supported giving patients with non terminal illnesses the option of euthanasia .A majority was opposed to relatives being involved in a patients death.
The law on euthanasia have attracted considerable comment in both public and professional media(Howie,2005 ,Dowd 2005, Tonybee,2006) Legalising euthanasia would represent a major social development with a particular significance for health professional and patients .It is therefore essential that nurses are involved actively in the ongoing debate and that an informed nursing voice is evidenet whenever the issues are being discussed.
British law prohibits assisted dying .Practising active euthanasia would usually make an individual liable to be charged with murder (wainwright 1999) and in English criminal law assisting someone to die carries a sentence of up to 14 years imprisonment under the suicide act 1961
UK courts have consistently demonstrarted that actively hastening thee death of a patient with medical intervention is unlawful .For example in Cox 1992 ,a patient who was terminally ill and suffering from unrelievable pain,repeatedly requested that Dr Cox should end her life .When Dr Cox administered a lethal dose of potassium chloride with the intention that this would kill the patient ,his actions were reported by a nurse and Dr cox eventullt received a one year suspended prison attempted murder (Ferguson,1997)
More recently ,the case of Diane Pretty highlighted the legal prohibition of assisted suicide .Mrs Pretty was terminall ill and claimed that “Right to life ’’ article 2 of the human rights Act 1998 ,included the right to die ,and to chose how and when to die ,She unsuccessfully sought assurance from the court that her husband would not be prosecuted if he were to help her to die at a time of her own choosing (Dyer 2001).Although there was a considerable support and sympathy for her plight ,English demonstrated its unwillingness to support assisted dying .The European Court of Human Rights ultimately rejected Mrs. Pretty’s case(Dyer 2002).
The issues are sometimes muddled by the apparent inconsistency in the laws approach to medically assisted death .For example ,in 1999,a doctor, who openly advocated helping older patients to to die with dignity ,was acquitted on a charge of murder after he admitted giving a terminally ill patient a lethal dose of diamorphine with intention of relieving the pain rather than killing the patient (Wainwright 1999)
In recent years ,changes to the law have been considered on a number of occasions .In 1993/1994,a house of lords select committee on medicl ethic reviewedthe law on euthanasia and concluded that it should not be legalized (House of lords1994)In 2003 ,Lord Joffie introduced a private members bill (House of lords 2003)That progressed only to a second reading .In 2004 and 2005 ,Lord Joffe introduced further bills ,both entitled assisted dying for the Terminally Ill Bill(House of Lords 2004,2005).The first of these sought to legalise physiscian –assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia and was extensively examined by a selectcommittee.The 2005 bill was aimed solely at introducing legalization that would allow physician assisted suicide .It received its second reading in May 2006 when the lords voted (148to100) to delay a second reading by six months ,and it therefore failed to proceed to the next stage .Lord Jofee stated his intention to reintroduce the bill in the next session of Parliament “I will continue to do so until a full debate through all the usual stages has been held(Lords Hansard 2006)
The Joffe bills were aimed at revising the law in Wales and England .In Scotland in 2005,Jermey Purvis MSP undertook a consultation which invited views on a draft proposal for a Scottish bill to ’allow capable adults with a terminal illness to access the means to die with dignity (Purvis 2005).He received more than 600 responses to his consultation and reported that 56 percent of the respondents were in general support of physician assisted suicide and a change in the law (Purvis 2005)
Parliamentary activity in England and Scotland has increased public awareness of euthanasia and assisted suicide .In addition ,widely publicized cases such as that of Mrs Pretty and the emergence of what has been termed “Death Tourism”(Revill 2002) have generated much public debate ,including calls for the law to reviewed to enable the individuals to exercise greater control over their own life and death (Annetts 2003) Whether or not public opinion is for or against changing the law is uncertain.In 2005,it was reported that “it is evident that there is much sympathy at a personal level for the concept of legally releasing those wishing to die from their pain and those who willing to help them from legal consequences “(House of Lords 2005)
However ,it has been claimed that a lack of explanatory context undermines the findings of most surveys of public opinion on this issue ,They are generally based on the answers to “yes /no” or “either /or ” questions without any explanatory context and without other opinions ,for example ,good quality palliative care being offered .Most people have little understanding of the complexities and dangers in changing the law in this way and opinion research consists therefore to a large extent of knee –jerk answers to emotive and often leading questions (Care Not Killing 2006) Given the complexity of the issues it is arguable whether a true measure of public attitudes to euthanasia has been developed .It is unrealistic simply to ask like are you in favour of legalizing euthanasia and expect to extrapolate a meaningful reflection reflection of public opinion from the responses received .To exposes the range and depth of opinons relevant ot such a sensitive e topic would necessitate a carefully considered empirical study that investigated the personal values cultural and religious influences ,familiarity with the topic and personal experiences .It would be a challenging undertaking ,However uncertain the findings of surveys ,they undoubtedly influence the poltical agenda regarding euthanasia.Proponents of euthanasia generate prominent headlines (Evans 2006)although the dramatic emphasis given to some media reports can be mis leading for example in 2006, a survey of 857 UK doctors found that of 600,000 deaths in the UK in 2004 ,0.16percentage (936) were a result of voluntary euthanasia .Although the term was used to cover such events as with holding treatment in cases when it is supposedly in the best interest of the patient .Atotal of 0.33 %(1,930)of deaths involved non voluntary euthanasia.This was subsequently reported under the headline euthanasia:doctors aid 3,000deaths (Boseley 2006).However it is questionable whether any of the recorded deaths resulted from euthanasia in the sense that the doctor in question actively intervented to end the patients life.
Those who oppose a change in the law attract fewer headlines .Opponents of eythanasia often cite the slippery slope argument that legalizing voluntary euthanasia would inevitably lead to the legalization of other forms of euthanasia or that non voluntary or even involuntary euthanasia would start to occur under the guise of legalized voluntary euthanasia .According to Grayling (2001),The chief anti euthanasia viewpoint is exposed only when a change in the law is recommended ,either in parliament ,the media or at prominent professional gatherings(Hall 2006,Phillips 2006)
The debate can be particularly emotive .Campaigners frequently illustrate the possible benefits of legalising euthanasia with the accounts of people for whom the current law is unsatisfactory or for whom the law currentl offers protection .Although compelling ,such emotional appeals purposely exploit individual stories to promote a pro or anti-euthanasia viewpoint and may consequently serve to discourage a balanced ethical approach to these complex issues.It is vital that health professionals impartially examine such such emotionally charged and biased reports and make practical decisions that seek to acknowledge all points of view.
To promote critical and informed debate it is essential that both sides of the argument are carefully considered and understood .The two volume report of the 2004 House of Lords Select Committee(House of Lords 2005) that summarises the evidence given to the committee and sets out its recommendations ,provides a clear and comprehensive overview of the issues .The issues are also effectively exposed in the website of two prominent but opposing groups .The Care NOT Killing(www.carenotkilling.org.uk) seeks to promote more and better palliative care and to oppose moves to legalize euthanasia and the Pro euthanasia group dignity in dying formulated the voluntary euthanasia society(www.dignityindying.org.uk) claims that a change in the law will give terminally ill people more control at the end of life and enable people to keep living longer than they might otherwise have done.
In general, the response of the health professions has been to oppose any change in the current law. If euthanasia were to be legalized it is clear that it would significantly affect the working lives of health professionals .In response to the Assisted Dying Bill 2004,the General Medical Council stated it had not developed a policy or issued guidance on euthanasia because :we believe that it is for society as a whole to determine ,though its democratic process ,How best to respond to the conflicting wishes of its citizens (House of Lords2005)
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