Dying and Death
A hundred years ago, sitting alongside a dying family member was a normal experience. Nowadays, death is considered to be an undesirable guest in our homes, and most people die in hospitals or hospices. While the sentence “I wish I would die” is often heard, it should be interpreted as a call for help, rather than as a demand for euthanasia. Surveys in countries where euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide are legal revealed that the demand of the dying person is often a consequence of social, emotional, or even financial circumstances. Euthanasia should never become a shortcut to relieve society of the burden of people approaching the end of their life. In circumstances of severe deficiencies in palliative care, a debate on euthanasia is ethically problematic. Investment in facilities for palliative medicine and in the related activities in education and research should become a priority. Only when the goal of decent palliative care for everyone is achieved, will a discussion on euthanasia truly become a discussion on individual autonomy, rather than a discussion based on utilitarian ethics.
KeywordsEuthanasia Physician-assisted suicide Persistent vegetative state Palliative care Immortality Research
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