Euthanasia, should it be legal?

[deleted account] ( 25 moms have responded )

History of Euthanasia

About 400 B.C. - The Hippocratic Oath (By the "Father of Medicine' Greek physician Hippocrates)

"I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel"

Click here for full text of the Hippocratic Oath.

14th through 20th Century English Common Law (Excerpt is from the U. S. Supreme Court ruling in the 1997 Washington v. Glucksberg - opinion written by Chief Justice Rehnquist.)

"More specifically, for over 700 years, the Anglo American common law tradition has punished or otherwise disapproved of both suicide and assisting suicide."

19th Century United States (Excerpt is from the U. S. Supreme Court ruling in the 1997 Washington v. Glucksberg - opinion written by Chief Justice Rehnquist.)

That suicide remained a grievous, though nonfelonious, wrong is confirmed by the fact that colonial and early state legislatures and courts did not retreat from prohibiting assisting suicide. Swift, in his early 19th century treatise on the laws of Connecticut, stated that "[i]f one counsels another to commit suicide, and the other by reason of the advice kills himself, the advisor is guilty of murder as principal." 2 Z. Swift, A Digest of the Laws of the State of Connecticut 270 (1823). This was the well established common law view, see In re Joseph G., 34 Cal. 3d 429, 434-435, 667 P. 2d 1176, 1179 (1983); Commonwealth v. Mink, 123 Mass. 422, 428 (1877) ("`Now if the murder of one's self is felony, the accessory is equally guilty as if he had aided and abetted in the murder'") (quoting Chief Justice Parker's charge to the jury in Commonwealth v. Bowen, 13 Mass. 356 (1816)), as was the similar principle that the consent of a homicide victim is "wholly immaterial to the guilt of the person who cause[d] [his death]," 3 J. Stephen, A History of the Criminal Law of England 16 (1883); see 1 F. Wharton, Criminal Law §§451-452 (9th ed. 1885); Martin v. Commonwealth, 184 Va. 1009, 1018-1019, 37 S. E. 2d 43, 47 (1946) (" `The right to life and to personal security is not only sacred in the estimation of the common law, but it is inalienable' "). And the prohibitions against assisting suicide never contained exceptions for those who were near death. Rather, "[t]he life of those to whom life ha[d] become a burden--of those who [were] hopelessly diseased or fatally wounded--nay, even the lives of criminals condemned to death, [were] under the protection of law, equally as the lives of those who [were] in the full tide of life's enjoyment, and anxious to continue to live." Blackburn v. State, 23 Ohio St. 146, 163 (1872); see Bowen, supra, at 360 (prisoner who persuaded another to commit suicide could be tried for murder, even though victim was scheduled shortly to be executed).

1828 - Earliest American statute explicitly to outlaw assisting suicide (Excerpt is from the U. S. Supreme Court ruling in the 1997 Washington v. Glucksberg - opinion written by Chief Justice Rehnquist.)

The earliest American statute explicitly to outlaw assisting suicide was enacted in New York in 1828, Act of Dec. 10, 1828, ch. 20, §4, 1828 N. Y. Laws 19 (codified at 2 N. Y. Rev. Stat. pt. 4, ch. 1, tit. 2, art. 1, §7, p. 661 (1829)), and many of the new States and Territories followed New York's example. Marzen 73-74. Between 1857 and 1865, a New York commission led by Dudley Field drafted a criminal code that prohibited "aiding" a suicide and, specifically, "furnish[ing] another person with any deadly weapon or poisonous drug, knowing that such person intends to use such weapon or drug in taking his own life." Id., at 76-77.

20th Century United States (Excerpt is from the U. S. Supreme Court ruling in the 1997 Washington v. Glucksberg - opinion written by Chief Justice Rehnquist.)

Though deeply rooted, the States' assisted suicide bans have in recent years been reexamined and, generally, reaffirmed. Because of advances in medicine and technology, Americans today are increasingly likely to die in institutions, from chronic illnesses. President's Comm'n for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research, Deciding to Forego Life Sustaining Treatment 16-18 (1983). Public concern and democratic action are therefore sharply focused on how best to protect dignity and independence at the end of life, with the result that there have been many significant changes in state laws and in the attitudes these laws reflect. Many States, for example, now permit "living wills," surrogate health care decisionmaking, and the withdrawal or refusal of life sustaining medical treatment. See Vacco v. Quill, post, at 9-11; 79 F. 3d, at 818-820; People v. Kevorkian, 447 Mich. 436, 478-480, and nn. 53-56, 527 N. W. 2d 714, 731-732, and nn. 53-56 (1994). At the same time, however, voters and legislators continue for the most part to reaffirm their States' prohibitions on assisting suicide.

1920 The book "Permitting the Destruction of Life not Worthy of Life" was published.

In this book, authors Alfred Hoche, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at the University of Freiburg, and Karl Binding, a professor of law from the University of Leipzig, argued that patients who ask for "death assistance" should, under very carefully controlled conditions, be able to obtain it from a physician. This book helped support involuntary euthanasia by Nazi Germany.

1935 The Euthanasia Society of England was formed to promote euthanasia.

1939 Nazi Germany (From "The History Place" web site)

"In October of 1939 amid the turmoil of the outbreak of war Hitler ordered widespread "mercy killing" of the sick and disabled. Code named "Aktion T 4," the Nazi euthanasia program to eliminate "life unworthy of life" at first focused on newborns and very young children. Midwives and doctors were required to register children up to age three who showed symptoms of mental retardation, physical deformity, or other symptoms included on a questionnaire from the Reich Health Ministry."

"The Nazi euthanasia program quickly expanded to include older disabled children and adults. Hitler's decree of October, 1939, typed on his personal stationery and back dated to Sept. 1, enlarged 'the authority of certain physicians to be designated by name in such manner that persons who, according to human judgment, are incurable can, upon a most careful diagnosis of their condition of sickness, be accorded a mercy death.'"

Click here to go to Questionnaire for Nazi Euthanasia Program (1939).

Click here to go to Nurses' Participation in the Nazi Euthanasia Programs .

Click here to go to Sermon Delivered by Bishop Clemens August Count of Galen on August 3, 1941.

1995 Australia's Northern Territory approved a euthanasia bill

It went into effect in 1996 and was overturned by the Australian Parliament in 1997.

1998 U.S. state of Oregon legalizes assisted suicide

1999 Dr. Jack Kevorkian sentenced to a 10-25 year prison term for giving a lethal injection to Thomas Youk whose death was shown on the "60 Minutes" television program.

2000 The Netherlands legalizes euthanasia.

2002 Belgium legalizes euthanasia.

2008 U.S. state of Washington legalizes assisted suicide

Whats your take on euthanasia?


[deleted account]

It's in my living will that if I remain in a vegetative state for up to one year, I request to be removed from all forms of life support. If I live, so be it. But hopefully I won't. I can't speak about what it must feel like to be a terminal cancer patient, constantly in agonizing pain, sick, being offered drugs that provide little to no relief.....but if my quality of life were so horrible, I'd want the option to choose a peaceful death, rather than carrying on in misery. I think euthanasia should be legal but it should be only under certain strict circumstances. I don't think it ever will be legal though, too many gray areas and there would really be no way to govern and monitor it because a lot of it happens in homes. I do think it will continue to happen in homes though.

Rosie - posted on 01/22/2011




i think it should totally be legal for people who are in their right mind.
i don't understand how it's human for an animal to be euthanized yet not a loved one.

Krista - posted on 01/22/2011




I agree with everything Jennifer said.

I think that euthanasia should be legal, but should be heavily regulated. The individual should have to have multiple evaluations by multiple psychiatrists, with his lawyer present, to ensure that he is of sound mind and not being coerced in any way, shape or form.

Personally, I think it's awful how we force people to suffer. My great-uncle had ALS -- a fate I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy -- and I know that if I ever suffer the same fate, I want to end things before I get to the point where I'm aware, but am paralyzed and can no longer breathe or swallow, and am basically slowly suffocating to death. And I know my family would never want to see me go through such hell.

Joanna - posted on 01/22/2011





I am for euthanasia as long as the patient is in their right mind. I'd hate to be in such pain that even medication couldn't help, and just wait to die... I would have an assisted suicide myself in a case like that.


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[deleted account]

that made me cry loureen....:(

I think if a person is not terminally ill, but does not have the ability of their body, or are in chronic pain and want to die. Not just the terminal. If someone who broke their neck for instance, wanted to be euthanized, i think it would be ok for them too..

Jessica - posted on 01/23/2011




i believe euthanasia is the most kind thing that we can do for our pets at a time where they are suffering and just waiting to pass away. I feel though it is a choice that is difficult to make it is often a blessing. I think that in certain circumstances it would be appropriate, but am not sure on who should be able to deciede the circumstances when it comes to a human life.

Charlie - posted on 01/23/2011




Suicide though isn't really the same it is mainly caused by severe depression , you would not be allowed to make the decision to euthanize while depressed , Euthanasia would not only be for people who are "terminally ill.

[deleted account]

Yea my BILs mom hung herself while him and his sister were upstairs, he went down and found her...he was 9. If she was going to do something like least have the decency to do it so your kids are not scared for life.

Tara - posted on 01/23/2011




I had a friend in grade 6 whose father tied her, her brother and her mother up and then shot himself in the head. They had to lay there while he slowly died, the bullet went in through his mouth and out his ear.
The neighbours finally heard the screaming and called the police. I think if you are going to take your life, fine but the least amount of damage you make others suffer the better.

Jenny - posted on 01/23/2011




"Dying is not a crime" I like that.

I think anyone should be able to choose when and if to end their lives at any time.

Charlie - posted on 01/23/2011




Now I listened to this man on the radio before he died , in tears saying how humiliating it was for him to live everyday he sobbed as he said "what kind of life is this I can't feed myself , I can't move , *huge big cry * I can't even ......WIPE MY OWN ASS "

I WAS CRYING for this man .

This Friday, the West Australian Supreme Court granted quadriplegic Christian Rossiter the right to refuse food and water. Rossiter, 49, sustained a spinal injury after he was hit by a car in 2004, and developed spastic quadriplegia following a fall in 2008. He currently resides at Brightwater Nursing Home in Perth, who took the matter to court in order to determine their legal position. It was concluded by Chief Justice Wayne Martin that Rossiter’s feeding tube be removed, should he request it, and that he be allowed to starve to death. This has been estimated to take two weeks. It has been assured that the nursing home would not be held accountable, as long as the care providers did not attempt to accelerate the process.

Rossiter is happy with the decision, having described his current situation as being a “prisoner in my own body”. Says Rossiter, “I'm happy that I won my right to die by no sustenance and no water, (and) quadriplegics can choose whether they want to live." He has also requested that he be administered with pain killers, and be able to watch Foxtel.

This man eventually STARVED TO DEATH ,

Christian Rossiter, 49, who was paralysed from the neck down, died in a nursing home in the western city of Perth in the early hours after developing a chest infection, his brother Tim Rossiter said in a statement.

"I thank all those who have made Christian's life, in his final years, as comfortable and as dignified as possible," he said.

Lawyer John Hammond, who five weeks ago won a court battle allowing Rossiter to refuse food and medication, said his client had welcomed death and empowered all severely ill people who wanted to die on their own terms.

"He wanted to die and it will be some relief that he is now dead because he underwent so much pain in his final years of life," Hammond told public broadcaster ABC.

"Rossiter set an important precedent -- and that was the right of people to refuse food and medication when they saw fit, so he's left behind an important legacy."

In the historic ruling a court said that Rossiter, a former stockbroker and outdoor adventurer who became a quadriplegic following two separate accidents, had the right to refuse to be fed.

Western Australia's chief judge Wayne Martin said Rossiter had the right to direct his own treatment and that his carers, Brightwater Care Group, would not be held criminally responsible for complying with his wishes.

Rossiter had asked the care group at least 40 times to stop feeding and hydrating him through a tube to his stomach before he took the case to court.

"This is a living hell," he told reporters through a tracheotomy tube during the court case.

"I'm Christian Rossiter and I'd like to die. I am a prisoner in my own body. I can't move, I have no fear of death -- just pain. I only fear pain."

Hammond said Rossiter's case gave people the chance to die with dignity and he expected many Australians would take advantage of the court ruling.

"I think people will start saying more often to doctors and nursing staff, 'I now want to leave this world, can you please let me do that in the most painless way possible'."

Stifler's - posted on 01/23/2011




I'm not even sure where I stand on euthanasia anymore. If it were legal the criteria would be so tight on who they'd even let end their own life. I've looked after a fair few dying people, dying of cancer, advances stages of Alzheimers, emphysema, rheumatoid arthritis, severe diabetes etc. Most of them were not in their right mind. Some would say JUST LET ME DIE when you asked how it was going today. Some were just vegetables and had been for 10 years, unable to even speak. I don't believe they would have been classed as in their right mind either by any psychiatrist/psychologist.

Katherine - posted on 01/23/2011




We had a man I MI, Dr. Kevorkian who helped people kill themselves. He went to jail for it. It took a LONG time for the courts to get him there because of all of the gray areas.
Jack Kevorkian, (pronounced /kɛˈvɔrkiːɛn/;[3] born May 26, 1928)[4] is an American pathologist, right-to-die activist, painter, composer, and instrumentalist. He is best known for publicly championing a terminal patient's right to die via physician-assisted suicide; he claims to have assisted at least 130 patients to that end. He famously said that "dying is not a crime."[5]

Beginning in 1999 Kevorkian served eight years of a 10-to-25-year prison sentence for second-degree murder. He was released on parole on June 1, 2007, on condition that he would not offer suicide advice to any other person.[6]

Charlie - posted on 01/23/2011




Yes absolutely , why should we treat animals more humanely than our own fellow species when it comes to putting them out of pain and misery .

[deleted account]

I'm all for it, as long as it has VERY strict rules and is watched very carefully. I know a lady with huntingtons disease, she is SO sick and going crazy. her family gave them the choice of letting her die by stopping her meals (which were through a tube). I would rather be put to sleep than be forced to starve to death! They turned it down, as that is such an aweful way to die

~♥Little Miss - posted on 01/22/2011




I completely agree....strict regulations. I believe that if someone is suffering so severely with no hopes but death as the cure, they should be able to die. But, I couod never be that person assisting in suicide. It would weigh to heavily on my conscience. I have assisted in countless animal never really got easy. Even when I knew it was the humane thing to do.

Lady Heather - posted on 01/22/2011




Yes, I think it should be legal. No doubt in my mind about that. There should be multiple safeguards in place to make sure that people can't just choose to off their relatives to rid themselves of the burden and things like that. What I really hate is people who yammer on about how there's palliative care and blah blah blah, casting judgment on those who want to die without having been in their shoes. Who am I to tell someone who is dying of some horrible illness in the most painful and often times degrading way possible that they are wrong? I saw some doctor arguing about it on the news once "Oh, palliative care is soooo good this days." Says who? You and your healthy ass? Riiiight.

Lacye - posted on 01/22/2011




I do not think it should be legal. I can't explain why but I just don't like euthanasia being practiced. We are more advanced than that.

[deleted account]

I read an article recently that in 2007 parents of a disabled girl were reading into euthanasia for her. The toddler drown shortly after. Most defiantly their should be age limits and have the individual make the decision, not the family.

JuLeah - posted on 01/22/2011




I was born in Oregon and now live in Washington. I am in support of euthanasia under the 'right' conditions. The law is clear when it can and can not be used. I don't believe in prolonging death.

Jennifer - posted on 01/22/2011




i do believe it should be legal and as Tara said, it should be under rigorous regulation and monitoring. i think people ought to have the right to end their own life, and i think there should be resources available to them to make it efficient, and successful.

[deleted account]

I agree joy a sound mind is hard to judge.
If a person is in that much pain, their thinking is distorted depending on the individual.

[deleted account]

And I do agree that the decision to take that route has to be made and all paperwork signed while the patient is of "sound mind". People in pain say a lot of off the wall things and you don't know what they mean and what they don't mean, what they think is real or what's just a hallucination from pain or medication.

Tara - posted on 01/22/2011




I agree with Joy. I can't imagine the mental and emotional anguish felt by people whose body is twisted and contorted, causing constant pain, every nerve seems to be on fire and despite everything doctors do, you have no relief, your illness is terminal but sinister in that it will take months, possibly years to kill you. In the mean time you cannot eat, you cannot sleep, you live each day hoping it will be your last...
I believe it should be legal, and operate only under rigorous regulation and monitoring. This could be a whole new aspect of palliative care training. People who work with the terminally ill could take a credited class that requires proper training for assisted suicide, should they choose to participate would be up to them.

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