A Nursing Students' Blog

 What is Euthanasia?

  • Euthanasia is sometimes defined as “good death”. It is a “deliberate and intentional act which causes the death (often by the administration of a lethal injection) at the voluntary request of an individual who is incapable of causing his or her own death” (Schwarz, 1999).
  • There are two types of euthanasia: active and passive. Active euthanasia means that something is done to end a person’s life (like an overdose of morphine).  Passive euthanasia means withholding treatment and thus letting the natural disease process end life (like a DNR order).
  • One way of looking at this is that this fine line (or thick, depending on your way of thinking) means that it is permissible to let patients die, but not to kill them (Gorman, 1999).  Our blog will be focused on active euthanasia.

 Legalization and the Nurses Role:

  • April 2001: The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia
    • Nothing noted about the nurse’s role in the literature
  • September 2002: Belgium legalized euthanasia
    • Nurses have been deemed an integral part of the health care team and are involved with the euthanasia process.
  • Oregon and Washington in the United States have also legalized euthanasia
    • Nothing noted about the nurse’s role in the literature
  • In Canada Bill C-384 has been brought to parliament three times and each time it has been refused. Euthanasia is illegal in Canada.

Barriers to Legalization:

The barriers surrounding euthanasia are both barriers to the legalization of it and barriers to the discussion of euthanasia. The main barriers we would like to discuss are the government, religion, education, fear, and the media.

  • Bill C-384 has been brought to and rejected by parliament three times. This bill would allow individuals in Canada to “die with dignity.” The government is a large barrier to the discussion of euthanasia because they decide whether or not to pass bills. Canadians need to voice their opinions to and have discussions with their MLA’s about euthanasia so that when their MLA votes on bills like this, their opinions are being represented.
  • The second barrier to the discussion of euthanasia is religion. A person’s religion often dictates how they should feel about euthanasia. With more religious people being against euthanasia and less religious and atheists often being for euthanasia. (Verbakel & Jaspers, 2010).  This also appears to be the same for educated and non-educated people.  The more education a person has, the more they believe a person has a right to autonomy and therefore, believe a person should have the right to decide to end their life or not.
  • The third barrier to the discussion of euthanasia is fear or, more specifically, the slippery slope argument. This is the “…fear that euthanasia will be abused result[ing] in people from vulnerable groups and people living in countries with low responsive healthcare systems being more opposed to euthanasia” (Verbakel & Jaspers, 2010, p 109). Often times when a person starts to think about euthanasia in these terms, it can make them afraid of what may happen if euthanasia is legalized and they will be against it. This argument can also be seen as a fear mongering argument put forth by anti-euthanasia protestors because if euthanasia was legalized, it would be so tightly regulated that this probably wouldn’t happen.
  • The media is the final barrier to euthanasia talks. The media can influence the masses so easily and people need to be aware of the fact that what they are seeing on television is what the media wants them to see. Also, it is a lot more compelling to watch a news story about a person who wants euthanasia to be legalized than it is to watch one about a person who doesn’t want to legalize euthanasia (Somerville, 1997).

Video: Legalizing Euthanasia in Canada

Pros and Cons of Euthanization

Pros Cons
Provides a way to relieve pain Ethical dilemma among health care providers who have differing views.
Provides relief when a person’s quality of life is low Slippery Slope Argument: family members can collect inheritance, terminate responsibilities as a health care provider, kill off a family member they don’t like, or relieve financial burdens.
Relieve financial strain on the health care system and allows resources to be spent on other people Loss of respect for the value of human life
It is freedom of choice  Religious view that God can only choose when to end life

Ethical Considerations:

Criminal Code of Canada:

  • Section 14 states “no person is entitled to consent to have death inflicted on him, and such consent does not affect the criminal responsibility of any person by whom death may be inflicted on the person by whom consent is given”
  • Section 241 states a physician or any other person cannot counsel “…a person to commit suicide or [aid] or [abet] a person to commit suicide, whether suicide ensues or not, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years”

Canadian Nurses Association Code of Ethics for Registered Nurses (2008):

  • “Serves as a foundation for nurses’ ethical practice” (CNA, 2008, p. 1)
  • Ethics defined as “the moral practice, beliefs, and standards of individuals and/or groups” (CNA, 2008, p.24).
  • Conscientious objection is “a situation in which a nurse requests permission from his or her employer to refrain from providing care because a practice or procedure conflicts with the nurse’s moral or religious beliefs” (CNA, 2008). 
  • This means if the nurse can still provide “safe, compassionate, competent, and ethical care until alternative care arrangements are in place to meet the person’s needs or desires” then he is responsible to do so until that time (CNA, 2008, p. 44). 


In countries where euthanasia is currently legal, such as Belgium, palliative care nurses have an increased scope of practice and responsibilities in working with these patients and their families. These nurses have a very important role, which is not simply limited to assisting the doctor while they’re administering life-terminating drugs. The nurse’s involvement begins when the patient requests to be euthanized and ends by supporting the patient’s relatives and loved ones, as well as the health care team after a potential life-terminating procedure. It is important for them to have an open mind, use palliative techniques, such as pain management, and to understand the context of the patient’s decision making process. During the act of euthanasia, the nurse needs to assist the patient, their family and the physician by being present, even if they don’t agree with the patient’s decision. Because nurses have a unique relationship with the patient and their loved ones, they are in a key position to provide these patients with valuable care. If euthanasia were to be legalized in Canada, our nursing education, especially in the areas of counseling and end of life care, would have to be expanded to include specific training on how to support and assist patients and their families in this difficult decision making process.

Alternatives to Euthanasia:

Since euthanasia is currently illegal in Canada, there are many alternatives that are currently being employed, such as:

  • Appropriate medical care including: the withdrawal of treatment upon patient request, or if there is no more therapeutic benefit and dispensing drugs as necessary to control pain
  • Additional care and comfort measures upon patient request in their dying days
  • Advance decisions such as DNR and the specific requests associated with it, such as no CPR and no intubation, but full medical management
  • Palliative sedation: giving a person medication to make them unconscious and unaware of pain
  • Withdrawing life-sustaining treatments such as feeding tubes, dialysis and ventilators


  • According to a survey conducted in 2010 by the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Canadians are moving away from supporting legal assisted suicide and euthanasia. They found that not only have MP’s shifted their vote away from supporting euthanasia, the public has as well.
  • Bill C-384, which would support legalizing euthanasia, was defeated by MP’s by 228 to 59.
  • Only 22% of the general public strongly supported legalizing euthanasia.
  • The province with the highest support for euthanasia was Quebec.
  • The provinces with the lowest support were Alberta and Saskatchewan.
  • 71% of the public that were surveyed stated that the government should place a higher priority on improving palliative care instead of legalizing euthanasia.
  • Many Canadians worry that if euthanasia were legal, many people would be coerced into getting euthanized without true consent.

Our Opinions:

Group Member 1: I believe that when a person is so compromised that they have no quality of life, they have the right to make the decision of whether to live in that condition the rest of their life or to die.  If Canada could somehow make enough legal parameters so that people don’t get unjustly coerced into it, then our legal system should make euthanasia an option.

Group Member 2: I believe that the value of human life is important and should be valued. No person has the right to choose when the life of an individual should end, but I do believe the individual has the right to refuse medical treatment and let the disease take its natural course. Euthanasia should not be legalized.

Group Member 3: In a perfect world there would be no need for euthanasia because no one would be in so much pain that they see it as their only valid option, but, ours is not a perfect world. To me the debate about euthanasia comes down to autonomy and that people deserve the right to choose to end their life. That is why I believe that euthanasia or at the very least “death with dignity” should be implemented.

Group Member 4:  I believe that human life should be valued. I am against active euthanasia but the issue is not resolved for me. I believe that good palliative care needs to be initiated more often and nurses need to make sure that patients and their familes understand it and their options. This might eliminate the need or desire for active euthanasia for some patients.

Questions to Ponder?  What do you think?

1. Do you think the slippery slope argument is valid or is it a scare tactic or somewhere in between?

2. Do you think there will ever be a ‘solution’ to the euthanasia debate? If so, what would it entail?

3. Do people have the right to decide to end their own life?

4. What influences your decision about euthanasia?




Comments on: "Euthanasia: The Nurses Role" (53)

  1. Kaylee Lowther said:

    This debate is really something I believe can NEVER be solved. Much like the debate on abortion, there are such opposing views to this issue, that I really believe there is no end in site.

    However, I also believe that in regards to euthanasia, the government has made a stand on the issue of assisted death. Places like the US where you cannot have euthanasia but allow the death penalty for criminals really are setting a double standard – here in Canada, no one is allowed to choose an assisted suicide and there is also no death penalty.

    I think that this standard across the board gives the Canadian government more of a consistent opinion on the legalization of assisted death. Even if you are someone who agrees with active euthanasia you cannot argue that the canadian government is showing consistent support on one side of the issue.

    For my own opinion on euthanasia, and the idea of the slippery slope, I really am constantly going back and forth. Although suicide in Canada in general is illegal, people really still have the option to take their own lives if they want to, because they are healthy and fully capable of doing so. I am really a strong supporter of people being allowed to be autonomous and responsible for their own decisions in their own lives. Why is it someone else’s right to decide what is best for you? To me, the religious debate isn’t really an issue – someone taking their own life doesn’t affect you and YOUR standing with your God or higher power.

    The slippery slope, I believe is an issue, and I’m not sure how legislation would ensure that this isn’t happening. There will always be coercion, and people wanting to do things for their own personal gain, its just the way of the world. I do believe that the majority of people will really look out for their loved ones best interest, and in those cases it is worth taking a pro-euthanasia stand.

    When it comes to euthanasia, and if it is legalized, then I really think it should be up to the person of sound mind to sign their own form, sort of like a DNR before the need for euthanasia occurs. Doing this still can’t fully prevent coercion and scare tactics, but it would certainly shut some of it down.

    In conclusion, I think that in the right circumstances, to preserve dignity and to take away pain in diseases such as lou-gerhigs, or MS, it really is a viable option for those that prefer it. However, I’m not really sure this debate will ever be solved. I know personally, I wouldn’t want to die a painful death, but I would also want to be fully aware and functioning at the time of my death so it is not as painful for my loved ones, and I would actually be able to say goodbye to them. That is my only opposition to palliative care as an alternative.

  2. Michelle said:

    I think that we have the right to choose what we want to do with our life and how we live our life so I believe we should be able to decide how to end our life if we want to take that road. I know that yes there would be so many legal considerations and would certainly cause legal problems with people claiming euthanasia when it may be murder. There would have to be very strict guidelines to follow. If euthanization were legal it is not like nurses or doctors would be obligated to participate. The ones participating would be doing it willingly so that sort of makes it a personal decision (to each nurse or doctor) if it were legalized. If a person is in pain or whatever the reason may be, a person has the right to take their own life and that will never change, I mean you cant really charge someone whose dead. The issue is just whether or not they can be assisted in that process. I don’t this issue will ever fully be resolved. Which ever way it goes, not everyone will ever fully agree with the decision. When it comes to your last question as to what influences people on the decision on euthanasia, I think something that could weigh on people views is religion. Religion can really have an influence on how people view life and death. I am not going into a discussion on religion and all the aspects of religion that can influence this opinion, I’m just saying i think it can really have a personal influence on people views. (I know religion can be a heated topic for some people so I am not trying to start a debate, I am simply voicing my opinion on the questions asked)

  3. Euthanasia is truly one topic (with which I agree with Kaylee) will never really be solved. There is so much red tape, legal, ethical, political, social and economic issues that I wouldn’t even know where to start discussing my own opinion. I believe that you should have the right to voice what you want done with your life…but it leads me to wonder about your listed alternatives of euthanasia…

    If euthanasia (passive and active) are both illegal…then how is withholding life sustaining treatment like tubefeeding NOT illegal…because technically your still stopping treatment and allowing the disease to progress until death. That is giving the patient the option of chosing the DNR, but then we learnt that as soon as they are ‘not sound of mind’ the family can decide what to do…so they basically get to chose passive euthanasia or aggressive treatment…i just can’t get my mind around where the difference between passive euthanasia and ‘non-euthanasia treatment’ to end life…..

    I do believe we have to have our autonomous rights, but you there are always going to be boundaries. Spiritually I don’t believe in ending my life, but again I feel I should be the one to chose, not a stranger who doesn’t know me….

    BUT to conclude my long rambling rant on this subject….the criminal code or laws are set to help everyone. There are things in our life we just don’t have the ability to say no in…like paying taxes…. i believe this issue is something we really will just not have the ability to say yes to…

    like taxes we will always have issues, BUT its something that people can’t really fight and win at…

    • Passive euthanasia is legal in Canada. I believe that passive euthanasia is legal at least in the Western world. In Canadian hospitals every day people die after being taken off of tube feeds, having their IVs d/c, DNRs, etc. I do not believe that there is non-euthanasia treatment to end life (in the sense we are talking about of course).

  4. p.s. is passive euthanasia legal…….because this stated euthanasia is illegal no matter if its active or passive…this might clear up my confusion…a bit anyways

    • Kaylee Lowther said:

      I think they stated that this entry is about active euthanasia.. passive is LEGAL. Withholding feeds and DNR’s are passive.. and legal…

  5. Sharaya Zacharias said:

    Robin: To clarify… Passive euthanasia would be when the individual chooses a DNR or to refuse treatment. It is not legal and very much used in Canada. When we say it is illegal we are referring to active euthanasia, as was stated in the first paragraph, euthanasia for the blog refers to active euthanasia.
    Kaylee: I very much appreciate the comment you made in regards to the double standard being set in the US about the death penalty and euthanasia being illegal. This definitely needs to be addressed. I had not thought about that before so thanks for bring it up.

    • you just said passive is not legal.. aka illegal? just clarifying.. I thought it WAS legal?

      • I think Sharaya meant that passive euthanasia is legal, at least in the Western world.

  6. I’m so happy your group decided to blog on this topic, I think this is a very interesting topic. For myself, I’m all for euthanasia. I feel that we have the right to choose what we want with our bodies and life. As michelle said, there would have to be very strict guidelines to follow.
    I have seen too many people that I care about suffer badly tell their death. I wish that euthansia could have been an option for them at one time (not saying they would have chose it if they had the option).
    I don’t agree with the “alternatives to euthanasia”. I dont feel they help with quality of life. Sure you may be decreasing someones pain by doing palliative sedation, but to me, I just dont see the point. Why prolong someones life, especially if they’re going to be laying there unconscious. I know some will disagree with me saying that and maybe think I sound selfish, but I rather have said my goodbye’s to someone while they’re still coherent. My mother-in-law is dying with cancer and it is progressing fast. She has even told me that she wishes that euthanasia would be an option. She knows she’s going to die from it soon and she knows it’s not going to be an easy pain free death. She said she doesn’t want to suffer, nor does she want to lay in a bed unconcious tell the day she dies, she feels that that is no life at all (I didnt mean to personalize it but I really wanted to try and get my point across as to why I’m for euthanasia).
    I think this will always be a sensitive and controversial topic, but we should have the freedom of choice as to what we want to do with our bodies. I also with the others have said that this is a topic that may never be solved.

    • Thank you for your personalized comments our group really appreciates it. I would like to say that I agree with everything you have said 100%.

  7. I feel that the abuse of euthanasia or the slippery slope argument would not be an issue if it were regulated properly, but how to do this is a whole different topic in itself. I think the other barriers brought up like the government rejecting the idea of it, the religious, and the media and public opinions on euthanasia are the biggest problems. Maybe that’s putting too much faith in the policy makers, but this is my opinion!
    This leads to the next question about the solution to the debate. I totally agree with the above comments about the issue never being solved. I still haven’t solved the issue for myself because I go back and forth from supporting it to not being sure about it. I feel everyone has the right to be autonomous and I do agree with the points that no one should suffer in pain until it is their time. I do feel that it is a better option for some people to stop suffering. As a future RN, if I were in a situation that asked me to assist in active euthanasia, I feel I may be able to participate in the process and would be able to support the family members afterwards. However, personally I don’t know I could actively end my own life until it is actually my own time. This stems from my religious beliefs, but is a good example of one of the reasons why this issue will never be solved in general. There will always be those people who do not agree anyone should have the option of active euthanasia.

  8. Euthanasia is definatley a hard topic to discuss because of all the ethical issues and people beliefs. When I first read this the first thing that came to my mind was that euthanasia is bad in the sense that life should be valued and I agree that who are we to say when a life should end. But I also think people have should have the choice to decline care. But when I read some of the comments I really liked what Robin said and it put it in another persepective for me that stopping treatment still allows the disease to progress possibly to death. I guess for me I see someone who refuses treatment to be their choice and taht is different than euthanasia.
    I don’t think there will ever be a final desicion made on the topic because I don’t see how people would agree on one way or the other. Everyone has their own views and opinions and who is stay that someone’s opinion is better than another. In general I feel that life is a gift and ordinarily no I don’t believe people should decide to end their life. THis gets a little gray when palliative situations come in and pain and suffering. After all that my conclusion is that I don’t beleive Euthanasia should be legalised.

  9. I totally agree with active Euthanasia especailly if its someones wishes to grant such an act. It could just be my farm background but when something is in extreme pain or suffering you do not want to prolong its death. Death is a part of life whether we want to accept it or not. There is one constant in life we humans know and that is death is for a sure thing.

  10. This is a tough topic. I agree in that it is an issue that will never be resolved due to the implications surrounding it. I think that each person has a right to choose how they want to die and can make that very clear with their family members by an advanced care directive or deciding to be a DNR in hospital or not. I personally would never want to be in pain or prolong an inevitable death and would want to be comfortable so I guess I am for euthanasia. I think what influences my opinion in this matter is that I have seen patients suffer because their family members want everything done to keep them alive and I personally do not agree with this and find it tough as a nurse in dealing with these types of situations. I do think palliative options are good and so is the CTC option but when it comes down to it I think people have to right to direct their own life and should be able to choose, when of sound mind, to end their life in a controlled, peacful manner.

  11. The topic of euthanasia, is very similar to abortion. Many people have very strong positions on the topics, but have never had to deal with either situation.
    There are strong moral, legal, political and social ramifications associated with euthanasia. Each situation is different. In Canada euthanasia is not allowed, but sometimes I feel that life support may go on longer than is necessary, especially in obvious terminal situations.
    It is likely better to proceed with caution on the topic of euthanasia and to move slowly forward. For now it is against the law, and we should abide by the law.

    • I totally agree with the last comment on it being against the law – Canada clearly has stated that it is against “assisted death” in any form of it. However – I think the debate is not if we should go against the law- but if this law should be overturned, and whether or not it should be legalized. None of us are saying go out and do it, just that we think, or don’t think it should be legalized.

  12. Everyone keeps talking about how this topic can “never be resolved.” While I agree that we will never be in 100% agreement, that is not always necessary for an issue to “be resolved.” Laws and bills get passed all of the time that not everyone agrees with. Like you stated in your blog, the Netherlands and Belgium have legalized euthanasia, yet I venture to guess the whole country is not in support of this. It might seem like it is far away from being legalized in Canada, but if the bill has been put forward to the House 3 times, you never what the future could hold.
    This is why I believe it is imperitive for us as individuals, and as nurses, to make sure we know where WE stand on this topic. Some of us could be working in these countries in our future practice! Putting forward blogs is a great way to start. Good job! I think sometimes though it can seem a bit tedious to debate a topic that has been discussed so heavily and that there will always be two sides to (what I am assuming the other respondants meant by “not resolvable”).
    Although I support active euthanasia, I won’t delve too deep into my own opinion as most of it has already been spoken and there is only so much to say. I just have so much trouble understanding how our country views it as humane and an individuals right to refuse food/treatments if they want to quicken the dying process, yet we can’t spare them the unimaginable pain associated with this by giving them the right to end their life if they are in the final stages of terminal illness?

    • I think you’re exactly right when you say that we need to know where we stand on this topic. One thing I’ve definitely learned about euthanasia since doing the research for this blog and our paper is that it is not near as black and white as I originally thought it is. That is to say if you’re opinions of euthanasia can fit on a bumper sticker you definitely have not thought about the topic enough.

      I also think that the general public needs to realize that even if euthanasia is legalized it would just be another option. Not everyone would have to do it.

      • I agree, I think people completely forget that if it was legal it’s not like we would be “killing” people off. It would have to be very tightly regulated.
        After my initial post I took some time to think about how I feel about euthanasia as a nurse, not a person. I support tightly regulated active euthanasia, I believe in the right to your own body, but I don’t think it’s something I could actively participate in as a nurse. Like you said, it’s definitely not black and white.

  13. Holy Cow, lots of discussion in one day!

    Just something else to ponder… do you think that the resources spent on keeping someone alive who clearly has a terminal condition and no will to live are worth it? Would the amount of care required for that person be seen as a waste of time and money? If I were a nurse, I would most definitely want what I was doing to make a difference. I would rather concentrate my time caring for patients that have a will to live (life threatening disease or not), rather than for someone who does not.The healthcare system is stressed enough as it is with budget and staffing issues! Why not free up a few beds for people who want and need them?

    • I’m glad you brought up the stress of health care finances. I was hoping someone would. What do other people think about this?

  14. The topic of euthanasia is a very difficult one to decide one way or the other. I agree with Terry’s comments that there are strong moral, legal, political and social ramifications, and that it is wise to proceed with caution and abide by the Canadian laws that are in place.

  15. I think that the the topic of euthanasia will never be resolved. There are too many different views in the world. Everyone has a different opinion, and with that always comes controversy. It is solely based on ones moral/ethical beliefs whether they are for or against it.

  16. Wow! Great comments everyone and thanks for putting yourselves out there! I also agree with the comment that we need to thoroughly know where we stand on the topic as nurses. There is a huge possibility that euthanasia will be legalized in Canada, we may think it will never happen, but that’s what people thought when abortion was still illegal, and guess what? It’s now been legal for years and nurses have to make the choice of whether they will conscientiously object to being involved with patients who chose abortion or not. If euthanasia were to be legalized, there will for sure be people that are not happy about it, but that’s the fact with almost every political decision out there. As nurses, we have rights to our own views, so we need to make sure we know where we stand before we find ourselves working in an area where we’ll have to decide one way or the other.

  17. Sharaya Zacharias said:

    Thanks for all the great comments! One of the general themes I have seen through all the comments is that this issue will never be resolved, because it is such a controversial topic and people have differing views. I did like what Sheri said about how we need to be aware of our views on euthanasia as we may be heading to a country to nurse where it is legal. We should also be aware of our own position as we never know if it will be legalized here and making a stand on the topic should not be a decision taken lightly. It requires contemplation and personal thought. As Melayna said if you can post your view on a bumper sticker you have not thought about it a enough.

    • I find it hard to see how there would be a difference between how a nurse would feel about euthanasia as a person or as a nurse? I think a person would have to be more aware of the laws surrounding euthanasia in countries where it is legal. For example, if a nurse was against euthanasia they’d still have to care for the client until another nurse can take over under conscientious objection.

  18. I am against active euthanasia largely based on my experiences and spiritual beliefs. I believe that life is precious and a gift and is to be valued. I also believe that God is the giver and taker of life. Another thought, I believe in miracles and have seen and heard of many. I know a man who was on his death bed, on life support with people telling his wife to pull the plug. She did not feel that was her place and he is now alive and well. I also know a man who was ill with cancer, dying, family had been called in and yet he went in to remission and had another couple wonderful months with his family. Imagine if those people and many others like them, in their pain and suffering, made the decision to take their own life? What they would have missed out on! I don’t know that one can be in their ‘right mind’ after a terminal diagnosis, or when in pain or those types of things and that the decision to die ever can be made rationally. I sure hope that euthanasia is never legalized.

    • I agree with you Carrie but my struggle is in between passive and active euthanasia. I feel that we can’t get away from passive euthanasia in some sense no matter where we are working as nurses or in our personal relationships. There is always going to be a point where someone has to say no that is enough treatment, it’s not working so let’s stop, or an elderly person with a choice between a DNR or 6 broken ribs that punctured his or her lung. I will find it very hard to deal with these passive euthanasia treatment options for my patients when I am the RN. People need to think about where they stand on the issue and become educated about it so they can educate their patients and their families.

  19. I think your view would be the same as a person and as a nurse because you can’t change your values and beliefs when you step onto the ward. I’m guessing the majority of the population would have a huge difficulty with ditching their values when they came to work, and if they did, they would probably leave work with an uneasy feeling.

  20. I have another comment. I am wondering if anyone has thought that a patient may feel pressured into choosing euthanasia. The patient may feel hopeless and depressed and may feel like a burden on his/her family and the health care system. There would have to be a process in place to make sure that it what the patient truly wants. There would have to be steps along the way to enable the patient to change his/her mind.

    • I agree with you. I think that definitely could happen and can imagine circumstances that may lead to this. I imagine myself working in long-term care soon after I graduate and so I probably will be faced with discussion of the topic of euthanasia and the different types of passive euthanasia we already have here in Canada. I can imagine a person feeling very depressed one day and then another day they are happier but are incapacitated to physically tell someone that they have changed their mind.

  21. I look at this topic in the same line as Carrie. I believe God to be the giver and taker of life and believe in miracles too. I also know some people who were almost dead and were prayed for and lived, some for a short time and some for years. I would like to say though that it was good that you brought up this topic. It made me think that one day i may as a future nurse find myself in a situation where i would be expected to take part in it.I hope if it ever happened i would have an option to say no.

    • Don’t worry you would have the option to say no its called conscientious objection. You would be expected to care for the patient until another nurse could take over for you.

  22. Brittney said:

    I agree with Kaylee and Robin that this topic will never truly be solved. Life and death are topics that most people have very strong opinions on and coming to an agreement seems unrealistic.

    I personally feel there is many certain situations and factors that could possibly make euthanasia an option for some people. I think that its really hard to judge case to case when it is appropriate and when it is not…this is where the option may become abused. I think that euthanasia is all about having personal choice so having specific standards of who can or cannot opt for it would defeat the purpose.

    I just think, if I was laying on my death bed, exhausted, in pain and truly ready to go I might want euthanasia available. However, this plays into a lot of other comments that stated better palliative care might just fix the problem.

  23. Terry: Yes being a burden on the family or wanting financial gain from the loved one being gone is an issue. We have that listed in the cons list above as the slippery slope phenomenon. For me I would not want euthanasia legalized for this reason. I believe that it has the potential of being taken too far.

  24. The feel that I get from the comments thus far is that there has been a lot of discussion about an individual ending their own life or ending the life of a middle aged or older person who has lived a full life and is now in the end stages of a disease or in incredible pain. How do people feel about ending the life of a child who is in unimaginable pain?

  25. I think that euthanasia is something that is needed in our society. Senior citizens today have very long, prolonged lives full of years of aging and reduced mobility. What quality of life is that even? Must we keep people on this earth for years beyond what is natural?

  26. Hahahaha Jessica that is so funny. I am assuming you are making a joke??? you are right?? Many senior citizens do have prolonged years of aging and reduced mobility, but they can also be fulfilling and happy years. As I get nearer and nearer to the senior category hearing a comment like this scares me! I want to enjoy my senior years with travel, reading, friends and freedom from the responsibilities that I had as a parent, teacher, housekeeper, gardener etc etc.
    I don’t know what the answer is, but I hope no one pulls the plug on me too soon. Yikes!! What is a natural number of years to be on this earth??

  27. I agree with you Terry that people are living to older and older ages with argueably a higher quality of life then most working citizens! Many of them have their pension looking after them and are relaxing and enjoying their hobbies that they wished they had time for when they were younger. I’ve heard of 100 year olds that are still running marathons! (I hope that’s me someday!) I don’t think people should even be remotely considering euthanasia just because they have a large number of years behind them. I think that it’s all about quality of life and health and ultimately the patient’s decision, which is where the line gets fuzzy, such as the slippery slope phenomenon that some of you mentioned earlier.

    • I think that first and foremost it should be up to the individuals choice with how they choose to end their life. Everyone seems to be afraid to talk about death and dont discuss issues surrounding “what if’s” until it is too late and themselves or their loved ones are faced with death. A person should be able to die with dignity…to me this means they should be as comfortable as possible. I have seen many clients suffer when they are dying and in those moments I wish for them that active euthanasia was legal. I definitley would be able to assist with this process. With that being said, if there was better palliation for some of these clients I would not have to think about wishing for active euthanasia. There are many great palliative care teams consisting of doctors and nurses who know what is needed in terms of medications to ease pain suffering during end-of-life care. Many general practioners may not know what medications are appropriate at this time and are afraid to prescribe such drugs as morphine at the end-of-life, fearing respiratory depression and speeding up the death process, when in fact it is one drug that is very useful not only in providing pain relief but in treating dyspnea and shortness of breath. There is a huge difference between a therapeutic dose and toxic dose. It is this mentality or fear that interferes with providing a quality level of comfort during end-of-life care. Better education would defintely be a start. As for the slippery slope argument, like Kaylee said there will always be those families that may do things for their own personal gain, but there are also the families who want everything done to keep their dying family member alive because they are afraid to say goodbye and are not ready to deal with such a loss. We all love and treat our pets like family but do not do everything possible to keep them alive as long as possible do we? We respect their right to dignity in death as so we should with the human race. I dont believe however that someone should actively seek euthanasia just because they are diagnosed with a terminal or disabling illness and are afraid of the inevitable pain and/or suffering associated with it. It is easy to be an outsider looking in and trying to have an opinion, but we also must remember how it would feel to be the insider looking out..you can try and imagine what it would be like but one will never know unless you actually truly experience it.

  28. This is a HUGE issue in nursing and although I am posting a bit late I am very interested in this topic. I wrote my issues paper on euthanasia and I am 100% FOR the legalization of active euthanasia. I believe if passive euthanasia is accepted for only certain categories of patients, than it is not fair or just to say no to others who may also be unbearably suffering. Who am I to justify that another person should live through their suffering although they may not be considered palliative or terminal. It should be up the individual to be able to say that they have suffered enough. Although as it is my opinion it should be legalized, I am not sure it will ever happen! It is extremely too controversial and we see other areas where it is also questionable to change laws. For example abortion and medical marijuana use are other issues we will never all see from the same view point. Also, there are too many risks associated with changing the laws of euthanasia and being able to regulate that it is used ethically. Something that some of you may wish to ponder is what will happen with the laws when the population of elderly patients becomes too overwhelming for the health care system and government to manage. The rate of chronic illnesses especially Alzheimer’s disease is on the rise in our older population and it’s not slowing down. I strongly believe that the moral dilemma preventing legalization will eventually be voted out.

  29. After reading this information I believe passive euthanasia should be an option for patients but active euthanasia should not be legalized because it may be abused. The part that concerns me the most is how informed a decision about euthanasia will be. If a person is suffering to the point they are considering euthanasia he/she may not be making an informed decision because he/she is preoccupied with the suffering. Also one must consider the capacity for someone who is suffering from dementia or mental illness and in that case who will be the proxy decision maker and what are the motives of that person. I think the public should be proactive and consider options such as DNR and other similar wishes rather than having the option of euthanasia but for this need to be educated about what is available.

  30. After reading this information I believe active euthanasia should not be legalized because it may be abused but passive euthanasia should be an option. I would question patient’s ability to make an informed decision when he/she is suffering to an extent that he/she is considering euthanasia. Also with cases of dementia and other cognitive alterations how much power should the proxy decision maker be given and how can we as nurses extrapolate his/her motive for euthanasia. I think the public needs to more aware of proactive options such as a DNR (& other such wishes) to consider those rather than being able to fall back on active euthanasia.

  31. My thought on Euthanasia is that as nurses, we are responsible for relieving pain and suffering. Part of me wonders then if Euthanasia is techinically an extension of the nurses’ role. I really believe that any unecessary pain or suffering so close to death should be managed in any way possible. If someone close to death suffering from a great deal of pain thinks that euthanasia is the option for them, then I think that our laws should be changed so it is a viable option. People have the right to know all the options, and be able to make choices on their own. I have a hard time seeing how someone who is a huge amount of pain, or anyone close to death for that matter, could possible abuse euthanasia. As a health care provider, who is supposed to provide patient centered care, it is our job to support them in whatever they choose regardless of our own beliefs & thoughts.

  32. I agree with those who stated that they are for euthanasia. Although this is an extremely controversial issue, I believe that the decision should untimely be up to the patient. I could not imagine being the one suffering for extended periods of time with no chance of quality of life left. In many ways I think that we are using passive euthanasia in our healthcare system today (DNR’s and by stopping feedings, meds and other treatments). I think we should treat the individual for as long as we can and keep them as comfortable as possible. If they request either passive or active euthanasia, we as nurses should be the patients advocate and try and get them the tx they desire.

  33. Never thought I ever agreed with euthanasia until I experience my grandfather go through 2 years of palliative care. He was dying of lung cancer, a slow painful progressive death that left him every day for 2 years looking in the mirror and seeing how much closer he was to his grave. He spoke of it in this way as well. All he wanted to do was die for the last 6 months of his life. He had no quality of life and was in pain despite the pain medications that he was on. The pain meds eventually got so potent that he became delerious and couldn’t recognize anyone but his wife. He went from a strong farmer, to a crippled up old man in diapers. This is not how I will or want to remember my grandfather but this is what happened in his life. It was a shame, all he wanted to do was die but instead his pitiful remaining life was restored which is not what he wanted as he stated daily for the last 6 months of his life. Now I believe that if an individual is deemed palliative care, why are we preserving the inevitable. Let’s think of the individual’s dignity, my grandfather died with very little dignity which is a shame for him and our family.

  34. Alicia Pilsner said:

    Never thought I ever agreed with euthanasia until I experience my grandfather go through 2 years of palliative care. He was dying of lung cancer, a slow painful progressive death that left him every day for 2 years looking in the mirror and seeing how much closer he was to his grave. He spoke of it in this way as well. All he wanted to do was die for the last 6 months of his life. He had no quality of life and was in pain despite the pain medications that he was on. The pain meds eventually got so potent that he became delerious and couldn’t recognize anyone but his wife. He went from a strong farmer, to a crippled up old man in diapers. This is not how I will or want to remember my grandfather but this is what happened in his life. It was a shame, all he wanted to do was die but instead his pitiful remaining life was restored which is not what he wanted as he stated daily for the last 6 months of his life. Now I believe that if an individual is deemed palliative care, why are we preserving the inevitable. Let’s think of the individual’s dignity, my grandfather died with very little dignity which is a shame for him and our family.

  35. Katharine said:

    The topic of euthanasia is such a controversial one, and like others have mentioned before, I feel that this is an issue that won’t have a clear-cut resolution any time soon. Although I am pro-Euthanasia, I am aware of how tricky it would be to regulate as well as the potential barriers involved to legalize. What designates whether or not someone is physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually able to make these decisions? There really is no clear designation to answer this question. Yet I can’t help but think that if I was in a position of constant suffering and pain that I could be able to die with dignity by going on my own terms.

  36. As many have already stated, the issue of euthanasia is very controversial. I am pro-euthanasia as i would never want to be the one suffering for long periods of time. However, I believe the issues around who, under what circumstances, and why euthanasia would occur would need to be regulated. There was the case of the mentally challenged girl and her father who ended her life as he felt that he couldn’t see her suffer anymore. Would this be considered homicide or euthanasia? He killed her with good intentions but when the daughter is not able to communicate with anyone her wishes a vivid gray area is formed. This is an example of a situation when the debate over euthanasia begins, when is it ok? and when is it not?

  37. Annie K said:

    Throughout this blog I was leaning towards NOT legalizing Euthanasia, however Alicia’s comment about her grandpa affects me and I am back on the fence. Preserving dignity and suffering is huge, not to mention the financial costs and freedom of choice. but there are too many grey areas to legalize it. No one aswered the question that was asked about children? They would not be of legal consent age, therefore their gardians would need to give consent? That could get complicated. What about others who are are mentally handicaped, or not in a stable mind set to make decisions for themself? Then what? What about MENTAL ILLNESS? As mentioned above not only is it a double standerd to have opposing veiws when it comes to abortion and the death penalty, but what about depression and suicide? Everyones veiw of suffering is different so you can make a legal limit on it. To ice the cake I am a spiritual person so I would vote no for legalization. More research and inputs should be put into palliative care instead. When I am an RN and if it ever does get legalized I would not be able to do it.

  38. Annie K said:

    But thank you for the Nurses who work on Oncology and palliative care, you are truely amazing.

  39. I think that this decision should be left to the patient, not the doctors or nurses. Each person has the right to decide if they want to live or die. Just because we went to university for 4 years does not give us the right to decide how a person should live or die. Nobody really understands what they would want to do in that situation until you are actually that patient suffering from cancer and spend all your time in intolerable pain. I think that life or death should be decided by the patient!

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