Monday, 4 November 2013

Academics endorse euthanasia for people who are 'weary of life.'

This article is written by Xavier Symons and published on November 2 on Bioedge.

Several academics are arguing for euthanasia for those 'weary of life'. Recent articles in the Journal of Medical Ethics push for law reform to be consistent in our ethical reasoning.

The authors - including bioethicists Julian Savulescu and Jukka Varelius - suggest that euthanasia is ultimately justified by existential suffering - a despair in life - and not some kind of physical illness. As existential suffering can come in many forms, be it a 'diagnosable' illness or non-medical despair, it should be permitted for those who, though not ill, have lost hope and have no prospect of regaining meaning in their lives.

Varelius - who does not go as far as Savulescu in calling for new legislation - identifies existential suffering as the key factor in requests for euthanasia. He considers the example of a distressed car accident victim:

"[We need to ask] whether the suffering of this particular patient is severe enough to make his life not worth living and whether there is significant hope that he after all could recover to live at least a tolerable life. Addressing these questions involves considering existential issues relating to the value of the kind of life this patient can live and the question of what degree of hope ought to be deemed significant enough."
Elder Abuse

Varelius suggests that questions of the worth, meaning and value of life are the key considerations when deciding whether to grant euthanasia. He proposes that the presence of medical illness may not be as important a consideration as we once thought it was.

In his comment on a recent BioEdge article on euthanasia in prisons, Philip Nitschke used a similar notion to argue for the inmates right to die:

"If we accept existential suffering as a valid criteria, trying to distinguish the ‘unbearable suffering’ from illness and the ‘unbearable suffering’ of incarceration is meaningless - something the resourceful and compassionate Belgium laws acknowledge."

It is clear that these academics have little to no understanding of the societal scourge of elder abuse.

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  1. Mr Russell: as a senior citizen, I dislike being portrayed as a victim. Words like vulnerable, elderly, abused and combinations thereof portray me as someone who is able to be pushed around and humbly accepting of it. I am not that, and neither is anyone of my age group that I know. Where do you get this rubbish from?
    Yours faithfully, Elizabeth.

  2. Dear Elizabeth, I know plenty of people who are vulnerable to abuse - aged and not. `if you are not in that category or don't see your self that way, then good for you. `but it is irrational to think that everyone who is aged is as you are.