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Even nowadays, the issue of euthanasia is, understandably enough, viewed as controversial and is considered unacceptable. Thus, it is currently barely possible to carry out the process in a way that could satisfy the existing legal and ethical standards. In her essay, Margaret Sommerville addresses the problem to explain why euthanasia cannot be viewed as a legitimate tool for meeting patients’ needs.
Introduction to the Author and the Thesis
Sommerville is a renowned Samuel Gale Professor of Law at the McGill University in Montreal, the Professor in the Faculty of Medicine, and the Founding Director of the Center for Medicine, Ethics, and Law. She has been awarded the Order of Australia and the UNESCO Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science and, therefore, has a very rigid stance on the problem of euthanasia. In her essay, Sommerville states that the subject matter implies a plethora of ethical dilemmas once it is implemented.
The ethical concerns range from defining the eligibility of the people requesting it to the lack of clarity in determining the patient’s intentions after the procedure has been carried out. Therefore, Sommerville’s thesis statement is that the rejection of euthanasia must be viewed as the refusal from committing an intentional murder. This essay, however, states that, although Sommerville raises some legitimate points, the lack of substantial evidence that could prove her statement and the attempt to appeal to the readers emotionally, of which she accuses her opponents, invalidate a range of her arguments.
Essay: Key Points Summary
The author mentions that the concept of euthanasia may portray people with disabilities in the light that they might find unfavorable. Furthermore, the lack of clarity in the notion of a sensible regulation of euthanasia may be viewed as a reason for concern. Finally, Sommerville emphasizes that the legal cases related to euthanasia in the Netherlands are not scrutinized in the media sufficiently enough. The fact that the media refuses to cover some of the issues related to euthanasia is a reason for concern.
Agreement and Disagreement Points: Reasons and Evidence
Sommerville makes very legitimate points when discussing the issue of euthanasia. For instance, the fact that the line between euthanasia and murder is barely noticeable needs to be mentioned. Indeed, Sommerville argues that allowing euthanasia will make it very complicated to retain the values that keep society together. Particularly, she states that the regulation in favor of euthanasia may pose a threat to the vulnerable members of the population: “Once we cross the clear line that we must not intentionally kill another person, there’s no logical stopping point” (Sommerville par. 6).
The concerns voiced by the author are quite understandable. Indeed, the argument about euthanasia can be viewed as a tool for manipulation. Furthermore, with the introduction of euthanasia, the line between what is ethical and what is not may be blurred since assisted suicide will be viewed as a legitimate procedure and even a part of addressing the needs of people with terminal illnesses.
On the other hand, it can be argued that Sommerville’s assumptions are somewhat farfetched. For example, the author mentions that the reasons for euthanasia to be allowed are bound to grow. Sommerville voices the concern that along with terminal illness and suffering as the reasons to justify euthanasia, less legitimate ones will be added as well: “But as people and physicians become accustomed to euthanasia they ask, ‘Why not just one reason?’” (Sommerville par. 8). However, if established as regulation and supported by the current legal principles, the standards for euthanasia will remain untouched. Therefore, there are no reasons to fear that introducing euthanasia as a concept to the modern healthcare environment will tear the very fabric of morality apart.
Although Sommerville’s argument is rather sensible, the fact that she succumbs to the same strategies that she criticizes in her opponents invalidates her statement. Furthermore, the author simplifies the concept of euthanasia. To make the right choice, one must consider both the advantages and disadvantages of a regulation supporting euthanasia. More importantly, the evaluation must be carried out in an unbiased manner. Thus, a sensible solution can be found.
Sommerville, Margaret. “Why Slippery Slopes Can’t Be Prevented.” Mercator.Net. 2014. Web.