Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Dying with dignity

Euthanasia meaning “good death”, also known as physician assisted death or assisted suicide is the deliberate decision made to end the life of a terminally ill patient, relieving them of their unbearable pain and suffering. Euthanasia is such a controversial topic of discussion, because much like abortion it has many ethical issues associated. They can be considered similar in some aspects, as their intentions are the same. Both involve the deliberate killing of an individual, but their reasons significantly differ.

When discussing euthanasia, the term patient autonomy is often referred to. Patient autonomy allows the patient to be able to make autonomous decisions about their medical care. Then patients who are suffering from terminal illness or excruciating pain should be able to have the right in choosing to end their life, however they do not. Instead, patients receive palliative care treatment, which is treatment ensuring that terminally ill patients will be looked after and the quality of their end stages in life are improved. A person, who is seeking physician assisted death, should be receiving the best kind of palliative care treatment that there is. However, if palliative care treatment received by the patient is not effective in helping them to relieve the unbearable pain their experiencing and their will to survive becomes no more, then there should be no reason as to why the patient shouldn’t be obliged to make the decision of ending their life. “Not all palliative care can relieve all my symptoms” – Leukaemia and breast cancer sufferer, Cath Ringwood.

However, Dr Christopher Middleton who is the chairman of the Tasmanian branch of the Australian Medical association believes that its a doctor’s duty and responsibility to preserve life, as most “doctors tend to see themselves as agents of hope and healing and comfort and certainly not agents of death”. But if patients are waiting on their death bed for their terminal illness to eventually kill them, it would make sense that doctors should listen to their patient’s last requests and take the liberty to relieve them from their suffering, and allow their patients to die the way they desire, and that is with dignity.

The concern with legalizing euthanasia is that patients can become vulnerable, but this issue can easily be overcome. In the end stages of their life, patients might not be thinking in their right state of mind, and because the option to request for euthanasia is available, patients are likely to opt for it. In order to eliminate patient vulnerability and for euthanasia to work  properly rules and regulations should be implemented. This is so that patients can’t simply resort to, or seek an easy alternative and make the decision of ending their life because they feel as though they are becoming a burden to their family. In states like Oregon where euthanasia is legal, patients must fit a set of criteria for them to be allowed euthanasia, Euthanasia is something that should be legalised, however, its something that shouldn’t be abused or taken advantage of. I’m confident in saying that in order for euthanasia to work effectively strict laws should be put in place to prevent anyone from requesting a physician assisted death.

Euthanasia, regardless of it being legal or illegal it is something that is happening around the world today. We should all be able to have a say in how we choose to die, and should be given the right to die with dignity.

“I’m asking him for a dignified death” – Leukaemia and breast cancer sufferer, Cath Ringwood


BBC, 2014. Regulation of euthansia. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 18th April 2016].

Care, P., 2016. What kind of care is available. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Apr. 2016].

Hall, A., 2012. Why is euthanasia illegal in Australia. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Apr. 2016].

Land, L., 2014. Top 10 reasons why euthanasia should be legal everywhere. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Apr. 2016].

Mcgee, A., 2015. Why Australia hesitates to legalise euthanasia. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Apr. 2016].

Nargus, E., 2012. The Ethics of Euthanasia. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Apr. 2016].

Quill, T. E., 2008. Physician Assisted Death. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Apr. 2016].

Sharon Fraser, J. W. W., 2000. Death – whose decision? Euthanasia and the terminally ill. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Apr. 2016].

Varelius, J., 2006. The Value of autonomy in medical ethics. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Apr. 2016].











2 comments on “Dying with dignity

  1. jamesmcginley15
    April 29, 2016

    Death is always a pretty touchy subject but in terms of being terminally ill and having no other alternatives i feel a patient should be able to die on their own terms. Something i found interesting in the link you posted about the constraints in Oregon is that after going through all these steps to get the lethal injection then refused to use it. Is this possibly because when it comes to having to do it yourself it is too difficult even though the euthanasia seems like an easier option at the time? My concern with these constraints is what if someone who fits these criteria and is in unbearable pain also has an existing mental condition that doctor deem to have affected their decision, are these people denied something they should have the right to access because of something else out of there control?


  2. Adam
    May 4, 2016

    Another interesting and important topic choice!

    Again I think you need to bring a little more science into the blog. At the moment it mostly seems made up of personal opinion rather than opinion backed up by science.

    A read through for grammar, clarity and spelling will help, and link out to pertinent information or evidence that supports your claims. E.g. What evidence is there for this statement? “In the end stages of their life, patients might not be thinking in their right state of mind, and because the option to request for euthanasia is available, patients are likely to opt for it”. Just an example, not necessarily saying that I want it for this sentence but it would be helpful.



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This entry was posted on April 21, 2016 by in Burwood - Thursday 2pm, Uncategorized.

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