Voluntary Euthanasia is the practice of ending a life in a painless manner.¹
I used to think this was an easy concept. If a person wants to die, then we allow them to die. We do it for animals right? Well, they can’t actually tell us they want to die. If we can’t stand to see them suffer, we put our animals out of their misery. Voluntary Euthanasia is hot button for some people groups. Killing someone is wrong, period. Putting someone out of their misery is a grey area.
- People can choose when they die and how
- It can put an end to pain and suffering
- Can help control end of life care costs
- It may comfort people with deadly diagnosis to know they can die painlessly, so they can enjoy their last days without fear.
- The person performing euthanasia carries a heavy burden.
- Family may disagree with person’s wish.
- Killing someone creates a slippery-slope to legalized murder.
- May interfere with religious beliefs
After working with Hospice for almost a year, I have seen dozens of people die. I have been right there with the family watching people suffer and having to assist with the burden of end of life care. Here is what I know for a fact:
- Dying is a natural process that is not easy to watch, especially for loved ones.
- It can take weeks for someone to die even after food and fluids have been withheld.
I support the right to die for patients with terminal illness. We have no idea if the “natural” dying process is painful for the patient. We medicate people to assure they have no pain. Everything in a body will fight to live no matter what. This prolongs death, even when there is no going back. I call it “the great struggle”. Even when the brain is telling organs to shut down, they fight to live and prolong death.
I don’t think everyone will exercise voluntary euthanasia if it is freely offered². Some people will not choose voluntary euthanasia because it does not guarantee a “good death”. I think it is everyone’s dream to die at home, surrounded by loved ones. Usually, not always but usually, there is one lingering person or thing that makes a person hold on. I encourage families to contact everyone and at least put them on the phone so they can say goodbye. Most people loose the ability to eat and drink right before death and this allows for families to know time is getting short and gives them a chance to say goodbye.
There are times when dealing with the prolonged death of a loved one is just, and necessary, for the family. I think it should never be up to the family to use voluntary euthanasia for a loved one. It should remain a patient right, and only if they can make that decision with sound mind.
So that’s my take on Voluntary Euthanasia. What say you?
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