Euthanasia Essay

2747 words - 11 pages


Legislation surrounding both euthanasia and assisted suicide sparks much debate in Queensland’s legal and political systems. Despite a society largely proponents of euthanasia, political and legislative institutions rear firm in their stance against its legalisation. It is evident that as a society progresses, so too do the ideological views of those within; so why is it that Queensland legislators have done nothing in the way of legalising euthanasia? Much of this notion can be attributed to a mere political debate; however, euthanasia and assisted suicide are extremely controversial and in order to delve deep enough into the issue, the religious, legal, cultural, ethical and ...view middle of the document...

’ This entails a person directly causing a patients death through a specific act, such as the administration of a lethal injection or fatal drugs. (Rachels, 1975)
In essence, active euthanasia is where something fixed is done to precipitate death; Passive euthanasia however, is where something is ‘not done’ to sustain the individuals life. By which, no great lengths of preservation are taken. Passive euthanasia occurs when medical practitioners either cease an act which is keeping their patient alive and/ or simply do not take all measures necessary to keep that individual living. This includes, but is not limited to: switching off life support-machines, withholding any life-extending operation or treatments and disconnecting feeding tubes. (‘BBC’, 2013) Another facet of passive euthanasia that should be discussed is DNR (Do not Resuscitate) Orders. DNR’s are legal documents signed by severely injured or terminally ill patients, outlining whether and under what circumstances extraordinary measures are to be taken to keep them alive. Primarily, a DNR order prevents cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), should the patient stop breathing or suffer a cardiac arrest.’ (DNR, 2005) Through certain safeguards such as DNR’s and various statutes stating that a patient of a certain age, and of sound mind, may refuse medical treatment at anytime, passive euthanasia is effectively and indirectly ‘legal’ in most jurisdictions. In spite of this, active euthanasia is strictly prohibited in most of the civilised world. (Active/ Passive Euthanasia, 2011) This gives rise to the question, whether there is a moral difference between the physical act of killing someone and willingly letting and them die? The idea that ‘it is permissible, at least in some cases to withhold treatment and allow a patient to die, but it is never permissible to take any direct action designed to kill the patient’ (Rachels, 1975) sparks contentious debate. Contrarily to this standpoint, some suggest that active euthanasia may in fact be morally better, as it is quicker and effectively painless.

Euthanasia is further categorised into voluntary and involuntary. On a basic level, voluntary euthanasia is when a person requests that some action be taken in order to end their life. (‘Types of Euthanasia’, 2001) This may include asking for help with dying, refusing medical treatment, starving themselves or requesting life-support machines be turned off. (‘BBC’, 2013) Euthanasia is classified as involuntary when the individual being euthanized is deemed incapable of making the decision him or herself; another person must determine their ‘fate’. Such a circumstance arises when the ill person is in a coma, severely brain damaged, senile, very young, brain dead or unable to communicate. (‘BBC’, 2013)
A final distinction can be drawn between euthanasia and assisted suicide. The fundamental difference between the two, being simply who administers the drug/ undergoes the act which ultimately kills...

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