Euthanasia is a legal way for a terminally-ill patient to die without suffering upon his/her will. There is a discourse going on between those who are for and against this procedure. By all means, voluntary euthanasia might be considered as the only legal way to quit one’s life, while all the other medical manipulations that lead to death of a patient are illegal. Euthanasia is prohibited in many countries. In the countries where euthanasia is allowed, the legislative basis regulating it is rather weak. In particular, it is not clear how a doctor’s impartiality might be guaranteed along with the ethical dilemma of performing or not performing euthanasia. It is also hard to understand how the soundness and firmness of patients’ decision might be ensured, because, based on their instable emotional and medical conditions, people might change their minds quite often. In fact, the boundary between euthanasia and murder is very weak. Therefore, I think the contemporary society is not ready for the legalization of euthanasia, so I am strictly against it. However, the pro-euthanasia approach has the right to exist. Therefore, this paper concentrates on the most common arguments for (humane attitude to patients, people should have control of their bodies) and against (religious, historical, practical, and ethical) euthanasia.
Religious and Historical Perspectives of Euthanasia
In order to support the anti-euthanasia approach, the religious and historical perspectives view euthanasia as an act that should be prohibited. Religious view of euthanasia criticizes any attempt to quit life with external assistance. Only God who created us has the right to take away our life. Based on the sacral texts, priests forbid euthanasia and highlight the importance of suffering that enhances spiritual growth. From this point of view, euthanasia is considered an act of suicide, which is contrary to the Commandments of God and is treated as a self-murder (Psalm 31:15). The historical approach supports the religious one, stating that treatment of lives of some people, superior to the others (for example, of terminally-ill patients), is morally wrong. Indeed, a world would turn into a horrible place if every person decided that he/she might take away other people’s lives without any restriction. Moreover, decision about euthanasia might not be compromised by any means: people’s interests and rights should be paramount. Unfortunately, in real world, such an unprejudiced attitude to this matter is impossible. As a result, there will always be some degree of bias when doctors undertake the role of the Mighty in making decision about euthanasia. This situation might go as far as to turn the voluntary euthanasia into the involuntary one (BBC.com.uk).
Humane Attitude to Patients
Supporters of euthanasia claim that it is humane to release people from suffering by helping them to commit suicide. This opinion might be supported by the statement that humane attitude to patients should consider relief from suffering and facilitation of patient’s condition. In case of terminally-ill patients who experience extreme pain that might not be relieved with the help of medicine, euthanasia might be considered as a form of humanity. Acting out of these intentions seems to be morally good, but, in fact, this issue is more complex. To exemplify, Doyal and Doyal consider a case when a patient was denied euthanasia, because clinicians were still able to sustain patient’s life with the help of special equipment and drugs (Doyal and Doyal). However, such a condition cannot be called life, but rather a life-sustainability with the help of medical drugs and devices. By all means, proponents of euthanasia legalization need to do a lot, in order to provide a well-grounded and sound basis based on precedent that would be able to regulate the act of mercy killing effectively.
Practical and Ethical Arguments against Euthanasia
From ethical and practical angles, euthanasia should be prohibited. Ethically treated, decision about euthanasia is a complex moral dilemma that does not have right or wrong solution. Each side of this dilemma might be supported by credible arguments, but the final decision about euthanasia cannot be made with the help of ethical approach. Likewise, this decision cannot be found practically. The truth is that legalization of euthanasia will lead to negligent attitude to terminally-ill patients, might be used as an instrument of pressure (for example, to utilize medical resources more economically, to relieve the burden for poor families, etc.). It might also slow down the development of new treatment therapies for terminally-ill patients (BBC.com.uk). As a result, euthanasia will become an unregulated act that is almost impossible to control. Doctors will have almost unlimited power to decide about other people’s lives, which is inadmissible. In this regard, wisdom should hint everyone that euthanasia is not the right choice for a person who lives in the contemporary society.
Decision about Euthanasia Should Be Private
Proponents of euthanasia claim that death is an intimate matter and that everyone has the inborn right to choose whether or not to continue his/her life in suffering and pain. Every person has a set of beliefs and convictions that shape his/her worldview and influence one’s decisions. For example, if a person is an atheist, he or she might want to have ultimate control over his/her body and be able to make important decisions about its functioning. This approach to euthanasia appeals to many documents that regulate human rights, declaring that no person should be tortured. Similarly, daily pain, which is released for some time by drugs might be treated as a torture for a terminally-ill patient. Indeed, a person who is of sound mind should be able to decide about whether or not to agree for medical treatment prescribed by doctors. From this perspective, drugs that might kill might be treated as an option for a patient, as an alternative to a therapy. Doyal and Doyal support the patients’ desire to have “autonomy” in this issue and add that everyone deserves “dignity” in attitude, especially when one’s life is close to death (Doyal and Doyal). By giving patients the right to decide about euthanasia, the subjectivity is eliminated and external bias is minimized, since an able person bears full responsibility for his/her decisions.
In this paper, the controversial issue of euthanasia was examined. Overall, the arguments against euthanasia are more grounded and reasonable. However, there might be no final conclusion about whether or not euthanasia should be legalized, since each person might have his/her own opinion on this issue. Furthermore, it is important for everyone to make his/her own decision about euthanasia, based on thorough research and personal beliefs. Even in the countries where euthanasia is legalized, this measure should be the ultimate one, when all other solutions had no result. In this case, euthanasia should be well-considered and applied conscientiously. The legislative basis for euthanasia should be thoroughly worked out, based on precedent and experience of other countries. Still, religious, historical, ethical, and practical approaches support the anti-euthanasia position, while humane and private perspectives defend the pro-euthanasia choice.