Revision notes on Euthanasia

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Euthanasia key words

Euthanasia- Inducing a painless death, by agreement and with compassion, to ease suffering. From the Greek meaning 'good death'.

Active euthanasia- Carrying out some action to help someone to die.

Passive euthanasia- Not carrying out actions which would prolong life.

Voluntary euthanasia- Helping a person who wishes to die to do so.

Involuntary euthanasia- Helping a person to die when they are unable to request this for themselves.

Living will- A document that specifies an individual's wishes regarding care and treatment if he or she becomes incapacitated, such as limiting life support that would only prolong death.

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Case studies etc.

Tony Nicklinson- Locked-in syndrome.

'Not dead yet' organisation- some people may think that only some lives are worth living. De-values the life of other disabled people. 

Dignitas (charity organisation in Switzerland)

Conditions for euthanasia in Holland- Free will, there has to be no other choice, you have to be able to do it yourself.

In favour- people not dying with dignity, life shouldn't be forced upon people who don't want it, mental and physical suffering outweighs the little pleasure left. 

Harold Shipman- murdered elderly patients and took money from them- claimed they asked to be helped to die.

 Tony Bland- Was injured in the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. Caused him to become brain dead, was in a coma for 3 years before his life support was turned off. His family campaigned for this to happen but the government took 3 years to agree to it.

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In favour of euthanasia

Pence (1997)- argues that 'killing humans who don't want to live is not wrong. It isn't wrong to help the dying to die, because they are actually dying.' 

Thomas More (1478-1535)- when a patient suffers 'a torturing and lingering pain, so that there is no hope, either of recovery or ease, [they may] choose rather to die, since they cannot live but in much misery.'

John Stuart Mill- 'in matters that do not concern others, individuals should have full autonomy.'

'over himself, over his body and mind, the individual is sovereign.' 

'There is no ethical difference between withdrawing treatment and delivering a lethal injection.' (VES) - Dignitas website.

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Arguments against voluntary euthanasia

Motives- Can we be sure it really is what the person wants?

Mistakes- Can we be sure mistakes in diagnosis will not occur? What if a cure becomes available?

Abuse of the system- They could be pressured by scheming relatives, elderly are vulnerable.

Impact on the community- could voluntary euthanasia reduce respect for life? 

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Christianity and Euthanasia

Problems with euthanasia in the bible- The bible does not say anything specifically about euthanasia as it was not a consideration at the time. It does not condone taking life in Holy War or self defence. Otherwise the biblical writings are generally against taking life.

Genesis 1:28- 'God blessed them and said, have many children and grow in number. Fill the earth and be its master. Rule over the birds in the sky and over every living thing that moves on earth.' - Against

John 10:10- A thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I came to give life- life in all its fullness. - Against

Ecclesiastes 3:14- There is a time for everything and everything on earth has its special season. There is a time to be born and a time to die. There is a time to plant and a time to pull up plants. There is a time to kill and a time to heal. There is a time to destroy and a time to heal. - For

Mark 12:31- Love your neighbour as you love yourself, there are no commands more important than these. - For

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Christianity and Euthanasia 2

Some christians would support euthanasia- God is love. Christianity is love and compassion. Keeping someone in pain and suffering is not loving, it is evil. Euthanasia can be the most loving action, and the best way of putting Agape love into practice. God gave humans free will. We should be allowed to use free will to decide when our lives end.

Other christians are against euthanasia- They argue it is dangerous to make euthanasia legal. God gives and God takes away- Job 1:21, God created man in his own image- Genesis 1:27

Would a christian agree or disagree?

John Stuart Mill said: 'The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which a citizen is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his body and mind, the individual is sovereign'. 

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