Who could stand between life and death of another human being and decide, and not parcel him self in two. Netherlands decision to legitimize under close confinement euthanasia disunited the world’s public opinion. No other subject has ever touched so deeply, the core of moral, philosophical and biological existence of the human, as the “administration” of the death of a patient terminally ill and in miserable pain and suffering, with the only prospect of further decline and indignity ahead. Many arguments for and against euthanasia have been enunciated from time to time.
This issue though cannot be settled since two human rights are debating: The right to life and the right to death. What we should consider carefully is the fact that between those whom opinion and arguments which might dispose us to euthanasia, and those which might dispose us against, stands the suffering patient demanding our care and concern and easy answers are perhaps no more than trying to silence this demand by changing the subject. The American philosopher Richard Rorty, while not specifically discussing euthanasia, has said that for the liberal, the worst thing one can do is to cause or be complicit in the needless suffering of another.
The adherents of the legitimizing of euthanasia in Netherlands, where many of them are physicians, believe that this elevates the patient’s rights and also exposes a practice applied for many years. The averses remembered the laws of the fascist state of Germany, “your life isn’t safe in Netherlands” forewarned, resurrecting all the list of the arguments against euthanasia. It’s more than the Netherlands that indulge euthanasia, most of the countries which’s law discountenances and condemns euthanasia even if this action is considered merciful, even if the deceased was begging for it constantly, is there anyone that has never met in his close family, or friendly surrounding people that had to face such a dilemma and take decisions that made their heart leady.
In Greek law the subject “euthanasia” is extremely distinct and perspicuous. In the item 303 of the criminal law it is said that “Anyone who decided and executes homicide, after constant insistence and demand of the victim even if this action is considered merciful for him who was terminally ill, is punished with imprisonment”. Hence the extenuating circumstances are acknowledged and considered in the admeasurements of the punishment. In all the countries no matter the cultural habits, each and every family takes care of their patients.
Also the groups that are dispose in favor of the legalization of euthanasia, have not made their existence perceptible. As the lecturer of criminal law in the Aristotelian university of Thessalonica claims, “if something should change in the legislation is the distinction between two cases: In the one hand the cases of dereliction of help supply for longer sustenance, to the patient that faces death and does not want to extend his life “deadline”. On the other hand those that there is active intervention in the euthanasia. In the first cases the extenuating circumstances should be acknowledged.
The Netherlands is the first country that legalized euthanasia. The parliament validated with 104 votes for and 40 against, a statute that allows the medics to help their patients die. The Netherlands as pioneer supposed that death is a right of the terminally ill patients that suffer from physical or psychological affliction and legalized a practice that was implemented in their country since the 70’s under the connivance of equities.
The patient declares to the family medic that he wishes to die. The medic then has to discuss the case with others that are considered as euthanasia experts. In Netherlands there are many medics’ training programs in euthanasia. If the patients demand is not accepted by two medics then the patient cannot apply to anyone else. On the other hand if it is accepted then the medic has to notify a committee that consists of a judge, a medic and an expert in ethical issues. The committee examines a posteriori the case and if it does not fulfill the prerequisites then the medic is indicted to the criminal court.
But what happens if the personal medic of the patients is against euthanasia for either ethical or medical reasons? One out of ten medics in Netherlands does not agree with what we call “killing by compassion”. The delegate of the ministry of health says that then the patient has to apply to another medic. On the other hand as Ann Laven from the Dutch institution for the future health scenarios says, most of the patients that wish to die like that are terminally ill, thus it is impossible for them to apply to another medic.
One of the most pioneer plans of the legislation in Netherlands in the right of the healthy people to sign a document in which they declare that they wish to die if in the future it’s impossible for them to express their wish. (i.e. because they have gone into a coma etc.) Also the state allows euthanasia in children that are born with incurable diseases, of course with the acquiescence of their parents. The Netherlands though does not allow euthanasia in foreigners. A patient e.g. from Greece cannot apply to a Dutch medic so as to end his life.
The legislation for euthanasia becomes more and more permissive in several countries. In Belgium, Colombia and Switzerland the practice implemented under the connivance of equities. In Spain the maximum punishment for the medics that help a patient die is reduced from twenty to three years. The Oregon state in the United states allows the medics to supply to the patients the drugs for euthanasia.