much greater chance that mistakes can be made. If people are legally allowed to kill under certain conditions, there’s no telling where the limits might be. We could reach a point where some people could be consistently committing murder—while claiming it’s
euthanasia. In addition, people could kill others based on impulse or for personal gain and claim there was good reason for euthanizing because these patients were experiencing insurmountable pain and requested to be allowed to die. There is evidence this would be the case. In The Netherlands throughout the 1970s and 1980s, euthanasia was legally permitted under the conditions that patients freely requested it because they were experiencing unacceptable suffering, and had obtained a second opinion from another physician. In 1990, a study and survey of the euthanasia program in the Netherlands was conducted. The official results showed that out of “129,000 deaths throughout this time period, there were 2,300 cases of voluntary euthanasia, and 400 (of these) cases were assisted suicides”(Callahan 186). However, the shocking results were that over 1,000 deaths occurred without an actual request from the patient, which would be considered non-voluntary euthanasia. (Callahan 186) In addition to the 2,300 deaths from euthanasia there were another 1,000 deaths that occurred without an actual request from the patient. This could be considered murder. Thus, out of 3,300 deaths from euthanasia in this study, 10 percent of those non-voluntary deaths were cases of euthanasia in which there were competent patients who were never even consulted about being euthanized. (Callahan 186) These actions were illegal as set forth by The Netherland’s government and enabled these physicians to get away with murder. If these events occurred in The Netherlands only 30 years ago, there’s no reason they couldn’t occur in the United States. The idea alone, that legalizing euthanasia has the potential to turn into something much worse such as behind closed-door murders, which cannot be controlled or regulated, shows how dangerous just the concept of passing this law would be. Also, how
can doctors be in charge of euthanizing patients? They take a sworn oath and have a responsibility to prolong death and keep their patients alive as long as possible. As I noted earlier, some people believe that euthanasia needs to be legalized to help those people who are truly suffering with no hope for the future. A Florida woman, Terri Schiavo, was diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state and was in a coma for many years. Doctors repeatedly said that she had no chance of coming out of the coma but because of legal arguments between her husband and her parents; her family spent thousands of dollars on medical bills just to keep her body alive on machines. In this situation, many people felt she deserved to be euthanized. There response to the
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- Spring '10
- Ethics, active euthanasia, passive euthanasia, Callahan