Sunday, September 5, 2010

Ethics Biggest Taboo - Euthanasia

I had been thinking about this topic and really had me to revolve in my brain how much controversy can this simple word can make


Meaning…(From Wikipedia)

Euthanasia (from the Greek εὐθανασία meaning "good death": εὖ, eu (well or good) + θάνατος, thanatos (death)) refers to the practice of ending a life in a manner which relieves pain and suffering. According to the House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics, the precise definition of euthanasia is "a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering."

Euthanasia is categorized in different ways, which include voluntary, non-voluntary, or involuntary and active or passive. Euthanasia is usually used to refer to active euthanasia, and in this sense, euthanasia is usually considered to be criminal homicide, but voluntary, passive euthanasia is widely non-criminal.

The controversy surrounding euthanasia centers around a two-pronged argument by opponents which characterizes euthanasia as either voluntary "suicides", or as involuntary murders. (Hence, opponents argue that a broad policy of "euthanasia" is tantamount to eugenics). Much hinges on whether a particular death was considered an "easy," "painless," or "happy" one, or whether it was a "wrongful death". Proponents typically consider a death that increased suffering to be "wrongful," while opponents typically consider any deliberate death as "wrongful." "Euthanasia's" original meaning introduced the idea of a "rightful death" beyond that only found in natural deaths.

Euthanasia is the most active area of research in contemporary bioethics.


Types Of Euthanasia

Voluntary euthanasia

Euthanasia conducted with the consent of the patient is termed voluntary euthanasia. Voluntary euthanasia is legal in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington. When the patient brings about his or her own death with the assistance of a physician, the term assisted suicide is often used instead.

Non-voluntary euthanasia

Euthanasia conducted where the consent of the patient is unavailable is termed non-voluntary euthanasia. Examples include child euthanasia, which is illegal worldwide but decriminalised under certain specific circumstances in the Netherlands under the Groningen Protocol.

Involuntary euthanasia

Euthanasia conducted against the will of the patient is termed involuntary euthanasia.


Leading to…The so-called “Right To Die”

As ugly as it sounds, technically some country, including United States of America let patiences to have some degree in overruling a doctors or even a administrative panel of a hospital if the patience feels that there is nothing left to do and he is verified and certified that he is completely awareness of his decision. Make no mistake, the right to death is not completely attached but in 90% leads to it. Now why it is controversial? Let see some famous examples:


Terri Schiavo 


Terri Schiavo entered a vegetative state in 1990 after adopting an "iced tea diet" (related to her bulimia), resulting in a disastrous potassium deficiency that caused irreversible brain damage. In this persistent vegetative state she remained the last fifteen years of her life. Both Schiavo's doctors and her court-appointed doctors expressed the opinion that there existed no hope of rehabilitation. Her husband, Michael Schiavo, contended that it was his wife's wish that she not be kept alive through unnatural, mechanical means. Michael Schiavo wanted her feeding tube removed, after which Terri would slowly die of malnutrition and dehydration. By this time Michael had taken a new lover, but refused to divorce Terri, as doing so would have forfeited his right to determine her care.

More than twenty times the Schiavo case was heard in Florida courts. Every time, the court ruled that the decision was her husband's to make, upholding the sanctity of marriage long respected by legal precedent. Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, refused to accept this verdict, feeling in their hearts that their daughter would somehow recover. Of this struggle, Schiavo's attorney, George Felos told the Associated Press, "The real grievance is not they [the Schindlers] did not have a day in court, that they did not have due process. The real grievance is they disagree with the result."

The Schindler family videotaped Schiavo for extended periods of time, discarding nearly all of the footage, and prepared a short but disingenuous "highlight" video featuring only the occasional moments when her facial expression looked vaguely like a smile, or when family members were posing where Schiavo seemed to be staring, giving the illusion of "eye contact."

In 2003, a court-appointed guardian for Schiavo wrote that during the protracted legal struggle, her parents had "voiced the disturbing belief that they would keep Terri alive at any and all costs", even if that required amputation of her limbs. "As part of the hypothetical presented", the guardian's report stated, "Schindler family members stated that even if Terri had told them of her intention to have artificial nutrition withdrawn, they would not do it."

Politicians inserted themselves into the fray. The case was the catalyst for Florida's controversial "Terri's Law", which gave Gov. Jeb Bush the authority to have Schiavo's feeding tube re-inserted when a court ruled that her husband could have it removed.

Terri's doctors opinion was that Schiavo's coma had been caused by a potassium imbalance triggered by her bulimia. Nutball "save Terri" activists knew better, and claimed she suffered a violent beating at her husband's hand. Her parents eventually agreed, and said that her husband often beat Schiavo when she was healthy -- but Schiavo never called the police, apparently never mentioned it to anyone, and her parents never mentioned it either until years after Schiavo was hospitalized. There is no evidence to support such claims.

The U.S. Congress quickly passed legislation allowing federal courts to intervene, and President George W. Bush flew back to Washington to sign the bill into law. It should be noticed that this is the same George W. Bush who, as Governor of Texas, signed into state law the power of hospitals to remove a patient (in identical situations as Terri's) from life support -- a critical factor being the family's ability to pay the hospital bills -- even if such removal was against the family's objections.

As the insanity moved to the federal level, Schiavo's feeding tube was finally removed on March 18, 2005, and her heart stopped beating 13 days later.

In a final postscript to Schiavo's short life, the autopsy conducted after her death established that her brain damage was even worse than experts had said while she was alive, and that virtually everything the "save Terri" activists had said was incorrect. Schiavo's brain weighed about half what a healthy human brain weighs, damage that left her unable to think, feel, see, or interact in any way with her environment. There was no chance she could have recovered, and no evidence she had ever been abused.


George & Betty Coumbias


George and Betty Coumbias were a Canadian married couple who sought to become the first husband and wife to complete simultaneous suicides with legal authorization. They were featured in John Zaritsky's 2007 documentary, The Suicide Tourist. Although assisted suicide is illegal in Canada, they hoped to end their lives with the approval of the government of Switzerland.

The couple's request was unusual in that, while George Coumbias suffers from heart disease, Betty Coumbias was reported to be in excellent health.

Ludwig Minelli, director of Swiss assisted-suicide group Dignitas, petitioned the Canton of Zurich to grant doctors the authority to issue lethal drugs to healthy people, after they have been counseled by his organization, hoping to facilitate the Coumbias' suicide pact.

In 2009, Betty Coumbias developed cancer and died, while George continues to live with his heart condition.


Eluana Englaro


Eluana Englaro was an Italian woman from Lecco, who entered a persistent vegetative state on January 18, 1992, following a car accident, and subsequently became the focus of a court battle between supporters and opponents of euthanasia. Shortly after Englaro had been fed with a probe, her father requested to have her feeding tube removed and to allow her to die "naturally". The authorities initially refused his request, but this decision was later reversed after seventeen years.

Beppino Englaro, as he stated in one of his several public appearances, waited until all appeals were concluded before he suspended the feeding of his daughter. On 2 February 2009 she was moved to a private nursing home in Udine, Friuli, and feeding was discontinued.On February 6, 2009, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi issued a decree that would have forced the continuation of the treatment of Eluana, and thrust Italy into a constitutional crisis when the President of the Republic refused to sign the decree.

She died at 19:35 (local time) on 9 February 2009. The autopsy in the private nursing house certified the death was caused by the last days' abstention from food.


My view on the dilemma

Is not easy to judge any of this cases. First of all, Terry Schiavo has the disadvantage that she didn’t see this coming and couldn't tell her husband or her parents what she wanted to do. Although in some way Michael have some appearance that he was just looking to move on, why make such a wuzz to made her die and just lend her parents her guardianship? However, it is understandable that this was no life for Terry which almost hit 20 years of no progress. Her parents in the other hand, why waiting until Michael finally “gave” up? It is a fine job that they did, fighting to the end, but why no since day 1?

I believe that the Right To Die, although not legally, should not get banned as we are not the one suffering, in the case if it is a friend or a love one. I know it might sound awfully and not easy. But I see that the George and Betty example are just the way that people can do whatever they want with their lives if they have nothing to regret. You might think that “easy for you to say since you have not face any situation like this.” True, but why regret the end of suffering if a loved one just say. “I can’t stand this, no more medical crap that already failed”. Of course I am not saying that Euthanasia or applying the Right To Die happily trigger, there have to be parameters as if the patience requesting have really awareness and just saying it just for say it and just an easy exit. As neutral as I can be.


My 25 Cents



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