Modern Stigma Towards Euthanasia

The terms ‘lethal injection,’ ‘physician-assisted suicide,’ ‘mercy killing,’ ‘death with dignity,’ and more are all turns of phrase commonly interchanged. But, do they really mean the same thing? How do people today view this kind of death? Is it moral? It is these kinds of questions that commonly circulate around the conversation of assisted death.

Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide (PAS) are two terms that are most frequently and incorrectly exchanged. Both fall under the larger umbrella of assisted death. Euthanasia, however, is specifically defined as a “deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life in order to relieve intractable suffering” [1]. Within that, there are two different types of euthanasia: active and passive. In active euthanasia, one directly and intentionally causes the death of the patient. Passive euthanasia, on the other hand, causes death of a patient through the withholding or removal of life support. Assisted suicide, or PAS, is known as when a physician provides assistance and the means of death to people that are looking to hasten their passing. There is often a blurred line between these assisted death cases.

Jack Kevorkian posing with his homemade “suicide machine”

Jack Kevorkian, for example, was a physician who facilitated the suicide of several people under his care. If a terminally ill patient requested his help, he attached a “homemade suicide machine” that injected a lethal dose of drugs when activated. Since he technically did not directly cause the death, he evaded criminal conviction until he finally did personally administer the drug to a patient without any arms or legs. Due to illegality, Kevorkian was convicted of second degree murder by voluntary active euthanasia [2]. There is a third type of assisted death―palliative sedation―which is when, with consent, a patient is sedated to the point of unconsciousness/death to prevent further pain and suffering. Most of the modern controversy lies around PAS and euthanasia, with PAS being much more widely accepted. In contrast, euthanasia is strongly debated by many people in the modern medical and public world alike.

Regarding the medical field today, euthanasia is largely controversial. There lies a difference between moralities and doctoral obligation for physicians requested to do the task. In one study, 256 physicians in Rhode Island were asked questions regarding their thoughts on euthanasia; all were asked to simulate a scenario in which a patient with respiratory problems was reaching respiratory failure. From the study, 86% agree to give the patient narcotics that would ease his/her suffering and possibly cause respiratory compromise, 59% agreed that they would turn the respirator off if the patient was wholly dependent with no hope of coming off, 9% agreed to give the patient a lethal prescription amount to end his/her life, and 1% agreed to administer lethal injection. This provides interesting results―neither PAS nor euthanasia are entirely popular among such physicians surveyed, but very few agreed to physically carry out the task. However, 28% of respondents agreed that they would comply with more requests if lethal administration was legal[3].

For hundreds of years, the topic of euthanasia has been under debate in the scientific community. A main argument that has prevailed among those against it is the fact that euthanasia disobeys one of the main oaths one takes when one becomes a doctor.  The Hippocratic Oath, originally from the time of Hippocrates from 460-377 B.C., is credited with the clause “do no harm.” This standard was typically recited at the end of a medical student’s graduation [4]. It has since been modernized but is currently known to be:

“Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty.” [5]

This oath, in short, declares that a physician will not take the life of his/her patient. It is for this role as a professional that many healthcare providers today are against or hesitant to readily carry out the action of euthanasia.

Among the medical community, autonomy is a term that is undisputedly vital in the actions of a physicians. Patient autonomy is the idea that doctors have an obligation to “provide competent patients with the opportunity to make an informed decision about their medical treatment”―in short, informed consent [3]. Determining the autonomy of end-of-life decisions is commonly ambiguous in the medical field, but to the majority, the patient’s wishes regarding life and death issues should usually be followed. This is either with or without the physician’s support behind the decision. Those who would not comply simply justify their withholding to their moral beliefs/obligations. It is interesting to observe that when the death of the patient is indirect, many more are likely to respect patient autonomy than if the death was directly caused (lethal pain medication dosage & lethal injection). This puts controversy in the belief that the physicians’ first priority is the wishes of those being treated.


The ethics of autonomy and other viewpoints on euthanasia play a significant role in how it is viewed by the modern community. The word ‘euthanasia’ itself can have differing definitions, and it may seem unclear to the general public what it actually is. The word ‘euthanasia’ is “derived from the Greek eu and thanatos, which translates as ‘good death’ or ‘dying well,’” which gives the connotation of positivity [6]. Descriptions of euthanasia contrast the positive roots of the word due to the darkness in ending a life. A portion of the negative modern stigma towards euthanasia is derived from the possibility that it may be forcing death upon an unwilling participant, either against their will, not knowing their will, or with a lack of consent from the patient. Death and dying generally creates grief in the American society, causing a lack of support for the act.

When creating legislation for euthanasia, the ethical principle of autonomy is paramount. Autonomy is the notion that the people should be able to make the choices for their own lives as much as possible. In the United States, there is a lack of uniform law for euthanasia, unlike countries such as the Netherlands and Belgium. This lack in decision leads to deep debates about what should be done. After all, the morals of a physician can align with aiding “in any way possible to prolong life and to heal, not to take life away,” where “many physicians refuse to practice euthanasia and it is often difficult to find someone who will do it” [7]. With that said, the United States does not authorize euthanasia based on the previously mentioned standards for physicians. Instead, there is an option of PAS that can be taken advantage of in a few states―California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington―but this statute only allows for the prescription of life ending medication to be written, not to be administered by the physician themselves [8]. This is where the definition of euthanasia can be murky, as the United States may not technically have a policy for euthanasia in place, but physicians in some states can still assist in aid-in-dying. The unclear policy is unfair to the public because it can be seen as deceiving, triggering concern for people who can no longer make autonomous decisions and the possibility that they may be taken advantage of. To minimize issues with the process of aid in dying, the general protocol in the few states that allow it is the need for two oral requests and a written request, with several waiting periods in between [8]. These procedures are put into place to ensure that physicians obtain the full consent of the patient and to ensure the patient is of sound mind in order to minimize any ethical challenges associated with aid-in-dying.

States in the US with legalized physician-assisted suicide

While there is a portion of the American public that supports aid-in-dying, there is also a proportion of opposition that believes that any shortening of life is immoral because there are other ways to alleviate pain, such as palliative care and hospice services. The extreme opposition also note that euthanasia and aid-in-dying can open the door to abuse of the law, comparing it to the Nazi extermination and slow starvation of physically warped, mentally defective, incurably sick, and unproductive people [9]. There is a fear that “physicians will no longer try their best to give comfort and care to the patients near the end of life,” and that it is only a method of ridding the world of ‘inadequate people’ [10].

However, patients do “have the autonomous right to make decisions concerning the ends of their lives” and their “physicians have an obligation to act in the patient’s best interest as determined by the patient in concert with the advice of the physician” [10]. It is expected that the checks and balances system within the medical field will play an important role in the advancement of euthanasia and aid-in-dying laws in the United States, so it does not become corrupt. It is important to note that the patient may also factor in their financial situation to the decision of requesting aid-in-dying. Living on medication and/or constant use of a machine is expensive and can wipe a family clean of any savings or assets. Not allowing a terminally ill patient the right to make the decision of death is taking away their ability to possibly save their family from the distress of being able to afford the patient’s end of life care. Some argue that it should not be “the role of the doctor to prolong life to the very last second, but to seek to restore a patient’s state of health, and if that is not possible, then to alleviate suffering,” which includes the intensified suffering caused by financial hardship [7].

The ethical dilemma of ‘when is it acceptable to perform euthanasia?’ arises during the debate of the policy. Who should be allowed to take advantage of the law: only those with a terminal illness, or those with mental or emotional pain caused by a mood disorder, too? Considering all aspects of the advancement in policy will allow for a more content public opinion. Giving a precise definition to the medical procedures of euthanasia and aid-in-dying is also key to educating the public on what the legislation is actually for. Euthanasia sparks great debate because of its clash with our ethical standards in the United States, specifically the right of autonomy. People feel that they should have the choice in their death, particularly in extreme cases of a terminal diagnosis.


Allowing for a standard of choice in death varies from culture to culture. In many European countries, the past decade has had an “increasing debate about the acceptability and regulation of euthanasia and other end-of-life decisions in medical practice” [11]. People in Europe are wishing to die a ‘good death’ which is “now being connected to choice and control over the time, manner, and place of death” [12]. This is connected with the option of euthanasia, which is becoming a popular new concept in several countries; the legalization of euthanasia in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg has sparked an intense debate across Europe.  

Euthanasia is the practice of intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering of a person. Physician-administered euthanasia “describes a situation where a doctor administers a lethal dosage of drugs to a patient, at the patient’s request, in order to bring about his or her death” [13]. In many countries, this practice is considered illegal; however, “the Netherlands is one of the few places in the world where euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are legal under specific circumstances” [14].

           The Netherlands and Belgium passed a law in 2001 that created an exception to the Criminal Code. Under the Code, it is illegal to end another person’s life or assist in their suicide. However, the 2001 Act created an exception where the Code would not apply “if a physician had terminated the life, or assisted the suicide, of a patient on request and if certain ‘due care’ criteria had been observed” [13]. This was the legalization of active voluntary euthanasia. Article 2 of this act states that the patient’s request is ‘voluntary and well-considered’ as well as their suffering being ‘lasting and unbearable.’  

           There is a key difference between the Netherlands and the United States regarding euthanasia. The Dutch 2001 law allows physician-administered euthanasia as well as physician assisted suicide, while only a few states in the United States allow it. Euthanasia is considered illegal, so the patient must consume the life-ending medication prescribed by the physician solely by themselves and without the help of others.  Although euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands it has posed some concern about the overuse of the life-ending treatment. There have been three times as many deaths from physician-administered euthanasia and PAS. There was a total of 49,287 deaths from euthanasia or assisted suicide within the 15-year period from 2002 to 2016 [13]. Within this data, there is a large predominance of physician administered euthanasia (96%) being used over physician assisted suicide.

           Canada has also legalized patient administered euthanasia, and the overwhelming majority of deaths were also by physician administered euthanasia.  Canada legalized the use of euthanasia because citizens claimed that not allowing them to make choices regarding their own body was taking away their right of liberty; “the court ruled that the right to liberty requires that the person is free to make decisions regarding his own body and medical treatment-it’s an aspect of the right to autonomy and self-determination” [15]. A possibility for the difference between the use of PAE and PAS can be “with its direct involvement of a doctor in administering injections of lethal drugs and its placing of the patient in the position of passive recipient rather than active ingestor” [16]. The legalization of physician administered suicide has had drastic effects on the increase of deaths in countries where it is legalized.  

           As mentioned previously, euthanasia is a widely debated topic.  To test and compare attitudes towards euthanasia, Joachim Cohen used data from the 1999-2000 wave of the European Values Study to collect people’s attitudes of euthanasia from 33 different European countries. This dataset gives insight to a range of social, political, cultural, and economic differences between different populations of people; the questionnaire contained more than 300 questions that tested a number of independent variables including social class, educational level, religious beliefs, country of residence, etc.  The dependent variable in the study was the acceptance of euthanasia. The total number of respondents was 41,125.

           The acceptance of euthanasia varied greatly across the different countries. For example, the Netherlands, France, Sweden, and Belgium generally accepted euthanasia, while Poland, Romania, Turkey, and Malta did not. Combining all 33 European countries together, the mean score for acceptance on a scale from 1 to 10 was just below a 5 [11]. The data also showed that men were more accepting of euthanasia than women. Furthermore, the acceptance decreased linearly with age, but increased with education level.  The acceptance also decreased as the level of religious belief was increased.

           There were also country-specific differences in euthanasia acceptance. Roman Catholics are usually less favorable towards euthanasia than other large Christian groups such as Protestants or Orthodox. The study supported previous findings that religion is a major factor related to euthanasia attitudes, as they consider euthanasia immoral.  People who do not belong to a religious group are seen to be as the most accepting towards euthanasia.

Religious beliefs by country related to acceptance of euthanasia.

           The data concluded that there is not a common European attitude towards euthanasia. There are countries who have a public opinion that accepts euthanasia, while other countries have a public opinion that do not. “Given the sometimes very country-specific character of attitudes towards euthanasia, each country will have its own debate, influenced by its cultural backgrounds” [11].

The myriad perspectives one could take on the principle of euthanasia causes much of the confusion that surrounds it. There are scientific, ethical, and cultural stances to take; the medical directive, morality, and societal differences all play a role in the modern stigma around this concept of death. The notion of ‘do no harm’ is constantly questioned when direct physician involvement comes into play. The majority of physicians themselves seem to be against the fact of taking another’s life, even if it does provide relief and reflect their patient’s wishes. Being clear about the definition of euthanasia, and other forms of physician assisted suicide, and having a uniform protocol to follow is essential in the success of the legislation that coincides with ethical standards. Working with the patient and respecting the patient’s right to autonomy is also crucial in a successful practice. Although there are many different cultural differences regarding the acceptance of euthanasia, personal factors, such as: education level, age, and religion play a factor in supporting or disagreeing with the concept of euthanasia. Currently, in a vast majority of societies, euthanasia is not an acceptable practice. However, as the world continues to progress in technology and overall education, the legislation is subject to change.

 

Catie Drawdy, Katie Hawkes, and Avery Twyman

 

Works Cited

[1] Lopes, Giza. “Suicide, Assisted.” In The Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice, by Jay S. Albanese. Wiley, 2014. http://libproxy.lib.unc.edu/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/wileycacj/suicide_assisted/0?institutionId=1724

[2] Perry, Joshua E. “Right to Die.” In Culture Wars in America: An Encyclopedia of Issues, Viewpoints, and Voices, edited by Roger Chapman, and James Ciment. 2nd ed. Routledge, 2013. http://libproxy.lib.unc.edu/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/sharpecw/right_to_die/0?institutionId=1724

[3] Fried, TR, MD Stein, and PS O’Sullivan. 1993. “Limits of Patient Autonomy. Physician Attitudes and Practices Regarding Life-Sustaining Treatments and Euthanasia.” Archives of Internal Medicine 153 (March): 722–28. https://doi.org/10.1001/archinte.153.6.722.

[4] Wells, Ken R. “Medical Ethics.” In Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health, edited by Gale. 3rd ed. Gale, 2013. http://libproxy.lib.unc.edu/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/galegnaah/medical_ethics/0?institutionId=1724

[5] Nordqvist, Christian. 2018. “What Are Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide?” Medical News Today. Healthline Media. December 2018. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/182951.php.

[6] Huxtable, Richard. 2007. Euthanasia, Ethics and the Law. New York, NY: Routledge-Cavendish. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203940440.

[7] Keown, John. 2002. Euthanasia, Ethics and Public Policy: An Argument against Legalisation. Cambridge, United Kingdom: University Printing House. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781107337909.

[8] n.d. “How Death with Dignity Laws Work.” Death with Dignity. Death with Dignity. Accessed April 1, 2019. https://www.deathwithdignity.org/learn/access/#top.

[9] MacDougall, Kent. 1958. “Euthanasia: Murder or Mercy?” Humanist 18 (38): 38–47. https://search.proquest.com/docview/1290410255/fulltext/5E4C2F0D6F104E05PQ/1?accountid=14244.

[10] Sharma, B.R. 2004. “The End of Life Decisions–Should Physicians Aid Their Patients in Dying?” Clinical Forensic Medicine 11 (3): 133–40. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcfm.2003.11.002.

[11] Cohen, Joachim, Isabelle Marcoux, Johan  Bilson, Patrick Deboosere, Gerrit Van der Wal , and   Luc Deliens. 2006. “European Public Acceptance of Euthanasia: Socio-Demographic and Cultural Factors Associated with the Acceptance of Euthanasia in 33 European Countries.” Social Science and Medicine 63 (3): 743–56. http://vb3lk7eb4t.search.serialssolutions.com/?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&ctx_enc=info%3Aofi%2Fenc%3AUTF-8&rfr_id=info%3Asid%2Fsummon.serialssolutions.com&rft_val_fmt=info%3Aofi%2Ffmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Ajournal&rft.genre=article&rft.atitle=European+public+acceptance+of+euthanasia%3A+Socio-demographic+and+cultural+factors+associated+with+the+acceptance+of+euthanasia+in+33+European+countries&rft.jtitle=Social+Science+%26+Medicine&rft.au=Cohen%2C+Joachim&rft.au=Marcoux%2C+Isabelle&rft.au=Bilsen%2C+Johan&rft.au=Deboosere%2C+Patrick&rft.date=2006&rft.pub=Elsevier+Ltd&rft.issn=0277-9536&rft.eissn=1873-5347&rft.volume=63&rft.issue=3&rft.spage=743&rft.epage=756&rft_id=info:doi/10.1016%2Fj.socscimed.2006.01.026&rft.externalDocID=doi_10_1016_j_socscimed_2006_01_026&paramdict=en-US

[12] DelVecchio Good, Mary-Jo, Nina  Gadner, Patricia Ruopp, Matthew Lakoma, Amy  Sullivan, Ellen Redinbaugh, Robert Arnold, and Susan  Block . 2004. “Narrative Nuances on Good and Bad Deaths: Internists’ Tales from High-Technology Work Places.” Social and Science Medicine 58 (5): 939–53. http://vb3lk7eb4t.search.serialssolutions.com/?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&ctx_enc=info%3Aofi%2Fenc%3AUTF-8&rfr_id=info%3Asid%2Fsummon.serialssolutions.com&rft_val_fmt=info%3Aofi%2Ffmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Ajournal&rft.genre=article&rft.atitle=Narrative+nuances+on+good+and+bad+deaths%3A+internists’+tales+from+high-technology+work+places&rft.jtitle=Social+Science+%26+Medicine&rft.au=DelVecchio+Good%2C+Mary-Jo&rft.au=Gadmer%2C+Nina+M&rft.au=Ruopp%2C+Patricia&rft.au=Lakoma%2C+Matthew&rft.date=2004&rft.pub=Elsevier+Ltd&rft.issn=0277-9536&rft.eissn=1873-5347&rft.volume=58&rft.issue=5&rft.spage=939&rft.epage=953&rft_id=info:doi/10.1016%2Fj.socscimed.2003.10.043&rft.externalDocID=doi_10_1016_j_socscimed_2003_10_043&paramdict=en-US

[13] Preston , Robert . 2018. “Death on Demand? An Analysis of Physician-Administered Euthanasia in The Netherlands.” British Medical Bulletin  125 (1): 145–155. https://academic.oup.com/bmb/article/125/1/145/4850942

[14] Lo, Bernard. 2012. “Euthanasia in the Netherlands: What Lessons for Elsewhere?” The Lancet  380 (9845): 169–70. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673612611283.

[15] Grondelski , John  . 2015. “Euthanasia in Canada: An Interview with Margaret A. Somerville.” Human Life Review  41 (2): 67–75. https://search.proquest.com/docview/1698997079?pq-origsite=summon

[16] Warner, Teddy, and Laura Weiss Roberts. 2001. “Uncertainty and Opposition of Medical Students Toward Assisted Death Practices.” Journal of Pain and Symptom Management  22 (2): 657–67. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0885392401003141?via%3Dihub.

15 Comments

  1. The issue of euthanasia and physician assisted suicide is definitely one of the most relevant and ethically treacherous topics I have seen discussed in these posts so far and I commend your well written, balanced examination of this difficult topic. I particularly enjoyed how you not only highlighted some of the central ethical debate regarding euthanasia and PAS in the U.S, but also contrasted such American stances with attitudes towards euthanasia in various european countries. I found it interesting how attitudes towards euthanasia vary so greatly not only between the U.S and european countries, but also among the european countries themselves. As such , this great variance in attitudes towards euthanasia between countries makes me wonder what specific cultural factors influence these differences. For instance, is the taboo nature of death in the U.S. and the medical industry’s positioning of death as something to be avoided at all costs part of the reason that support for euthanasia in the U.S in comparison with Belgium or the Netherlands? Ethically speaking, your cross cultural positioning of modern controversy over euthanasia and PAS adds yet another complication to the already multifaceted moral debates surrounding the topic, as it highlights how the ethicacy of euthanasia must be weighed in context of the diversity of beliefs regarding life and death between various cultures. Thus, overall, I find your article compelling because it raises a number of poignant questions about the ethicacy of legalizing euthanasia in various cultural contexts, which intern raise questions as to the effects our American cultural beliefs have on the reception of PAS, euthanasia,and other end-of-life care options.

  2. One of the things that I found very interesting is the paradox between patient autonomy and the Hippocratic oath. Before graduating from medical school doctors take the Hippocratic oath and pledge to “do no harm”. However, in some cases, there are terminally ill patients who are suffering and want to end their lives early in order to ease their pain. In this instance is it ethically right for a doctor to maintain the oath they took or are they doing more harm by allowing this patient to continue to suffer? Personally, I am in support of allowing patients to have full autonomy of over their bodies. Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide often have a negative connotation surrounding them. This negative attitude is most likely why California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington are the only states that have approved a sort of physician-assisted suicide. In a study looking at Rhode Island doctors, there was relatively low support for euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide. However, it is important to note that 28% of doctors said that they would be more open to the idea if it was legalized. This suggests that if euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are normalized new legalization then more patients could achieve autonomy in terms of deciding their death.

  3. I think that their distinction between PAS, active and passive euthanasia sets their paper up well for the content that followed. I found it interesting that the public often respects patient’s desire to die when terminally ill. Yet, a smaller minority of the public agrees with physicians being the facilitators of the process. This is difficult because, on one hand we respect the patient’s autonomy, but at the same time we’re making their desire to die incredibly difficult to achieve because means (i.e. physician assistance) aren’t easily acquired or attained.

  4. When I was in high school, I had to write a news article about euthanasia and it is very interesting to see how opinions on euthanasia have changed even over the past couple of years. Though it is still not widely accepted, there seems to be at least more interest in exploring these alternative end of life options. Because the hippocratic oath originated so long ago, I am interested to see if it ever changes to “do the least amount of harm” or something similar because of new illnesses that have arisen and our advances in medicine. I am also curious about the average cost of palliative care/hospice services verses the average cost of choosing euthanasia or PAS. If, in the future, these practices became universally legal across the United States and more physicians agreed to perform them, how do you think this would affect the amount of hospice/palliative care given? Would the amount of euthanasia/PAS performed become as popular as these other types of end of life care?

  5. I find euthanasia a very interesting topic mainly because it is one’s own life someone’s wants to end but cannot because it is not considered ethical. The post mentioned that most people are against euthanasia because there are other ways to alleviate pain, but I think this is unfair because those might be in a lot of pain to decide of ending their life. Just like how this post mentioned active and passive euthanasia, another post (Cannibalism and Kuru) mentioned active and passive cannibalism. Something I learned from the post is that other countries in Europe, besides Netherlands, have also legalized euthanasia. Another thing I appreciated in the post is the comparison of euthanasia between Netherlands and the U.S. One issue with the post is repetition; too many times I saw euthanasia is under debate or euthanasia is controversial. It seemed like the authors were trying to reach the word limit; the paragraphs were not cohesive.

  6. This post does an excellent job explaining what euthanasia is as well as why people have ethical qualms with it. I also really enjoyed the comparison between laws in different countries. The one thing I would have liked to know is what the U.S. Supreme Court says about PAS, as well as various State Supreme Courts.

  7. In our page, on the differences, arguments and cross-cultural viewpoints of euthanasia, we found that “terminal disease” which was a key factor in determining if one is allowed to undergo euthanasia has evolved to the following definition: “a disease that is incurable and irreversible and has been medically confirmed to cause death within 6 months.” In terms of modern stigma, I think that highlighting this change in definition would have also been important towards understanding modern viewpoints.

    I love that you highlighted the various groups of people (not just countries) that accepted/did not accept euthanasia: it was interesting to see that men were more accepting of euthanasia than women and that acceptance increased with education level. I never thought of education level being a factor in who does/does not accept euthanasia. I’m curious to know if financial status affects one’s attitude toward euthanasia.

    Overall, I loved the way you laid out the ethical aspect of your topic; however, I think the definition of euthanasia was explained too often.

  8. One thing I really appreciated about this post was how thorough it was. When addressing an issue as charged and controversial as euthanasia and PAS, I think it’s really important to have a full understanding of all of the different elements, which were definitely portrayed in this post. I really appreciated that the difference between euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide was addressed, since the line between both is not often distinguished among the public. Along with that, I thought it was really cool that there was also an analysis on the stigma surrounding euthanasia/PAS among different countries and groups. Honestly, I myself was not aware of the deviance and how diverse the attitudes are towards euthanasia, which I think is one of the issues experienced today. With such a controversial topic, I think your post brings up the fact that better education and awareness for the boundaries regarding euthanasia and PAS need to be spread. I was also interested in the section included about religion, because I am Roman Catholic, and was born into the faith and was taught that euthanasia is wrong. Many of us think that us, as humans, do not have the authority to end someone’s life, which I think also applies to the discontent with doctors and physicians (dedicated to preserving life) having authority over how one’s life ends. This also calls into the question the importance of authority as well. All in all, it’s a very complicated topic, and I think it is important to become fully aware of the issue and to understand the different circumstances in order to make informed decisions.

  9. This report does a good job distinguishing between all the forms of euthanasia and how they differ. It also shows how doctors respond when presented with several different options regarding euthanasia. Doctors will tend to not want to administer lethal injection or PAS, which shows the lack of support for PAS in the united states. Questions must be asked about this phenomenon. Is it truly worth it to continue the suffering of patients when a more peaceful and wanted resolution can be reached? should PAS and euthanasia be more accepted in the US? Doctors tend to comply more with the wishes of the patients rather than making the decision on their own, so maybe if patients requested it more we would see it be more accepted.

  10. I thought this post did a good job at addressing some of the social stigma towards euthanasia in the United States. I found it interesting that the other countries that you included to compare to the United States were all European countries that are highly westernized. I would love to see statistics on what Asian and African countries think of euthanasia to compare it the United States. The United States is sort of an anomaly in this regard because we are a highly western country and world power, but we are also extremely religious and religion ties into the topic of death significantly. I don’t know where I stand on assisted suicide and the acceleration of policies in recent years to destigmatize it, but this article did a great job of laying out the debate and why people feel the way they do.

  11. Euthanasia is one of the most controversial and ethical issues currently being debated today, and I think you did a great job of looking at different points of view. I was particularly interested about the how religion plays a factor in people’s opinion on Euthanasia. I actually did my psychology assignment for this class about how religion attitudes affect opinions toward Euthanasia. Similar to you, I found that more religious people tended to have a negative opinion toward Euthanasia, however, I did not categorize the different religions (in contrast, where you specifically called out European Roman Catholics). Obviously, this has to do with teachings from the Bible and the views toward self-determination versus pre-determination, which is another debate altogether.

  12. The topic of euthanasia has always been a very controversial one, and I think people’s religious beliefs play a large role in this. In many cultures and religions, suicide is frowned up and often forbidden and therefore euthanasia can also be frowned upon and forbidden. I found it interesting how you mentioned euthanasia in terms of autonomy. It is important that people die a “good death” and for some people that means dying on their own terms. If they are terminally ill, euthanasia gives them the option to do this. However, as you mentioned in the article, not everyone has the right or privilege to have access to the medical resources required for euthanasia, whether it be the cost of the medication or having the legal rights for it.
    This is mainly because, ethically, there is a dilemma, especially in the United States on whether euthanasia is morally okay or not. The article brings up good points on why many legislators are hesitant in supporting bills that pertain to legalizing euthanasia. One of the points I found most relevant was that there could be misuse of the power doctors have when they can legally help a patient take their life. These patients are already weak and it is possible for doctors to manipulate them. However, I believe that with the right checks and balances in place, the chances of this happening are slim to none. I am curious on how eastern countries are reacting to the concept of euthanasia and what they may think of the concept.

  13. I think that euthanasia will always be a controversial topic not just within medical professions but within society as a whole. It lies in the line between absurdity and practicality. It begs the question as to why isn’t someone given the choice over the last remaining part of their life? The Hippocratic Oath is something that will prevent a lot of doctors from ever being comfortable in offering euthanasia as an option. Frankly I wasn’t even aware that this was an issue until this class, but knowing that the option is there and is something offered in certain states leaves an odd feeling within me. I think that people should be given autonomy over their own life within a terminal illness situation. However I do believe it should up to the discretion of the doctor to even suggest it if euthanasia became a suggested method.

  14. Very interesting article! When I read the part about the Hippocrates oath which says “do no harm” I wondered about the definition of harm. Looking at the oath from a different perspective, by denying euthanasia to patients who are truly suffering and feel like they are trapped in their own bodies, there is surely a great deal of mental harm being caused to the patient. If their death is inevitable and recovery is extremely improbable, then best of means of achieving the same result of death would be to alleviate the suffering of the patient. Also, the will or desire to live is perhaps very important to the small chance of recovery, so the absence of this will further reduces the chances of recovery and makes the suffering of the patient seem pointless.

  15. Mary Ellen Frank

    April 25, 2019 at 7:50 am

    Jack Kavorkian is the perfect example of why there are blurred lines between active/passive euthanasia and physician’s assisted suicide. He was charged multiple times with murder but found not guilty multiple times. It was not until he altered his assisted suicide machine to include a button that the doctor presses that he was found guilty. The ethics became immoral as soon as he included that button, but why? In this post, I am glad you talk about the varying levels of euthanasia opinions, because it goes to show that if something is unclear, humans will still follow through with it, which may not be the best decision.

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