searches the web for background to a controversial debate
Euthanasia has been in the news this week - and not just because
nurse Lesley Martin is on trial in Wanganui, facing two counts of
attempted murder of her mother.
The Google search gives you some idea of the size of the debate
in general - the keyword "euthanasia" throws up 579,000 items.
And the latest news: Last Sunday, reports online newspaper CalgarySun, Pope
John Paul II told a Vatican conference that removing feeding tubes
from people in vegetative states was immoral. No judgment on their
quality of life, he said, could justify such "euthanasia by
The word euthanasia, originating from the Greek terms eu (happy
or good) and thanatos (death), means literally happy death or good
death, according to The Ethics of Euthanasia.
The search also sends me to The Death Clock, which asks some basic health
questions (body mass index, whether you smoke and the likes), to
forecast your date of death.
Apparently, I will die on Wednesday, April 18, 2068. Given that I
was born in 1969, I find this a tad over optimistic. But the site's
tagline - "the internet's friendly reminder that life is slipping
away" - is not a bad prompt for some self-examination of the way you
The Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalise
euthanasia in 2001. But according to Dutch Euthanasia Policy, which is part of Radio
Netherlands, "euthanasia and assisted suicide continue to be
"Euthanasia carries a maximum penalty of 12 years in prison, and
assistance with suicide is punishable by a three-year sentence. But
doctors will not be prosecuted if they fulfil the requirements of
The site has some interesting American research on
attitudes to euthanasia, cross-sectioned by age, religious
orientation, political leanings, education and the like. It is part
of a thoughtful and interesting academic site on the sociology of
death and dying.
For an idea of how different cultures regard the subject, check
Here you learn that in Islam, "since we did not create ourselves, we
do not own our bodies".
"We are entrusted with them for care, nurture and safekeeping.
God is the owner and giver of life and His rights in giving and in
taking are not to be violated."
Frank A. Pavone, national director of the US-based Catholic Priests
for Life organisation, says "we do not decide when our life will
end, any more than we decided when it began. Much less does someone
else - a relative, a doctor or a legislator - decide when our life
An apparently serious yet bizarre Church of
Euthanasia, based in Massachusetts, aims to promote a voluntary
reduction in the world's population by encouraging suicide,
abortion, cannibalism and sodomy.
Some people just have too much spare time on their hands.