Explain what euthanasia is. (or is not!)
Give a medical definition.
Mention a recent case in the news which has brought issue to attention. (Dr Ann) Must mention furore over living wills bill.)
Explain that it is legal in a number of countries.
Explain that it is illegal in Britain but that support is growing. Suffering of patient and the indignity of the death
Statement of intent.
Freedom of choice- Doctors like Jack Kervorkian have been willing to go to prison. Relatives may be prosecuted. Voluntary Euthanasia Society have many members.
Decision belongs to higher power e.g God. Therefore freedom of choice over life and death belongs to God.
Many Christian / Muslim groups are opposed.
Not all people have these beliefs. Freedom of religion/freedom of belief in assisted suicide or medical intervention? Choice of patient should be paramount
Doctors interfere with nature in other ways e.g abortion or gene therapy.
Hippocratic oath taken by doctors states that doctors must not harm patients. But what if the suffering of the patient is harmful ? Surely a doctor also prevents suffering?
Does this definition also cover the deliberate administering of drugs such as morphine to cancer patients which result in death from overdose? It is also legal to withhold treatment. Surely only one step to actively assisting.
What about abuse?
Doctors may be unscrupulous like Dr Shipman and euthanise those against their will. Also in a lesser degree some doctors in The Netherlands have not followed procedure properly.
Moreover, relatives may stand to gain from a person’s death. Therefore euthanasia should only be at the person’s request. Indeed living wills can be used where the person makes clear in a legal document that they wish to have an assisted death.
There must also be clear guidelines which doctors must follow and monitoring. If abused they could be struck off.
Suffering of patient and the indignity of the death
Should be allowed to die with dignity and minimal pain
Seems an act of humanity not murder
As well as the terrible suffering of the patient , the family also have to witness the pain of a relative who is desperate to die, and may have to care 24 hours a day.
Hospice movement is available and Macmillan nurses for cancer patients. Palliative care eases suffering for all.
Yet lack of Diamorphine highlighted the problems with this. Many patients are not sent to hospices but die in hospital. A recent documentary on Channel 4 claimed that 50% of cancer patients die in agony.
Should it be legalised in Britain. Your opinion as to why you believe this.