According to Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, euthanasia is that act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy. How can anyone disagree with this concept? Euthanasia is acceptable when the person involved, or the family if the individual is incapable, makes a conscious decision while suffering from an incurable disease.
The whole idea of assisted suicide was started in the thirties and forties when Hitler went on his genocidal rampage. This fact alone gives the term “euthanasia” a negative connotation, but one must examine the differences between our time and his. “Hitler was bent on exterminating Jews, even if he destroyed a few thousand others before he found his focus” (King 1). This is where the distinction lies. Our society is out to relieve pain and suffering for certain individuals who would benefit from it, not to cause it. Hitler’s victims were people who had no rights, choices, or any influence in the outcome of their lives, and we, as a society, need to realize that although this trend may have begun in Germany, everything hateful, cruel, and selfish ended there as well.
A person’s right to choose is even incorporated into our national laws. “The Declaration of Independence states that a person has certain unalienable rights which are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (Day 2). According to this statement, any person denied this right is a victim of violation. This said, I do believe that there should be, and is to an extent, some distinction between someone openly committing suicide for paltry, insignificant reasons, and someone who is asking for death for health reasons of grief and misery. Given, if a family loses a family member by the euthanasia technique, it can cause a great deal of personal heartache, but that pain can be matched if not doubled to have to see their loved one suffering in a bed not able to even care for himself.
The legal jargon is another aspect of it. Dr. Jack Kevorkian was recently put in jail for performing assisted suicides on patients. Even though Kevorkian had a video to prove that the subject (Thomas Youk) was indeed consenting to this, the doctor was sentenced to 10-25 years in jail (Humphry 1). As the law is at present, we have difficulty justifying deaths that are unnatural and though the issue of euthanasia is a fairly new problem, somehow we have got to come to some conclusion. “The law does not accept that a person can ask to be killed” (Humphry 1). And why is that? The law needs to recognize that while it can decide what is best for the nation as a whole, it cannot limit a person’s rights when it comes to making personal decisions. We are all taught to think for ourselves, and one can only hope that we all make the right decisions.
Some people are of the opinion that it is cruel and inhumane to “just kill” someone and while the definition of cruelty differs among people, inhumanity is not an issue here. As practiced at the EXIT facility (Society for Human Dying) in Switzerland:
An EXIT team member provides and anti-emetic … to the patient and half an hour later, 10 g of sodium pentobarbitone is given. Within five minutes, the patient falls into a deep sleep and within two hours, with few exceptions, will die peacefully. The team member stays with the patient [until] death occurs and there is always a witness present, usually a close relative. (Schaer 1)
The process contains no coldness, just serenity and closeness. Other people believe that instead of purposefully killing a person, would it not be better to simply let them die naturally? They say that people should be offered an alternative. For example “if a person does not take food or water, he will die a peaceful death in 2 days to 2 weeks. Usually it is less than a week” (Pilgrim 1). Essentially these people are opting to let the patient starve to death or die from malnutrition. Assuming that the person is a proverbial vegetable, this might be the favorable choice, but if the person is of sound mind, that treatment is far more cruel that the typical medications that are administered during euthanasia.
What it amounts to is the individual’s choice versus the government versus the family’s choice. The man wants to go through with the process, the government will not allow it, and the family wants the man to be at peace, but does not want to let them go. Euthanasia might as well be spelled “c-o-n-t-r-o-v-e-r-s-y” because it seems that we all go in circles with our points of view. What we need to do is sit down and put ourselves in a situation of pain, suffering, and incompetency, and then decide what we would like our outcome to be.
Euthanasia is defined as « a painless killing, espacially to end a Painful and incurable disease;mercy killing» . The righteousness of this act is Being debated in several countries throughout the world, and Canada is no Exception. Euthanasisa must not be accepted for religious, legal and medical Reasons, as alternatives to such a dramatic end.
To begin, the law, both civil and religious, forbid killing. Individuals Are prosecuted in courts of law for committing murder. An example of this is The case of Robert Latimer. Although he claimed to have mercifully ended the Life of his daughter who suffered from an extreme case of cerebral palsy, he Was convicted of murder in the second digree. The courts were obliged to find Him guilty as he broke the law by taking the life of another human being. Robert Latimer took it upon himself to decide that his daughter would never Lead a full life. Tracy Latimer was never given an opportunity for success, as Her life was taken. A not guilty verdict would have told people that parents Of disabled children can perform both voluntary euthanasia on their children. In the United States, euthanasia was voted on for the first time in the state Of Washington. Although polls before the vote revealed strong support for It, the ballot was defeated by fifty-four to forty-six percent, and euthanasia Remains illegal in Noth America. In addition to violating civil law, euthanasia Also contradicts the laws of many religions of the world. It is God who Controlls life and death. Man will take this responsibility if euthanasia is Permitted. It is stated in the ten commandments,» Do not commit murder» . Murder Can take many forms, one of which is suicide, the taking of one's own life. This Is forbidden by the Christian religion. There is a picture on my grand-mothers Wall which stated that» human life is not merely the possession of the one who Bears it. It is an inherited gift, as such, has meaning not only for oneself but For those who bestowed it, those who have shared it and those who will follow» . This is an unselfish Christian attitude which states that life not only belong To the one who leads it, but also to the friends and family of the person, both Past, present and future. Therefor, euthanasia does not serve a purpose within a Society where murder is wrong, both legally and religiously.
In addition, active euthanasia, if legalized will say OK to practicing Involuntary euthanasia. Presently, there is much research being done concerning The need for euthanasia and its effects. Over time, the care and caution Exercised in making dicisions exercised in making decisions as to who should Receive euthanasia may become sloppy. According to Daniel Callaham, director of Hastings House, a medicial ethics center in New York:» The slippery alope Argument against euthanasia has always been that once you start voluntary Euthanasia, you are likely to gravitate towards involuntary euthanasia. starts In the hands of a few very cautious, responsible people, but when it becomes a Mass phenomenon, don't count on the same high standards» . In the Nethalands, where active euthanasia is allowed, this situation is beginning to Arise. One third of the five thousand patients who receive lethal amounts of Drugs from their doctors do not give their concent, five percent only do so out Of unbearable pain and one third because of a fear of because dependant on Others. Patient will begins to look at thier illness and its effects on their Families in assited dying, with it being offered most readily to those least Able to pay for medical care» . This must not take place as it will reduce the Lifespans of an increasingly large group of people in society:the elderly. It Will also fill thier remaining days with worry over the termination of thier Own lives, for reasons other than lost hope and unbeleivable pain. Therefor, euthanasia will lead to the unnecessary termination of many lives.
Also, euthanasia cotradicts the point of medicine. Doctors cannot be Expected to heal as well as kill. The purpose of medicine is to get rid of Suffering and death. Euthanasia is in contrast to this purpose. Over Time, euthanasia would eventally corrupt the medical system. It could be used as A excuse for malpractice. A false diagnosis or surgical procedure on a patient Who had been suffering or near death for quite some time, could be covered up By claims that the patient wished to die in thefirst place. This would avoid An investigation or a rise in malpractice insurance for the doctor. Also, the Field of disease cure research would suffer. In some cases, the finding cures And new treatments because its victims will be killed through euthanasia. Cures Are costly and extremelydifficult to find. If euthanasia is allowed, this Inexpensive method may be chosen by doctors who feel that all hope is lost. There are many documents cases of people who have regained conciousness after Comas lasting months or even years. It is also always possible that new drugs Will be found to combat diseases which are presently regarded as fatal. In Addition, euthanasia would wreck the image society has of doctors. Asks Stephen Connor, a Toronto writer and lecturer in medical ethics:» In a word that swirls With death-starvation, war, revolation-society depends on doctors as the steady Symbols of life and its power. Are we prepared to forfit that hard-won trust And turn them in to non-committal agents of death as well as life?» . Society Would slowly lose faith in doctors. Groups such as the elderly and the disable Would eventually stop visiting thier doctors out of fear that euthanasia Would be a suggested treatment, denying them the health care they deserve. Therefor, because euthanasia would corupt medical practices and demenish Society's belief in medicine, it cannot be allowed.
Finally, there are many available alternatives to euthanasia. Aside from Drug therapy and hospitalization, psychological treatment and palliative care are Replacements for euthanasia. To begin, many disabled members of society lead Fulfilling lives, except for the fact their degrees of success are looked down Upon by the rest of society, which feels that they do not live up to normal. Says one woman who suffers from moderate cerebral palsy:» What I have not been Able to accept is the way people treat me and the feeling that I'm a burden To my family and myself» . Treatment is needed for the members of society Suffering from an illness, to assist them in finding a meaning or purpose in Their lives. In addition to emotional strengthening, the availability of care Must be increased. This type of care, or hospice movement provides an Alternative to hospital care for the terminally ill, who have less than six Months to live. The patient is cared for, counseled, and visited by others. Children who will often bring flowers, drawings and games. The purpose of Hospices is to give the patient a sense of control over their death, while Filling their last days with a sense of peace. After the death of the patient Their family is counseled. This is a more unselfish way to die, as many family Members who take their own lives blame themselves in some way.
In conclusion, euthanasia is religiously, legally and medically wrong. There are many alternatives to this act of murder. It is not man's decision to Judge whether or not a person should be put to death, even if it is their wish. According to Leon Kass of the new England Journal of Medicine:» Verbal request Made under duress rarely revealed the whole story. Often a demand for Euthanasia is, in fact an angry or anxious plea for help, born of fear of Rejection or abandonment, or made in ignorance of available alternatives that Could alleviate pain and suffering» . Euthanasia has no place in a world which Is already suffering from numerous accounts of too early death. Euthanasia Will only result in death coming too early in life. The effects it will be Huge, if allowed. There is only one person with the right to kill; GOD.