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Health students come out in favour of euthanasia

"Euthanasia is one of the most neglected issues that modern health care faces" - health students in favour of euthanasia for certain terminal illness

tim_diacono
Tim Diacono
19 December 2016, 5:15pm
The organisation representing health students has declared its support for the legislation of euthanasia in Malta.

In a statement, the Malta Health Students Association (MHSA) argued that euthanasia should only be enabled to patients if their quality of life is severely compromised – such as if they have contracted ALS, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

“Euthanasia is one of the most neglected issues that modern health care faces,” the MHSA said in a statement. “We believe that the health care system in Malta and Gozo should start to seriously consider the legalisation of Euthanasia as it is undoubtedly an answer to some of our critically-ill patients.

“Autonomy and choice are important values in any society, but they are not without limits.

“Our democratic societies have so many laws that limit individual autonomy and choice so as to protect the larger community. Thereby, a cautious approach is needed when wanting to legislate euthanasia, nevertheless not violating the individuals’ right to die in a dignified manner.”

The health students said that voluntary euthanasia should only be allowed to patients who are 18 years or older, properly informed and mentally competent, and who make specific, voluntary and repeated requests that their lives be ended.

“The exact number of “repeated requests” is not specified and should be open to interpretation, in which the appropriate health care professional deciphers the situation. In all jurisdictions, the request for euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide has to be voluntary, well-considered, informed, and persistent over time. The requesting person must provide explicit written consent and must be competent at the time the request is made.”

Euthanasia, for long a taboo topic in Malta, is currently being debated by a parliamentary committee after ALS Joe Magro publicly declared that he would rather commit suicide than live out the latter stages of his terminal illness.

His wife has also launched an online petition, urging MPs to legalise euthanasia so that her husband can die in dignity. 

Political parties have so far refused to take a stand on euthanasia, but health minister Chris Fearne said last month that he has asked the Bioethics Consultative Committee to look into the ethical and legal aspects of it. Fearne has argued that “everybody has a right to die in dignity”  but that treatment should be offered to the very end of human life.

tim_diacono
Tim Diacono is a journalist at MaltaToday
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