Most people do not like to talk or even think about death; much less the topic of ending one’s own life. For some, death is a desired alternative to living on in agony. Euthanasia has been a topic of debate since antiquity, and both sides stand firm on their beliefs. The innate right to choose death is illegal in most countries. I believe in peoples freedom to do what they please with their own bodies. The basic right of liberty is what America was founded on. Governments have over stepped their boundaries. Euthanasia should be made a legal option.
It’s important to start by understanding the different types of euthanasia. Allowing someone to die is, “Forgoing or withdrawing medical treatment that offers no hope of benefit to the total well-being of the patient, or that imposes burdens disproportionate to the potential benefits, allows the patient to die” (Manning 2). Traditionally called passive euthanasia, allowing someone to die was redefined by and is acceptable in the Catholic Church. Active euthanasia, also known as physician-assisted suicide, is when someone other than the patient ends the life of the patient upon explicit request.
I view active and passive euthanasia to be one in the same with one very real difference; allowing someone to die delays the inevitable and the patient is left to twist and turn awhile longer. Peter Chesterfield comments, “A terminally ill, mentally competent patient like me should not be forced to suffer. This is as morally unacceptable as murder” (CTD. In Friedman 8). On the other hand, ‘The phrase ‘mercy killing’ refers to someone’s taking a direct action to terminate a patient’s life without the patient’s permission” (FROM MY ETHICS BOOK Thorium and Ackermann 184).
Mercy killing is the form of euthanasia that must be properly monitored and consist of strict guidelines if ever to be made legal. If appropriate advance directives were taken, mercy killing would never occur. By knowing what one would want under the given situation, the act would be active euthanasia. There are several reasons for the opposition of euthanasia. The first I would like to discuss is Natural Law. The argument is that killing ourselves goes against our very nature. I also think being in excruciating pain for the remainder of a short life is not very natural. What is natural is the want, rather the need to end such pain.
If there is no hope of extending life without constant suffering, continuing on in such a manner is nothing but self-inflicting punishment. Natural Law has granted us free will, which brings me to the next point. “Autonomy is the right of a person to control his or her own body and life decisions” (Manning 26). This is absolutely correct. Governments, groups, and various people can argue against autonomy forever. The simple fact is we have control over ourselves, whether people like it or not. It gives us an added susceptibility to thoroughly think about what it is we do with our bodies.
These are decisions for the individual. Many Of us go through life trying to control everything that happens around us and, at times, situations that do not involve us. The one thing we can control is ourselves. Everyone passes judgment and often overlooks what is within. Nobody takes euthanasia more seriously than those considering it. The choice is not a split decision. This is something people deeply meditate upon before going through with the act. There is not one soul I know who is quick to end their life. Like many religions, the Catholic faith views euthanasia as entirely unacceptable.
Pope John Paul II declares euthanasia to be a grave violation of the law of God, and true compassion is sharing in the pain of the suffering, not killing them (Manning 23). It’s interesting to note the exception Pope Pips XII made in an address to anesthesiologists, “he reasserted that there was no moral obligation to apply every life-saving measure regardless of burden or benefit, and he permitted the use of end-stage narcotic pain relief, even if it hastened the advance of death” (Manning 21 The Catholic Church is an institution where hypocrisy has run rampant since its beginning.
The Crusades are a fine example of how Catholicism has made exceptions to the rule of killing when it comes to their endeavors. I consider myself to be a spiritual person. I believe life is a test of sorts. I do not believe a person will be damned if they end their life under extreme circumstances or fail part Of the test of life in the eyes of God. A solid argument is made for hospice care. People can die naturally with little pain and live out the remainder of their days in comfort. This is not an option made readily available for everyone. Even if it was, have to wonder about the quality of life.
If someone is constantly and heavily sedated, the quality of their life has plummeted to that of a rock with minimal awareness. I definitely do not want to experience any time as a rock. Those that are terminal or have debilitating diseases often feel they are prisoners in their body. And what about the quality of life for the patient’s loved one’s? In many cases, families lose their financial stability and peace of mind in an attempt to do every little thing they can. Their efforts are usually all for naught, for the attain is usually terminal or hanging on to a life they feel is not worth hanging on to.
Still, just because euthanasia could be an option, it does not mean that everyone would go that route. “The evidence from Oregon suggests that access to [physician-assisted death] might actually increase life satisfaction among critically ill persons by assuring them that the option of release is within their control if and when they actually desire it” (Hang 16). What are the obligations off Doctor? When healing is no longer a possibility, they are called upon to comfort their patients. I do not believe it is a doctor’s obligation to personally carry out the act of euthanasia.
They have a right to refuse the direct administering of life ending drugs. Doctors should not be forced to live with any guilt that may come from purposely ending a life. This does not mean the option of euthanasia should be stripped from the patient. Doctors can still provide the means to pass on peacefully without directly partaking in the act. It would then be the patient’s or the family’s obligation to carry out the procedure. No matter if a doctor allows the patient o die, provides the means for euthanasia, or administers the drugs him or herself, the end result is the same.
Doctors should be allowed to speed up the inevitable process by the request of the patient without coming under fire of legal ramifications. People who are in such agony and determined to end their life will find a way, whether it’s legal or not, even if they die in unfavorable circumstances or surroundings. “Roger Magnusson, an associate professor at the University of Sydney Law School in Australia… Claims that PAS should be legalized so that the problems associated with underground euthanasia, including botched attempts to aid death, will end” (Snyder 85).
Euthanasia should be legalized, affording the ill the right to die safely with dignity and insuring the option to be surrounded by loved ones. Allowing someone to die does not promise the presence of family and friends. The law does not stop a person who is trying to end their life. The final concern I would like to discuss is the Slippery Slope Argument, which basically is the very real possibility of euthanasia being abused within society. Legalizing euthanasia could tempt the corrupt into carrying out unthinkable acts. Our society has plenty of terrible people within it. Some of those people are doctors.
Undoubtedly, there would be cases where documents would be forged so that people would be put to death without their consent. Doctors would probably do so in order to harvest organs that would net a large profit. In another hypothetical scenario, the sick may feel pressure from their family and end up deciding death is the best option. Sometimes, family members might convince their sick towards euthanasia in order to receive an inheritance. These scenarios are beside the point, for we are now looking into more complex question of ethics and morality; Are we give up our rights in order to prevent abuse?
There will always be corruption and curbing it is a completely different debate. Being afraid of abuse does not mean we should strip ourselves of our rights. A good example of euthanasia procedure as a system with checks and balances is in place right here in the United States. Laura S. Friedman writes: In order to receive assisted suicide in Oregon, a person must be terminally ill with less than six months to live, be mentally competent and able to make his or her own medical decisions, and be valuated by two separate doctors.
A patient is then given a prescription for a lethal medication, which the patient self-administers- a doctor does not give the lethal dose. (7) The right to choose what we do with our bodies was bestowed upon us the moment we were born. If euthanasia is illegal, why is capital punishment and abortion legal? I’m not saying that everyone should kill themselves. I am saying everyone has a choice.