Looking at the world we live in today it is so easy to have two-sided thoughts about this topic, euthanasia. Giving people the right to control when and how they die can become chaotic, especially when a third party is involved, because how do you trust the person is of right mind and not only thinking of his/her own benefits. I believe people should have control over their own body i.e its actions but my religious beliefs tells me God gave you the gift of life and only He knows when that life will end, so what gives you the right to “play God”
There are different types of euthanasia which include; voluntary euthanasia, where a conscious decision is made by an individual that his/her life is of no quality anymore and that death is more desirable. Involuntary euthanasia is a decision made by a third party on behalf of a person who is no longer in a position to make the decision as above mentioned and physician-assisted suicide (PAS) recognises the fact that individuals who wish to end their life may be physically incapable of performing the act and may need assistance in the process (Clarke & Egan, 2009).
During my first block at a school with children that have disabilities I found myself wondering about the child’s quality of life and are we succeeding with trying to improve it. With some you can see major improvements, but you often wonder with those who are more severely disabled, if they feel an improvement or understand what is going on around them, maybe some even feel trapped inside their own bodies. This might sound cruel, but for how long can someone keep up with receiving 24 hour care, I mean it must be expensive and the older the child become the more assistance would be needed with transfers and health care. We as health care physicians want to improve quality of life but when does it become a frustration for the child and the parents? When do you decide enough is enough?
I read a news report by Cassi Fiano on Live Action (2014) about a mother in the United Kingdom that successfully petitioned the court to kill her severely disabled daughter. At first when I read about the 12 year old girl born blind with hydrocephalus, meningitis and septicaemia, that was not able to walk, talk eat or drink, required 24 hour care and as she grew up even with morphine and ketamine she screamed in agony, I felt a lump in my throat thinking about everything that I could do independently at the age of 12. I wanted to agree with the mother’s choice, because how is this a life worth living? How is this fair towards the girl and the mother that had to give up her work to take care of her daughter 24/7? However I kept reading and changed my mind immediately. The judge ruling was that the daughter had no quality of life anymore and should be killed by refusing to give her any food or water until she dies. How on earth is starving someone humane? The 12 year old girl was already suffering and now they just added starvation to the list. It took her 14 days to day – two weeks of going through a slow, painful death. In my opinion I then agree with Belgium and the Netherlands that legalized euthanasia for a situation as mentioned above, because it sure sounds less cruel than starving your own daughter.
Psychological factors that cause people to think of euthanasia include depression, fearing loss of control or dignity, feeling a burden, or dislike of being dependent (“BBC – Ethics – Euthanasia: Ethics of euthanasia – introduction”, 2017), but when a child is severely disabled and is not able to respond, he/she cannot independently make such a decision, hence the parents or physicians do. There are several debates going on saying euthanasia is medically unethical, because of the Hippocratic Oath that states the physician is to preserve human life and not to be instrumental in its destruction or that the physician will not prescribe a deadly drug nor give advice which may cause the patient’s death (Clarke & Egan, 2009). Other debates involve religion, yes in my opinion I feel healthcare physicians are playing God in a way if they decide the child should die, but on the other hand I believe God has so much grace that if one should pray about it and feel that sense of peace about it why not?
I still cannot come to a conclusion as to being for or against euthanasia, because in a way I feel there will always be someone that will change something good into something negative, but I really hope one day that when something like the above mentioned news story happens again, it will be carried out in a more civil way.
BBC – Ethics – Euthanasia: Ethics of euthanasia – introduction. (2017). Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 13 April 2017, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/euthanasia/overview/introduction.shtml
Clarke, D. L., & Egan, A. (2009, June). Euthanasia – is there a case? South African Journal of Bioethics and Law, 2(1).
Fiano, C. (2014). Mother wins case to kill her disabled daughter. Live Action News. Retrieved 11 April 2017, from http://www.liveaction.org/news/mother-wins-case-to-kill-her-disabled-daughter/