Problem The fear of death is powerful; however, the fear of not dying or of living a life full of pointless suffering is even more powerful. Because of this fear, there is a belief that one should be the master of their own fate. This belief then brings about the concept of euthanasia. Sanders and Chaloner define euthanasia as “a deliberate intervention or omission with the express intention of hastening or ending an individual’s life, to relieve intractable pain or suffering” (2007, p). Euthanasia is associated with the act of mercifully ending the life of a suffering patient. Those who are terminally ill should have the choice and the right to die with dignity. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross has identified that grief is handled in stages. The
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In 1999, Doctor Jack Kevorkian was convicted of second degree murder for assisting more than 130 patient deaths. His actions sparked an enormous debate about euthanasia and assisted suicide. In 1991, Dick Humphrey published “The Final Exit” which explains to the public how to commit suicide. He also founded the “Hemlock Society, a nonprofit group dedicated to ensuring end-of-life choices, including the right to suicide.” (Ersek, 2004, p. 49).
In 1994, the state of Oregon passed the Death with Dignity Act. This act legalized physician assisted suicide; however, it did not take effect until 1997. The state is required to monitor compliance and to publish a report yearly. In Oregon, less than 0.1% of deaths are assisted suicides. Dutch law granted physicians immunity from prosecution as long as they adhere to certain requirements. This law has been in effect since 1993. In 2001, the Netherlands legalized euthanasia (Ersek, 2004).
The controversy that surrounds euthanasia is usually around patients who have a terminal illness (McCormack, 1998). Patients who have a terminal illness or a life limiting illness should be encouraged to obtain information concerning end of life and their right to die. The more information one has about end of life, the better the decisions are in regards to their end of life. Healthcare workers have a responsibility to educate patients and their families in regards to end of life issues and the right to die. Giving patients and family