Euthanasia is a tricky practice, which elicits strong emotions on both sides of the debate. Some have religious objections, feeling that God rather than man should have the power to end life. Others feel that it represents a slippery slope, given infamous examples such as the horrific Nazi doctrines of executing developmentally delayed individuals, because their lives were felt not to be worth living.
On the other side of the aisle, are people who feel that for example terminal cancer patients should have the right to end their lives.
And there are differences between passive and active euthanasia. Passive euthanasia means essentially that life saving or prolonging measures are not done. This might mean withholding water and food or taking somebody off a respirator. Active euthanasia occurs when a drug such as narcotic sand sedatives are given which will stop breathing and directly lead to death.
Belgium has legalized euthanasia for almost 15 years. In 2012 deaf identical twins were granted the right to end their lives, as they were both going blind and felt that life was not worth living. Recently a 24 year old women with severe depression was also granted this right.
In my mind these type of cases go too far. While I have seen many patients with terminal cancer suffer and thus am not against at least passive euthanasia in such cases, permitting patients with potentially curable, non life threatening diseases to end their lives just strikes me as wrong.
What about patients with severe dementia? I feel that euthanasia is definitely wrong here as well. On the other hand, if a severely demented patient presents with pneumonia or some other serious illness and family members refuse care, perhaps that is a humane way to go.
There are no easy answers, but we as a society should be very, very careful about legalizing euthanasia, especially active euthanasia.