Euthanasia

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Euthanasia

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By Kyrra McClintock
Study of Religion
Mrs Dunn
04/05/17
I certify that the work I have submitted is my own and has not been submitted for assessment
before. I have given references for all sources of information that are not my own, including the
words, ideas and images of others.
Gilroy Santa Maria Kyrra McClintock
The Table of Contents
1. Introduction pg. 2
1.1 Aim and Outline pg. 2
1.2 Rationale pg. 2
2. Methodology
2.1 pg. 2
2.2 pg. 3
2.3 pg. 3
2.4 pg. 3
3. Findings
Background pg. 4
Key Stakeholders pg. 5
Consequences for those affected pg. 6
Religious Perspectives pg. 6
Theorists pg. 7
4. Conclusion pg. 7
5. Bibliography pg. 8



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Introduction
1.1​ ​Aim​ ​and​ ​Outline
This report provides an understanding of the ethical issue, Euthanasia, by supplying evidence of
perspectives from two different religions, Catholicism and Anglican. Ethical frameworks are
integral in formulating responses with worldly issues like Euthanasia as they help make a
decision which allows adherents to form action in response to ethical issues. The information
that was researched was primarily from websites and books, the internet has provided many
primary sources like legislation and articles written by authoritative authors. All information
researched influenced the Findings and Conclusion sections of this report which has lead to the
following statement. In Australia, Euthanasia should be legalised as it is the best course of
action; therefore, the government will need to change its current policies to accommodate this
change.



1.2​ ​Rationale
The topic that was chosen for this report may not seem like a relevant issue for Australians
today; however, once researched it has become apparent that it is a topic of controversy which
should be more often discussed about as it involves many Australians. Through this report, the
aim is to demonstrate an understanding of the topic of Euthanasia by studying individual cases.
The controversy regarding Euthanasia is the religious views of the issue compared to a
non-religious view. The discussions involving Euthanasia have become more prominent in
recent times; therefore, creating conflict which needs to be investigated.
The conflict between the religious and non-religious views will cause changes not only to the
legislation but also people’s beliefs and religious views. Since the conflict has such an extensive
disparity, it is important that the views of the religion and each state’s legislation in Australia is
examined. Although the Australian government does not rate this issue high on its agenda, it is
important that this issue is recognised for the Australians involved. This issue is greatly relevant
as it relates to the social, political and cultural atmosphere of Australia.
Methodology
2.1​ The majority of my sources came from the internet or the Gilroy Santa Maria Study of
Religion department. This report is depicting an issue relevant today in relation to religion
instead of studying the historical contents. Due to the modernity of the issue of Euthanasia,
many textbooks didn’t have the valuable information like legislation that was required. The
relevance of the sources used was decided by the reliability and resourcefulness of the
information. Evidence that backed the hypothesis was used thoroughly in this report. All the
case studies pertaining to individuals corresponded with all sources collected.
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2.2​ Key research questions were devised to substantiate the hypothesis. These were
constructed after weeks of researching background knowledge and activities in class. The
research questions formed were:
1. What is the background information on Euthanasia?
2. Who are the key stakeholders involved?
3. What are the consequences for those involved?
4. What are the religious perspectives on Euthanasia?
5. Who and what are the theories and theorists involved?
Both the research questions and the hypothesis were constructed after weeks of looking into the
background information on Euthanasia and studying individual case studies to get a more real
perspective.
2.3​ ​The organisation of sources was done by being printed, highlighted, annotated and
filed accordingly. Sources that were irrelevant in the report were not included in this process
after they had been read through.
2.4​ The evaluation of the sources checked the sources reliability which was
accomplished by examining the sources’ authority, reliability, authenticity, background,
accuracy, currency, bias and relevance. This was completed by asking questions like, ‘Who or
what is responsible for the information, do they have qualifications, credentials, expertise?’, ‘Is
the information correct and verifiable?’, ‘Is the information up-to-date?’, ‘Is the purpose of the
source clear, including any particular viewpoint?’. When two ideas in different sources contradict
each other, the bias and credibility of the author was considered. In this report, many viable
primary sources were used like legislations and doctrines.
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Findings
Background
The literal meaning of Euthanasia is “good death” as the word derives from Greek origins. The
first recorded use of the word was from 14CE. Augustus Caesar’s death whilst was not
hastened by others was described as a “good death” as he died the way he wanted to die.
Therefore the term ‘Euthanasia’ was coined. There are four categories of Euthanasia; passive
and active voluntary and passive and active involuntary. Passive Voluntary Euthanasia can be
defined as the withdrawal of medical treatment by the patient’s request. Active Voluntary
Euthanasia involves medical intervention taking place with the patient’s consent. Passive
Involuntary Euthanasia is the opposite of Passive Voluntary Euthanasia as it is still the
withdrawal of medical treatment but without the patient’s consent. Active Involuntary Euthanasia
is when medical intervention take place without the knowledge of the patient. Philip Nitschke, an
advocate for Euthanasia has fought for legislation for many years. Nitschke is the founder of
‘Exit International’, an organisation set up to aid and support end-of-life choices. Exit’s mission
statement is “At Exit, we believe that it is a fundamental human right for every adult of sound
mind, to be able to plan for the end of their life in a way that is reliable, peaceful & at a time of
their choosing” (Exit International, 2011). Travelling to members who have reached out for help,
has caused Nitschke many problems. He has been detained before and was eventually given
the ultimatum to either never speak to the public about Euthanasia again or have his medical
licence revoked, he then decided to burn his licence of 25 years. Many of his Exit’s members
were in contact with Nitschke a couple of days before their suicide. On his website, to become a
member, you must pay a fee of $100 to be able to go to workshops, receive newsletters and
membership packs. Australia’s legislation does not specifically state that an organisation such
as ‘Exit International’ can not discuss Euthanasia with a client; however, legislation does not
permit any form of assisted suicide. According to Australia’s official legislation on Euthanasia in
an international context, a doctor is still liable for the death of a patient if:
● the doctor was motivated by compassion for the patient;
● the patient was terminally ill;
● the doctor’s behaviour merely hastened a death that was inevitable and/or imminent;
● the patient was competent at the time she/he asked the doctor for assistance, and the
request was both informed and voluntary.
Although a doctor can administer pain relief medication, which will in turn shorten the patient’s
life, they cannot do this as an intention to end the patient’s life. Situations like these create many
problems for doctors legally, as the deceased patients’ families can sue the doctors with false
allegations. Euthanasias legislation is a very grey area within medicine, there are multiple rules
within the legislation that are highly comparable. As cited in the Parliament of Australia’s
legislation on Euthanasia, “Applying this doctrine, the administration of a potentially fatal dose of
pain relieving drugs would be excused as necessary if that was the only way for the doctor to
relieve the patient’s pain, and thus the doctor’s only other option would be to leave the patient
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without adequate pain relief” (Parliament of Australia, 1997).
The Voluntary Euthanasia Society was established in England in 1936.
Key​ ​Stakeholders
Numerous key stakeholders are involved in the topic of Euthanasia; the family, the individual,
the doctors, religious groups, etc. Clive Deverall, the former CEO of the cancer council, is a
classic example of what happens to people who live in a country where Euthanasia is banned.
He was diagnosed with lymphoma, a type of terminal cancer, that he had to live with for over 20
years. He spoke about how he was envious of a Belgian paralympic who, when the time was
right, could fill out her Euthanasia papers. Deverall questioned why he couldn’t also have the
same options in Australia, his home country. “There is a world of difference between signing
Euthanasia papers, knowing you will be looked after in your final stage of life, and having to rely
on black-market drugs” (Laurie, Edwards, 2016). In South Australia, numerous Euthanasia bills
have been tabled in parliament and all 14 times they have been turned down. Similarly, in
Western Australia, Robin Chapple, the parliament member for the mining and pastoral region,
has also put forward several bills for Euthanasia as he is a reputable advocate. His Euthanasia
policy for 2017, “Dying with Dignity”, aims to have;
● people diagnosed with a terminal illness to be able to die with dignity
● adults to be able to choose their own care and treatment for a terminal illness
● hospitals and doctors to be able to support people in their choice of treatments without
compunction
In the Greens (WA) 2017 policy their measures include; “The Greens (WA) will initiate and
support legislation that will allow for voluntary Euthanasia or physician assisted dying in strictly
limited situations,” (The Greens (WA), 2017). Many shipments of black-market drugs, mainly
used for Euthanasia purposes, have been seized by the Australian Border patrol each year.
Dervall wants people to Euthanise themselves harmlessly, these black-market drugs are
untested and could potentially be unsafe to use. “Astonishingly, [Deverall] isn’t even able to
have black-market Nembutal tested to ensure it ends suffering and doesn’t exacerbate it.”
(Laurie, Edwards, 2016). Many people who also wonder if these drugs are safe, often try to test
the samples at universities, chemists, and the National Measurement Institute; however, all of
these institutions threaten to report the details to the Australian Border Patrol and point out the
$825,000 fine. According to the Australian Medical Association’s (AMA) position statement on
Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, a doctor’s main concern is their ethical duty to care for a
patient. A doctor must provide patients who are dying with quality end of life care like making
sure the patient is free of pain and ensuring their values are upheld. “All dying patients have the
right to receive relief from pain and suffering, even where this may shorten their life” (AMA,
2016). The AMA want to improve the policy on end of life care to include a consistent legislation
protecting doctors from being accused of murder, even in the instance of unsubstantiated
allegations by key stakeholders. Engaging in conversation about life ending situations is not
advised between doctors and patients. “The AMA recognised there are divergent views within
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the medical profession and the broader community in relation to Euthanasia and physician
assisted suicide” (AMA, 2016). However, the AMA advises that conversations about Euthanasia
should not be had. A change to Euthanasia legislation in the future, would imply the AMA can
not jeopardise a patient’s life or take away end of life care and palliative services under any
circumstances. A debate over voluntary Euthanasia was brought to light recently when Deverall
committed suicide on the 11 March 2017. The note he left behind for his family members read;
‘suicide is legal, euthanasia is not’. His wife affirmed that his death was not an accident by
stating, “It was a message. If the legislation [to allow voluntary Euthanasia] had been in place, I
don’t think he would have taken his life” (Moodie, 2017). The fight against Euthanasia being
legislated has affected many people in Australian society in the same way it affected Deverall
and his family.
Consequences​ ​for​ ​those​ ​affected
Terri Schiavo is an important case when it comes to the controversial issue of Euthanasia.
Although the case was based in America it had an effect worldwide. Schiavo collapsed in 1990
and in that short period of time the oxygen supply to her brain was cut off, this left her in a
vegetative state. Her family kept her alive in the hope that a cure would be found; however, in
2005 after Schiavo’s life support had been turned off, doctors came to the conclusion that her
brain damage could not have been fixed. This affected Robert Schindler, her father,
considerably, as Mary Schindler, her mother stated, soon after Robert’s death in 2009, “The
impact on my husband was, I think, greater than most … Bob was very upset because he
couldn’t help her” (Capretto, 2014). Looking from a Natural Law perspective Terri’s parents
would be the right side, as Natural Law believes in human purpose and any event, like the
removal of her feeding tube, would go against that principle; therefore, ending her life would be
immoral. This would be the main outlook from a Catholic view like Terri’s parents.
Religious​ ​Perspectives
Most Christian denominations are firmly against Euthanasia, as it is the act of ending a human’s
life. One of the 10 commandments is “Thou shalt not kill”, it is a commandment any Christian
denomination takes extremely seriously. The Catholic Church condemns any acts that go
against human life “such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, or wilful
suicide” (Pastoral Constitution Gaudium Et Spes, no. 27). In the declaration issued by The
Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated under II. Euthanasia, “For it is a
question of the violation of the divine law, an offense against the dignity of the human person, a
crime against life, and an attack on humanity” (Franjo, Hamer, 1980). The Anglican church has
a very similar ideology when it comes to the ethics surrounding human life. Assisting a person to
die is considered morally evil by the Anglican Church. The church encourages their members to
not vote for any Euthanasia bills. Like stated in the bible, “The lord gives, and the lord takes
away” (Job 1:21) meaning God gave humans life and he should be the one to take it away. Both
Anglican and Catholic religion strongly oppose any life ending situations.
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Theorists
By applying Utilitarianism to Terri Schiavo’s situation and keeping the greatest amount of people
happy, doctors would not be able to remove her feeding tube as that would lead to one death
compared to none. Both the parents and husband would be right if looking from a Virtue Ethics
perspective because they are both acting for the interests of Terri. Situational Ethics would
prove the husband is right, he wanted to end her suffering by letting her die, the parents
however, prolonged her suffering for 15 years. Love is the basis of proportionalism; therefore,
both parties would be right in this Ethical framework. Considering all the frameworks, depending
on which religion follows each framework, all these are morally right in some way. Joseph
Fletcher, the founder of Situational Ethics, believes that the entirety of the situation has to be
assessed before a decision is made. As cited in philosopher and theologian, Peter Vardy’s,
notes “Fletcher maintains that there is more to being human than just being alive and that the
key feature of humanity is rationality – this rationality may, in certain circumstances, be used to
make a free choice to die” (Vardy P.). Daniel Maguire, a theology professor, believes there
should be no killing of any innocent life. “Maguire rejects the idea of a kind of fatalistic theism
which forbids expanding the human dominion over dying because the time of death is organised
by God alone – this implies that human beings are God’s property” (Vardy P.).
Conclusion
In conclusion, the controversy of Euthanasia in Australia is a serious debate. Ethics play a large
part in any religion as it is one of their founding factors. Depending on the key stakeholders
involved, legislation to allow Euthanasia should become legal and be implemented throughout
Australia. Many members of society would be affected by this ruling; however, the patient’s
wishes would need to be the top priority in any situation for this law to work. Religions should
broaden their decisions when it comes to Ethical Frameworks. Situational Ethics is superlative
for any religion, as it assesses each circumstance and tries to do right within the situation. Each
religion would feel differently towards a Euthanasia bill being passed in parliament in Australia.
Some would try to fight it as it would go against their religious beliefs, but eventually society
could accept that this is a change for the better.
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Bibliography
Aph.gov.au. (2017). Euthanasia – the Australian Law in an International Context – Parliament of
Australia. [online] Available at:
http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Librar
y/pubs/rp/RP9697/97rp4 [Accessed 11 May 2017].
Bbc.co.uk. (2017). BBC – Ethics: Euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. [online] Available
at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/euthanasia/ [Accessed 8 May 2017].
Life.org.nz. (2017). A General History of Euthanasia | The Life Resources Charitable Trust.
[online] Available at:
http://www.life.org.nz/euthanasia/abouteuthanasia/history-euthanasia1/ [Accessed 8 May
2017]
ABC News. (2017). Euthanasia debate in spotlight after cancer pioneer’s death. [online]
Available at:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-22/cancer-pioneer-clive-deveralls-death-spotlight-oneuthanasia/8376890
[Accessed 16 May 2017].
Laurie, V. and Edwards, V. (2017). Knowing when it’s time to go. [online]
Theaustralian.com.au. Available at:
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/life/health-wellbeing/terminally-ill-people-frustrated-by-euth
anasia-debate/news-story/8d56c7fa88a841dbe4bcbfa569bc0612 [Accessed 16 May 2017].
Life.org.nz. (2017). Catholic church teaching on Euthanasia | The Life Resources
Charitable Trust. [online] Available at:
http://www.life.org.nz/euthanasia/euthanasiareligiouskeyissues/catholic-church-teaching/De
fault.htm [Accessed 19 May 2017].
Robin Chapple MLC. (2017). Portfolios – Dying with Dignity. [online] Available at:
http://www.robinchapple.com/dying-dignity [Accessed 23 May 2017].
Vatican.va. (2017). Declaration on Euthanasia – May 5, 1980. [online] Available at:
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_198
00505_euthanasia_en.html [Accessed 16 May 2017].
References
Ama.com.au. (2017). AMA Policy. [online] Available at:
https://ama.com.au/system/tdf/documents/AMA%20Position%20Statement%20on%20Euth
anasia%20and%20Physician%20Assisted%20Suicide%202016.pdf?file=1&type=node&id=
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45402 [Accessed 30 May 2017].
Davey, M. (2017). Philip Nitschke, the man who thinks we should all choose when to die.
[online] the Guardian. Available at:
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/apr/22/philip-nitschke-choose-when-to-di
e-euthanasia-advocate [Accessed 8 Jun. 2017].
Exitinternational.net. (2017). Exit International | About Us – Assisted Suicide, Voluntary
Euthanasia law, End of Life Matters. [online] Available at:
https://exitinternational.net/about-exit/history/ [Accessed 8 Jun. 2017].
HuffPost. (2017). Terri Schiavo’s Family: ‘It’s What No Family Should Ever Have To
Witness’. [online] Available at:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/03/terri-schiavo-family_n_4533067.html [Accessed
8 Jun. 2017].
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