Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology

Euthanasia and Normality in Romania or Being Reluctant to a Good Death

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology

Euthanasia and Normality in Romania or Being Reluctant to a Good Death

Article excerpt

Thinking about death usually brings by feelings of fear and restlessness. Notwithstanding age, gender or profession, the end of life is rather connected to anxiety than to peacefulness. Still, as they get old, people tend to preoccupy more about when and how their life journey would end up. "Aging causes varying levels of fear, anxiety, and apprehension in each person. Biosocial, cognitive, and psychosocial changes as one ages cause people to realize their own mortality. Attitudes of aging and death go together, because as people get older they are concerned with their own mortality" (Benton, 2007 in Suslick, 2013).

Due to the continuous development of technology and life maintaining capabilities within health care systems and also due to improving overall living conditions, life expectancy has increased worldwide. Still, sooner or later death does occur and postponing the inevitable cannot help individuals from facing the above mentioned feelings of anxiety while being terminally ill or suffering from incurable diseases. Even if you push death a little further away you still get to it one way or another.

The dilemmas regarding the end of life are neither of recent date nor are they soon to be vanished away. However, the entire progress aimed at bettering humans' life quality determined the re-emergence of an otherwise ancient paradigm regarding death. The consequence is that the end of life is more often considered a matter of how than a matter of when. Once they succeeded to be more and more in control of their own lives, people's concern regarding the final act of their living gained importance also. Still, this approach is by no means recent as people are said to have been interested in the topic for thousands of years. As a proof for the ancientness of the preoccupation regarding ones' death stands euthanasia, a word considered to be coming from the ancient Greece where the procedure itself was widely practiced in cases of incurable diseases (Otlowski, 2000, p.1).

For the ancient Greek, euthanasia was similar to a "good/ easy death" and the values imbued within the construction pointed to the person's dying in a dignified manner by dealing away with pain and feelings of helplessness.

According to the online edition of the English Oxford Dictionary, the term "euthanasia" was introduced in the basic vocabulary around the 17th century as referring to the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma. Even if at a first sight the dignifying feature of a non-painful death seems to have been left out of the recent definitions of euthanasia, it has been largely invoked by the public opinion especially given the prolongation of life on the one hand and the fact that various illnesses as Alzheimer or AIDS remained incurable on the other hand.

Voluntary euthanasia was not immediately embraced by society as a whole. In fact, death was considered a taboo subject for a long time. The Catholic Church has been strongly opposing the concept (Otlowski, 2000, p.2) especially by frequently invoking the Fifth Commandment underling the sacredness of life. Still, secularization has diminished the influence of the Church. Moreover, the media made common knowledge out of the topic by introducing the issue of "death" on the public agenda. As a matter of consequence, "in May 1995, ground breaking legislation was enacted in the Northern Territory of Australia with the passage of the rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995 which legalizes medical assistance in dying in certain circumstances" (idem).

At the moment this paper was written, human euthanasia and/or physicianassisted suicide had been legalized in a few European countries as Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Estonia or Albania and also in some parts of the United States of America as Washington or Oregon (http://euthanasia.procon.org). As expected, the procedure is facing greater opposition from people and authorities in more traditional countries where individualism and self-determination are not of primary importance. …

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