Articles/Health/Other/Euthanasia

Death is something that all humans have faced and are continuing to face. It is in most cases an undesirable byproduct of aging and currently uncureable ailments such as cancer and AIDs. However, in some cases death is the result of merciful homicide and suicide. These are both considered forms of euthanasia since a person's life is deliberately being ended, mostly with the approval of the person dying. Euthanasia is not limited to humans, however, since other animals are often put in situations where death is a seemingly better option than large amounts of pain and anguish.

Euthanasia goes against everything that the field of medicine has tried to produce through centuries and millenia of research. Medical care is intended to save a person from dying at all costs, whereas euthanasia is intended to terminate something's life at all costs. This makes euthanasia a very controversial idea and procedure.

The people who support euthanasia say that it is always a person's personal right to choose to die and when to die. They also say that it should be legal for another individual to assist the person in achieving death without criminal liability.

The people against euthanasia say that a desire for death is a product of abnormal logic and the person should receive psychological therapy instead of assistance and legal protection in dying. They commonly believe that assisting someone in dying is entirely unethical and should be a crime punishable by prison time.

Between these two far ends of the spectrum are people with mixed beliefs. Perhaps they believe it is acceptable for a person in a vegetative state to be terminated if they previously signed a form indicating that it was their wish. However, they might also believe that a person possessing no physical ailments for motivation to die should not be allowed to commit suicide or be assisted in doing so.

Now that we have explored the opinions on euthanasia, we shall now delve into the methods used in euthanasia. Euthanasia, except in cases of desperation, is most commonly conducted using painless and quick methods.

The best choice for dying painlessly involves being placed under anesthesia and having a toxic level of chemicals administered. This is the popular method used by euthanasia advocate Dr. Kevorkian and has a very low rate of failure since it is conducted by a second person who can verify death and take extended measures if necessary. This method is also employed for execution of prisoners in several parts of the United States, minus the anesthesia component.

A second choice is asphyxiation via deprivation of oxygen. This is a very popular choice for suicides since it can be performed with household items. Elaborate systems pump inert gases (in this case, gases that can't allow oxygen saturation of the blood to occur) into a sealed hood placed over the person's head. The person breathes in the gases and, depending on the level of oxygen present, drifts unconscious and dies. Studies conducted on rats euthanized using this method have shown no evidence of physical trauma or alarm, suggesting that it is a painless and non-traumatic way to die. It should be noted that this is not the same as asphyxiation by airway blockage, which is known to be a very traumatic death.

If you have to euthanize a pet that is seriously injured or ill, this method can easily be employed using a plastic bag and some household chemicals. The reaction of vinegar and baking soda produces large amounts of carbon dioxide. A pet's head can be covered with a loosely sealed plastic bag with a hose coming out of it and going into a second container. Inside the second container, the vinegar and baking soda is mixed, and it reacts, creating large amounts of gas, which is forced through the hose as a result of the pressure inside of the second container. The gas will fill the plastic bag (make sure that the extra gas has a way of leaving the bag so the bag doesn't explode) and eventually replace most if not all of the oxygen. Once the reaction is done, seal the bag off as best you can and allow the pet to inhale the carbon dioxide until it is safely deceased. The process must not be interrupted for any reason since oxygen deprivation is known to cause severe brain damage. The time that the process of euthanization takes depends on the concentration of carbon dioxide and the physical size of the animal.

Other methods beyond these are very dangerous and often result in failure. The most common attempted method of suicide is consumption of painkillers and other over-the-counter drugs. These attempts frequently result in a stomach pumping and liver damage, rather than death. A more effective method is the usage of a firearm, but is also dangerous since it is very possible to survive with severe impairment of physical and mental functions. Other less popular methods include jumping from heights, alcohol poisoning, and even electrocution.

Euthanasia is a step that is not reversible unless it fails, therefore it is necessary to make a serious consideration before undertaking it. If you think your pet has a chance of recovery with proper medical assistance, rethink your plans before putting the plastic bag over its head. If you do not want to live your life in a vegetative state resulting from a car accident or cranial injury, many states offer you the option of filling out a form to request that no attempts to revive you are made under medical care.