In the UK all forms of euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal. Anyone assisting euthanasia could be charged with murder. The fact that a patient wants to die is not a defence. There have been several cases where permission has been granted for passive euthanasia.
Euthanasia - the action of inducing a quiet and east death.
Different types of euthanasia
- Suicide - where a person knows they have a very painful terminal (going to end in death) disease and commit suicide to give themselves a quiet and easy death.
- Assisted suicide - where a person has such a painful terminal disease that they cannot obtain the means for suicide and they ask someone to give them the means to commit suicide.
- Voluntary euthanasia - where a person has a painful terminal disease and connot do anything for themselves. They ask someone else to kill them painlessely, for example by the doctor giving them a lethal dose of painkillers.
- Double effect - this is the same idea as used in abortion. That if you give a patient drugs to relieve their pain knowing that it will kill them over a period of time.
- Not striving to keep alive - this is the idea used in medicine that if someone is suffering from a terminal illness everything possible should be done to sure them. If it doesn't work and they have a heart attack for example, then they should not go through resuscitation procedures.
Different types of euthanasia (cont)
- Non-voluntary euthanasia - where a person is not kept alive because they are regarded as having a life wrose than death but connot make the decision for themselves. Like a baby or a person in a coma.
Reasons why people may agree with euthanasia
- The patient can die a gentle, pain-free death and can exercise their right as they choose.
- Medics can focus their attention on patients who have a chance of recovery.
- Euthanasia saves medical costs.
- The patient dies with dignity, rather than slowly getting worse, mentally and physically.
Reasons why people may disagree with euthanasia
- Legalised euthanasia would put pressure on the sick and dying to end their life.
- It relieves the family of financial and emotional burdens.
- Euthanasia is a 'slippery slope' towards killing of those aren't as useful to society.
- If euthanasia were legalised, there would be less medical research in to cures for terminal illnesses.
Christian attitudes towards euthanasia
Many Christians object to euthanasia because it goes against the principle of the sanctity of life. Other Christians have argued that God would want us to have a good quality of life. This means that they should be able to do the things that are meaningful to them and make them feel good about life.
Many Christians also claim that death itself is a spiritual time because the dying person draws nearer to God and prepares for the afterlife. It would be therefore be wrong to interfere with this process. They work to provide hospice care for terminally ill patients. Here, specialised, individual care can be given to patients at the close of their life. This quality of care and pain relief means that there is no need for euthanasia.
Christian attitudes to euthanasia (cont)
- Believes euthanasia is wrong.
- Why? It is taking away the life of a human being that is always murder. God created human beings in his image so only God has the power to take life away. Even if a sick person says they want to die, no one has the authority to take their life away. Life is so valuable it should be valued even when someone is in great pain. Terminally ill patients can still worship God and show other people God's love. Euthanasia could be used for evil purposes. Doctors or relatives may take the choice without consulting the patient. No one should be able to make a judgement about the value of another person's life. No person should value themselves as so worthless it would be better to die. The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church states 'An act or omission that causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder greatly contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his creator'.
Christian attitudes to euthanasia (cont)
- Would allow the giving of powerful pain-killing drugs (that will shorten life)
- Why? The quality of life would be improved.
- Allow the turning off of a life support machine.
- Why? The life has already ended.