Thursday, 9 January 2014

Our Stance on Euthanasia

Our Stance on Euthanasia

By AthiyahTA, Nur Qadirah, and Luke Sciberras

Death is defined across many levels, differentiating in accordance to culture, discipline, etcetera. As stated in Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary, "death (death) (deth) the cessation of life; permanent cessation of all vital bodily functions. For legal and medical purposes, the following definition of death has been proposed-the irreversible cessation of all of the following: (1) total cerebral function, usually assessed by EEG as flat-line (2) spontaneous function of the respiratory system, and (3) spontaneous function of the circulatory system...". In other words, Death in medical terms is the term for deceased life, a representative of a body having stopped all it's bodily functions, not able to move, think, respond, etcetera. Christians, however, define death as the process of separating one's immortal soul from one's mortal body. Muslims define death in more detail, describing that it is human to taste death, and one's physical existence does not separate from one's soul, that death is the termination of an individual comprehensive being, capable of believing and disbelieving, and not simply a living organism, and that life does not end with death. Even the Aztecs worshipped death as a way to appease their gods. The legal definition of death itself would be the legal presumption that an individual is alive until proved dead; In attempting to determine whether a person has died after having been missing for a certain period of time, the law assumes that the person is alive until a reason exists to believe otherwise.

Euthanasia is defined as the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma, as an act of kindness against their suffering. In Greek, it means “good death”. Euthanasia can be voluntary, non-voluntary or involuntary. Singapore is against Euthanasia and it is not legalised. Voluntary euthanasia is done through a patient’s request. The doctor carries out the the request in the end and can be seen as “assisted suicide”.

Brain death, defined in medical terms, as stated in Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary, "brain d[eath]. irreversible brain damage as manifested by absolute unresponsiveness to all stimuli, absence of all spontaneous muscle activity, including respiration, shivering, etc., and an isoelectric electroencephalogram for 30 minutes, all in the absence of hypothermia or intoxication by central nervous system depressants. Called also irreversible coma and cerebral d[eath]." The difference between a ‘persistent vegetative state’ and brain death is that people in a persistent vegetative state may seem inactive and have severe brain damage, but really just have disorder of consciousness in which they are in a state of partial arousal, rather than self-aware, while a brain dead person no longer has any activity in their brain stem and no potential for consciousness, even though a ventilator is keeping their heart beating and oxygen circulating through their blood.

Euthanasia is an ethical issue due to many reasons, the strongest being from religion, as most religions tend to disapprove of man’s interference with another’s ‘God-given’ life, though religions like Hinduism see it as a form of kindness. Religion aside, many feel it is wrong to end one’s life when one cannot decide for themselves, and that there is a slight chance that there may be a chance that one may resume brain functionality again. One may raise a more feasible argument-that when one is living, they have life, and thus should be respected, though contradicted to the little thought-of euthanisation of animals when no other solution is left.

Our final stand is that euthanisation should be legalised in our government, as it helps alleviate the suffering of one’s life than stretch it out for long periods of time, wasting effort and money especially when the person is brain dead, thus unable to recover. Besides, the inevitability in death at a stage such as brain death is of a much more higher percentage, and letting one suffer till ‘proper’ death is simply cruel.

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