My Case For Euthanasia
This Is A Dead Serious Issue
My case for euthanasia. This is a dead serious topic. Perhaps, before proceeding further, it is important to discuss what euthanasia is all about. Here, we are discussing about human euthanasia. The most common term people like to use is "mercy killing". Personally, I don't like to use the word "killing". The word "euthanasia" comes from the Greek word meaning "good death" or "dying well". A suitable definition for "euthanasia" would be "the practice of intentionally ending a human life in order to relieve intractable pain and suffering". It is the "intractable pain and suffering" of the person that we are most concerned with. There may be different terms for "euthanasia", like "assisted suicide" and "self-deliverance", and variations of euthanasia, but the end result is the same; the ultimate termination of human life.
This article is about my personal case for euthanasia. Events in the last three months have inflicted me to contemplate deeply the case for euthanasia. The last three months, I spent most of my time in a hospital. No, I am not critically sick. I am as healthy as I can be. It is my son who is sick. My son has Wegener's disease. But gratefully, he is recovering, and I hope he will be well again in due course. Then why this idea about euthanasia? The thought of the topic of euthanasia was the result of events that I had witnessed in the hospital during those three months. During that period, I spent long hours in the hospital ward, taking care of my son who was warded during that period, including 9 traumatic days and nights in the ICU. For two months, I slept overnight in the hospital, in the open ward, with many suffering patients in clear view of one another. It was during this period of three months literally living in the hospital ward that I witnessed great human pain and suffering, and many deaths. At my elderly age, these events had great impact on me personally.
Technical/Legal Definitions Of Euthanasia
Since I am writing about euthanasia, I decided to search for more information in the internet. The more pertinent aspect is to find interpretations of euthanasia. Below are the technical or legal definitions of the various variations of "euthanasia".
"Euthanasia" is defined in many ways.
"Voluntary euthanasia" : The practice of ending a human life in a painless manner.
"Assisted suicide" : The practice of which a person receives assistance in bringing about his or her death, but the final steps in the process is performed by the person concerned.
"Physician-assisted suicide" : The practice in which the physician knowingly provides a competent but suffering patient, upon the latter's request, with the means to terminate his or her life. This is also called "physician aid-in-dying" or PAD.
"Active euthanasia" : The practice of actively administering lethal medicine by another person on the patient to terminate his or her life. The most common means is by way of a lethal injection.
"Passive euthanasia" : The practice of physician knowingly taking away or withholding treatment knowing that the patient may die because of the action.
A Decision Infringing Upon Legal, Ethical, Moral And Religious Implications
Reasons for and against euthanasia are as diverse as the causes of death. This article is not about the pros and cons of euthanasia. This article is about my personal case for euthanasia. Whether my opinion and feeling are for or against legal, ethical, moral or religious considerations, they don't matter to anyone. I am just sharing my honest thoughts.
We live through stages in life, just like the famous Shakespearean quotation in "As You Like It" which I quote :
"All the world's a stage
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts ..."
The sixth and seventh stages are pretty scary, especially when one is over 60 years of age, like me. To me, once over sixty, each day alive is a bonus! Death is a very real issue now. Of course, it will be pure bliss if one night I go to sleep and never wake again!!
The sixth stage in life is that "one loses firmness and assertiveness, and shrinks in stature and personality". I am beginning to feel that. Then the scary final seventh stage in life when one is incapacitated, "depending on others for care and unable to interact with the world". I am sure Shakespeare was not oblivious of the aggravated state of life at the end of the seventh stage, if one were to suffer intractable pain with death in sight, or not in sight. At this seventh stage of life, if death is imminent or hopefully abrupt, then there will not be a case for euthanasia. But that is not to be the case for many mortals.
Is It Necessary For All These Prolonged Pain And Suffering
What I saw in the hospital were those terminally ill patients. "Terminal" means "no more hope for recovery". I did not have to be a doctor to see the obvious in front of me. If you saw a very decrepit old patient without any hope of a recovery, suffering pain every moment of whatever that was left in his life, what choice would you have? Who are we to judge and decide? What moral ground and authority do we have to make a judgement on life and death? This is the real problem. However, what if this person were me? What if I choose to end it all? After all, it is MY life, or whatever that is left. The bigger problem will be when the person suffering has no more control over his or her own life.
By the way, I found this interesting website which provides more information on euthanasia.
Euthanasia Is Here To Stay
Whether we want to legalize it or not, euthanasia in different forms have been practised for ages. The most common practice is by lethal injection. Most countries prefer to maintain status quo of their existing laws because euthanasia is a very controversial and delicate issue encompassing moral, ethical and religious considerations.
Countries where euthanasia is legal are the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Estonia, Albania, Washington, Oregon and Montana. From 2015, Quebec will also legalise euthanasia. What about Asian countries?
In Singapore, people can make a legal document called "Lasting Power of Attorney" or LPA in short, which allows the person's next-of-kin to make key decisions on his or her behalf in the event this person loses the mental ability to do so. Key decisions also include making final decisions instructing doctors to turn off life support system.
Spiritual Assistance On Euthanasia
Do you believe in spirituality? Or to be more specific, do you believe that your religion may help alleviate unnecessary pain and suffering? I am a Buddhist. I like to share with you three cases from my personal experience where I believe spiritual assistance may help one to go peacefully. Instead of prayers like the Christian faith, Buddhists recite the suttas (discourses) of the Buddha. The Christian prayers are mostly "petition" prayers where one petitions to the Lord to grant favors. Pardon me if I am wrong.
Buddhists recite in the form of chanting. Then at the end of the chanting, petition may be recited. We believe that the monks, being holy people, have more "power" in their chanting. Usually the monks will chant many discourses of the Buddha, but without any petition. The power of the sutta chanting will take its course to protect the community and alleviate pain and suffering.
Be it as it may, the first case was when I was a small boy, my paternal grandmother was very sick. Buddhists monks were invited to chant for her. After a while when the monks left, my grandmother passed away peacefully. On another occasion, my old grandaunt was very sick. This time we went to the temple and requested the monks to chant for her in absentia. Following that, after a few days, she passed away peacefully in the hospital. The third case was about my mother. In her final few days, she became unconscious. I invited two Buddhist monks to chant for her at our home. Then she passed away peacefully.
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Euthanasia: Mercy killing or murder?
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