One of the most controversial issues of the modern world is euthanasia. The term itself has developed from the ancient Greek word “euthanatos” which stands for “easy death”. According to BBC Ethics, “euthanasia is the termination of a very sick person’s life in order to relieve them of their suffering”. Most of the time, the patient himself or herself asks for this procedure to be performed. However, in special cases this decision can be made by family members, doctors and even courts. The initial idea of euthanasia was to relieve people of their pain and suffering. Euthanasia is usually applicable mostly for people with incurable diseases. However, many people see this as legalized killings and unfortunately there have been case in which this just might have been so. Moreover, there are also many ethical, religious and practical points to consider. Not for nothing has this topic been a burning one in the past years. Nevertheless, modern medicine has evolved to such a point when machines are able to keep even a dead person alive. That is just one of many reasons why euthanasia should be legalized.
People have the freedom of speech, beliefs, as well as many other freedoms. Among these is the right to refuse medical treatment and even to isolate oneself in a cabin deep inside a forest. The two above mentioned actions can lead to death. A person should be able to decide whether or not it is worth to keep living and suffering the great pain which is so unbearable most of the time. The American Civil Liberties Union stated in its 1996 amicus brief in Vacco v. Quill that if such a process as euthanasia was to become illegal, this would contradict the rights of men which also include “marriage, family relationships, procreation, contraception, child rearing and the refusal or termination of life-saving medical treatment”. Every person is in control of his own body. One really can do anything he or she wants to with it. At times when we feel depressed or sad, we might allow ourselves to eat or drink too much. This does affect our health and does have a negative effect on our wellbeing. However, there is nobody stopping people in bars from drinking or in supermarkets from buying too much ice-cream. Adults should be in control. They are grown-ups for a reason and can make their own choices.
There is also the practical side to be considered. Many patients are kept on life-support for a lot of time with no results. Many suffer excruciating pain for years just to leave this mortal world without getting better. All of this costs much money and effort. Family members often have to pay off the dept of their loved one for year to come. Doctors often distract themselves from the patients that they can save, by spending time with the patients that cannot be saved. It is a hard truth to accept but it must be done. The question here is not only about financial and physical abilities. The issue is also of the other human beings, of the ones whose life can be saved, and who can return to a healthy, nearly carefree existence.
Modern medicine can do wonders. It saves millions but also puts a great number in a horrible position. Medicine keeps them alive. But it is not enough just to be alive. People want to be able to enjoy their life, spend time with their loved ones, set goals and reach them, bring up the future generation. None of this can be done from the four walls of hospital ward, especially if all one can think about is pain or when the next dose of medicine that will ease their pain be injected. People are simply finishing their life with much suffering.
The other side of the issue is that fighting against the implementation of euthanasia. One of their arguments is the doctor’s Hippocratic Oath. According to it, any doctor promises to do all he can to save a person’s life, basically to keep him alive. This is their role as a healer and supposedly their task in life. But should doctors not end our suffering, should the not heal us when the can to ease our pain? When nothing else is to be done, why should not only the patient but also his or her doctor suffer? Not only does the human experience horrible pain, but the doctor also has to go through a lot. It is very difficult to admit that there is nothing else that can be done. As human beings we cannot be completely uncaring. However hard one may try, it is difficult not to feel bad for the person who is suffering. Now only is the life of one person being ruined but the life of another is constantly on edge. Doctors are also humans and they also have people who are close to them and whom they love. They understand how difficult it is to say goodbye but life is such. It begins with birth and ends with death. Between these two states life is to be enjoyed and not spent suffering.
Many say that their accept refusal or non-treatment of patients, but not euthanasia. They accept people to allow themselves to spend days, weeks or even months in extreme pain just to die unexpectedly and bring that much more discomfort to themselves and those around us. How very inhumane. It is true that we are not horses; at least we don’t truly consider ourselves as animals. However, we do end the life of our pets and our beloved animals when we see that their suffering is too much. We don’t just let them run around or limp around until they collapse dead. Why should equal care not be expressed to human beings?
Religion is one of the most demanding opponents of euthanasia. According to the Bible, one is forbidden to take his own life or that of others. Everyone has their own beliefs. This is not the place to criticize any of them. Every person has the right to believe is what he wants. Nevertheless, humans were created to live, to work, to bring up the future generation; not to lie in pain and suffer, hurting not only themselves but those around them.
Some proclaim that a person who is undergoing great pain cannot make a rational decision about his or her death. We are emotional and often cannot control ourselves when life gets too hard. However, euthanasia is different from suicide. Not every person suffering is eligible. Doctors, firth and foremost, are the judges in these cases. Many patients can hope for recovery and there is proof. Moreover, for many, pain is the way to regain their health. But it is important to underline that the decision to terminate one’s life is not made emotionally. If the patient cannot make such a decision for any reason, it is done by others, by people who are perfectly healthy and rational. This problem can be solved not only by doctors and relatives, but also by courts. Euthanasia is not suicide. It is not done because of emotional instability.
Accepting euthanasia is the same as proclaiming that the lives of the ill and the disable are worthless. On the other hand, euthanasia should be implemented to respect the lives of the ill and the disabled. People should be remembered for the time when they enjoyed life, when they laughed and smiles, when they brought happiness to those around us. We should not remember people weak and powerless. Euthanasia helps leave meaning in the lives of the people, it helps remember the good and not focus on the bad.
Some state that implementing euthanasia will undermine the commitments of our healers to save life. However, any job requires dedication. In most cases it is not the laws or rules that make us act in one way or other. It is our personal moral believes that make us who we are. Good doctors, the ones that will fight to the end to save a life, will keep fighting no matter what laws are passed. Those doctors who are not completely dedicated and devoted to their patients will not become more carrying if peaceful dying is introduced. It all depends on who we are and how we were brought up. Laws are made to remind us of our personal beliefs.
The world has split on this issue. Euthanasia has been legalized in such countries as Belgium (since 2002), Canada, Luxembourg (since 2008), Colombia (since 2010) and Netherlands (since 2002). However, such countries as Australia, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Turkey, and the United Kingdom have forbidden it and made it illegal. Although euthanasia is illegal in most parts of the USA it is still implemented, just under a different name. The official name is “mercy dying” and it is basically the same is euthanasia. The other countries that officially ban this kind of action still have some paths to it. Many patients nowadays are kept alive only by life-support. It is the choice of the relatives to turn it off. In most cases this is done because what had been a human being is not roughly, but still truly a vegetable. In small forms euthanasia already exists. It is a matter of time until it is officially introduced into our society.
One of the greatest dangers is that of law. It is believed that euthanasia is something that can quickly get out of control. Many people, among whom are officials, stress that it can turn into murder and such social groups as the poor, the elderly and the disable might be targeted. This is the society we live it. Laws are introduced to keep us in place. But in a way, legalizing euthanasia may actually decrease the number of trials connected with deaths in the hospitals and truly bring out the people who might be responsible for crimes. When something is not defined by law, it means that there are no boundaries. There are always ways to wind oneself through tough laws which ban different acts. Experts know how it is done. However, with the legalization of something which is basically already being done, we can control it more. By allowing our kids to go and play with their friends we are controlling them. By allowing them to do what they want, we not only keep them happy, we stay sure of where they are and what they are doing. Only by implementing clearly defined laws that will openly talk about euthanasia and not give it other names can we control the situation.
Euthanasia should be introduced in our society and those suffering great pain with no chance of returning to a normal life should be allowed to make the decision to end their life. This will not only put an end to their suffering. This will make it easier for their doctors and loved ones. It will decrease the financial burden on the family and leave a positive memory of the person that passed away. Moreover, knowing when death will come, also give a person the opportunity to prepare for it on all possible ways. With the technological process that has touched greatly upon medicine, euthanasia is an act that must be legalized.
1. BBC. Ethics Guide. http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/euthanasia/
2. Euthanasia. http://euthanasia.procon.org/
3. Why we shouldn’t legalize assisting suicide. Burke J. Balch, J.D., and Randall K. O'Bannon. http://www.nrlc.org/euthanasia/asisuid1.html