You are on page 1of 7


To Take Away a Life or Not

Francisco Canel
George Washington University


The largest topics affecting individuals on a global scale are

typically seen across headlines of every major news source and spur
massive debates and opinionated arguments. However, one of the
most controversial topics facing the health industry is not being given
sufficient attention. Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide (PAS), is
a growing concern for physicians across the globe and not enough
participants are assisting in the search to come to a conclusion on the
topic. The plethora of factors to be taken into consideration while
addressing the issue need to be downsized, and the only proper way to
do so is through in-depth research and analysis on a global scale.
Through religion, pain susceptibility, and societal inhibitions, doctors
have been working to come up with a proper way to decipher a
patients request or need for euthanasia or PAS.

Ethics have become the protagonist, ahead of medical and law

issues, in doctors and governments studies of euthanasia. Surprisingly
enough, studies have shown that the three major religions (Orthodox,
Catholic, and Islamic), share the same view on the subject of
euthanasia. The embodiment of their opposition is to preserve the gift
and holiness of life. This is viewed in all major religions as the most
important emphasis of the debate. Although it may seem broad, the
Islamic states have taken the biggest lead in reprimanding euthanasia.
Within these, their legislations state euthanasia to be considered


equally punishable to that of committing murder. This charge of

murder varies throughout countries, ranging from lenient forms of
murder considered as ordinary murder, to potential first-degree
murder. Thus, these individuals do not even attempt to justify the need
or possibility of such procedure. Bozidar Banovic and Veljko Turanjanin
conducted a study of 55 Muslim physicians that resulted in 98% of
them believing that euthanasia and PAS is a violation of human dignity
and they would not be willing to provide patients with the opportunity
(Banovic and Turanjanin, 2014).

The majority of the countries, which view euthanasias

punishment to be the same as murder, are of Islamic beliefs.
Nevertheless, Western European countries, focusing on Benelux
countries (Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg), fall on the opposite
side of the spectrum. They believe that the matter should be handled
subjective to the patients ability to meet a certain criterion. There are
specific legal rules and medical procedures that exist in these
countries, that serve as a benchmark in deciding the outcome and
viability of euthanasia and PAS. While it remains true that it is possible
for euthanasia to occur, every case is handled medically and legally in
order to determine if the procedure was properly implemented. A
physician must meet all the requirements present in the legal system,
in order to justify the procedure and not be reprimanded. In brief, the


permission of euthanasia is granted when the following criteria are

met: request originates from the patient, intolerable pain is present
and no way to be facilitated, patient is aware of their condition, when
there are no other medical alternatives, a colleague is consulted after
proper secondary examination, and that it is performed with necessary
care. Only once these are all properly justified, is a physician
performing under the legal guidelines and practicing appropriately
(Banovic and Turanjanin, 2014).
While religion plays a big role in the morality of the issue, there
are deeper factors needing to be addressed that can greatly affect the
decision to proceed with euthanasia and PAS. In the article Assisted
Dying, author Ray Tallis presents viable justifications spurring from the
patients point-of-view. These factors are immeasurable through
medical or legal studies, however, create one of the biggest
arguments. Patients who are exposed to the possibility of these
procedures have a numbered timeline left in their life. The importance
of their view on this issue should be the forefront of the argument.
Professor Rob George conducted a study in Oregon, where he asked
questions various patients who had an assisted death in the year 2012.
His results showed that 49% of people who had an assisted death in
2012 said they didnt want to be a burden on family, friends, and
caregivers. Also, 93% were losing autonomy, 89% were being less
able to engage in activities making life enjoyable, and 72% who had


lost dignity (Tallis, 2014). Perhaps the most bone chilling statement
made was Suffering is a term that goes far beyond pain control
alone (Tallis, 2014). This topic cannot be handled solely on the basis
of medical and legal guidelines. An issue involving an individuals life
should never be handled as a routine procedure, rather, they should be
viewed individually and in their own way.

In conclusion, religion, medical procedures, the law, and ethics

can all play a role in deciding the ability to perform such an act. With
that being said, one should never discard each individuals personal
desires. Weighing factors that arise far away from any form of
justification, individuals should have a say in each of their cases. Legal
precedence cannot justify the taking of ones life, unless they are given
the opportunity to say what they would like to do. There is no possible
framework to properly formulate guidelines to follow, when undergoing
a situation where euthanasia is a possibility. An individual is at will to
make the decision themselves, unless they cannot. However, in the
cases where this is not possible, there must be some sort of degree of
harmony to set appropriate limits. The debate will not be satisfied
unless there are enough similar characteristics in each case. To end a
global issue, there must be some sort of global consensus.



Banovic, Boidar, and Veljko Turanjanin. 2014. "Euthanasia: murder or

not: a comparative approach."Iranian Journal Of Public Health 43,
no. 10: 1316-1323. Health Policy Reference Center, EBSCOhost

Emanuel EJ, Daniels ER, Fairclough DL, Clarridge BR. The practice of
euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in the United States:
adherence to proposed safeguards and effects on


physicians. JAMA.1998;280(6):507-513.

Tallis, Ray. 2014. "Assisted dying is not the same as euthanasia." BMJ
(Clinical Research Ed.) 348, g3532.MEDLINE Complete,