Monday, October 27, 2008

Religion & Euthanasia - Intro.

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 website


S.Ed. Girls said...

This may seem like a silly question, but what is the difference between "euthanasia" and a "living will". My understanding is that with a living will, you are able to indicate whether or not you want to be resuscitated or placed on life support.Can you explain the difference between this and euthanasia? Thank you!

LLJJ said...

Thanks for your comment...and no question is a silly question :) A living will is a legal document that outlines the medical care that an individual wants (or does not want) in the event that they become incapable of doing it themselves. With a living will, someone can outline whether or not they want life support or if they would like to be resuscitated in the event that they cannot make that decision. Euthanasia is when an individual intentionally wants to die (either through act or omission) and chooses to do so. The difference between the two is that a living will is not made with the intention of dying, it is simply made to outline what types of medical procedures an individual would like in the event that they become incapable choosing at a later date (due to incapacitation). A living will can also be done to honor religious beliefs (An actual case like this will be discussed at a later date on this blog). I hope you find this answer helpful. Thanks again for your interest.