Should Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide Be Legalised?

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?

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We have to weigh our options before it becomes legalized.

On one hand, it ends pain/suffering of a patient but what if the patients family doesn’t consent to this and take serious legal actions against the health care provider or health institution?

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No doubt some countries HV legalised it while for others the debate is ongoing but there are lot of grey areas that does not sound well with me because first there is a whole lot of contradiction regarding it . It contradicts the right to life which is upheld by society, it also contradicts or undermine d medical profession or health Care system which is meant to give care to patient but instead would rather see to their death on d basis of issues put up by supporters of euthanasia. It also contradicts d beauty of a society which strives to help suicidal victims get back on their fit, prosecute anyone found to assist a suicidal person to take his life but endorses a terminally ill person who has suicidal inclination or take such decisions on their behalf. It will also target d sick , elderly or vulnerable ones in society as not being fit to exist d need for them to die prematurely and many abuse of human life in disguise of euthanasia will emerge. For me it’s a NO and I see it as a way of depopulating the Earth for people who believe in such principle. What then is the relevance of science even at d molecular level trying to get a cure and huge money budgeted for research when instead of remedying life, it is taking leading to mistrust in the health Care system and placing a phychological effect on people who now see that as a new wave of law to go by. Certainly not every one will survive medical intervention at one time or d other but is it justified for someone else to do d killing ? Some persons where once proclaim gone but came BK to life imagine such being done on Dem , they won’t have Being given an opportunity to live.it also pose a contradiction on countries who do not sign death penalty for hardened criminal but would rather want this for d most vulnerable in society I strongly disagree with this legislation if not for any other reason, it is not trying to solve any problem of society . Legislation and laws should be meant to solve problem.

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@archibongbassey I agree that our options definitely have to be weighed.
The issue of consent is definitely one for concern but remember that in the case of both euthanasia and PAS, they are done based on a patient’s request. If the patient is an adult, conscious and in the right state of mind, their consent has to be given and is the only one that counts. The problem comes in where an adult is unable to make a decision for themself, in which case there is a possibility of decisions being made that could lead to legal actions being taken . In the case of minors however, even if they request for euthansia, their parents still have to give consent.

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@doubleohspage4 you’ve raised some very valid points. I agree that these practices go against the oath doctors take to protect life and also against a lot of things societies are trying to uphold and it is possible that it might be abused in the long run if checks aren’t put in place.
But for the sake of conversation, if we’re saying that it goes against the right to life, then what about the right to autonomy? Shouldn’t individuals be able to at least make the choice for themselves in the case where their pain/suffering is truly unbearable and not be limited to just the option of managing their pain till they die?
As opposed to the death penalty where the decision to die is made for you, the decision to die by euthanasia or PAS is completely up to the individual and at the end of the day not everyone that is terminally ill will opt for it.

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@nana.gaje Great write-up! :+1:t5:
In my own opinion, arguments like these (either opposing euthanasia or not) must be objective so that we don’t impose our (personal) values on others. That being said, a good objective approach is that of the right to individual autonomy as you mentioned in the replies.

A person is ultimately responsible for his or her own body.
Just as they have a right to life, they can also live or choose not to live their individual lives as they wish, especially when they are terminally ill. Nobody wants to have dictated to them how they should live or die. For this reason, a person who chooses voluntary euthanasia should be able to do so, without others dictating to them that they can’t, thereby infringing on their individual human rights.

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This discussion is dicy.

I think the right to individual autonomy seems fair, but can be totally abused. We could also consider situations where certain illnesses caused unbearable pain or made individuals depressed; and as such, they could not be “objective” enough to make the ‘right’ decision.

There have been cases where individuals survived an overdose (in the case of PAS) and then basically regretted the decision in the first place, they really weren’t sure what they wanted. I mean, they want the pain gone, but they don’t want to lose their life.

On the other hand, if the pain can actually be managed, should euthanasia/PAS be outrightly permissible on request if legalised?

:walking_man:t4: :walking_man:t4: :walking_man:t4: :walking_man:t4: :walking_man:t4: :walking_man:t4: :walking_man:t4:

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I agree with @archibongbassey on the issue of consent, consent of both the patient, patient relations and their care givers, but I have seen cases where the patient is not in a position to give consent such as in a prolonged comatose state (especially after a brain damage), cases like this which may be irreversible with only a few exceptions. Here, patient relations may be in conflict as to whether to carry out euthanasia or not and this does not exactly end well most times or puts the caregiver into a state of dilemma. Therefore, objectivity is key!

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Everyone has a right to autonomy as one of d reasons given for euthanasia and d patient must be in d right frame of mind to make that decision. But under d euthanasia law it is difficult to know if a person is making that decision from a sound mind, sometimes people make decision out of pressure and u cannot say if the patient have being pressurized to make such decision because any form of pressure from family members or any other source will go against d law which states that there must be no from of coercion. However, a society that tries to remedy or help suicidal patients get back to their normal life but encourages or feels it’s ok for someone who decides to take his/her life on d basis of autonomy , does this not seem like a double standard ? Even Some countries go as far as criminalising individuals who assist people with suicidal inclination to take their life. D basis of autonomy doesn’t sit well with me. On d basis of death penalty u said is being made for d person but in a situation where d patient can’t speak for his/her self who takes d decision on their behalf? And if such decision is taking for them then it’s same as death sentence because d request is made on behalf of the patient .

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Y are u walking away lolzzz yes good point if d pain can be managed there may b no need for euthanasia.

Great post @nana.gaje
I am totally for euthanasia and PAS. I don’t think anybody should live their last days in pains and agony and should have a right to “exit” the world on their own terms. As long as the patient is an adult, mentally fit to make their own decision and the disease in question is terminal, I don’t see a problem there.

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@Doosuur thanks so much for sharing! You are definitely right that objectivity is key.
I think one key term here is VOLUNTARY euthansia where a patient makes the decision and gives their consent. For other types of euthanasia it can get a bit tricky.

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@Debola thanks for sharing!
I think that’s where checks have to come in before a request is granted. I believe that a lot of steps should be put and are most likely already in place before a decision is made about such things as it is something you can’t come back from when it’s been done.
And as for pain management, while they provide some relief they might also be accompanied by side effects that are terrible. Some people just want out as not everyone wants to go through that and in such a situation they should have the option to opt out right?

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@Lynda welcome to the APHeN community and thanks for your first post! I agree that the issue of consent especially in the case of non-voluntary euthanasia is a difficult one. It can be hard to make end of life decisions for a patient and sometimes the wrong decision can be made except the patient has explicitly written down what should be done in these circumstances.

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@doubleohspage4 are you saying that the mental health evaluations done before granting requests are not sufficient? Are you also comparing an individual suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts to someone who is terminally ill and in unbearable amount of pain? I personally think these are two different circumstances and the same things should not necessarily apply to both cases.
Yes i agree that there might be cases of non-voluntary euthanasia and that situation is complicated but i think voluntary euthanasia should still be considered as an option for those who desire it.

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@Geebee thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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It is important to know what matters to the patient. In as much as you try to provide care and alleviate pain, have you asked your patient what matters to them. This can then help to make a better decision of can the client manage the condition or do they wish to end their life. Shifting focus from what is the matter to what matters to the patient is an important step to answering this question.

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@Yadel welcome to the APHeN community! Yes patient focused care should be the goal in all situations.

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