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Posted on May 31st, 2012, by

Introduction ”“ the importance of the problem of euthanasia, actual discussions, the arguable nature of euthanasia and the general attitude of public and specialists to this problem.

Definition of euthanasia and its misconception in the public perception ”“ the definition of euthanasia. The analysis of euthanasia in the context of its interpretation by the public. The erroneous approach to the interpretation of euthanasia, misconceptions leading to substitution of euthanasia by a physician assisted suicide or withdrawal of life support. The lack of proper understanding of euthanasia in public perception

Objections to euthanasia ”“ a consistent part of the public and specialists opposes to the legalization of euthanasia, mainly because of ethical issues raised by the problem of the legalization of euthanasia and possible risks it may carry. The major objectives are: the unethical termination of life support, the death of a patient is intended in case of legalization of euthanasia, abusive nature of euthanasia as violating patients’ rights and undermining the trust in health care system.

Arguments for euthanasia ”“ the criticism of the objections mentioned in the previous part of the paper, i.e. the unethical termination of life support ”“ the realization of theΒ  patient’s right to remove life support; death is not intended but hasted; abusive nature of euthanasia and violation of his rights ”“ euthanasia is an act of relieving and seizing a patient’s sufferings in accordance with his will and realization of his right to remove life support

Alternatives to euthanasia ”“ physician assisted suicide and patient refusal of hydration and nutrition

Conclusion ”“ the summary of basic arguments for and against euthanasia, as well as basic alternatives. The necessity of legislative regulation of euthanasia

Introduction

Euthanasia is a very important problem that disturbs the modern society. In fact, euthanasia may be viewed as one of the issues which are very controversial since, on the one hand, it is supposed to provide incurable patients with an opportunity to end their sufferings, while, on the other hand, it raises a number of ethical and legal issues, to the extent that it may be viewed as a crime. In such a situation, the necessity of the regulation of euthanasia and clear definition of its status are obvious. It proves beyond a doubt that such problems as euthanasia should be thoroughly controlled by the law and law enforcement agencies, while health care professionals involved in this issue should be highly qualified and well-prepared to carry on their duties.

At the same time, it is necessary to remember about patients, their needs and rights. It should be said that, in this respect, the view on euthanasia may also vary considerably from the rejection to the agreement with the necessity of its implementation. In such a way, euthanasia and its legalization provoke numerous discussions which basically refer to ethical sphere but, at the same time, they need to be legally regulated that implies that the legislation concerning euthanasia should be introduced to eliminate existing contradiction in regard to this problem. In this respect, the position of health care specialists and the public opinion are of a paramount importance since any changes in legislation concerning the problem of euthanasia should be primarily based on their acceptance by specialists and gain the public support.

Definition of euthanasia and its misconception in public perception

First of all, it should be said that the definition of euthanasia may vary and, in general, there may exist different views on this problem. Nevertheless, it should be said that there exists the definition that is accepted by the overwhelming majority of specialists working on the problem of euthanasia. According to this definition, euthanasia is defined as an action targeting relieving sufferings of a patient and implies ending of the life of the patient who is terminally ill in a painless or minimally painful way. In such a way, euthanasia implies the end of the life of a patient to limit his sufferings and this act is carried out by a physician.

In this respect, it is worthy of mention that many researchers underline that such a definition as well as the concept of euthanasia, at large, is not adequately perceived by the public. To put it more precisely, J.C. Battle argues that the public is ignorant of the concept of euthanasia and, therefore, the attitude of people to this problem cannot be viewed as directly relating to the problem of euthanasia proper. In fact, many people mix up such notions as euthanasia and physician assisted suicide or withdrawal of life support. As a result, many people cannot simply distinguish euthanasia from physician assisted suicide, for instance, therefore, they cannot shape the proper opinion based on truthful and information concerning the essence of euthanasia.

In such a situation, the necessity to make euthanasia the subject of public discussions is of a paramount importance since this problem does need to be regulated, taking into account the amount of terminally ill patients that are willing to end their sufferings along with their life but cannot do it themselves and this is why they need the doctor carried this act out.

Objections to euthanasia

Naturally, the existing misinterpretation of the concept of euthanasia leads to the opposition to its legalization. On the other hand, the misconception is not the only reason to such an opposition. In this respect, it is worth of noting that even health care professionals stand against the legalization of euthanasia. In this respect, it is possible to refer to the research conducted by D.W. Brock who distinguishes several objectives to the legalization of euthanasia. It should be said that basically the arguments of the opponents of euthanasia refer to the ethical sphere which turns to be naturally interlinked with legal spheres.

Firstly, the opponents of euthanasia view it as the unethical termination of life support. In this respect, it should be said that the life support is traditionally considered to be the main duty of a health care professionals. This means that doctors should maintain and save human life but not end it as euthanasia implies.

Secondly, euthanasia is considered to be an intention of the death of a patient. This means that the opponents of euthanasia believe that, on legalizing euthanasia, legislators will practically sentence terminally ill patients to death from hands of their doctors who could end the life of patients to end their sufferings.

Finally, euthanasia is perceived as highly abusive since it violates the basic human right, the right of life. At the same time, along with the legal problems it also engenders numerous psychological problems among terminally ill patients and their relatives. To put it more precisely, the patients may feel insecure been diagnosed as terminally ill since they can be simply afraid of a risk being euthanized. At the same time, there remains a risk of a physician’s mistake or pressure from the part of relatives on health care professionals.

Arguments for euthanasia

Nevertheless, regardless a strong opposition to euthanasia, the number of its supporters and their arguments for euthanasia are also quite significant. In this respect, it should be said that the major objectives to legalization of euthanasia could be critically evaluated and, in actuality, they are not absolutely convincing.

Firstly, euthanasia does not necessarily intend the death of a patient. In actuality, the death is rather hasted. This means that the death is not what health care professionals actually target at. In stark contrast it is rather the ultimate solution of the terminally ill patient’s problems, his unbearable sufferings and, what is more important, the realization of his own free will to end his sufferings with his life. Moreover, it is only because of the patient’s inability to end his life a physician should carry the entire act out.

Secondly, euthanasia is not necessarily unethical termination of a patient’s life. In this respect, it is possible to argue that euthanasia may be viewed as the practical realization of a patient’s life to remove life support. The latter may be opposed to those who argue that euthanasia violates rights of a patient.

Finally, euthanasia is not abusive since, instead of sufferings of a patient, it brings relief. However, it is necessary to underline the thorough legal regulation of this problem is extremely important to minimize the risks of possible misuse of euthanasia in case of imperfect legislation.

Alternatives to euthanasia

At the same time, there is also an alternative view to euthanasia, which actually reveals the fact that it is possible to be for or against euthanasia but even if euthanasia remains illegal there are still the ways to end the life of a patient.

In this respect, it is possible to refer to the research of Bernat, Gert, and Migielnicki who argue that a rational and competent patient can overcome the existing drawbacks of legislation and health care system and simply refuse from hydration and nutrition and, in such a way, naturally end his life.

Also, it is possible to remind that there exists another problem, the problem of a physician assisted suicide when a physician prepares a medicament that can end the life of a patient and the patient take it if he wish. In such a way, a physician assisted suicide may be an alternative to euthanasia, while the lack of legislative regulations in this domain makes this alternative quite effective.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, it is possible to say that the misconception of euthanasia is still widely spread among the public that prevents legislators and health care professionals from its legalization. At the same time, euthanasia is viewed as unethical, intending patient’s death and extremely abusive act but, on the other hand, supporters of euthanasia argue that it is the realization of the right of patients to remove life support, death is hasted and it actually ends sufferings of patients. Also, there are alternative to euthanasia that may be implemented instead of euthanasia, such a patient’s refusal from hydration and nutrition or a physician assisted suicide. This is why it is obvious that in order to prevent possible complications and negative effects of patients’ and physicians’ efforts to fulfill the will of a patient and end his sufferings, it is necessary to clearly define the legal status of euthanasia.

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