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14 June, 2024
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Bioethics Committee in favor of euthanasia under strict guidelines

Dr. Constantinos Fellas believes that alternatives should first be exhausted before taking the final step

Source: CNA

The Head of the Cyprus National Bioethics Committee Dr. Constantinos Fellas says that euthanasia could be introduced in society as long as it is not taking place unwillingly and that there has to be a strict framework of conditions in place. In an interview with Cyprus News Agency following a recent debate in parliament for the right to euthanasia, Dr. Fellas said that the act of euthanasia that is taking place unwillingly cannot be accepted, cautioning that society should be ready for this ultimate terminal medical choice as long as strict conditions apply.

He pointed out that the Committee has set a number of criteria and conditions but strongly believes that all alternatives, including medical and pharmaceutical technology, must be exhausted in order to offer terminally ill patients effective hospice care before deciding on euthanasia.  Adding that in extremely rare cases and in the absence of treatment, the patient, while fully conscious should be able to choose to end his/her life, and we should be ready to offer this final medical option humanely and under strict conditions.

Dr. Fellas also stated that in creating legislation for euthanasia, the state must ensure the legal protection of doctors and health professionals involved.

Dr. Fellas stressed each case is different and can only be decided upon on a case by case basis in the presence of specialists such as doctors, psychologists, social workers and other experts who will ensure the patient is lucid and in full control of their faculties before making the decision to end their life.  Moreover, the state of the family and financial issues must be taken into account to avoid any possible conflicts of interest.

Dr. Fellas also stated that in creating legislation for euthanasia, the state must ensure the legal protection of doctors and health professionals involved.  Cyprus must call on experienced countries to assist with legislation and protocols based on prior experience. A country's ratification of euthanasia is arduous and must be taken appropriate protocols in place in order to protect the patient and professionals involved.

The Cyprus Bioethics Committee carried out a study on the right to euthanasia between December 2021 and March 2022. The study was conducted by IMP/University of Nicosia with the participation of 750 people, male and female, 18 years and over. They were asked to reply to a questionnaire (19 questions in total).

A percentage of 61% of participants said that they agree or rather agree that people have the right to choose death through euthanasia while 79% argued that this right could be used in the case of incurable and torturous chronic disease or when all boundaries and pain relief options are exhausted.

The main reasons why one is deprived of the right to euthanasia are spiritual and/or religious (40%), as well as the legislative gap that exists on the issue (31%).

However, in case that the legal framework made euthanasia legal with the explicit consent of the individual, the majority of participants (63%) agree or rather agree that this practice would be acceptable. If euthanasia was socially and medically acceptable and legally permissible in Cyprus, the majority of participants (48%) stated that they agreed or would rather agree if a relative chose to end their life through this procedure.


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