Display Settings:

Format

Send to:

Choose Destination
We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
Curr Oncol. 2011 Apr;18(2):e38-45.

Legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide: the illusion of safeguards and controls.

Author information

  • Division of Palliative Care, University of Ottawa; Department of Palliative Medicine, Bruy√®re Continuing Care; and Palliative Care Service, The Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa, ON.

Abstract

Euthanasia or assisted suicide-and sometimes both-have been legalized in a small number of countries and states. In all jurisdictions, laws and safeguards were put in place to prevent abuse and misuse of these practices. Prevention measures have included, among others, explicit consent by the person requesting euthanasia, mandatory reporting of all cases, administration only by physicians (with the exception of Switzerland), and consultation by a second physician.The present paper provides evidence that these laws and safeguards are regularly ignored and transgressed in all the jurisdictions and that transgressions are not prosecuted. For example, about 900 people annually are administered lethal substances without having given explicit consent, and in one jurisdiction, almost 50% of cases of euthanasia are not reported. Increased tolerance of transgressions in societies with such laws represents a social "slippery slope," as do changes to the laws and criteria that followed legalization. Although the initial intent was to limit euthanasia and assisted suicide to a last-resort option for a very small number of terminally ill people, some jurisdictions now extend the practice to newborns, children, and people with dementia. A terminal illness is no longer a prerequisite. In the Netherlands, euthanasia for anyone over the age of 70 who is "tired of living" is now being considered. Legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide therefore places many people at risk, affects the values of society over time, and does not provide controls and safeguards.

KEYWORDS:

Euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide

PMID:
21505588
[PubMed]
PMCID:
PMC3070710
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Icon for Multimed Inc. Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk