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Essay on Euthanasia: Not Just for the Terminally Ill

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Euthanasia: Not Just for the Terminally Ill

 
   Euthanasia or assisted suicide would not only be available to people who are terminally ill. This popular misconception is what this essay seeks to correct. There is considerable confusion on this point, perhaps further complicated by statements in the media.

 

There are two problems here - the definition of "terminal" and the changes that have already taken place to extend euthanasia or assisted suicide to those who aren't "terminally ill.

 

There are many definitions for the word "terminal." For example, Jack Kevorkian who participated in the deaths of more than 130 people before he was convicted of murder said that a terminal illness was "any disease that curtails life even for a day."(Dr. Death) Dutch psychiatrist Dr. Boudewijn Chabot who provided a fatal dose of drugs to a depressed, but physically healthy, woman, stated that "persistently suicidal patients are, indeed, terminal."(CQ) Oregon's assisted suicide law defines "terminal" as a condition which will "within reasonable medical judgment, produce death within six months."(Oregon) A prognosis of six month to live is also the basis upon which patients qualify for hospice coverage under Medicare.(Cys)

 

However, federal officials note that about 10% of patients live longer than the anticipated six-month life expectancy.(Id.) The use of a six-month prognosis to qualify a patient for assisted suicide or euthanasia was challenged in the World Federation of Right to Die Societies' newsletter as well:

"The six-month standard "not only calls on doctors to make an unreliable prediction, but prescribes a pointless time limit: The longer the life expectancy the greater the patient's suffering. The e...


... middle of paper ...


...a for Rational Suicide: A Survey of Psychotherapists," 25 Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior, (1995), p. 238. (Emphasis added.)

 

"Zurich Declaration on Assisted Dying," signed on October 14, 1998 at the 12th International Conference of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies, held on October 12-15, 1998 in Zurich, Switzerland. For the full text, see Zurich Declaration. Among the signers were Richard MacDonald, M.D., Medical Director of the Hemlock Society; Australian physician Philip Nitschke; and British Dr. Michael Irwin of the United Kingdom.

 

"Dignity in Dying Bill 2001," South Australian Parliament, introduced on March 14, 2001 by Australian Democrats state deputy leader Sandra Kanck. [Extract from Hansard, Legislative Council, 14 March 2001. accessed at http:www.democrats.org.au/sa/parlt/autumn2001/0314_e.htm on May 29, 2001.]



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