Do you know that during the graduation ceremony of medical students in many countries, an oath is been sworn (historically and best known as the Hippocratic Oath); promising the well-being of the ill, the privacy of the patient and on and on? Yet, that oath might have been compromised today. How? Euthanasia. In this article, I will be explaining to an extent and enlightening you on all about euthanasia.
Euthanasia is the act of intentionally killing a terminally sick or seriously injured person for his/her ‘benefits’. Benefits being that the person is relieved of his/her suffering and given an easy death or the chance to die with dignity. Euthanasia coined from the Greek word ‘euthanatos’ meaning ‘easy death’ is almost always termed ‘mercy-killing’. Most of the time, medical professionals administer the fatal drug that completes the act. It should however been known that if the act is not intended, it is not euthanasia.
Of course there are different categories of euthanasia and they include:
- Voluntary Euthanasia: This is when the patient willingness agrees or requests that his/her life should be ended.
- Involuntary Euthanasia: This is when a patient who is still mentally competent, is killed even after expressing desire to continue living.
- Non-voluntary Euthanasia: This is when a person (who may not mentally capable) is killed without his/her request or consent
- Euthanasia by Omission: Here, intentional death is caused when required medical care is taken away.
Concerning the euthanasia topic, lots of arguments are being presented frequently. Arguments being governed by religious sentiments, ethical standards and practical knowledge. What exactly are the arguments for and against euthanasia?
For Team Euthanasia, one of their major point and driving force is that euthanasia gives the patient relief from extreme pain and discomfort. Dr. Sarah Edelman, a clinical psychologist and author/president of the Dying with Dignity NSW (New South Wales), whose father was diagnosed with end stage stomach cancer, states that “his dying was a slow, cruel process…the mere knowledge that we will have a choice concerning the matter and the timing of our death will produce extreme comfort and relief from anxiety”. Another point to their scoreboard, is the aim of reliving loved ones from the crushing weight of financial burdens of an ailment that is already a lost cause.
For Team Anti-Euthanasia, they strongly believe a person with a terminal illness may not necessarily pass through pain before death, through palliative care. Palliative care ensures that people with terminal illnesses that are expected to end in death, are given emotional, psychological and social support; It also helps reduce the effect of the illness. They also put forward an indication that people tend to be mentally pushed towards that direction, thinking it is the best thing for themselves, their family and the society at large. Another argument of theirs is that family members and friends could have an aim, such as financial exploitation, for giving the go-ahead for the act. Besides, it is not an impossibility. Yet again, they stress that if euthanasia is accepted and legalization, crime could easily be passed as voluntary willingness on the patient part to end his/her life; and as such, lawyers will likely be unable to press charges if foul play is suspected.
Religious beliefs are not left out too in these arguments. Christians, Muslims, Jews among other things battle the ideas and proposed laws of euthanasia as it is not in line with their strong beliefs; yet some groups such as ‘Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Euthanasia’ agree that “…demonstration of Christian love and compassion for those with terminal illness include the option of a pain-free, peaceful and dignified death.”
But personally I wonder, with our human nature and all, if euthanasia still stay at the point of ‘mercy-killing’. Or would it escalate to something else, such as it being used as punishment even for the slightest offence? What do you think? If a bill was being passed in Nigeria attempting to legalize euthanasia in the country, which side would you be on?
AGBOR, SYLVIA OMAMOKE.