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The debate about euthanasia is becoming broader as a result of the increase in the number of complex ailments. Looking at euthanasia from different perspectives reveals that it is largely an ethical issue. There is a division between those who support the practice and those who oppose it based on voluntary grounds.
The main question that is raised concerning the practice of euthanasia revolves around the effects of legalizing it and its impact on the value of life. This paper takes the position that euthanasia should not be legalized because it goes against the principle of the sacredness of life.
McDougall, Gorman and Roberts (2008) define euthanasia as an easy way to terminate the life of a person. According to Chao, Chan and Chan (2002), euthanasia is not merely considered as an ethical issue in the field of medicine, but it is also a legal, political, and philosophical issue.
As observed in the introduction, the debate about euthanasia is expanding because of the nature of the arguments that are given in support and against the practice. One of the arguments, especially from the proponents, is that this practice can be incorporated in the law as a way of eliminating the negative attributes of euthanasia. From the religious perspective, it is apparent that life is sacred and should not be terminated by a human being in any way.
Euthanasia, which is equivalent to the termination of life, can be equated to a total breach of the principle of the sacredness of life, as well as the breach of the legal right of human beings’ “right to life” embedded in most, if not all, common laws.
In the true sense, giving the doctors a right to prescribe medication to kill and giving people rights to make a determination of whether to fight for their lives or to terminate life is something to be worried about. From the logical and religious perspectives, this is looked at as murder, on the one hand, and suicide, on the other hand (Cohen-Almagor, 2004).
Critical issues in legalizing and justifying euthanasia
According to Otlowski (2000), the practice of euthanasia in the field of medicine has been criminalized in many countries as a way of controlling the negative practices of rampant and uncontrolled adoption of the practice. The separation of the two forms of euthanasia has not been fully attained. These dimensions are active euthanasia and passive euthanasia. However, the criminalization of the practice is not enough since it implies that the practice could still be done undercover.
Trying to categorize the practice into various dimensions is a way of attempting to legalize the practice, something that could result in paving way for the authorization of euthanasia across different countries (Otlowski, 2000). Moreover, legalizing euthanasia could make it hard to differentiate between the genuine cases of suicide and cases of assisted suicide. Most cases of suicide are likely to be hidden under assisted suicide if the practice is made legal (Otlowski, 2000).
According to McDougall, Gorman and Roberts (2008), attitudes have continued to play a great role is shaping the advancement of euthanasia in the society. The positive attitudes towards euthanasia need to be suppressed because they imply putting the life of the people in their hands, besides undermining the role of religion in shaping life in the society.
The issue here is that doctors can only use the medical expertise to argue that the person cannot survive from the given ailment. However, there are cases in which doctors are overwhelmed by the positive progress that is made by patients considering that the progress goes far beyond their assessment of the patients. This is where religion overpowers events in the realms of medicine and healthcare, thus the support of the view that life is sacred and divine.
Euthanasia is declared illegal in almost all countries in the world. It is only legalized in one country in the world, the Nethelands. Other countries like Australia, which seem to be interested in legalizing the practice, have been torn between whether to fully incorporate the practice in their common laws or abolish it altogether (Cohen-Almagor, 2004; Chao, Chan & Chan, 2002).
This itself is a reason enough to raise eyebrows about the ethical stance of the practice. The implication here is that other countries in the world are finding it quite awkward to incorporate euthanasia in their common laws because of the perceived dangers on the value of life if the practice is instituted (Cohen-Almagor, 2004).
In spite of the law being enacted in the Netherlands in the year 2001, its enforcement is supervised by a special committee composed of a lawyer, a doctor, and an expert in ethics. Here, it is worthwhile to argue that unlike other laws, there is something wrong with the enactment of the euthanasia law.
This is its implementation is being monitored by the special committee. There can be a lot of loopholes when it comes to the implementation of the law. People can take advantage of the law to go against the observance of human rights, yet it is one of the key laws in the common laws of states (Cohen-Almagor, 2004).
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According to Perrin and McGhee (2006), there is more legal engagement in the debate about end-of- life medical determination across different countries in the world. The rationality of the issue revolves around the level at which euthanasia can be considered effective and eliminate the issue of the sacredness of life and human rights concerns, as well as ethics in the medical field.
However, according to Cohen-Almagor (2004), it is clear that it is quite daunting to legalize euthanasia and uphold the sacredness of life, as well as the observation of the key principles of human rights at the same time. The legalization of euthanasia by all means undermines the value of life as instituted in the common laws, as well as most of the religious principles encoded in the religious manuals.
From the observation made in the paper, it is evident that the debate about the authorization of euthanasia is volatile. However, there are outstanding issues that are raised in the paper that totally point against the authorization of the practice. First is the sacredness of human life as depicted by religion and the common laws of almost all states across the globe. Legalizing euthanasia means infringing the right to life.
The second point is that only one country in the world has legalized the practice, yet the same country finds it hard to totally institute the practice. Therefore, it can be concluded that life remains to be the most sacred thing for all human beings. The legalization of euthanasia can pave way for the devaluation of life through the weakening of the law of human rights and the religious principles regarding the divinity and sacredness of human beings and life.
Chao, D., Chan, N., & Chan, W. (2002). Euthanasia revisited. Family Practice, 19(2), 128-134.
Cohen-Almagor, R. (2004). Euthanasia in the Netherlands: The policy and practice of mercy killing. Boston, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
McDougall, J. F., Gorman, M., & Roberts, C. S. (2008). Euthanasia: A reference handbook (2nd ed.). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
Otlowski, M. (2000). Voluntary euthanasia and the common law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Perrin, K. O., & McGhee, J. (2006). Quick look nursing: Ethics and conflict (2nd ed.). Sudbury, Canada: Jones and Bartlett.