Turkish medical students' perspectives on pediatric euthanasia
Ekmekci, Perihan Elif
Sezer, Omer Arda
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Background The legalization and paradigmatic cases,. such as Baby Doe, have initiated a debate on pediatric euthanasia. This paper examines the historic background, the current extent of implementation, and the main ethical arguments on pediatric euthanasia and analyzes the perceptions of Turkish medical students' attitude towards this new issue of medical ethics. Methods An online survey was conducted among Turkish medical students. Questions included: responders' perceptions of euthanasia, futile treatment, abuse of legalization, any specific requirements and conditions, who should decide, the right of minors to seek euthanasia, and the attitudes of physicians to applying lifesaving procedures on pediatric patients. Results Participants had a negative attitude towards euthanasia and did not agree that physicians should decide not to resuscitate an infant with severe abnormalities and a low chance of survival. They did not consider the economic burden of the treatments to be a determining factor for euthanasia. The majority agreed that the legalization of euthanasia would lead to misuse and would deprive patients of treatments currently available for untreatable conditions. Conclusions The increase in access to life-sustaining medical interventions, together with insufficient resources, draws attention to end-of-life decisions even for pediatric patients. This survey records the perceptions of medical students in Turkey about pediatric euthanasia, which may be a bigger issue by the time they start their professional life. More research focusing on the effect of various variables on perceptions and attitudes should be carried out to highlight the issue and empower discussions.