Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

The likewise with euthanasia it is up

The word euthanasia originates from the Greek term ‘Eu’ which means Happy and ‘thanatos’ which means death and together it means ‘Happy Death’, which came into use around the fifth century B.C. Euthanasia has been around and used throughout the history of medicine as it was common for doctors to end their patients life with lethal preparations and this fabricates problems with modern day medical practice.The action of performing euthanasia was forbidden in various places, in Mesopotamia the Assyrian physicians prohibited it. However, during ancient times in India if  patients who cannot be cured were drowned in the River Ganges. In addition, in ancient Israel some books wrote that doctors gave frankincense to incurable patients to end their lives. Euthanasia was practiced in Ancient Greece and Rome and was supported by the Socrates and Plato in the ancient world, although  Hippocrates who was a Greek physician spoke against the practice of euthanasia arguing “I will not prescribe a deadly drug to please someone, not give advice that may cause his death”. Hippocrates wrote the Hippocratic Oath which separated killing from medical practice and the oath  states ” I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion” . According to Josef Kure, DPhil who is the head of the department of Medical Ethics at Masaryk University,  he says that the Hippocratic Oath forbids the killing of any human being, like how it forbids any aid in suicide, therefore he argues that  “euthanasia as the killing of a patient by the physician is not in accordance with either the Hippocratic Oath or the spirit of the Hippocratic tradition.”However, in accordance to William E. Morgan he mentioned that “”Hippocrates did not make a moral statement about whether or not euthanasia or abortions were right or wrong”, as Hippocrates explained how abortion works therefore likewise with euthanasia it is up to the doctor to make the decision. In the 1870s, physicians began to use anesthetics to relieve the pains of death. Samuel Williams suggested using morphine and anesthetics to deliberately end an incurable patient’s life with a quick and painless death. During the late 1800s, William’s euthanasia proposal got serious attention in scientific meetings and medical journals, This led to the Journal of the American Medical Association who attacked Williams’ euthanasia proposals. Towards the end of the 19th century,  technological and scientific advances helped the medical community to prolong life expectancy and to overcome disease. Medical inventions like antibiotics and vaccines which made people less in favour of euthanasia.  However, euthanasia did not become issue until around the 20th century as two Germans who were Dr Karl Binding, who as a professor of law and also a doctor of philosophy, also Dr Alfred Hoche, a doctor of medicine and psychiatrist who published a book called “The Release of the Destruction of Life Devoid of Value”. They said it was absurd that a patient has to die from their pain therefore it is acceptable to lessen the act of dying and people also have the right to die with dignity. After the publication of the book in 1920 that advocated the killing of valueless people, there was a widespread of propaganda in the from of books and education of children in school about the economic benefits of euthanasia. It was aimed at the traditional 19th century views and attitudes towards the extremely ill and wanted the view that if a person would be better of judged dead then that person should be killed.  However,  Hitler released a decree in October 1939 which allowed physicians to perform the act of euthanasia for patients who were incurable to free them from their suffering.  This euthanasia program was actually used to exterminate the disabled and those who were mentally ill, hence it would be “cleansing” he so called “Aryan” race from the genetically defective and those were a financial burden to society.  The view for euthanasia centred on the book written by Alfred Hoche and Karl Biding who argued economic savings allowed and justified the killing of “useless lives”. During World War I, the financial status of Germany was deficient hence many supported their idea thus during the war, many asylum patients who were ranked low on the list rationing and medical supplies died from disease or starvation. Hitler argued that hospital beds and medicine would be more available for the war effort.  This “T4 program” (euthanasia program) undermined the value of life. Those who were incurable were transferred to six institutions in Germany and also in Austria where they were killed in gas chambers. Infants who were handicapped were killed by a lethal injection or by starvation thus about 200,000 handicapped people and infants  were murdered between 1940 and 1945 and  Hitler suspends the “T4 program” on august 18, 1941.  This event put a halt on the euthanasia movement which led to America being less fond of euthanasia. This was shown through the results of a poll where Americans in  the 1950s were asked if euthanasia was acceptable, only 36 percent said ‘yes’ which was 10 percent less than in the 1930s. By the mid 20th century, with technology growing it allowed more developments in the medical and scientific field and society praised the medical community for increasing the life expectancy and. However, some questioned the new prowess of the medical community and how they should be used as people thought that prolonged lives was not necessarily tolerable and enjoyable lives, therefore people argued in favour of euthanasia that it should be an option for the individual to choose if they want to live longer.  During the 1930s, euthanasia started to gain support in the US and in the UK. It wasn’t till the late 20th century and early 21st century that countries like the Netherlands, Austria and some states in the US declared euthanasia legal. Although, the World Medical Association from 82 countries condemned euthanasia and asked all medical workers who perform euthanasia to ultimately stop this practice. However, it wasn’t just medical advances that either increased or reduced the support of euthanasia it was also other events like the Great Depression in the US in 1930 which led to an increase in public support for euthanasia. The Depression led to financial problems and many began to talk about suicide and mercy killing. Public polls highlighted in 1937 highlighted that 45 percent of Americans had supported Harry Haiselden belief that euthanasia of infants who were born disabled or mentally handicapped was acceptable.


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