The term “euthanasia”, also known as assisted suicide, defines the practice of terminating a person’s life intentionally to relieve him or her from undergoing pain and suffering, usually done by a doctor. It involves termination of life in the least painful way. There are the two ways of conducting euthanasia. It is either performedactively by the physician or the lethal drugs are prescribedto the patient by the physician.
The Advantages and Disadvantages
Assisted suicide is among the current debatable issues in bioethics. In this context, the term “euthanasia” will be usedto refer to the act of terminating a person’s life suffering from an incurable or terminal disease.
Patients have the right to “self-rule” or autonomy. Moreover, patients have the right to make informed decisions on their personal issues like medical treatment, which should be respectedby the health care workers and family members.
The principle of beneficence allows doctors to undertake euthanasia. This is the principle of doing good to the patient by taking actions that promote the well-being of them. The motive of a doctor carrying out theirduties is to benefit and better the life of patients.
Assisted suicide is beneficial to patients suffering from terminal diseases, because they are relievedfrom pain; considering a case, where someone is suffering from a terminal disease like diabetes, hepatitis, chronic heart failure, chronic respiratory infections, and congestive heart failure. The result of such conditions is death, regardless of whether medical treatment is administered to the patient or not. In such a situation, the doctor may choose to terminate the life of the patient for the benefit of the suffering person to save him or her from undergoing pain. Moreover, this will save the family members and states from incurring more medical expenses (Adam 1).
Assisted suicide is morally wrong, because the action results in the termination of life; an act, which a morally right individual would never engage in. Euthanasia devalues life, which is consideredto be sacred. Whether voluntary or involuntary, it is against the will of God for any individual to terminate another person’s life. According to religion, the God is the giver of life and only He can take it away. Human beings have no power and authority to interfere with human life. People should not decide to terminate their lives, because it is a precious gift given by the Almighty God. It is considered to besome kind of suicide that degrades the value of human life.
Arguments have been put forward that allowing euthanasia for individuals suffering from terminal diseases would be a gateway to disrespecting the life of certain groups in the society, like the disabled, old, and terminally ill patients against theirwill, which would deny them their right to live. Moreover, allowing euthanasia for terminally ill patients would create a feeling of being neglected in most of them (“Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization” 1). They will have a feeling that they are a burden to their society, friends, and family members. The likelihood of people using this method to evade high medical bills will be higher if it is allowed.
People are likely to resort to assisted suicide to evade simple troubles, which can be solved. Most of them will result to availing themselves for euthanasia. If it was allowed, chances of becoming a norm are high, because it is a cheaper and faster mean of terminating life compared to other forms. This would undermine the quality of health services. Legalizing the assisted suicide would affect the society at large, whether it is a personal decision ornot (“Euthanasia Research and Guidance Organization” 1).
In 1999, Dr. Kevorkian was jailedfor conducting intentional euthanasia on Youk, who had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) (Schneider 1). It is argued that he had conducted euthanasia for more than 130 patients through providing them with lethal drugs to inject themselves. The current contest on euthanasia is likelyto prolong to the future generation. Euthanasia has positive and negative impacts. Therefore, the decision whether it is right or wrong rests on the individual's understanding and ideologies (Claire and Velasquez 1).
Euthanasia may be legal or illegal based on the jurisdiction of a country (“Euthanasia” 1). For example, in the Netherlands, it is used to mean the situation, where the doctor terminates the patient’s life with the patient's consent. Other countries where the practice is legal include Albania, Sweden, Norway, and Belgium. Doctors opt for euthanasia if a patient is suffering from an incurable disease and at the same time, the patient is undergoing chronic pain. In the United States, physicians are bannedfrom carrying out euthanasia. Oregon is the only state in the United States where euthanasia is legalized since some states are still undecided on the issue (“The Associated Press” 1). In 1997, Oregon passed “Death Dignity Act” that has legalized euthanasia (Young 408).
Every individual has the right to die with dignity, regardless of the arguments against the issue. Even with arguments for and against the practice, the decision on whether or not the practice should be legalizeddepends on the individual’s beliefs (“Society Opinions” 1). It is important to keep in mind that death is ultimate and inevitable. This implies that all people will die at some point of time, even if it is not through euthanasia. If euthanasia is allowed, this will give room to those people, who opt for it, to do so with self-esteem. When viewed from the perspective of an individual’s right to live, it will take some time for people to understand that euthanasia is beneficial, as they consider the advantages and disadvantages of it. I do notthink that there is any time, when the issue will be resolvedfully, since people will always have the opposing views on this subject.
The attitude of doctor, lawyer and me
Doctors stick to the idea that the assisted suicide is necessary for a patient who is going through the extreme pain. Lawyers from Sweden and the Netherlands also accept the assisted suicide, since the practice has been legalized. Assisted suicide is still practiced in both countries. In this regard, I contend with the idea that every person has the right to die; thus, supporting the acceptance of euthanasia.
In conclusion, studies have shown that there are very few cases where the palliative drug treatment relives patients from pain. Even with the administration of the best treatment measures the majority of dying patients is not adequately relieved from pain. Most of the terminally ill patients are forcedto depend fully on other members of the family for the provision of basic needs, because of the general body weakness. Many patients find it hard to cope with the situation. Instead of suffering from a disease, which will lead eventually to death, euthanasia should be legalizedto save such patients from pain. Just as people have right to choose whether to undergo treatment or not, they should be allowed to choose when to die. This will spare the family, friends, and relatives of the patient from the agony of having theirloved ones suffer and experience a painful death. The decision of the patient should be respectedif he or she thinks that life is no longer meaningful to him or her. Secondly, if the doctor feels that terminating the patient’s life will be of benefit, the action is morally upright. Although euthanasia will lead to the death of the patient, the patient will be savedfrom suffering.