What is Euthanasia?
Euthanasia is considered one of the most controversial issues facing humanity today. Euthanasia is a type of assisted suicide, in other words, where one person helps another person to take their own life. However, the reason for such action occurs where an individual may be facing a very serious debilitating illness that stops them from having a reasonable quality of life, therefore want the action of euthanasia to take place, with the express intention of ending life to relieve persistent suffering.
Ways Euthanasia is performed:
- Lethal injection
- Removal of the means to sustain life (such as, removal of a patient’s feeding tubes)
- Euthanasia may be “active” (the person performs on the euthasia recipient the last act that intentionally causes death) or “passive” (withdrawing ordinary means of sustaining life- food, water, medication)
There are two main classifications on euthanasia:
1) Voluntary Euthanasia – Refers to ending life in a “painless” matter
This form of euthanasia is the voluntary decision of a patient, therefore the doctor terminates the patient’s life, in the case that the patient suffers too much, with no hope of recovery, no hope on a reasonable quality of life and in some cases if the patient wishes to do so, to end financial, or the psychological burden it may overtake on their family.
2) Involuntary Euthanasia – Performed without consent of the patient
This form of euthanasia is the involuntary decision made by friends or family of the patient to end the patient’s life.
Ethical key issues/ questions include:
From different point of views, different opinions result. Some individuals view euthanasia as the practice of ending a life in a painless manner, while many others may disagree with this interpretation, as it needs to include a reference to intractable suffering.
Arguments against euthanasia:
1) Religious vs. Non-religious
Religious people generally oppose euthanasia on the grounds that death should not be forced and only god has that decision, therefore people have no right to go against gods will. Euthanasia is considered either a crime if brought up involuntary, or suicide if brought by choice, therefore both result an act of sinning. Non-religious people, on the other hand, oppose it on the grounds that it could open the door to “sanctioned murder.”
2) Euthanasia will become only “voluntary”
Many people believe that once legalized, emotion and psychological pressures could become overpowering to these individuals. Therefore, if euthanasia is considered a good decision to receive care, many people would then feel guilty for not choosing death, and will feel pressured to do so. Many disabled are not ready to die, and wish to continue with their lives, but if euthanasia is legalized, where assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia were available, would they possibly feel it was the responsible thing to do? If legalized, would the concept of having the “right” to die, be seen as a “duty” to die? The effects financially, will also add pressure that would lead a person to “choose” euthanasia as opposed to voluntarily choosing. As a result, many people believed that voluntary euthanasia will lead to involuntary euthanasia.
3) Once legalized, euthanasia will not be used just for those facing serious illnesses, but those who are depressed
Those depressed will most likely participate in voluntary euthanasia, however depression is curable and not living is considered unreasonable for many people. There are plenty of other healthy ways to cure depression, therefore death is not the answer. Many fear that by legalizing euthanasia, it will open the door to majority of depressed individuals.
4) Euthanasia is a rejection of the value and importance of one’s life.
“With euthanasia no one’s life is being saved – life is only taken.”
Arguments for euthanasia
1) By not allowing someone to make that decision of one’s life, we are taking away a right that contradicts with freedom, doesn’t everyone have the right to make decisions of one’s life?
Many people argue that deciding whether to end one’s life for any reason should be of choice. It should be a legal decision to do so and for their mind alone.it gives a freedom of choice for the individual, and allows the individual to get away from the pain, either physically, and emotionally that they are currently facing.
2) Making euthanasia legal is far more cost effective
Many argue that financially, making euthanasia is a lot more cost effective than having to take care of the person for as long as they live for, and it frees up medical funds to help other people as well. Medications and medical treatment are expensive, why should people who don’t want to live be provided with the treatment?
I think that Euthanasia should be legal but only to those facing extremely horrible circumstances physically due to any sort of medical condition. I believe if the individual is physically unable to do certain things, and if they really don’t want to continue living there life the way it is, they should be given the choice whether to live or not regardless. In my opinion, unbearable pain both physically and emotionally isn’t a way of living. As I mentioned previously as well, financially, making euthanasia legal is far more cost effective than having to take care of the person for as long as they live for and frees up medical funds to help other people as well. Medications and medical treatment are expensive and by providing it to those who don’t want to live, in my opinion, doesn’t seem reasonable.
Past philosophers, such as John Locke, and Immanuel Kant, opposed suicide, therefore euthanasia was considered suicide, regardless how much the individual may be struggling. Locke argued that life itself is a gift that represents an inalienable right, which shouldn’t be taken for granted.
One of Immanuel Kant’s quote states his belief that connects to euthanasia: “act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law.” Therefore, when injecting patients in the act of euthanasia, you must be willing for that to become a universal law so that everybody can do it including your own self. He also argued that we should do moral things out of duty. You must feel that doing euthanasia is the right thing to do out of rational duty, as opposed to some emotional reason or other passion.
Overall, Kant believed that us being humans has huge value itself. Our inherent value doesn’t depend on anything else, regardless having a good life we enjoy or not. The fact that we exist, has enough value itself, meaning we shouldn’t end our lives just because it may seem necessary. Suicide was considered an example of an action that violates moral responsibility in Kant’s eyes. He strictly believed that the proper end of rational beings requires self preservation, therefore suicide would be inconsistent with the fundamental value of human life. As a result, philosopher Kant believed that regardless the situation an individual may be suffering, euthanasia is wrong.