Do You Think That the Right to Life Entails a Right to Die Under Certain Circumstances?
I am going to answer these two questions in this essay. They are “Do you think that the right to life entails a right to die under certain circumstances? ” and “Should the laws be changed to grant a universal right to voluntary euthanasia? ”. In this essay, I am going to give reasons using ethical theories to justify these questions. Euthanasia Euthanasia is the act of a physician or other third party ending a patient’s life in response to severe pain and suffering. Euthanasia can be classified into three types. They are voluntary euthanasia, non-voluntary euthanasia and involuntary euthanasia.
Involuntary euthanasia is the action that takes the patient’s life without any informed consent of the patient but the patient may want to live. Non-voluntary euthanasia is the person who is killed made no decision or gave any consent. Voluntary euthanasia is the act that the doctor and the patient both agree to end patient’s life. Moreover, euthanasia can be classified into active and passive euthanasia. Active euthanasia means using medical professionals, or another person, deliberately do something to causes the patient to die.
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Passive euthanasia occurs when the patient dies because the medical professionals either don’t do something necessary to keep the patient alive, or when they stop doing something that is keeping the patient alive. Right to life Right to life is one of human rights which including right to life, free speech, free assembly, and freedom of movement, freedom of conscience and religion, right to privacy, together with right to vote and stand for office. Right to life is a phrase that describes the belief that a human being has an essential right to live, particularly that a human being has the right not to be killed by another human being.
In the question, whether we have right to die under certain circumstances that we want to commit suicide or allow assisted suicide or to decline life-prolonging treatment in order to reduce the pain and suffering of the person. Moral reasons In the following, I will take an example of a people who has persistent vegetative state wanted to die in order to reduce suffering. It is a voluntary euthanasia. Utilitarianism tells us that whether an action is right or wrong depends on its consequences and the right thing to do is to promote the happiness of most people.
If he has the right to die, it can eliminate the suffering of the person, decrease psychological burden of his family and decrease financial burden of his family and also the society. However, it will increase the suffering of his family. In this case, the amount of the happiness is more than the amount of the unhappiness. Therefore, this action is right in Act Utilitarianism of Utilitarianism theory. However, in rule Utilitarianism, this action is wrong because of breaking the Hong Kong’s law. Kantian Ethics tells us the right action is to act from duty. We have moral duties to not kill and not allow to die wherever possible.
Moreover, Kantian Ethics is concerned with the act itself but not the consequences. Kant’s theory said people should never be merely means to an end-in-itself. We should never kill someone in order to reduce suffering, or save money. Therefore, non-voluntary euthanasia and involuntary euthanasia are not allowed in this theory. Using the above example, when we has persistent vegetative state that want to die because we have no will in our live, we also want someone intend that others follow our will. So, vetoing a person’s will cannot from a universal law because there is a contradiction.
Therefore, we should not be allowed to veto a person’s will especially the patient’s relatives and the doctors and it shows that this action is right. Liberalism is political philosophy that emphasizes individual freedom and basic rights (Life, Liberty and Property). In the above example, if his relatives veto his will, they will not be allowed. There are reasons according the Liberalism, we have freedom to do anything on the condition that we do not harm any people. In this case, his relatives have a right to reject but the patient have a right to live or die.
However, if the patient wants to die, it will harm to himself. This action will not be allowed and it will break the harm principle of the Liberalism. According to Confucianism’s theory was involved in being genuinely human and a good character. Being a good character would not kill out of any ill intention, but may let somebody die out of care for the particular individuals involved in the case. In the above example, if having voluntary euthanasia in order to reduce suffering, causing his death is done with good intentions and out of love and respect for the patient, then the decision would show good character.
Conclusion In fact, voluntary euthanasia is prohibited in Hong Kong. However, most of the ethics theories support the example of voluntary euthanasia of a people who has persistent vegetative state wanted to die in order to reduce suffering that this action is right. Therefore, I think we should change the law to grant a universal right to voluntary euthanasia in order to reduce patient’s suffering. All in all, I think the right entails a right to die under certain circumstances and the law should be changed to grant a universal right to voluntary euthanasia.
1.From Angela Morrow, RN, former About.com Guide, (2009), Euthanasia, [Online] Available: http://dying.about.com/od/glossary/g/euthanasia.htm (22/12/2012) 2.BBC, Ethics guide, Active and passive euthanasia [Online] Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/euthanasia/overview/activepassive_1.shtml (26/12/2012) 3.Wikipedia, Right to life, [Online] Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_life (20/12/2012) 4.Heather Bloor, Yahoo! Contributor Network, An Ethics Case Study on the Right to Die and the Withdrawal of Medical Treatment [Online] Available: http://voices.yahoo.com/an-ethics-case-study-right-die-withdrawal-4612503.html?cat=5 (26/12/2012)