It all started on a boring tuesday evening, was bored senseless and so i thought to reach for my laptop and watch a movie, after minutes of endless surfing i came across one, a Bollywood movie titled GUZAARISH, it was all centered on a young promising and world famous magician whose life has been somewhat thrown into gloom as he no longer had use of any of his body parts( total paralysis) he had been this way for fourteen years, the pain of lying on the same bed for fourteen solid years and watching his entire life pass him by had made him lose the motivation to go on, he had his best friend and lawyer plead to the court for Euthanasia also known as mercy-killing.
Now the question arises, what exactly is euthanasia? Euthanasia (from the Greek) meaning good death is the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering. The British House of Lords select committee on Medical Ethics defines it as ” a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life to relieve intractable suffering” Euthanasia based on consent can be divided into three categories; Voluntary, non-voluntary and Involuntary euthanasia. It is voluntary when the patient gives his/her consent, non-voluntary euthanasia occurs when the consent of the patient is not available such as child euthanasia, and involuntary euthanasia is one conducted against the will of the patient. These categories of euthanasia can further be divided into passive and active euthanasia. It is passive if it involves the withholding of common treatments such as anti-biotic necessary for the continuance of life and Active if it entails the use of lethal substances such as the administering of lethal injection to kill.
The argument in favour of euthanasia focuses on key issues such as:
• the patient’s right to self-determination which confers on them the right to choose and determine their own fate
• assisting a patient to die might in the circumstance be a better choice than requiring them to suffer
• permitting euthanasia will not necessarily lead to un-acceptable consequences
Pro-euthanasia activists usually point to countries such as Netherlands and Belgium where euthanasia has been legalised and isn’t causing any controversy. The practice of euthanasia is condemned in most countries across the globe and has even been labeled as a criminal homicide. It makes one to wonder what type of homicide isn’t criminal. For example Physician-assisted suicide is not classified as euthanasia under the US state of Oregon where it is legal under the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, and despite its name, it is not legally classified as suicide either. Voluntary euthanasia is also legal in the U.S.A, the use of pain medications in order to relieve suffering even if it hastens death has also been held to be legal in several court decisions. It is worthy of note to mention at this point that despite the fact that voluntary euthanasia has been made legal in certain countries, it generally remains a criminal homicide, though it is not prosecuted nor punishable if the perpetrator meets certain legal exceptions.
In Nigeria (as in the case of all african countries) however the criminal code makes suicide or any form of assisted suicide for any reason a crime (see sections 311; 326; 327; and 299). The purpose of these legislations being that if euthanasia is permitted, the sanctity of life would certainly be meaningless and the right to die would therefore be seen to be an off-shoot of the right to life. Also a physician’s involvement would be seen as hypocritical and contrary to their oath to save lives.
On a final note, I conclude by stating my opinion that euthanasia should be legalized albeit, solely on medical and humanitarian grounds alone. There are persons in various parts of the world, whose sufferings are beyond human comprehension, those who can no longer find strength in their unending moments of weakness, and all they can do is languish in anguish as the years of their lives pass them by, will it then be called “JUSTICE” if they are condemned to life against their wishes? If a citizen indeed has a right to live, should he not then have a right to choose not to live?76695012


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