Terri Schiavo´s case called my attention: a woman from Florida - USA who was in vegetative state for 15 years and was disconnected from the tube which fed her after an intense debate among her relatives, the American government and the Courts. According to specialists, it can take her until two weeks to die, without tube-feeding (1).
What worries is that many physicians revel that euthanasia is a habitual practice in Brazilian Intensive Care Units - ICUs, and that hurrying, without pain or suffering, the death of a terminally-ill patient, is a frequent act and, many times, little discussed in the ICUs of the Brazilian hospitals. (2) In spite of the Brazilian Intensive Medicine Association denial that the euthanasia is frequent in ICUs, there are those who admit more concrete reasons, such as the need of places at ICUs for patients with chances of surviving, or the pressure to diminish the costs in private medicine.
In medicine regional councils, the tendency is to accept the euthanasia, except in few cases of misunderstandings, among relatives, about the time to cease the treatments. Physicians and bioethical specialists actually advocate a specific type of euthanasia, the Withholding or Withdrawing of Life-Sustaining Treatment, which would be the act of removing equipment or medication which serves to prolong a terminally-ill patient's life. When removing those life-sustaining equipment, keeping only pain killers and tranquilizers, it is expected that nature takes responsibility for the death (3).
By definition the word euthanasia comes from Greek, meaning "good death" or "appropriate death". The term is from Francis Bacon who, in 1623, in his work "Historia vitae et mortis" (History of Life and Death) defines it as being the "adequate treatment to incurable diseases". There are several expressions used as synonyms, it can be mentioned as "good death", "assisted suicide", "active euthanasia". Its antonym is "distanasia" (4) which, on its turn, is the use of adequate means to treat a patient who is dying. Based on humanitarian values, in which the medical ethics aims at prolonging life as much as possible. For some physicians the word euthanasia became stigmatized, and people are afraid of using it. This way, they believe it is necessary that a legislation establishes criteria and ethical conducts for a death without suffering. In view of the fact that death is a price which deserves to be paid for the mitigating consonant pain according to an ethics professor of the Medicine College of an important Brazilian University, for him euthanasia has to be accept in situations of incurable diseases, since " The tendency is keeping life at all costs" (5).
Euthanasia has been the cause for controversies in legal spheres, bearing in mind, however, that our Constitution, through the Brazilian Penal Code, is incisive and conclusive: It is considered common assassination (6). In medical hosts, under the perspective of the medicine ethics, life is considered a holy gift and, therefore, it is forbidden for the physician the intention of being the judge of someone's life or death. In this regard, it is important to point out that the World Medical Association, since 1987, in the Declaration of Madrid, considers euthanasia as being an ethically inadequate procedure. In the moral or religious aspect, mainly spiritualist, let's remember that aren't few the cases in which people given no hopes by the official and traditional medicine try to find other alternatives and obtain spectacular cures, whether through hand imposition, faith, magnetism, homeopathy, or through behavioral changes. There are not few cases of patients with medical diagnoses of incurable diseases, given no hopes, in which the magnetism activated by the hand imposition could change the medical diagnosis and reestablish the cellular field.
Allan Kardec asks to spiritual Benefactors if the human being has the right of disposing of his/her own life and the Spirits explain that only God (7) has this right. Nobody has the right to take a life, only God is entitled to decide. Euthanasia is a form of interrupting the expiation of the spirit who suffers as a terminally-ill patient. His/her relatives, thinking they are mitigating his/her pains, ask for euthanasia, but it is a happy illusion, since they are committing a crime against life, and do not consider that moral sufferings are bigger than material ones, and that this spirit has to repay for his/her debts.
Emmanuel explains that behind the dull eyes and faint hands, which seem to cast the last farewell, just show up warnings and caution notices so that the mistake is suspended or that the routine readjusts itself tomorrow (8). And before the bed of the most difficult and painful illness, shines the help of the Infinite Goodness, making it easier, for whom is in debt, to achieve quittance. Do not disrespect, thus, who is immobilized in the horizontal cross of the long and difficult illness, giving him/her the poison of the smooth death, because, probably, you shall also know, later, the profitable lying position, essential for the great meditation (9).
It is not entitled to man, in any circumstances or under any pretext, the right to choose and deliberate about life and death of his/her fellows, and euthanasia, this false mercy, disturbs the divine therapeutics, in the rehabilitation redeeming processes. We, Spiritualists, know that the prolonged agony may have a precious objective for soul, and the incurable illness can be, actually, for the good. We do not always know the reflections that the spirit may do during the convulsions of the physic pain, and how many agonies may be spared from him/her in a flash of regret.
Euthanasia interrupts the illness depurative process, imposing the chronic patient serious difficulties, including in the return to the spiritual level. Besides, the family members who search such "merciful" resource are, actually, only, and improperly, anxious to free themselves of the commitment and responsibility of helping, supporting, and loving their loved one.
Strictly speaking, cancer is the means to expunge the darkness which establish itself in the heart, preventing it to better understand life. Paralysis and insanity, pemphigus and tuberculosis, idiocy and mutilation, almost always work as blessed correctives, helping the spirit which blame made insane or covered in shadows in the expiatory probation. This way, we have to respect the pain as an instructor of souls and, without hesitation or absurd questions, support everyone who is experiencing its constraining and educative presence. Always bearing in mind that just the obligation to serve is entitled to us, because Justice, without any further appeal, belongs to God that distributes to us relief and affliction, illness, life and death, at the right moment.
The true Christian is always in favor of the maintenance of life and respect regarding God designations, trying not only to diminish the fellows´ sufferings (without euthanasia, of course!), but also to have confidence in the divine justice and goodness, even because, in God's Statutes, there is no room for injustice.
1 - Published in the Correio Braziliense newspaper, 3/19/2005
2 - Published in the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper, 03/19/2005
3 - Ibid
4 - To some people, Distanasia means exaggerated prolonging of the patient's death or, even, may be used as a synonym of useless treatment. For some specialists it is a medical attitude which, aiming at saving the terminally-ill patient, submit him/her to great suffering.
5 - Ibid
6 - Established in the Federal Constitution, article 5, main section, the main characteristic of the right to life is its unavailability. Life, as a divine gift, must be preserved in each and every circumstance, being its elimination inconceivable whether by man or by State.
7 - Kardec, Allan, (The Book of the Spirits), Rio de Janeiro: FEB publishing house, 1999, question 944
8 - Xavier, Francisco Cândido. Religião dos Espíritos (Spirits Religion), Rio de Janeiro: FEB publishing house, 1999
9 – Ibid