Euthanasia comes from the Greek, where ‘eu’ means good and ‘thanatos’ means death. Euthanasia usually means the mercy killing of someone, to relive them from suffering severely from a terminal illness. It should be distinguished that euthanasia entirely depends on the word “intentional” – if the death is not intended, it is not an act of euthanasia. The 10 commandments are a list of religious morals which Christians are expected to follow. In exodus 20:1-17 the most prominent teaching that goes against euthanasia is the fifth commandment “thou shall not kill”. In Britain to kill someone intentionally is classified as murder, even if someone requests you to kill them. But the question is ‘if suicide is not a crime then why is euthanasia a crime?’ However the following are not euthanasia.
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To develop a medical treatment where the burden of that treatment would outweigh the benefits; giving treatments in order to relive pain even when the treatment may shorten the patient’s life and cause him or her to die sooner. Known as ‘double effect’, it is more helpful to realize that the doctor’s intention is to relief the pain, not the shortening of life.
When a mentally capable person chooses to refuse treatment. Doctors cannot force patients to have treatment against their will and it is legal for a patient to refuse treatment.
There are four types of Euthanasia, some are perceived as right and others wrong which are identified as either “active” or “passive”, and as either “voluntary” or “involuntary”. Despite the fact that “active” and “passive” are complete opposites, they still share similarities; they both achieve an “easy death”. Active euthanasia take place when medical professionals, or someone, deliberately take specific steps to execute something that will eventually cause the patient’s death, normally achieved through giving the patient with an overdose of drugs such as pain-killers or a lethal injection as they believe that they are easing the suffering of the patient. A well known example of this was on September 17, 1998, where Dr. Jack Kevorkian videotaped himself administering a lethal medication to a patient with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, causing the patient’s death. Kevorkian was found guilty of second-degree murder in 1999, and was sent to prison. Passive euthanasia is usually characterized as when a patient dies due to medical professionals either don’t do something mandatory in order to keep a patient alive, or when they stop doing something that is keeping the patient alive, such as withdrawal of medical equipment or disconnecting a feeding tube with the premeditated intention of causing a patient’s death. For example, The most common concept is DNR, most formerly known as “do not resuscitate”, this means if a patient was to suddenly have an unanticipated disruption in their life functions, such as a heart attack, medical professionals will need to make an effort to revive them, if they do not even try to revive the patient, but merely watch them presumably die shortly. This is passive euthanasia. In cases where the patient is physically and mentally lifeless, “vegetative state”, and is bound to a foreseeable life in a coma, their life support systems are removed, therefore causing the patient’s death.
Voluntary euthanasia also known as assisted suicide is when a patient who is capable of making their own decisions makes a deliberate request to end their own life. These included circumstances, where the patient refuses to eat, take futile medical treatments or requesting that life support machines to be switched off. The patient who bears a terminally illness is suffering from intolerable pain which makes their own life seem like a burden; therefore they require assistance to die a peaceful death. An example of this is Velma Howard aged 76 had Lou Gehrig’s disease and was taking away the use of her limbs one by one. So she decided on an accelerated death. Unable to write clearly, Velma recorded an audiotape outlining her reasons for deciding to die now rather than wait and that she takes full responsibility for her action, and stresses that no one else should be blamed. Her husband assisted in her death and was charged with a class B felony. Non-voluntary euthanasia occurs when someone decides that a patient should die without the patient’s knowledge and consent, even if the patient does not want to die, meaning that they cannot make their a decision for themselves, in practice it usually means that the patient is in a coma, unable to communicate, or is too sick and weak to be aware of what is happening. Upon being classified as “legally incompetent”, the patient’s outcome rests on the resultant decision that the assigned guardian produces, in accordance with their living will, or previously expressed wishes. However in numerous situations, the problem is that the patient’s relatives and medical professionals disagree with the patient’s decision.
Catholics teachings oppose euthanasia; euthanasia is a grave violation, as it goes against God’s will and God’s word, and the “deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person” the words of Pope John Paul II. Catholics see euthanasia as murder, and to allow euthanasia is to go against God’s teaching of the 10 commandments “thou shall not kill” (Exodus 20:1-17). Although no matter how much the bible stresses that euthanasia is wrong, God has given us free will, and no-one can take that away from God’s creation.With this free will we are able to make up our own decisions so people should not be prosecuted for what they may believe. Their argument just means that it is sinful for us to take our own life. God planned that birth and death is a part of our life, so we should respect that and be grateful that God has given life to each person. In the Bible, Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 Verse 1-3, there are additional teachings which state that “there is a time for everything. A time to be born and a time to die”, this means that only God himself has the right to take away life. It is important to understand that euthanasia is considered wrong due to the fact that only God can take away life, and Catholics should understand this. Several churches believe that during the phase before death is an extremely spiritual event. They believe that it is immoral to interfere with the process of dying, as this is disrupting God’s plan for us, and the process for the spirit to progress closer to God.
Teachings in the bible show that Euthanasia is wrong and so backs up why most Catholics think Euthanasia is wrong:
God wants each one of us, “You create every part of me. You put me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13). Therefore Catholics believe God is master of our lives.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is scared, and you are that temple.” (Corinthians 3:16-17)
These teachings are further emphasised in the Bible, (Genesis 1:27), where God is described as creating the first humans in his own image. “So God created people in his own image, in the image of God he created himself; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27) God created Humans to resemble himself. Christians believe that resembling God means to be the ‘image of God’ which implies that that human beings are unique since God created us to be like him, and that every individual is a part of God. The teachings and the beliefs of the Catholic Church is furthermore emphasized in the catechism, which teaches that “those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect” and “the sick and handicapped people should be helped to lead as normal live as possible.” Additionally the catechism believe that “whatever its motive and means, direct voluntary euthanasia consist in putting an end to the lives of the handicapped, sick or dying people. It is morally unacceptable.
Catholics church stresses that life is sacred because these Bible passages. In 1980 the Catholic Church wrote a document summing up the teachings of the Catholic Church. This is called ‘Declaration on Euthanasia’. This official proclamation of the Church, concerning euthanasia, explains why supporting euthanasia is wrong. It teaches us that our life is sacred and comes from God. That we should respect God as our creator, to take life is to go against God’s plan or us. Euthanasia is the wrong way to help someone who is ill, even if they ask for it. Instead we should help that person to feel valued and loved and not a burden to others. The document accepts that pain is a part of life, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. It also states that doctors and nurses do not possess the right to aid in the death of another person, and should instead use pain-killing drugs, although, certain drugs have the capability to instigate a patient’s death. However the Catholic Church says the use of these drugs is satisfactory because the intention is not to kill the person. The declaration most prominently explains the relevance of the “sanctity of life” with euthanasia, in the sense that the entirety of human life is holy, and the hallowed and unique creation of God. The issue of Euthanasia doesn’t come up in the Bible. However, there are general sanctity of life principles, and some specific teachings that talk about the importance of life. The following sanctity of life teachings could be applied to euthanasia:
“In the image of God” (Genesis 1:26)
“Do not kill” (Exodus 20:13)
“You yourselves are God’s temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16)
Although the Catholic Church is strongly against euthanasia but we must understand that not all Catholics agree with the church. There are some Christians who believe that euthanasia is viewed as an appropriate response to Jesus’ call “Love thy neighbour” and “Do unto others as you would have them do to you”, meaning that we should help someone or allow them to die in dignity without pain and that if we were suffering we would probably want the same thing, furthermore the person’s relative should not have to bear witness to the agony of their loved ones. To make someone to go on living when they in agony it is immoral, it basically that their human rights and freedom are taken away from them. Other teachings include that we are required to respect every single human being; therefore we should also respect their decisions even if it’s to end their life. On the other hand not every person has to result to euthanasia, there are treatments such as hospices and palliative care which helps the person live the rest of their life as happy as possible with pain killing control.
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The word “hospice” is originally from the Latin word “hospitium”, which refers to both host and guest. “Hospice” was originally a place of shelter where pilgrims, the sick, wounded, or dying could find rest, comfort and seek refuge from bandits especially during the Middle Ages. Today’s modern definition of a hospice is a small residential hospital, which has a care program which provides comfort and supportive care for terminally ill patients and their families, by focusing on the palliative of a patient’s symptoms, relieving them of their pain and to help them tackle their fears of pain. Their treatment focuses on their happiness rather than a cure for their illness. The whole family is also considered the unit of care, and care extends through their period of mourning through emotional and spiritual support. Hospices are different to hospitals; Hospices offers palliative, rather than curative treatment and treats the patient not the illness. They also emphasize the quality, and not the period of life.
In 1842 the word “hospice” was to discover a place where the chronically ill and patients who were dying were cared for. It was first identified by Mme Jeanne Garnier who set up an organization devoted to the care of dying patients, known as the Dames de Calaire in Lyon, France. Later on, it was revived by the Irish Sisters of Charity when they started a hospice named “Our Lady’s Hospice” in Dublin in 1879. In 1885, the Sisters of Charity expanded internationally, and in 1900 five of the sisters travelled to the East end of London to begin the work of caring for the dying, and so within a few years they had established St Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney, London (1905). It was there in the 1950s that a young nurse, Cicely Saunders started work at St. Joseph’s, and developed many of the initial values of modern hospice care.
Dame Cicerly Saunders (born 22 June 1918), was the founder of the earliest modern hospice, St. Christopher’s hospice. St Christopher was founded upon the principal belief that the concluding weeks of a person’s life could potentially be extremely rich and important for them and their family. She had first trained as a nurse, but due to her chronic health problems, she gave this up and pursues a career as a medical social worker. Whilst at this job she had developed a relationship with a dying patient named David Tasma. Throughout this relationship she recognized that terminally ill patients needed special care. She questioned if it was achievable to develop a residence to care for those who have been struck with a terminal illness, so that their physical, spiritual and emotional needs could be met.
When David died, she decided to go ahead with her idea, which meant that she needed to train as a doctor, so she concentrated on the use of drugs to control pain. To continue her training as a doctor, she entered a medical school, at the same time continued working at St. Joseph’s Hospice that was run by Catholic Nuns thus she herself became a practicing Christian. There she conversed with many patients and learnt of the fears and struggle that occurred in their contemplation of the process of dying. In 1959 she decided pursue her idea to start a centre for the dying, the name of the hospice was named St Christopher’s, this was decided as the dying travel to an unknown place after death and St Christopher is a saint who takes care of travellers. She mailed her proposal for a centre that cared for the dying to numerous important people which had the authority to make a difference; St Christopher’s Hospice was set in motion in 1967.
Modern hospices, especially those of a Christian nature, have unique values which are reflected in their acknowledgement of the fact that every individual deserves to live the rest of their life with dignity and respect and without pain. At the heart of every hospice’s practice is its importance on palliative care rather than curative treatment, where the focus of a patient’s care is the relief and prevention of their misery. A main hospice’s ethos is its understanding of the sanctity of life, which is a Christian value which states that all human life is sacred and should be treated with the greatest respect throughout the whole of their live. This belief is applied in hospice practice by treating their patients with complete understanding and great consideration, thus as to guarantee that they are ready for a death that is satisfactory to them. Hospices are known to provide specialist, palliative care for people who face a life threatening disease, and are going to die soon, because of their incurable illness. Hospices do not try to hasten or postpone a patient’s death, but affirms life and regards dying as a normal process. This is achieved by addressing all the symptoms of the illness, at the same time controlling the patient’s agony and discomfort. It can be said that hospices is not just a place for care, but a concept for health care delivery to people who are dealing with life-limiting illnesses. Patients and their loved ones are included in the decision-making process, and bereavement counselling is provided to the family before, during and after the death of their loved one. Most hospices offer fairly short-term care. Patients rarely stay longer than six months. Some only come for a week or two to give relatives the chance to have a short holiday. Often a person spends a short time in a hospice and then returns home for a while. It allows patients to retain a sense of independence for as long as possible, but allows them to develop a relationship with hospice staff. At the same time, they can begin to come to terms with their own death.
Hospices mainly focus on producing a natural and comfortable end of life experience for patients who are confronted with a terminal illness when curative therapy is no longer desired or appropriate for the patient. This is achieved through a range of nursing, psychosocial, palliative, spiritual and medical care provided by interdisciplinary team of healthcare professionals that includes a physician, nurses and social workers; other trained professionals include counsellors, therapists and volunteers, these professionals work together with the patient and family to develop the hospice plan of care, relating to their future care and treatment to a degree dictated by, and acceptable to, them, in order to encourage patients and their families to be active participants in determining the place and style of future care. Hospices seek to relieve pain, control symptoms, provide comfort, give medical care and support services for not only the patient where cure is no longer possible, but also for the patient’s family and friends in order to improve quality of life and to remove the main fear that people have of dying. Doctors and nurses spend a vast amount of time with each patient catering to their needs. They have perfected pain control through the use of drugs, although it does not cure the patient, it allows them to feel less pain. By providing pain and symptom management, as well as emotional and spiritual support for the individual and family, hospice helps people to live as fully as possible, in comfort and with dignity. It can be said that the end of life care is the perception that hospice means to give up hope, as it is no longer realistic to hope for a cure from the disease but hospices do not seek to take away hope. Rather, hope is seen by hospice workers as an essential tool to coping and dealing with a particularly difficult situation. Some people fear that accepting hospice in their lives means “to give up.” They feel the fight for life must continue no matter what the situation. Some dying patients may focus their hopes on reformulated goals such as the relief of pain, an improved quality of life, or simply the hope for a good night’s sleep. By working with patients to identify their individual goals, hospice fills an essential role in helping individuals preserve and maintain hope. Although hospices have cared primarily for people who have advanced cancer, many are now including people with other life-limiting illnesses, such as Motor Neuron Disease and AIDS.
In my opinion, I think that hospices can present a real alternative to Euthanasia, since people who have terminally illnesses or are dying, are going to be suffering from pain, stress and anxiety which their illness brings. Therefore they think their life is not worth living, as they have to suffer moments before their death, and the patient’s family will be very emotional during the process of his/her death, they have to endure watching him/her suffer. This is why people result to euthanasia as they know that they are going to die sooner or later and that their illness cannot be cured, so they don’t want to live on with the pain and want to die. Whereas hospices can make euthanasia unnecessary as hospices aim to improve the quality of life of the dying person and bring relief to family members to help them come to terms with their feelings. Hospices provide pain control, meaning the patient can live the rest of their remaining life happily without pain and would not have to fear pain when they are ill. They not only offer Christians but patients from other religions to understand that the last days of their life is precious, and can have great meaning, they do not have to be full of pain and fear; moreover they should not waste their life just because they have an illness. Many people disagree with euthanasia as they believe hospices allow people to die with dignity, the patient will be able to live normally and happily until the time when they die, this can be achieved if the pain is kept under control. Many Christians support the hospice movement and believe that if there were enough spaces available for everyone who had a terminal illness and wished to go there, that euthanasia would not be needed. Euthanasia goes against God’s will, people are not allowed to decide who or when they should or should not die, that is for God to decide. Hospices do not interfere with God’s plan for someone to die; they just help ease the pain of the patient’s before allowing them to die happily. Dame Cicely Saunders quoted: “Anything which says to the ill that they are a burden to their family and that they are better off dead is unacceptable. What sort of society could let its old folk die because they are in the way?” This meant that she believed that hospices mean euthanasia is unnecessary. That euthanasia is not the only way to go if someone is terminally ill or is dying, hospices is an alternative to euthanasia.
Various people may agree that euthanasia can never be justified, because euthanasia means to end a life and if someone assist in another person death, it is seen as murder, it does not matter what type of euthanasia it is, to kill another person is seen as murder and it goes against the Catholic Churches’ teachings, especially the bible teaching in the Ten Commandments “thou shall not kill”. Although it is true that people who suffer unbearable pain from their terminal illness wish to die quickly so they do not have to bear the pain, but it is not for us to decide when we should die, as this means that we are throwing away the greatest gift that God has given us, it shows that we do not appreciate God’s gift, only God can decide when we die, so we should not tamper with this, when it is someone’s time to die, they will die. It is not for us to play God and decide for ourselves or someone else when they should die. Not only this but if euthanasia was justified, then some people may kill others even those who do not want to die, and would use euthanasia as a cover. People would get away with murder, therefore it could be said that we can never control euthanasia. Additionally many people end their life, since they do not wish to suffer not only from the pain of their terminal illness but also humanity viewing them as different and treating them badly, hence they feel even more depressed and makes neglect more acceptable as we are permitting them to do this, furthermore it avoids the responsibility of having to treat every individual with respect and dignity.
Euthanasia is a cheap and despicable act. Christians think that it is cowardly to run away from the hardships of life. Relatives and loved ones of the terminally ill person, would not want the him/her to die, although it may be a burden having to watch them suffer in pain, they would rather live with that burden rather then have them die, they would rather find ways to control the pain and let them live the rest of their life happily than resulting to euthanasia. There is only one time when life can be taken away, but could be said that it is still tampering with Gods plan. This is when a mother cannot deliver her child without difficulties and risk of losing her life. However this interferes with God’s plan as it may be the mother’s time to die, and new life to be born. Active and Non-voluntary euthanasia are types of euthanasia which involve a person ending another person’s life. Christians can use this to show that euthanasia cannot be justified. What gives anyone the right to end someone else’s life? Why are people resulting to euthanasia when they are centres such as hospices and palliative care, where pain is used to let people with terminal illnesses to live the rest of their live happy? Overall it can be said that life is sacred no matter what condition it is in, therefore euthanasia is never acceptable, even if you are terminally ill.
On the other hand some people even some Christians will disagree, and will say that euthanasia can be justified, because people choosing to die is a basic human right and God has given humans free will, so people have the right to want to die if it’s what they wish for. If an individual chooses to end their life for whatever reason, who has the right to criticise? No-one should ever be “forced” to live if they don’t wish to carry on living their life. If someone decides that they don’t want to continue their life for any reason, the choice should be theirs not their family or the government. If someone does not wish to live on, nobody has the authority to tell them they “have to” live. Every individual has the right to end their own life when they please, they have lived their life, and so their last wish should be granted even if it’s to die. People had no choice in being born into the world; they should have the choice in choosing our own time of death, which is something everyone should have the right to do. If you were terminally ill and is suffering from unbearable pain, you would want to end that pain by dying a peaceful death, as you are going to die from the illness sooner or later, so why not die sooner, to avoid having to live with pain, and to avoid having your loved ones hearts break from watching you suffer and knowing they cant do anything to help you. Furthermore if you were to see a loved one who was suffering would you not want to do something to stop them being in misery whatever way possible. The question is why should government forbid euthanasia, when they aren’t around to offer help, or experience what terminally ill patients go through everyday, yet they forbid euthanasia, with the intention of leaving them to continue living on with pain and sadness, people views on objecting euthanasia are causing people to suffer. What has the government got to do with what someone chooses to do with their life?
If the person is terminally ill and has no quality of life and has made a request when mentally stable that they aren’t left to “vegetate” then it should be allowed. It could be said that when an animal such as a horse has an illness/disease that is incurable they would be put down, since they are not of any use, so how is this, any different to someone who wishes to end their own life that has no hope of recovering and will die sooner or later.
I think that euthanasia should not be justified, because life is precious, we should appreciate every single second no matter what condition our life is in. God create us, so only god can decide when we should die it is not for anyone to play God. Furthermore there are hospices and palliative care so people with terminal illnesses don’t have to necessarily end their own life, hospices and palliative care can help people live the rest of their life happily, and less painfully, so I don’t see why there is a need for euthanasia, euthanasia just tampers with God’s plans. Lots of people are choosing their remaining weeks of their life in a hospice, instead of resulting to euthanasia, this is because it does not go against God’s will and they appreciate God’s greatest gift, and in a hospice they can conquer all their fears involving death without feeling intimidated by any of the palliative care doctors and nurses. When they die they can die knowing that it was a natural death and they died happy. Their loved ones would be happier for them to be alive and pain free than suffering in pain wishing for death everyday, therefore having to result to euthanasia so they are not in pain anymore. So if they are hospices to help people with terminal illnesses to be pain free, then it could be said that there is no need for euthanasia, and some people who want to end their life are mainly just depressed and do not want to live any more, which is stupid, because this means that when people get depressed they can end their life, if it is like this then it just shows that God creating human life was a waste because people are just going to kill themselves. On the other hand there are times where types of euthanasia could be acceptable, such as passive euthanasia, which means when someone has a heart attack and medical professionals don’t do something mandatory in order to keep a patient alive, then this could be seen as fine, because God has planned for them to die, so no-one should interfere. This is different to other euthanasia, which means to end an individual’s life even if it’s not their time to die.
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