There is no deigning that sickness, old age and death are suffering, but if anyone is indifferent to the suffering of others they can hardly claim to be practicing loving kindness or compassion to others. It is loving kindness and compassion that drives people to the point where they make requests or act to end that suffering. It is also the unbearably suffering that drives people to take their own lives in such situations.
http://www.aimwell.org/problems.html#Th ... Euthanasia
Thus, the patient requested the doctor to help him die. Out of pity, the doctor did so. The patient did die. In this case, both the patient and the doctor violated the first precept. Both of them committed the offence of killing a living being.
Some children may request a doctor to practise euthanasia for their mother or father. If the doctor does as requested, the children are guilty of one of the five heinous crimes (ānantariya kamma). How dreadful this is! Everyone should be extremely careful to avoid such heinous crimes.
I know that such requests are often made – I have been asked by dozens of patients (never family members) to help them depart. I have never personally known any doctor that has complied with such as request. However I can tell you that such requests do leave a negative imprint.
The ethical and compassionate way of dealing with such requests is to clearly say no, but to offer the patient hope with an alternative course of action. Of course this requires that the patient had trust in their carers (family, doctors or other staff). Dying and death are still very much of a taboo subject in the developed world and as such are avoided in conversation especially where someone is very sick / probably dying. The 4 precept is all too often abandoned in the guise of “little white lies” to protect the patient. For most this is a lie in its self as the lie is formulated out of aversion – we don’t find death to be a comfortable subject. I question if it is ethical to try and hid the truth from the person most concerned. The outcomes of such lies include things being unsaid by patients and families to each other adding to the suffering before and after bereavement. The other major victim of the lies is the breaking of the bonds of trust at the time when the patient most needs to trust those around them. When we tell them that their pain and distress will be managed after lying to them are they going to believe us.
The Buddha taught the middle way. In this subject we have on one side suffering (in this life) and on the other side euthanasia with the resulting karma and suffering that it brings. Palliative care is the middle way in my view – the principles are outlined below.
affirms life and treats dying as a normal process;
neither hastens nor postpones death;
provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms;
integrates the physical, psychological, social, emotional and spiritual aspects of care, with coordinated assessment and management of each person’s needs;
offers a support system to help people live as actively as possible until death; and
offers a support system to help the family cope during the person’s illness and in their own bereavement.http://www.health.gov.au/palliativecare
As individuals we need to be informed about palliative care and make our wishes know to others should we reach that situation arise. Ideally we should have live wills or written end wish plans – but to achieve this we need to face the realities of the first Noble truth and have honest conversations flavoured by loving kindness, compassion and equanimity.