Many cases of euthanized individuals are not being reported given the assumption of killing in the name of mercy or providing ultimately, good death (CHN International; Patients Rights Council; Pereira; The Telegraph). Whether it was the patients’ wish/will or with the consent of family members, people were terminated prior to their natural death because of their continual suffering or long agony brought about by their vegetative condition. Given such scenario, defenders or pro-euthanasia advocate for the basic human rights of all people, not only of life, but also death. They insist that brain dead patients, via their loved ones, should be given the legal permission for doctors to end their lives. On the other hand, opponents or anti-euthanasia groups insist that (mercy) killing people (or letting others do it for them) is similar to murder –even with legal and medical consents (Basri 48). Hence, the question remains whether to legalize euthanasia or not based on various claims and counterclaims of those who are in favor or against euthanasia. For me, euthanasia should not be legalized because of the many negative repercussions it has for patients, family members, and societies worldwide.
Pro-euthanasia people claim that all people have the explicit rights to choose what to do with their lives, even to the point of ending it (Debate.org). For them, people possess the personal freedom to do as they please with their lives, such as when under the anathema of a debilitating illness. Additionally, pro-euthanasia individuals argue that all human beings have inalienable rights to life, liberty, property, and/or even death. Since people own their lives, it is on their own discretion and risk to choose among the best alternatives in life. For instance, some Japanese who save faces resort to hara-kiri or the traditional ritual suicide. Hence, not far from the concept of various forms of self-destruction, euthanasia is considered as an alternative too for people who want to end their life because of unbearable suffering, hopes for a good death, and possibly fears of abuse. Moreover, if people’s rights to terminate their lives do not violate other individuals’ rights, mercy killing should be legally permitted by our society. For pro-euthanasia groups, it is a violation of personal freedom if people are denied the help to achieve quick death because their pitiful life is now unworthy of continued existence. Thus, many adherents of euthanasia assert that upon people attaining maturity, they should already have control over all their decisions in life. Since people on earth came into this world without predetermined consent, it is only fitting now that as rational individuals, they should be given full discretionary power to decide and act according to their best interest as autonomous beings. Family members of those who undergo good death are thankful for having physician-assisted death because it is already nearly impossible for them to live normal lives. The death wish is like a sweet smelling aroma for their souls once they finally become detached from the excruciating pains.
Further, pro-euthanasia advocates insist that to avoid great economic burden, wastage of health, medical, and other resources, patients in vegetative states should rather be allowed to die. The reason is for them to help conserve a variety of resources for other hundreds or even millions of indigent individuals who need more immediate help and treatment for curable diseases. Apparently, pro-euthanasia individuals believe that there are more people from many underdeveloped and calamity-prone countries who need the most financial services (such as, healthcare, medical). If more scarce resources are saved, thousands or even millions of people will be cured to live healthy and meaningful lives and become productive members again of their society (such as when money is allocated on research for the cure). Since some individuals who suffer constantly excruciating pain want to die anyway, it is best to allot human services, such as less expensive drugs and other amenities to those who have a greater chance of recuperating from common diseases (such as in the use of vaccine). If people who are comatose, terminally ill, or in vegetative states continue to live for years or decades, we only let them suffer the more and remain as burdens of their families and society. Because there usually is not a cure for diseases that require mercy killing, people in favor of pleasant death reason out: Why should not we rather give them what they want or deserve (that is, peaceful death).
Given the arguments above by pro-euthanasia groups/individuals, if euthanasia is legalized, many people can then choose the right to die as an alternative or for their best interest. With laws, euthanasia would be practiced legally and it would mean proper regulatory measures of medical practitioners. Thus, instead of licensed doctors performing euthanasia clandestinely, it won’t be the case because they won’t get penalized anymore. Just like prostitution, gambling, abortion, etc. in other countries, because they are legal, there is no problem for practitioners to engage in activities considered illicit by other countries. They are also not stigmatized, incarcerated, made as outcast, and so on. People who opt to do such activities freely do so lawfully. So, why not do the same for mercy killing? Further, since euthanasia happens anywhere anyway at any time across the world, pro-euthanasia claimers push for its lawful implementation as the only possible best solution. With euthanasia being legal, many physicians would then practice mercy killing without much burden to their conscience either. Since death is a part of the normal cycle of life, why should we not rather have euthanasia as an alternative? Should we rather allow it to be illegal so that more people will be incarcerated for being merciful to their loved one? Are not other countries have harsher laws, who kill others for the sake of their tradition (e.g., beheading other human being whose religious practices are contrary to theirs)? Why should not rather legalize euthanasia so that practitioners have to follow utmost professional standards in performing mercy killing? However, before delivering my final statement about this polemical matter, let me proceed with those who are against the legalization of mercy killing.
The refutation to the above first pro-euthanasia argument is that anti-euthanasia groups argue that despite people having rights, freedom, or free will, it is limited. God has the Sole Authority to take people’s lives. Since God is the Provider of Life and Everything, He alone is the Rightful Claimer of the life of any person. Despite the fact that individuals die in different manners, God has the final word when it is time for human beings to rest in peace. In other words, anything that people call freedom is limited because of being mortal beings only. Unlike God who is Immortal, although He takes again people’s lives, He alone can resurrect them. No one, for that matter, is above The Almighty. People should not use their freedom to do anything that is contrary to the normal flow of nature. Hence, many euthanasia groups argue that no argument is best to justify mercy killing no matter how good people’s reasoning and intentions are. Anti-euthanasia people assert that no person is as merciful as God. Because human beings will die anyway, let alone God decide when it is time for them to face death. Further, individuals who like mercy killing will only weaken respect for the sanctity of life in the long run. The fact that there are unscrupulous and evil-minded individuals means that they will advance their own self- or vested-interest. In some cases, even when someone who is terminally ill or in vegetative state does not want to die, that is, should he/she be given the chance to be conscious and speak, he/she may not concur with the supposedly ‘mercy’ that is to be shown by these evil people. Somehow, many individuals still believe in miracles, that they do happen. So, as believers of God, they do wait and see rather succumb to futility.
Likewise, for anti-mercy killing groups, killing dying human beings to conserve scarce health, financial, medical, etc. resources is simply a foolish idea of evil-minded individuals. People’s lives are more precious than all the material possessions in the world. Likewise, if individuals are simply considered as undesirable members of their family/society, more ethical problems may ensue. Professionals and other practitioners may abuse the authority given to them by law to get rid of their enemies, disabled individuals, and special children seen as burdens only of our society. When we kill our fellow human beings, can we bring their lives back should there suddenly be a cure for their diseases? Maybe, that is already next to impossible.
In conclusion, I am not in favor of legalizing euthanasia because I strongly believe that God is most loving, most merciful, and wisest than anyone else. In addition, mercy killing might only lead to other unexpected disadvantages (e.g., infanticide, genocide, “extreme dementia,” etc.) (Beckler). Moreover, it can be used for more inhumane acts. Further, legalizing euthanasia would undermine more and more the sanctity of lives because not all professionals will act in the name of laws, their conscience, etc. Some selfish individuals who value money more than lives will have more chance to kill others intentionally for their own evil purposes and gains. Therefore, euthanasia will be much more unfavorable to anyone who live but once; so, why not rather value life despite anything contrary to it? Yet, I still want to live the question with you: Should euthanasia be legalized? It is yours to decide.
Basri, Zakyah. Euthanasia: Which M Is It? Mercy Or Murder? Indiana: AuthorHouse, 2012. Print.
Beckler, Joshua. Kantian Ethics: A Support for Euthanasia with Extreme Dementia. 2012. Web. 2 December 2013. <http://www.cedarville.edu/personal/sullivan/cedarethics/papers/2012/beckler.pdf>.
CHN International. Euthanasia in the U.K. 2005. Web. 7 December 2013. <http://www.chninternational.com/Euthanasia%20in%20UK.htm>.
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Griffith, Richard. "When Does Life-Sustaining Treatment Become Futile?" British Journal Of Nursing 22.10 (2013): 590-591. Print.
Hendry, Maggie, et al. "Why Do We Want The Right To Die? A Systematic Review Of The International Literature On The Views Of Patients, Carers And The Public On Assisted Dying." Palliative Medicine 27.1 (2013): 13-26. Print.
Johnston, Will. Rebranding Killing and Suicide: The Ugly Truth About Euthanasia. 19 October 2013. Web. 4 December 2013. <http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/will-johnston/euthanasia-assisted-suicide_b_3779914.html>.
Patients Rights Council. Background about Euthanasia in The Netherlands. 2013. Web. 7 December 2013. <http://www.patientsrightscouncil.org/site/holland-background/>.
Pereira, J. "Legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide: the illusion of safeguards and controls." Current Oncology 19.3 (2012): e227. Web. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3070710/>.
The Telegraph. Number of Dutch killed by euthanasia rises by 13 per cent. 24 September 2013. Web. 6 December 2013. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/netherlands/10330823/Number-of-Dutch-killed-by-euthanasia-rises-by-13-per-cent.html>.