This question is personal. “Have you ever been so sick and frustrated that you wished you could die-. No that is not a fair question. Let me paraphrase “has any of your close relatives – father, mother, brother, sister, wife, husband, grandmother grandfather etc, placed under your care been so sick and in great be numbing mental agony and pain, that you wished they would die or someone could assist them die, so as to relieve their pains and sufferings.

Wait again – has any of your parents or close relatives been in such a vegetative state and unconscious, that they urinate and defecate on themselves, that you pray “Oh God, what the heck, please give them rest by taking their lives.

Euthanasia, which is also called mercy killing, according to Encyclopedia Britannica – is an act or practice of painlessly putting to death, persons suffering from painful and incurable disease or incapacitating physical disorder, or allowing them to die by withholding treatment, or withdrawing artificial live support measures.

Since there is no specific provision for it in most legal systems it is usually regarded as either suicide – if performed by another.

Physicians may, however, lawfully decide not to prolong life in cases of extreme suffering, and they may administer drugs to relieve pain, even if this shortens the patient’s life.

New England Journal of Medicine in one of its essays said it should be noted that. Euthanasia is from Greek origin which means “good health”that is eu – well or good & thenatos – death. It added that euthanasia is the practice of intentionally ending life to eliminate pain and suffering.

The opinion that euthanasia is morally permissible is traceable to Socrates, Plato & Stoics. Euthanasia is however rejected in Christian belief, chiefly because it is thought to contraven the prohibition of murder in the Ten Commandment.

Euthanasia is categorised into three, voluntary, non voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary euthanasia  – is when a person wills to have his or her life ended, and this is legal in a growing number of countries. Non voluntary euthanasia – occurs when a patient’s consent is say unavailable due to incapacitation and this is legal in some countries, under certain limited conditions, in both active and passive forms. Involuntary euthanasia – which is done without asking for the consent or against the patient’s will is illegal in all countries and is usually considered murder.

In a paper by Prof Anthony O Nwafor, published in African Journal of International and Comparative Law – he postulated that the battle in Nigeria – “to kill or not to kill” of any terminally ill patient is still shrouded in secrecy. At most it revolves around medical, legal and moral issues, geared towards determining the extent of which a Physician may feel obliged to accede to the request of the terminally ill patient to bring to a graceful end his or her pain and suffering, by assisting the patient to die. It is similar to the case of homosexuality. No African nay Nigerian wants to be openly identified or associated with homosexuality. Africans usually take the high moral ground that the Bible or Koran frowns at it, or that it is against the tradition.

In some jurisdictions, Physicians are statutorily conceded such rights in spite of the Hippocratic Oath, which encapsulates “thou shall not kill”. But the conservately religious, would have none of such as it is seen as sacred, which only the creator could terminate at the chosen time.

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Although some Nigerians are favorably disposed to the idea of passive euthanasia – especially when they see their blood relatives wallowing in axcruciating pains or reduced to a vegetative state – where they urinate defecate on themselves.

Active euthanasia is still criminalized, whatever may be the intention of the Doctor, and even at the request of the patient. A strong case is made for the need of Nigeria to borrow a leaf from some European countries, such as the Netherlands and Belgium, which have legalised euthanasia as a mark of respect to the right of a terminally ill to choose the most honorable way of passage to the creator, while putting an end to unnecessary pain and suffering associated with the ailment.

I am writing this euthanasia with the devil’s advocate in mind, that is the pros and cons. Like asking, should euthanasia – mercy killing be legalised. In a pro con. Org medical dessertation the following arguments were proffered.

The right to die should be a matter of personal choice. We are able to choose all kinds of things in life, from who we marry, to what kind of work we do, and I think when one comes to the end of one’s life, whether you are elderly, you would have a choice about what happens to you. Some people are pro-life, and would want to live as long as they possibly can, they also believe the laws should be changed to let anyone with some severe medical condition, which is causing unbearable symptoms to have an assisted suicide. They would not want to be unnecessarily kept alive against their own wills.

On the other hand campaigning to end certain people’s lives does not end suffering, it passes on the suffering to other similar people who now have to fear they are the next people in line to be seen as having worthless lives. And people who have died of drug overdose have no freedom of choice at all.. Moreover societies that authorise suicide as a “choice” for some people soon end up placing pressure on them to “do the right thing ie kill themselves”… Seeing suicide as a solution for some illnesses can only undermine the willingness of doctors and society to learn how to show real compassion and address patient’s pain and other problems. In countries that have legalised euthanasia – assisted suicide, in fact most patients request the lethal drugs, not due to pain or even fear of future pain, but due to concerns like “loss of dignity “ and becoming a burden to others, these are the attitudes that these laws encourage.

The solution is to care for people in ways that assure them, that they have dignity and it is a privilege not a burden to care for them.

Always be medically guided.

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