Euthanasia Controversy

Use of Terminology

Euthanasia advocates seem to be constantly changing their terminology in what some believe to be a quest for the acceptable phrasing that will break through existing barriers, and convince people to support legalisation of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide.

Slippery Slope

In a Summary for the US Congressional Subcommittee on the Constitution: Suicide, Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, Dr Herbert Hendin, who was one of a few foreign researchers who had the opportunity to extensively study the situation in the Netherlands, reported on his findings after two decades of legally sanctioned euthanasia and assisted suicide. His findings were consistent with those other other independent researchers.

Mercy Killing

Mercy killing is a phrase that is generally used to evoke compassion for the one doing the killing rather than for the victim. There is controversy as to whether such perpetrators should be shown leniency by the judicial system, or regarded as having committed murder. Disability rights activists are dismayed by the sympathetic coverage given by the media in such cases and claim that acts of violence seem to be regarded as justified if the victim happens to be old, ill or disabled.

Capital Punishment and Euthanasia

Euthanasia is, like capital punishment, a highly emotive topic. There are several good reasons why most countries of the Western world have abolished capital punishment, one being to prevent the execution of innocent people who were wrongly convicted. If euthanasia is legalised, people who are wrongly diagnosed as having a terminal illness may seek the option to die. There are also fears that euthanasia, like capital punishment, will brutalise the society that legalises it.

PVS and Brain Death

Although the terms PVS and 'brain death' are often used interchangeably, they differ greatly in meaning. Brain death is not about a definition of death, 96% of "brain-dead" patients still have a functioning brain to some degree. Brain death was designed to enable doctors to obtain suitable organs for transplantation. Persistent vegetative state (PVS) was a phrase invented to enable doctors to withdraw food and water from people who were previously regarded as comatose, and who might take up to 15 years to die naturally. One thing that is not commonly known, is that over half of people diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state usually recover.

Tony Bland

Receiving massive injuries in an accident, Tony could open his eyes but he did not seem to focus on anything and he couldn't communicate or respond to the people around him. The doctors did not know if Tony was aware of the people around him and the things they were saying and doing to him. Described as being in a 'persistent vegetative state'. Tony was not dying, in fact he was deliberately kept alive so he could be used as a test case to establish a legal right for doctors to withdraw nutrition and hydration (in layman's terms - food and water).

Diane Pretty and the Right to Die

Having failed in an application to the UK Director of Public Prosecutions seeking assurance that her husband would not be prosecuted, should he assist her to commit suicide in accordance with her wishes, Pretty lodged an application, against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland European Court of Human Rights, under several Articles in the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The Court found that Pretty's Human Rights had not been violated because there does not exist a 'right-to-die'.