HomeoldEuthanasia could be option for poor, says Lithuanian health minister

Euthanasia could be option for poor, says Lithuanian health minister

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Euthanasia might be needed for poor people who cannot access palliative care, the new Lithuanian Health Minister has suggested. Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė was sworn earlier this month, but already she has made waves by backing an open discussion of the legalisation of euthanasia.

Without making any specific proposals, she told local media that Lithuania was not a welfare state with palliative care available for all and that euthanasia might be an option for people who did not want to torment relatives with the ‘spectacle’ of their suffering.

The minister has also raised the idea of euthanasia for children. She noted that this option had been approved for Belgian children after a long public debate. It was an option which might be appropriate in Lithuania as well after public debate.

Ms Šalaševičiūtė will face an uphill battle in her campaign to introduce Lithuanians to euthanasia. Many doctors and the Catholic Church oppose it. Dr Andrius Narbekovas, who is both a priest and a doctor, and a member of the Health Ministry’s bioethics commission, told the media:

“The Ministry of Health should protect health and life, instead of looking for ways to take life away. It goes without saying that it is … profitable and cost effective … But a democratic society should very clearly understand that we have to take care of the sick, not kill them.”

The statement made by the Lithuanian health minister suggesting that euthanasia could be an option for the poor has sparked significant debate and controversy. While the topic of euthanasia is already highly contentious, linking it to socioeconomic status raises a host of ethical, moral, and practical concerns.

Advocates of euthanasia argue that it provides individuals with a dignified and compassionate end-of-life option, particularly for those suffering from terminal illnesses or unbearable pain. However, extending euthanasia as an option for the poor raises questions about equality, access to healthcare, and the potential for coercion or exploitation.

In a society where economic disparities already exist, introducing euthanasia as a possible solution for the poor could exacerbate existing inequalities. It may create a situation where individuals feel pressured to choose euthanasia due to financial constraints or lack of access to quality healthcare, rather than as a genuine expression of their wishes.

Furthermore, there are significant ethical considerations surrounding the role of healthcare professionals in facilitating euthanasia, particularly when it comes to vulnerable populations such as the poor. Doctors take an oath to prioritize the well-being and care of their patients, and introducing euthanasia as an option for certain socioeconomic groups may conflict with this duty.

Additionally, there are concerns about the potential for abuse or misuse of euthanasia laws, particularly in cases where patients may not have the capacity to make fully informed decisions or where external pressures may influence their choices.

Overall, while the debate over euthanasia is complex and multifaceted, linking it to poverty raises additional ethical and practical challenges. Instead of exploring euthanasia as a solution for the poor, efforts should focus on improving access to quality healthcare, palliative care, and support services for all individuals, regardless of their socioeconomic status. By addressing the root causes of suffering and inequality, society can better uphold the dignity and rights of all individuals, especially in their final moments of life.


Chelsea Garcia is a political writer with a special interest in international relations and social issues. Events surrounding the war in Ukraine and the war in Israel are a major focus for political journalists. But as a former local reporter, she is also interested in national politics.

Chelsea Garcia studied media, communication and political science in Texas, USA, and learned the journalistic trade during an internship at a daily newspaper. In addition to her political writing, she is pursuing a master's degree in multimedia and writing at Texas.

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