General Studies Assessment

Abortion and Euthanasia are two controversial topics that share common arguments in the name of law and morality. The Government has faced crucial decision making on either side of each debate and it is difficult to evaluate a moral crisis while in the midst of it, torn by diametrically opposed arguments. But once a moral crisis has resolved itself, even if only partially, it is much easier to look back upon it and to comprehend the real issues. The real issues of the Abortion and Euthanasia debate are that the arguments on both sides are strong and persuasive.

The debate for abortion is more an argument of choice and family values then statistics and morality. The question of should a healthy woman raise a child in an unloving and remorseful household is lamented in certain cases. A prime example is when a woman from Adelaide shot herself in the abdomen 8 months into the pregnancy. The woman survived, but the fetus she was carrying did not. If the woman was instigated enough to shot herself in the abdomen to destroy this fetus then what kind of life would this child be brought into if it had survived. Research into abortion must be considered with the inevitability of it occurring and the dangers of D.I.Y abortions. From the mid 1960s and on, abortions moved from the backyard to the public hospital and specialized clinics, yet still the facts are that many abortions are still causing numerous incidents with the baby surviving or the mother being effected in certain ways such as miscarriages in later years. Research in the field has led to some Anti-Ulcerant drugs such as Misoprostol, submitted by the Australian birth control service show that abortions can take place in as soon as 1 and a half days without surgery. Although this does not prove the morality of the exercising of abortion it does show approving safety numbers being reached which was also a major argument in the negative abortion discussion. Other factors contributing to abortions are the unidealistic factors in that some women must submit to abortion to preserve their careers and education. Quite often called mistakes , these are major effects in the women s workplaces with maternity leave a must in jobs and the loss of time and focus on education if being sought. The fact that this could void ones life of choice in the future is not extreme as an ample amount of numbers of mothers never return to the workforce. This is where the idea of choice comes into key with the mother and partially father needing to be able to choose for not only their needs but also the child s. Quite commonly if an abortion is seeked then the mother must not want their child for some reason and although the reason may not always be reasonable, we must understand that it is their choice though. Religion has been involved in the fight of abortionists for many years and yet we even find clergymen involved in counseling abortion and defending it in public. The most common case, which is used as an inescapable reason for abortion, is Rape. A National Opinion Poll in 1995 found that while 83 per cent of the 481 persons polled opposed abortion for an unwed mother, 49 per cent of those questioned were in favor of abortion for the rape victim. There are no national statistics on the number of pregnancies from unconsented intercourse. There were however in 1967, 18,000 recorded crimes of forcible rape. If the woman became pregnant, then if chosen, abortion should be allowed as not even lawful sex took place. This is what the pro-choicers are demanding as it is only left as a burden to the parents if the child is not wanted.

Society has come to accept that the unborn is somehow inferior and that he may be killed at will. There is no logical or scientific basis for the belief in his inferiority. There is massive confusion in the society and many are unable to comprehend the morality of the issue. Not only do we find a certain class of humans devaluated and abused, but again we find the medical profession in the forefront of the killings. The top five abortionists in NSW earn $1.5 million per year from Medicare alone.

Someone has profited, but not the woman who undergoes one; the abortion industry makes $500 million dollars a year, and the sale of preborn children s parts could push that figure into the billions. The women must also undergo a humiliating procedure, an invasion deeper than rape, as the interior of her uterus is crudely vacuumed to remove every scrap of life by Frederica Mathewes-Green, Vice President for Communication with the U.S. Feminists for Life. Abortion, in most States remains a criminal offence. Yet the Family Court is unable to restrain what maybe a criminal act. It is also unable to allot any rights at all to the father or the fetus. The heartache of abortion, of giving up a baby or of caring for an unwanted child is usually endured by the woman alone. Abortion is considered a women s issue and nothing is closer to the being of a woman than bearing or not bearing a child. But it is more than that. It is also a question of human rights. Every year, 80,000 abortions are performed in Australia. Since 1901, the NSW Crimes Act has stated 10 years imprisonment for unlawful abortion. In 1970, a judge of the District Court held that abortion to preserve the physical or mental health of the mother was not unlawful. Since them in practice, not wanting a baby (for reasons ranging from the most serious to the most trivial) has been enough. In every State any woman who wants an abortion can get what the law (except in South Australia) still says she should not have. Many women who have had abortions suffer from a condition known as Post Abortion Syndrome. Swedish studies (where there s a long history of legal abortion) claim: 1/4 had severe guilt feelings (emptiness, breakdowns, etc.). In Japanese studies, 3 out of 4 women felt anguish over what they had done. Also not commonly known is that in N.S.W the ratio of abortions to live births is 1:2. The average age of an aborted unborn baby is 8 weeks. The womb is disturbingly enough the most dangerous place for an Australian to live.

Euthanasia is another argument demanding choice for the people concerned and this time it s the patients right to chose themselves. Everybody agrees that patients should die where they like, with whom they like, and in comfort. Not everybody is agreed that they should have the right to say when. This, not surprisingly, engenders debate. In Victoria patients have the right to refuse further medical treatment which is considered a form of Euthanasia, as if the medication isn t received in certain situations the patient will die. The dilemma of Euthanasia commonly arises most with rational patients, suffering stable but persistent illness (severe stroke etc) who want the right to die and the help to achieve it. Many of our more literal thinkers want the law changed for this purpose, as do some patients, to specifically permit active euthanasia. To those with this view are interfering with their freedom. There are undoubtedly situations where patients are not getting what they want. The idea that Euthanasia would be an easy over the counter act is ridiculous. Legal, active euthanasia will be a complex and bureaucratic process involving laws, regulations, multiple opinions, certificates and signatures. The only other option is palliative care, a form of care for those with life threatening diseases such as cancer. Broadening our palliative care services to help those with the progressive diseases ought not to be impossible but till then what is there for the victims of such diseases. Pain and a long drawn out death which is not always wanted. Professor Singer of the Australian Medical Board quotes 62 per cent of doctors support Euthanasia and Sir John Holland of the same board states that 75% of Australians support Euthanasia. And yet the idea that Euthanasia be legislated again as in Northern Territory seems very unlikely.

The idea of legislating laws for Euthanasia in Australia seems incomprehensible after such incidents in countries such as the Netherlands. Reports alleged that 20% of assisted deaths in the Netherlands are carried out without the patient s permission has initiated renewed debate on the country s euthanasia laws. A survey of more than 400 doctors found that many had intentionally terminated a patient s life in spite of the fact that the patient had not explicitly expressed a wish to die. Dutch doctors are obliged by law to report cases where they have assisted death. Euthanasia can only be carried out at the "patient s explicit request" and when there is "intolerable suffering without prospect of improvement. The request must be voluntary, explicit, carefully considered and made repeatedly but this was not the case a lot of the time. These are 3 of the types of Euthanasia. Voluntary Euthanasia which involves the patient requesting or consenting to it. Non-voluntary Euthanasia which involves deliberate killing although the patient did not ask for or consent to it and Involuntary Euthanasia which is when Euthanasia is done in defiance of a request that it not be done. Doctors are allowed to resort to Euthanasia only if there is no alternative, such as palliative care of terminally ill patients. Those who breach these rules can be charged with murder. Usually patients are given an injection to render them comatose, followed by a second injection to stop the heart. Official guidelines encourage the doctor to allow the patient to take the lethal dosage, under supervision, if this is a practiced alternative. The survey of more than 400 doctors found that of the 4500 cases in 1995 where medics admitted they intentionally terminated life, 900 patients had not explicitly stated they wanted Euthanasia. The report reveals that in 15 per cent of cases, doctors admitted a discussion could have taken place but did not. They said they had gone ahead because they believed it was in the patient s best interests. In 17% of cases there were alternative treatment options and 59% of the cases were not reported to the local medical examiner. In the Netherlands, where doctors have practiced euthanasia for more than 20 years, an official study found that once voluntary killing is allowed, many people will also die from non-voluntary euthanasia. At least 1,000 patients were killed in a year without any request or consent. There are undoubtedly situations where patients are not getting what they want. In the euthanasia debate, we should not lose sight of the potential of palliative care to help terminal patients through their suffering , Nigel Gray from the telegraph writes. We do not need new laws to comfort and protect such negligent actions; we need education of doctors (and the public) in palliative care, so the "cry for help" of a euthanasia request can be met with skilled compassion, not a lethal injection.

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