1. Netherlands and elsewhere report an assisted-suicide failure


Definitions of Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide a. The terms “physician-assisted suicide” and “euthanasia” are often used interchangeably. However, the distinctions are significant.

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b. “Physician-assisted suicide” involves a medical doctor who intentionally provides a patient with the means to kill him or herself, usually by an overdose of prescription medication.c. “Assisted suicide” involves a layperson providing the patient with the deadly means for suicide.

d. “Euthanasia” involves the intentional and direct killing of a patient by a physician, most commonly by lethal injection, or by another party. Euthanasia can be voluntary (at the patient’s request), non-voluntary (without the knowledge or consent of the patient), or involuntary (against the patients wishes).e.

It is important to note that a person can reject medical treatment at the end of life without committing euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide.2. Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia are legal and widely practiced in the Netherlands where: a. About 9% of all deaths were a result of physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia in 1990. (1, 2)b. Dutch doctors practice active euthanasia by lethal injections (96.6% of all deaths actively caused by physicians in 1990).

Physician-assisted suicide is very infrequent (no more than 3.4% of all cases in Holland of active termination of life in 1990). (3) c. For patients who die of a lethal overdose of painkillers, the decision to administer the lethal dose of drugs was not discussed with 61% of those receiving it, even though 27% were fully competent. (4)d. The Board of the Royal Dutch Medical Association endorsed euthanasia on newborns and infants with extreme disabilities.

(5)e. Well over 10,000 citizens now carry “Do Not Euthanize Me” cards in case they are admitted to a hospital unexpectedly. (6)f.

Cases exist where doctors administer assisted suicide for people determined to be “chronically” depressed. (7,8) 3. Oregon is the only state that has legalized physician-assisted suicide where: a. A recent Health Division report of assisted suicides reveals that not one patient had documented uncontrollable pain.

All of the patients who requested assisted suicide cited psychological and social concerns as their primary reasons. (9)b. “Although numerous studies in the Netherlands and elsewhere report an assisted-suicide failure rate up to 25%, Oregon has yet to report even one complication in over four years. This failure to report complications has led even euthanasia advocates themselves to call the credibility of Oregon reporting on assisted suicide into question.” (10)4. The U.S.

Supreme Court ruled in 1997 in Washington v. Glucksberg that there is no federal constitutional substantive right to assisted suicide. (11) In a 1997 companion case, the U.S.

Supreme Court ruled in Vacco v. Quill that there is no federal constitutional equal protection right to assisted suicide. (12)5. Virtually every established medical and nursing organization in the United States declares physician-assisted suicide is unethical.

6. There are no laws, medical associations, church denominations, or right-to-life groups who insist that unnecessary, heroic, or truly futile treatments be provided to prolong life and all recognize the right of competent patients to refuse medical treatment. (13)7. 95% of cancer pain is controllable and the remaining 5% can be reduced to a tolerable level.

(14)8. The states of California, Washington, Michigan and Maine rejected ballot referenda questions to legalize physician-assisted suicide in their respective states. The Supreme Court of Alaska in Alaska v. Sampson declared there is no state constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide, (15) as did the Florida State Supreme Court in McIver v. Kirscher.

(16) The Hawaii State Senate voted down a bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide.References1. J.

Remmelink et al., “Medical Decisions About the End of Life”: Report of the Committee to Study the Medical Practice Concerning Euthanasia, SDU Publishing House, The Hague, 1991.2. Van der Maas, P.J.

, van Delden, J.J.M.

, Pijnenborg, L., “Euthanasia and other medical decisions concerning the end of life.” Elsevier, Amsterdam-London-New York-Tokyo 1992, 73 tabl. 7.2, 75 tabl. 7.7, 138 tabl.

13.8, 178-9, 182-3.3. Remmelink Report, vol. II, p. 61, Table 7.7.4.

Ibid.5. Royal Dutch Society of Medicine: “Answers to questions asked by State Committee on Euthanasia,” Medisch Contact 1984, 39, 999.6. The Levenswensverklaringen (Declarations of the Will to Live) have been printed and distributed by two associations in Holland since 1985.7.

“The Supreme Court abolishes the discrimination between psychological and bodily suffering: The ruling expands assistance in suicide,” Brabants Dagblad, June 22, 1994.8. “The Brongersma case: Ruling of the Court of Justice in Amsterdam,” Pro Vita Humana 2001, 8, 165-70.9. Katrina Hedberg, “Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act: Annual Report 2001.

” (Available at http://www.ohd/hr.state.or.us/chs/pas/ar-index.

htm)10. Sherwin B. Nuland, “Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia in Practice,” New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 342, February 24, 2000.11. 521 U.

S. 702 (1997).12. 521 U.S. 793 (1997).13.

Hospital/Nursing Home Patient Bill of Rights.14. Cancer Pain Relief, World Health Organization, 1986.15. 31 P.

3d 88 (Alaska 2001).16. 697 So.2d 97 (Fla. 1997).

By: person should not be a minor

By: Alex Rourke Alex Rourke Rourke 1 Mrs. E. Teague English 110 1 May 1999 Euthanasia The origin of the word ‘euthanasia’ comes from the Greek — eu, “good,” and thanatos, “death,” meaning literally, “good death.” But the word “euthanasia” has acquired a more complex meaning in modern times. It is generally taken nowadays to mean doing something about achieving a good death.

Suicide, self-deliverance, auto-euthanasia, aid-in-dying, assisted suicide — call it what you like — can be justified by the average supporter of the so-called ‘”right to die” movement. It is advanced terminal illness that is causing unbearable suffering to the individual. This is the most common reason to seek an early end. Grave physical handicap which is so restricting that the individual cannot, even after due consideration, counseling and retraining, tolerate such a limited existence. This is a fairly rare reason for suicide — most impaired people cope remarkably well with their affliction — but there are some who would, at a certain point, rather die.

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What are the ethical parameters for euthanasia? The person is a mature adult. This is essential. The exact age will depend on the individual but the person should not be a minor who comes under quite different laws. The person has clearly made a considered decision. An individual has the ability nowadays to indicate this with a “Living Will” (which applies only to disconnection of life supports) and can also, in Rourke 2 today’s more open and tolerant climate about such actions, freely discuss the option of euthanasia with health professionals, family, lawyers, etc.

My position is that euthanasia should be legalized for the terminally ill. Because of the increasing number of suicides in Michigan, Gov. John Engler signed an anti-suicide law that made doctor-assisted suicides a felony. During the 21-month trial period of the new law anyone assisting in a suicide can be sentenced to up to four years in prison and fined more than $2,000 (Reuters 1993). In a poll cited in a 1991 issue of USA Today, 80 percent of Americans think sometimes there are circumstances when a patient should be allowed to die, compared to only 15 percent think doctors and nurses should always do everything possible to save a person’s life. It also showed that 8 in 10 adults approve of state laws that allow medical care for the terminally ill to be removed or withheld, if that is what the patient “wishes,” whereas only 13 percent disapproved of the laws. Also, 70 percent think the family should be allowed to make the decision about treatment on behalf of the patient, while another 5 percent think this is suitable only in some cases (Colasnto 62). Seventy percent think it is justified at least sometimes for a person to kill his or her spouse, if he or she is suffering terrible pain caused by a terminal illness.

Even suicide is starting to be accepted. About half the public think a “moral right” to suicide exists if a person has an incurable disease or is suffering great pain with no hope of recovering (Colasnto 63). About half of those with living parents think their mothers and fathers would want medical treatment stopped if they were suffering a great deal of pain in a terminal disease or if Rourke 3 they became totally dependant on a family member, and 40 percent of their parents would want medical treatment stopped if daily activities became a burden (Colasnto 63). One reason that just about everyone who favors euthanasia agrees with is that a person has the right to a death with dignity. Another reason is a person should be allowed a “natural death” instead of a prolonged death with medical equipment . Still another reason is that doctors are supposed to ease the pain of people, not prolong it. (Battin 19). Death is one of the few things that all people have in common.

This means that there is a chance for anyone to face the decision of letting someone go. People should be allowed to control their own deaths. Why should patients be forced to live if he or she think their present standard of life has “degenerated to the point of


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