Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Euthanasia: A Right to Die


Ten years ago, the Netherlands legalised active euthanasia, becoming the world’s first country to do so. However, debates continue to run deep on the moral and ethical aspects of helping people end their lives, even if they suffer from incurable illnesses. Euthanasia is normally divided into passive and active, the former meaning that a patient completely rejects treatment, which isn’t prohibited by law except in a handful of countries, with politicians, doctors, and human rights advocates unanimous in their view that any person’s free to decide whether or not to accept treatment or medication. As for active euthanasia, only the Netherlands, Belgium and two US states, Oregon and California, allow it.

In 2005, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe strongly condemned active euthanasia. However, rapid progress in health sciences and a shift in moral values may prompt it to review its stance in the future. More and more people are beginning to see euthanasia as a more humane way of relieving a person from unbearable sufferings rather than prolonging those sufferings by forcing such patients to live. If society accepts euthanasia, this means it would also have to change its view of medical ethics. All doctors begin their careers by taking the Hippocratic Oath, swearing that they will give no deadly medicine to anyone even if the patient asks for it, nor shall they suggest such to anyone through their counsel.

Aleksandr Saversky, President of the Russian Patients Rights Protection League, thinks that a commission of physicians and relatives must be set up in each individual case for an ultimate decision that must also have the approval of an executive, for example, a governor. He said, “Thereby, we’ll assert that we have done everything possible for the person experiencing terrible suffering and that we can’t do more. Only then, can we consider euthanasia as a last resort. If a patient can press the button himself, we should give it to him. If not, several people should press the button simultaneously so that none of them could blame the other. However, there must be no doctors among those people”. Dmitri Aivazian, a lawyer with the Patients Rights Protection League, echoed that there can’t be any uniform euthanasia rules, each such case is unique; we must approach each one individually.

1 April 2012

Anastasia Pershkina

Voice of Russia World Service



Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: