Euthanasia and Assisted Dying

By Sofia Rojas, 9th Grade

Euthanasia is the medical procedure of deliberately desisting a person’s life to relieve chronic suffering. Over the years, the assisted suicide and euthanasia rates have spiked. Normally, it’s a multifarious process that includes many factors like local laws, physical and mental health, and the belief system of the person and family imposed. 

Euthanasia is a controversial procedure, that’s why it’s illegal in more than 188 countries. In Belgium, where euthanasia is legal, 6 cases of assisted suicide can be seen daily. Since 2002, the use of euthanasia has risen in Belgium and the Netherlands–these statistics went from 1,882 in 2002 to 3,361 in 2019.  Moreover, 47% of the cases happening in Belgian occur without a terminal illness. In 1997, Colombia became the first Latin American country to legalize euthanasia. Since then, 157 procedures have occurred in the country. Until 2021, Colombia only permitted the procedure if life expectancy rounded to the period of six months or less; but recently, the constitution permits euthanasia to follow through if the patient is seen in intense psychological or physical suffering. Studies show that the family of cancer patients who died via assisted suicide had less traumatic grief symptoms and post-traumatic stress disorder than those who die from the disease. Euthanasia has had such an impact on society that from 2001 to 2005, physician-assisted suicide increased by more than 80%. In the reporting group of recommended drug takers, cases spiked to more than 99% in 2005. 

Dr. Jack Kevorkian was a doctor known for willfully ending terminally ill lives. In 1999, he was sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison to 25 years in a maximum facility. He was later released after his lawyer argued that he would never conduct assisted suicide again. He earned the nickname of “Dr. Death” because he developed self suicide machines called the “Mercitron” or the “Thanathron”. In the late 1980s, he gave up on an unsuccessful arts career and discovered a unique fascination for death that he had suppressed while being a med student. He was continuously quoted saying he wanted to develop euthanasia as a positive experience for the patients and family enduring it.  

Another person who was a huge advocate for the right to die was Ramon Sampedro. Ramon Sampedro, a Spanish activist,  became a quadriplegic at the age of 25. For the following 29 years of his life, he fought for the right to his suicide. He applied, to high and low courts, for a hearing into legalizing euthanasia. Later on, in 1988 Sampedro died because of potassium cyanide poisoning. Days later, his friend Ramona was charged with assisting suicide. After his death, he left an open letter to the judges, which led to a senate committee in 1999. 

Overall,  Euthanasia may be a good and bad experience for some. But, statistically, it has beneficial symptoms in the patients and families going through it. Having a peaceful death is a right, and choosing to commune to it while suffering is a human right.


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