No debate regarding euthanasia can be had without discussing the role of religion. Stories on people refusing medical procedures because of religious beliefs have received a lot of media attention and it seems to be a hot button topic. However, there is still discussion as to whether or not this constitutes euthanasia. The uncertainty revolves around the definition of euthanasia.
To elaborate on our previous definition, euthanasia is defined as the intentional killing by ‘act’ or ‘omission’ of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit. Religions ties into the idea of euthanasia by omission. Euthanasia by omission refers to intentionally causing a person’s death by not providing necessary and ordinary (usual and customary) care or food and water. The key word in these two definitions is ‘intentional’. The act or omission must be done with the INTENTION of causing death to be considered euthanasia. So to some, refusing medical procedures on the basis of religious beliefs is not euthanasia because the intent is not to cause death. As far as we are concerned, standing by and withholding medical intervention that will benefit a patient IS euthanasia.
Refusing medical treatment because of religious beliefs is generally accepted by the population and there have been many cases (that will be discussed at a later date) of courts upholding decisions by patients to do so. Why is this considered ok but euthanasia by omission is not? To us, they are the same thing...regardless of intent. Withholding medical treatment that could benefit a patient, although it may not be done with the intention of killing the patient, is still just as bad as acting or refusing to act for the sake of killing a patient.
The role of religion and how it relates to euthanasia is a topic that we will discuss further in the near future and we would really like to know how people feel about this. Are they linked? Should they be? Are they one in the same? Let us know.
-Definitions for Euthanasia taken from the euthanasia.com website