Countless debates have been conducted in recent years regarding euthanasia. It is a topic of great significance and sensitivity, because in the simplest terms, it is a debate about someone’s right to take his/her own life. Ultimately the legalization of euthanasia is a matter of human rights, and therefore the outcome of its debate has great implications on how humans define those inalienable rights. The arguments against euthanasia are numerous, and many of them are valid, good, humanitarian points. After all, euthanasia has been used to justify some of history’s most horrific and terrible genocides and injustices throughout the world.
However, the debate of euthanasia, like life, is very complicated. It is very opaque, not black and white. By and large, euthanasia should be illegal. However, to outlaw it universally no matter the circumstance, forces suffering upon certain people and deprives them of their only relief. Legalizing euthanasia is a very controversial topic, however it should be legal in very limited and exact, fiercely regulated situations. Respect for patient autonomy is a standard for human rights within the medical practice, and the choice of euthanasia is an essential part of these rights.
The concept of patient autonomy is a fairly recent standard in medical ethics. After World War II, all the despicable Nazi medical experiments became known to the world. After much litigation and evaluation, the current concept of patient autonomy became very important. The result was that no one may force another to be the subject of research against his/her will. The patient has the option to choose how he/she should be treated. This standard is now all but universally accepted in democratic countries. Currently, the right not to suffer is an indispensible part of patient autonomy and of human rights the world over (Annas 1992).
The choice of euthanasia should be available to patients who are physically incapable of taking their own lives. There are people who are paralyzed in a tragic accident or dying a slow miserable death for years. These people don’t have the choice to decide about their own life. Some of them are alive only by some elaborate medications or machinery without which their bodies will stop living. It used to be the law of natural selection that decided the fate of an injured human being. These days we have machines and committees to “choose” life to continue, though it is more like forcing life without consent.
According to nature, our bodies would die far earlier than we sometimes allow. However, it is considered an offense when somebody is helping another person to take his/her own life. There is no law against suicide. Paralyzed or physically inept people have already been robbed of enough: their physical faculties. Is it really the right of another person, a politician, to force their suffering and ensure the inferiority of their liberty by denying them a right a non handicapped person has: suicide? There is a main difference between euthanasia and suicide.
Euthanasia is the last choice for people who are suffering and dying, incapable of taking their own lives. In countries where euthanasia is illegal, patients who are mortally ill or wounded, don’t have the option to choose when death will meet them. Healthy, non-handicapped people who decide to commit suicide have the option to choose when they will meet their death (Leavitt 1996). To deny these people the only escape from their suffering and misery, through suicide, is to prolong their suffering and in effect to sustain it.
Euthanasia can be legal in limited, patient chosen scenarios without running the risk of being abused to justify the systematic murder of people. Many opponents of euthanasia agree that to deny a person incapable of choosing suicide is to “force” that person to continue to suffer. Such people oppose the legalization of euthanasia, based on the “slippery slope” argument. That is, if euthanasia is legal at all, eventually an evil person will be able to justify murder as legal (Dees). These possibilities are very important for lawmakers to take into consideration.
However, the slippery slope arguments are not inevitable. The physical evidence does not support opponents. As Leavitt reports, there is no support for the “slippery slope” arguments. Legislators were scared that euthanasia will be overused, but the number of people who accessed euthanasia increased only in small amounts (p. 48). Because pain is subjective, and can be caused by a very complex number of things, it becomes difficult to create legal boundaries to define and quantify it (Dees,Vernooij-Dassen, Dekkers, & van Weel p. 339-352).
Though this is true, it does not mean it is absolutely inevitable that all people suffering and wanting to die should be denied that privlege. Approaches to euthanasia vary from country to country, and even within the same country opinions are divided. Euthanasia is legal in Netherlands (2000), Switzerland, Belgium (2002), Luxemburg (2009), and Albania (1999). In the USA, Oregon became the first state to pass The Death With Dignity Act (2005), which “allows terminally ill Oregon residents to obtain and use prescriptions from their physicians for self-administered, lethal medications. Under the Act, providing these medications to end one’s life does not constitute illegal assisted suicide. Of course, the individual has to meet certain requirements, such as being over age of 18 years old and diagnosed with a terminal illness and capable to make conscious decisions. The “Death with Dignity Act” doesn’t include patients who are in a vegetable state and not able to make decision, but this is a big step in right direction (Law and Medicine 1995). Another important argument for legalizing euthanasia is the cost of keeping patients alive.
It is common for a terminally ill patient to lose all their savings while sitting helplessly in the hospital, against their will, with no hope of recovery. This is especially true for people without health insurance. A patient in this situation must sit passively, as they suffer in helpless pain, while the money of their families and loved ones is drained for a hopeless cause, for the maintaining of the misery and terror that life is for them. They take up time, resources of the hospital and its staff, and taxpayer dollars.
All a patient in this circumstance wants is to end it all. Yet somehow, by denying them their wish to end it all, the suffering of that individual is spread like a virus, and becomes a collective suffering, shared by all and alleviated by nothing but that which the government and “law” denies them. As Taylor (2005) reported that “Some 28 percent of this year’s Medicare budget of $290 billion (projected to grow to $649 billion by 2015) will be spent on people in their last year of life. In many cases, the main effect will be to prolong the pain of impending death” (p. 58). Not only does this money go to a “lost cause” whereby the beneficiary of the law and resources is only made to suffer by those same offerings, others who want to choose life are further denied in their options because of how those government funds are allocated. As Taylor points out again, “If the right-to-lifers put our money where their mouths are, we may spend more tax dollars to postpone the expiration of post-sentient Alzheimer’s patients than we spend to educate poor children” (p. 959). Illness has a great impact patients, family, and friends.
The results of studies showed that caregivers of patients with cancer and dementia have increased health problems and psychosocial stress. We should be very careful to make the legal limits of euthanasia very strict. So racial or prejudiced euthanasia will never possible in justifying murder for a cause other than a patient’s individual will and choice. Citizens should ensure that the government or private sector can never end the lives of innocent people who hinder their agendas. This said, it’s a person’s right to end his or her own life.
Should we rob someone who is too weak or otherwise physically unable to choose this liberty by her/his own power? To force suffering upon someone whose only available relief is death is a gross injustice. Every life deserves equal liberty, and we should grant the same choices and freedoms for all humankind. Clipboard Edits: •• (Apted 1996). • There is big debate over legalization of euthanasia. This is topic there is controversial among politician, religious organization and citizens. Everyone wants to make decision about the fate of a¬¬¬nother human being.
However, rarely do the policy makers ask the opinion of the patient, the subject of all the debate in making their decisions about that patient’s fate, his/her rights. “There is no law…” Using new technologies the human population is continually trying to prolong individual life. One negative consequence is that by extending the length of a person’s life, the process of dying and suffering can also be extended The economic effect of keeping patients alive against their own will or without their consent, has significant consequences on these patients’ families.
For example, The Study to Understand Prognoses and Preferences for Outcomes and Risks of Treatment (SUPPORT) reports that “families of seriously ill patients experienced substantial economic losses, in 20% of families, a family member had to stop working; 31% of families lost most of their savings” (Emanuel, E. , Fairclough, Slutsman, ; Emanuel, L. , 2000, p. 451-459). It makes very little (Starrs, 2006, p. 13-16).