Euthanasia and physician assisted suicide are practices that are legal in a few countries around the world including Netherlands, Belgium and Canada. Euthanasia, is as an act taken by a physician, that intentionally ends the life of a person to relieve pain or suffering at his/her request (Deliens and Van der Wal, 2003). Physician assisted suicide (PAS) on the other hand is a situation where a person self-administers a lethal dose of a substance prescribed by a physician at their request (Materstverd et al., 2003).
The rate of euthanasia and PAS cases continue to rise in countries where it has been legalised. A Dutch Euthanasia centre, known as the End of Life Clinic, reported a 22% rise in requests for euthanasia in 2019 compared to 2018. Figures from Swiss non profit Dignitas, also show a steady rise in cases with 256 cases reported in 2019. Requests are however only considered in cases of terminal illness or unbearable mental/physical suffering.
A lot of controversy currently surrounds both euthanasia and PAS globally. On one end of the spectrum, those in favour of the practice believe that it is a right to autonomy and civilised societies should be able to allow people to die in a dignified way and without pain; they should also be able to get assistance in doing so if they are unable to manage it on their own.
In opposition to that, people believe that if made legal, there might be abuse of the law regulating the practice and people who do not really want to die might be killed. There are also those who oppose the practice on religious grounds with the belief that life is given by God, and only God has the power to decide when to end it.
Efforts to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide have had limited success so far worldwide. They are both illegal in most countries though doctors still carry out these practices even in countries where it is illegal.
So what are your thoughts on euthanasia and PAS? Are you for or against its legalisation?