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Dutch vs. American Euthanasia

Dutch vs. American Euthanasia

The Dutch take their euthanasia seriously. The Dutch government has resubmitted its proposal for formally legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia, while modifying its controversial provision allowing euthanasia for children. When first proposed to Parliament over a year ago, the bill allowed for cases where children from 12 to 16 years old could request and receive euthanasia “against the wishes of their parents.” The modified proposal still allows child euthanasia in this age group, but not over parents’ objections [New York Times, 7/14/00]. Still unclear is the fate of another controversial feature of the original bill, allowing adults to sign advance directives requesting euthanasia in the event of future mental incompetency. This would allow legal euthanasia for patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease for the first time [Id., 6/20]. Dutch euthanasia practice has long included lethal injections for children, including newborn infants, with parental consent. Euthanasia for kids – a bit extreme?

Numerous US studies have established that the Americans most directly affected by the issue of physician-assisted suicide — those who are frail, elderly and suffering from terminal illness — are also more opposed to legalizing the practice than others are:

* A poll conducted for the Washington Post on March 22-26, 1996, found 50% support for legalizing physician-assisted suicide (Washington A18) Voters aged 35-44 supported legalization, 57% to 33%. But these figures reversed for voters aged 65 and older, who opposed legalization 54% to 38%. Majority opposition was also found among those with incomes under $15,000 (54%), and black Americans (70%).

* An A…

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…e: attitudes and experiences of oncology patients, oncologists, and the public.” 347 The Lancet 1805 (June 29, 1996):1809

Humphry, Derek. “What’s in a word?” Euthanasia Research

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

There has been much debate over euthanasia and assisted suicide with

no agreement in sight. Currently Oregon is the only state that allows

euthanasia and assisted suicide in the United States. Like all

questions involving the projection of personal beliefs upon the fate

of an entire population, this is an issue that may never be resolved.

Euthanasia and assisted suicide are methods people may take to end

their lives either on their own with lethal prescriptions from

physicians, or under the care of a doctor or assistant with various

methods, lethal injection and the “pulling of the plug” on life

support machines being the most common. An assisted suicide would be

granted only to a person “who is terminally ill, and who feels that

their life is not worth living because of intractable pain, and/or

loss of dignity, and/or loss of capability and who repeatedly and

actively asks for help in committing suicide and who is of sound mind

and not suffering from depression”. [Robinson]

Conservative religious groups, and some medical associations and

disability groups are the most common protesters of assisted suicide.

Many fundamentalist religions believe that it violates the natural

desire to live, it harms other people, and ultimately, that life is a

gift from God and should only be taken by God. [Robinson] Some

disability groups fear that assisted suicide may lead to more cases of

people being killed against their will in order to fulfill society’s

desire for a disability-free population. Medical associations often

disagree because their goals are often to extend and prolong life as

long as possible. Th…

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…g. To rule out the

option completely is taking away a personal human right.

As with most ethical squabbles, the debate over legal euthanasia is a

personal one. The desire is strong, in government and religion, to

decide the fate of it’s people based on individual position. It seems

that personal choice is the only resolution to the debate over

euthanasia. Those opposed to assisted suicide would not choose to have

one and would respect the choice of others to live or end their lives

as they so choose. Assisted death is not something to be taken lightly

or to be used often. Strict laws to govern the use are necessary. In

conclusion, a quote by Derek Humphrey, a euthanasia advocate,

describes the necessary conditions for euthanasia. He said,

“Euthanasia should always be voluntary, justified, legal, and rare.”


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