Tuesday, 7 January 2014

A Letter on Euthanasia

A Letter on Euthanasia
Death to many is a hard reality but also one of the few certainties in life. The medical definition of death is the irreversible cessation of all vital functions especially as indicated by permanent stoppage of the heart, respiration, and brain activity in other words, the end of life. To the Aztecs, they saw death as a way of helping the world and making the gods happy therefore they sacrificed people.

Euthanasia is the practice of terminating the life of a person in a painless or less painful way in order to prevent suffering. Clinical death is the medical term for the cessation of blood circulation and breathing.
Brain death is the end of brain activity in a person.

Many Buddhists are not supportive of Euthanasia as an important teaching of buddhist teaching is compassion. Catholicism term Euthanasia as a “crime against life” and take a strong stand against directly intending to cause the death of a person. Protestantism is also not supportive of Euthanasia. Hinduism is both supportive of Euthanasia as they feel that by helping to end a painful life, a person is performing a good deed but this will disturb the cycle of death and rebirth. Islam forbids any form of any action that may help another to kill themselves. They are not to plan their death in advance. Shinto, which is the dominant religion in Japan have more than half of the religious organisations agreeing with the act of voluntary Euthanasia.

A coma is a state of unconsciousness that lasts more than six hours, in which a person cannot be awakened and fails to react to normal stimuli. However, there is still a chance in which the person can regain consciousness in the future.
Brain death is the irreversible end of brain activity due to total necrosis (death) of the cerebral neurons following the loss of brain oxygenation. Brain death is used as an indicator of legal death in many jurisdictions, but is defined inconsistently. Various parts of the brain may die, while other parts are still living. For example, “brain death” in a major medical dictionary is synonymous with “cerebral death” (death of the cerebrum), the US National Library of Medicine Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) system defines brain death as including the brainstem.

Ethics, is defined as a branch of philosophy that defends and recommends concepts of right and wrong conduct, as well as addresses moral disputes. Euthanasia, which essentially is the practice of intentionally ending a life to alleviate a person’s suffering, is a public controversy spanning decades with people opposing as well as supporting this idea. 

There have been many controversies surrounding this issue with certain countries such as The Netherlands, Belgium and certain states of the US who have legalised this, in different forms. With regard to the different types of euthanasia, it is split specifically into 2 types; active and passive euthanasia; active euthanasia in sense that action is taken by by a physician to end the life of a person, and passive euthanasia is the denial or with holding of treatments to sustain the life of a patient. 

Both forms of euthanasia, passive and active, have been hotly debated, with either sides arguing the moral distinctions or the ‘killing’ or ‘letting die’ of patients. From decades ago till now, the moral issue of ending a person’s life to cease their suffering and pain has been a controversial debate on the sanctity of life.

Our final stand is that the pain and suffering, no matter how great, does not justify the ‘pulling of the plug’ or the ‘quiet denial of treatment’. Euthanasia, in a sense, prevents the completion of a person's 'business' and while the patient is in pain or suffering, may not neccessarily equate to the immediate cessation of life to cease pain and suffering.

Done by: Marcus, Lois, Priya & Christopher

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