Euthanasia: Killing or Caring?

Jamie Tadiaman, Copy Editor


According to Medical News Today, euthanasia is “the intentional putting to death of a person with an incurable or painful disease intended as an act of mercy.”

Euthanasia has become an increasingly controversial topic because some believe it conflicts with their moral or religious preferences, while others think that it should be a viable option for patients who need it.

Ms. Eva D’Ambrosio, an Oxnard High School biology teacher who has experience in the medical field, said that she has “mixed feelings” about the subject.

“I think that to a certain extent we do have a role in society to help people die in a dignified manner,” said Ms. D’Ambrosio, “But at the same time, having been involved with the research in medicine, I feel that there could be some potential treatment that we haven’t come across yet, and we need to explore all possibilities before we take that step.”

There are two general classifications of euthanization procedures: passive and active.

Passive euthanasia, as defined by Medical, is “a mode of ending life in which a physician is given an option to not prescribe futile treatments for the hopelessly ill patient.” In other words, the patient will be denied necessary treatments such as food, water, antibiotics, etc.

The same source defines active euthanasia as “a mode of ending life in which the intent is to cause the patient’s death in a single act.” An example of active euthanization would be if a doctor administered a lethal dose of medication to a patient.

Some people support this practice and believe that it is a helpful force. “I don’t really have a problem with [euthanization],” said senior Kiana Hernandez, “My uncle passed away because he had very severe lung cancer and they pulled the plug on him.”

“Just seeing him in this state of literally nothing, I don’t think he wanted to go on living like that, so I saw his death justified,” Hernandez added.

Physician-assisted suicide is a similar practice to euthanasia, but technically not the same because a doctor will only facilitate the dying process of a terminally ill patient by providing them with a means to end their own life.

Euthanasia can be considered voluntary, involuntary, or nonvoluntary.

Voluntary euthanasia is conducted with request and consent from the patient. To be euthanized, a patient needs to meet certain requirements.

According the New York Times, patients “would have to make two oral requests for the prescription, two weeks apart, and one in writing. Two doctors would have to certify that the patient is likely to die within six months. The written request must be made in front of witnesses who are asked to certify that the patient is of sound mind and is not being coerced.”

Involuntary euthanasia is done without request or consent from the patient. In certain cases, it can be considered homicide.

Nonvoluntary euthanasia is administered when the patient is incapable of making their own decisions. This would be an option if the patient is in a coma, has severe brain damage, or has some other similar situation.

On October 5, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed the “End of Life Option Act”, which legalized physician-assisted suicide in California.

Hernandez said, “I think [euthanization] should be [legalized]. I’d rather have some people benefit from it than have no one benefit from it at all.”

Likewise, junior Charley Dimas said, “I am for euthanization because it’s [the patient’s] choice. If they want to die or live, who am I to stop them?“

On the other hand, people like Mr. Creech, a teacher at OHS, disagree. He said, “I’d probably have to say no [to euthanasia]. It’s just too much power for any person or group to have. When you end up in that situation where you’re giving that kind of power to a group of people or an individual, I don’t like that idea.”

Additionally, junior Sama Kalaj said, “I know that people can be put in really tough situations, but in my religion, one of the teachings is not to kill others and not to kill yourself. I know a lot of religions have a similar law, which is another reason why I’m against it.”

Although Dimas expressed that he is religious, he still supports euthanization. He said, “Why not [legalize euthanasia]? We already legalized other things that are against religious beliefs. Gay marriage is against Christianity, but we still legalized it.”

“I also feel humanity has not reached the point where we have progressed and matured fully enough to be using this technology in the right way,” added Kalaj, “When you don’t use something in the right way, it can do more harm than good.”

In either case, euthanasia is a serious matter and should not be taken lightly.

“I think anytime you’re talking about ending a person’s life,” said Mr. Creech, “you really have to make sure that it’s being done with the best respect to the life of that individual.”