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Non Voluntary Euthanasia: The Future Of Euthanasia

3037 words - 12 pages

Non-Voluntary Euthanasia: The Future of Euthanasia

 
    Non-voluntary euthanasia seems to be the natural direction in which euthanasia practice evolves. In the Netherlands at the present time, there is a fear on the part of the aged, about being taken to the hospital - where the doctor may have the last word about life and death. This essay digs into this evolutionary process of voluntary euthanasia evolving into the non-voluntary type.

 

Advocates of legalised euthanasia almost always insist that they only want voluntary euthanasia (VE) - a they say they are as opposed to the taking of life without the subject's knowledge or consent, that is, non-voluntary euthanasia (NVE), as anyone else. Some do extend their advocacy to some examples of NVE, such as seriously deformed newborns, [1] where consent would not be possible, but this is not usual. It is widely accepted that sufficient protection against the unwanted extension of VE to NVE would be ensured by the inclusion of appropriate legal safeguards.

 

As safeguards, clauses are proposed that would require the doctor to be satisfied that the patient's request was freely made and sufficiently informed, that there was no psychological abnormality such as depression, and possibly by requiring psychiatric consultation, that more than one doctor be involved in the decision that it was medically appropriate to take life in the circumstances, and that there be adequate documentation. It is also common to find lawyers who declare that such laws would be feasible to devise, though it is less common to find actual draft laws published for discussion. In one sense, those lawyers are correct when they say such law would be possible - but they stop short of addressing the question of whether they would be safe, in practice. It is uncommon to find any analysis that assesses the effectiveness of the so-called safeguards.

 

By contrast, overwhelming evidence is now available in the published reports of a number of independent committees of inquiry into the consequences of legalising VE, which all concluded that NO such law could be guaranteed to be safe against the likelihood of abuse. In fact, no committee set up for this purpose has ever reached any conclusion other than prohibition of legalisation.

 

Though the first of these reports appeared in 1994 and the last in 1998, their arguments are so compelling that no criticism of them has ever been published. Until and unless it can be shown that their common conclusion is unwarranted, they must be regarded as having established the truth.

 

This seems to some to be such an unexpected development, and so contrary to what is confidently often asserted, that it barely seems credible. The commonest and most serious form of abuse of any euthanasia law would be the endangering or the actual taking of the lives of some of the other terminally ill or disadvantaged groups of the sick or disabled who did not want their...

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