Sociology Index

Euthanasia And Assisted Suicide

Euthanasia and assisted suicide refers to the practice of ending a life in a painless manner. Most people who seek medical aid in dying, called assisted suicide, would prefer to live but have an illness that has stripped their lives of meaning. The Greek term Euthanasia means good death. Doctor-assisted euthanasia was declared legal in Switzerland in 1937, as long as the doctor ending the life had nothing to gain. Extreme suffering makes an individual feel the way to find escape is suicide. It would be similar to fatalistic suicide because the individual considers himself condemned by fate or doomed. Euthanasia may be passive and active. Passive euthanasia occurs where common treatments are avoided knowing that it may also result in death. Passive euthanasia is a common practice in most hospitals.

Attempt to suicide is no longer considered a criminal act in India. The Mental Healthcare Act 2017 was passed in the Parliament on 07 April 2017. This Act acknowledges that a person tries to commit suicide due to extreme depression or other mental illness. Decriminalization of attempt to suicide is a progressive step take by the Indian government. Now what India needs decriminalize euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Euthanasia is defined as a deliberate act undertaken by one person with the intention of ending life of another person to relieve that person's suffering. Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide have been in controversy for a long time. Clarence Darrow and Jack London advocated for the legalization of euthanasia. Euthanasia may be passive and active. Passive euthanasia occurs where common treatments are avoided knowing that it may also result in death. Passive euthanasia is a common practice in most hospitals.

Asking whether euthanasia during the Third Reich is relevant to contemporary debates about physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia is dismissed as inflammatory. Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: Before, During, and After the Holocaust explores the history of euthanasia before and during the Third Reich in depth and demonstrate how Nazi physicians incorporated mainstream Western philosophy, eugenics, population medicine, prevention, and other medical ideas into their ideology.

Active euthanasia-assisted suicide occurs with the use of lethal substances to kill and is controversial. The term "assisted suicide" is contrasted with "active euthanasia." Nazis conducted a "euthanasia program" based on eugenics or good genes and grounded in the view that the state is responsible for providing racial hygiene. Euthanasia or Assisted suicide is illegal in most countries around the world and was banned in Australia until the state of Victoria became the first to legalise the practice last year. Recently, Swiss clinic Eternal Spirit near Basel slammed Australia over scientist, David Goodall (104), who opted for euthanasia. Eternal Spirit is one of a range of foundations in Switzerland in the business of Euthanasia or Assisted suicide to assist people who want to end their lives.

"The public debate on euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide will go on for many years. It is one of the most profound debates in American society now. The authors of these elegant essays for and against euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are not only clear and compelling thinkers, but they bring to the subject an important set of sensibilities and perspectives." Daniel Callahan, The Hastings Center.

'Aid in Dying' Euthanasia Movement Takes Hold in Some States. - By ERIK ECKHOLM - The New York Times, FEB. 7, 2014. - Advocates, who have learned to shun the term “assisted suicide,” believe that support for what they call the “aid in dying” movement will grow further. Advocates are strongly promoting “death with dignity” bills in Connecticut and other states. Involuntary euthanasia occurs where an individual makes a decision for another person incapable of doing so. There is also euthanasia machines available for voluntary euthanasia.

Prevalence and Content Analysis of Guidelines on Handling Requests for Euthanasia or Assisted Suicide in Dutch Nursing Homes, Ilinka Haverkate; Martien T. Muller; Mirjam Cappetti; Freerk J. Jonkers; Gerrit van der Wal - Arch Intern Med. 2000;160:317-322. 
The growing number of requests for euthanasia or assisted suicide makes it imperative for health care institutions to have written guidelines on how to handle requests for euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Assisted Suicide, Suffering and the Meaning of a Life. Miles Little. Abstract: Advocates usually invoke the ending of intolerable suffering as one justification for euthanasia of this kind. The euthanasia discourse needs to take some account of the meaning we construct for our lives.

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide - For and Against. Gerald Dworkin, R.G. Frey and Sissela Bok. The moral issues involved in doctors assisting patients to die with dignity are of absolutely central concern to the medical profession, ethicists, and the public at large. The debate is fueled by cases that extend way beyond passive euthanasia to the active consideration of killing by physicians. Two prominent philosophers, Gerald Dworkin and R. G. Frey argue that in certain circumstances it is morally and should be legally permissible for physicians to provide the knowledge and means by which patients can take their lives. Sissela Bok argues that the legalization of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide would entail grave risks and would in no way deal adequately with the needs of those at the end of their lives, least of all in societies without health insurance available to all. Book Description: The moral issues involved in doctors assisting patients to die with dignity are of absolutely central concern to the medical profession, ethicists, and the public at large. Two prominent philosophers, Gerald Dworkin and R. G. Frey present the case for legalization of physician-assisted suicide.

Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide: For and Against is a book written by three well-known philosophers and ethicists: Gerald Dworkin, R.G. Frey and Sissela Bok. This book discusses the moral issues of euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. The book is broken down into two parts, the first part contains arguments for euthanasia and assisted suicide and the second part is against.

The first part is broken up into four essays written by Dworkin and Frey. They discuss the "quintessential" case of physician-assisted suicide, in which the patient is competent, informed, terminally ill and has voluntarily requested the doctor's assistance in dying.

The first essay discusses, and rejects the idea that the principles of medicine prohibits a person's physician to act with the intent to take the life of a patient or to provide means for the patient to do so himself. This essay refuses this idea and argues that it is in fact the physician's job to help people ease their suffering and that a patient's wish must never be overlooked.

The second essay talks about distinctions in death. What is considered Euthanasia and what is considered physician assisted suicide? How do the ethics of each differ? Through this chapter readers take a closer look at the difference between "letting a patient die" and "intentionally ending life". This essay also discusses the moral dilemma a doctor must face when dealing with a terminal patient who wants to die.
The third essay gives the reader an understanding about why people fear to legalize euthanasia and snubs the opinion that legalizing physician assisted suicide will lead to mass killing.

The fourth and final essay of part one deals with public policy and changes that may (or may not) need to be made if legalization were to take place. The authors fail to see why public policy would have a more difficult time dealing with physician assisted suicide and euthanasia then they do when dealing with withdrawal of life support or termination of water and food at the patients request (both practices not considered illegal).

The second part is also broken down into four parts. Bok discusses why euthanasia and physician assisted suicide is morally wrong. Unlike her co-authors she does not stick to strictly a moral discussion but talks about the subject on broader terms by providing not only personal experiences but also discusses the legalization of euthanasia and physician assisted suicide in the Netherlands.

The first chapter discusses the differences in choosing death and taking life with an "anti-legalization" edge.

The second chapter discusses suicide; it's history, the emergence of Christianity and suicide, and pain management.

The third part takes an interesting view on euthanasia, patient's autonomy, and the societal risks involved with legalizing euthanasia.

The fourth and final part examines the role of physicians and the possibility that a patient who wants to die may just need help with depression.
Although this book is designed to target readers who have not yet made a finalized opinion concerning the controversy of euthanasia and physician assisted suicide I would suggest something more comprehensible to start with.