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Medical Ethics Implications of Legal Euthanasia

An issue of growing concern

There is growing concern about the possible implications of legal euthanasia, all over the world and rightly so. Many people believe that euthanasia, under any circumstances, including that of legal euthanasia is morally and ethically wrong and that people everywhere should be seriously concerned.

One might ask the following questions about legal euthanasia.

Does designating something as legal necessarily make it acceptable or right?

Does designating something as legal eradicate all of its other moral and medical ethical implications?

The following places are those where euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal:

Netherlands
Belgium
Luxembourg
Oregon, USA
Washington, USA

A question arises as to why only five places in the entire world are the only ones where legal euthanasia is accepted. Are they right with respect to their stand on legal euthanasia?

It may be the other way around, where all of the other countries are right in their stand and the countries practicing legal euthanasia are wrong.

Note that there is a distinction between active and passive euthanasia.

Passive euthanasia involves the withdrawal of medical treatment “with the deliberate intention of causing the patient’s death” as opposed to active euthanasia where there are specific steps taken “to cause the patient’s death.”

Note that in both instances, there is a causal effect in the patient’s death, or someone causes the patient’s death to happen, when it may not happen otherwise.

There is also a distinction between voluntary and involuntary euthanasia.

With voluntary euthanasia, the patient “requests” action taken to end his or her life, knowing that in doing so, it will lead to his or her death. Involuntary euthanasia occurs when the “patient’s life is ended…without his or her knowledge or consent.”

One must argue that there is more than what the word legal implies. There are still moral and medical ethical aspects to consider in respect to legal euthanasia.

Having someone declare a person as judge and jury, or declaring oneself as judge and jury over someone else, and thus acting in supposedly legal manner that allows one end the lives of others does not necessarily eradicate the moral aspect, or the medical ethical aspect of euthanasia, as these cannot be ignored.

One must also argue that the pro and con arguments for legal euthanasia have not yet been addressed fully enough, in any part of the world. If life is sacred, which it is, euthanasia is not acceptable in any part of the world.