It’s Only Humane Euthanasia (from Greek: ?????????; “good death”: ??, eu; “well” or “good” – ???????, thanatos; “death”) is the practice of intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering. The act od euthanasia, also called “assisted suicide”, has always been a topic of controversy. It can be categorized in three different ways: voluntary, non-voluntary, and involuntary. Voluntary euthanasia is legal under certain circumstances in quite a few countries. However, involuntary assisted suicide is illegal in all countries and is, for the most part, considered murder. Non-voluntary euthanasia is where the controversy begins. It involves moral, ethical, and legal issues. The argument in support for assisted suicide goes as: allowing patients to die with dignity is kinder than making them live through the suffering, everyone has a right to decide when they die, and if it were to be legalized, under certain circumstances, it could be safely be regulated by the government. In opposistion to those views are anti-euthanasia arguments. People who are against it believe that there are alternate treatments, like pallative care and hospices, available, there is no “right” to be killed, we could never 100% control it, and assuming there is a right to die would impose on a doctor’s oath to never harm, much less kill. “The current prohibitions require a person with great physical and/or mental suffering to continue to endure the suffering against their wishes, which cannot be right,” (Chand). Most people would agree that forcing someone you love to live through pain and suffering would be immoral. Dr. Jack Kervorkian is greatly known for his work in euthanasia. He was said to have Butler 2been involved in over one hundred assisted suicides with patients who voluntarily wanted to end their lives. Dr. Kervorkian has gone to court many times even though every assisted suicide had the patient under control. In the United States, euthanasia is only legal in Oregon, Montana, Washington, and Vermont. In these states, euthanasia is done by a physician giving the patient anti-nausea medication, which would then be emptied into a liquid substance and they would drink that on an empty stomach. The time it takes to die after this can take anywhere from nine minutes to twenty-eight hours. This method of euthanasia leads to a fast and painless death, compared to the long-term pain a patient would have to go through. In the case of voluntary euthanasia, the right to be in charge of their life is the most we can do for these people. Sick, bedridden patients are already bereft of all dignity; they feel like a burden to their relatives and/or caretakers. They want, at least, to go peacefully and to leave their families with good memories. If said person’s will is denied, they may try to commit suicide. Thus we force them to commit a great crime. Another argument is that in the United States, millions of people live without healthcare. They cannot afford painkillers, and many doctors withhold the appropriate amount of painkillers due to widespread addiction in America. Medical funding is only becoming more restricted, so if the money spent on elongating the life of someone with a terminal illness against their will would instead be put towards infant care, for example, it could save lives. In cases where there are no caretakers or family, who might put pressure on this very personal choice, the right of the individual should be put on a pedestal. As long as said patient is completely conscious, and their choice is clear beyond questioning, there should be no further thought.Butler 3It can also be argued that since death is a very personal subject, if no harm is done to other people, there is no reason to reject someone’s to go peacefully and painlessly. Supporters believe that if assisted suicide promotes the best interests of all the parties involved, then it’s okay for voluntary euthanasia to occur. If death is not always the absolute worst situation, then most objections are no longer valid. There are also some cases in which the patient may wish to die, but it can have an extremely poor effect on the family. Even those who argue this believe that death could be a more positive option rather than keeping them alive. In Germany and Switzerland, active assisted suicide – ie a doctor prescribing and handing over a lethal drug – is illegal. But German and Swiss law does allow assisted suicide within certain circumstances. In Germany, assisted suicide is legal as long as the lethal drug is taken without any help, like helping said patient’s hand while injesting the medication. In Switzerland, the law is a bit more vague: it allows inactive euthanasia as long as no self-seeking motives or hidden intentions are involved. Oregon became the first state in America to legalize assisted dying, with the law going into effect in 1998. Ten years later, the number of doctor-assisted suicides stood at 341—not 341 per year, but 341 per decade. That works out at about 0.2 percent of all patient deaths—a number so tiny it hardly seems worth mentioning. In 2007, the Journal of Medical Ethics analyzed the cases of every single patient who’d opted for the service and found poor, elderly, minority, or otherwise “vulnerable” groups were represented as infrequently as everyone else. In other words, the vulnerable were no more likely to receive assisted death than anyone else, with the sole exception of young white men—who were the primary users of the service. And if there’s one group that doesn’t need classifying as “vulnerable,” it’s young white men. A final myth is that legalizing assisted dying will open the floodgates, leading to a murder-happy world where life is cheap and death is easy. But analysis of the data shows that this isn’t the case. Let’s bounce back to the Netherlands for a moment: Every year, roughly 3,000 Dutch people seek to be euthanized. That sounds like a lot, until you realize it accounts for only 1.7 percent of all deaths. And application is no guarantee of acceptance, either. Far from making death cheap, the Netherlands’ system of assisted dying has made it complex, bureaucratic, and very difficult to achieve. Around two-thirds of patients who apply to be euthanized are refused; while euthanasia itself remains a criminal act unless carried out by a qualified doctor with the consent of a legal and an ethics expert. In short, getting your doctor to relieve your suffering even in the liberal Netherlands is nigh-on impossible—hardly the sort of trigger-happy climate pundits would have you believe it was. The famous maxim “do no Butler 5harm” is a summation of the Hippocratic Oath—an ancient code designed to guide doctors in their actions. Many people interpret this to mean “do nothing to harm the patient’s chances of survival.” But, taken literally, it could just as easily mean “don’t artificially keep someone alive when death is preferable.”It all comes down to what we believe constitutes “harm.” When a patient is in intense pain or suffering severe mental anguish, our society could be doing more harm by keeping them alive than allowing them to die. In extreme cases, such as those of Tony Nicklinson and Paul Lamb above, it could be argued that any physician who didn’t alleviate their suffering when asked was violating the principles of their oath—and allowing both great harm and a great injustice to occur on their watch. At the end of the day, it’s up for us to decide whether we can sit back and watch people suffer, or choose to do something about it. Until we make up our minds, that suffering will continue.