Euthanasia: Should It Be Legal?

By Halpanny, Orla; Newman, Margaret | Sunday Mirror (London, England), May 31, 1998 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Euthanasia: Should It Be Legal?

Halpanny, Orla, Newman, Margaret, Sunday Mirror (London, England)

BRAVE Motor Neurone victim Annie Lindsell's ground-breaking High Court victory reopened the debate on euthanasia.

Annie died within weeks of the breakthrough which allowed her to be prescribed drugs to relieve her pain and hasten her death.

Supporters believe euthanasia should be legalised to allow people to die with dignity. Opponents describe it as murder.

So should euthanasia be legalised?

Margaret Newman from Belfast is a former nurse and speech therapist. She is a member of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society and believes people suffering from painful, incurable illness should receive medical help to die.

Dublin GP Dr Orla Halpenny is a member of Doctors for Life, a Pro-Life group formed in 1991 after the Supreme Court ruled that an underage girl could travel to England for an abortion. The organisation is opposed to euthanasia.


Dying with dignity is a basic right


WHEN I was a nurse, I treated many people with terminal illnesses who suffered terrible pain.

So even before I became a member of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, I supported the concept of dying with dignity.

Some of the people I cared for had such a poor quality of life and experienced a miserable time.

Our society aims to make it legal for a mentally competent adult, who is suffering unbearably from an incurable illness, to receive medical help to die at their own request.

I believe that people who are caring for these kind of patients should be able to act upon their wishes. When I was a nurse, I came across people who I know would have liked help to end their suffering and pain.

Medical science has now advanced to the stage where people can effectively be kept alive with the use of machines. Early treatment for killer diseases can keep patients alive for years, but it may also mean a more painful death in the end.

More and more people are living longer, but dying of drawn-out, degenerative diseases.

All sorts of measures can be used to keep someone alive, which is fine if that is what they want.

But I don't want to be kept alive in that type of condition if I'm not going to get any better.

We have great hospice care in Ireland for people who are terminally ill, but not everyone can avail of that.

It is a bit like a lottery, some terminally ill people may get excellent care while others don't, which is extremely concerning.

A 1994 survey, published in the British Medical Journal, showed that some doctors already helped patients to die, despite the risk of prosecution.

Few doctors have been prosecuted. Those who have been prosecuted were always treated with great sympathy.

The survey also showed that nearly half of doctors would be willing to give active help in dying if it were legal.

It is important to remember that euthanasia should be voluntary and available to mentally competent adults who suffer from an unbearable terminal illness.

Any doctor who plans to assist someone to die will make absolutely certain that the patient is clearly informed about the illness and the decision they have made.

I am not advocating that euthanasia should be available to everyone, and there must be safeguards put in place to ensure that it is not abused.

I have already signed a will, which I will update regularly, so that my doctor and my family will be in no doubt that I would like to be helped to die if necessary.

At the moment, doctors can legally practice "passive" euthanasia - that is, withdrawing or withholding treatment, or providing pain relief in such high doses that it quickens death.

This has exactly the same moral and practical result as actively giving a lethal injection or prescription if asked by a patient.

Most opponents to euthanasia believe that only God can give and take away life.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Euthanasia: Should It Be Legal?


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?