April 22, 2005

Euthanasia - update of previous article on mercy killing and assisted suicide

Euthanasia: "As a care of the dying specialist in the past I have often been asked to kill people - which is euthanasia, mercy killing or assisted suicide.
Sometimes relatives have taken me on one side and told me they cannot bear it any more: 'Isn't there something you can do to end it all?' More often requests for euthanasia have come from those who are ill. I remember visiting a man with lung cancer. He asked his wife to leave the room. As she closed the door he leaned over and grabbed my arm. 'I want to die', he said. 'Please can you give me something.' He felt a burden on his wife and wanted euthanasia for himself. People are often more afraid of the process of dying than of death itself.
The Voluntary Euthanasia Society wants to allow people 'with a severe illness from which no relief is known' to be lawfully killed if they wish. One US euthanasia campaigner has suggested people could be killed on the basis of their previous instructions, even if they now want to live. This is in the case of someone with Alzheimer disease where the person is no longer distressed about memory loss while others are.
Where do you start or stop euthanasia? How advanced must cancer be for euthanasia to be appropriate? How can you be sure? Doctors are often wrong about diagnosis or prognosis. What about other illnesses, dementia, or handicap? Who decides about euthanasia? On what basis do we judge? Are those in pain receiving proper medication? Has every appropriate treatment option been explored?
What is euthanasia? Mercy killing is the literal definition of the word euthanasia.
The hospice movement started in this country because people were dying badly, often in pain. In thirty years over 200 hospices have opened and 240 hospitals now have specialist nurses. Almost 100,000 people each year are visited by home care teams, over half of all those dyin"