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Euthanasia: Legalisation of a Mercy Killing Essay

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Updated: Jun 8th, 2020

Abstract

With the development in different spheres, including healthcare and legal system, people raised different issues trying to find out which practice is the best one regarding law and ethics that alter with time. Some of them remain unsolved even today and still cause debates. Euthanasia is one of these issues. Even though the motives for euthanasia are good, the question of whether it should be legalized or nor is still discussed. The fact that the minority of countries and only several states in the US accept euthanasia proves that today people are still not ready to accept it as a mercy.

Introduction

With the development in different spheres, including healthcare and legal system, people started questioning many things that were not previously even discussed. They raised different issues trying to find out which practice is the best one regarding law and ethics that alter with time. Some of them remain unsolved even today and still cause debates. Euthanasia is one of these issues. There are different ways of interpreting this term, but when referring to its origin, it can be found that it is derived from “the ancient Greek eu (good) and thanatos (death)” (Marcoux, Mishara, & Durand, 2007, p. 235).

On this basis, it can be claimed that generally, it is the termination of one’s life conducted to relieve the person of suffering. Thus, assisted suicide is discussed, when a patient is killed with the help of medications by the representative of the healthcare system. Even though the motives for euthanasia are good, the question of whether it should be legalized or nor is still discussed. Thus, euthanasia should be forbidden, as the governors are still not able to agree with its legalization due to the diversity in moral and legal reasons for it.

Today the morality of euthanasia lies in the foundation of its legalization. In some countries, it is decided that euthanasia is mercy, and it should be supported by law. That is why, in “Belgium, Colombia, India, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands and some states in the US (Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont)”, it was accepted, and its practice was supported by various policies (New Health Guide, 2015, para. 3). They mainly support euthanasia because they believe it to be the most merciful action that can be conducted towards terminally ill patients or those who are in the permanent vegetative state. However, in the majority of countries, euthanasia is still considered to be a murder, as no one has the rights to take a person’s life. Moreover, the doctors are supposed to do their best to save people but not to kill them. So when considering euthanasia in the legal point of view, one is to discuss both medical and moral aspects of the issue.

Medical Reasons for Euthanasia

Euthanasia should not be legalized because it is likely to increase the cases of abuse and decline of care for patients who are seriously ill. When euthanasia is permitted, it is to be supported by a decent guideline, to which the doctors can refer when they have a questionable case. However, the terms that are to be considered when talking about mercy killing are too complicated and abstract to be decently measured.

Many people believe that euthanasia can be chosen as it is the easiest way to deal with the problem that is faced. As a result, some individuals ask for assistance suicide in the cases when others would live. For example, Professor Etienne Montero described the situation when a woman who was soon to become blinded was euthanized (Why say “no” to euthanasia, n.d.). But can blindness be considered as a decent reason for deciding to terminate one’s life? Lots of people have problems with vision and cannot see at all, but they continue leaving, create families, work and live happily. So who is responsible for drawing a line between the situation when one cannot see the dirt and requires being euthanized and when a person can get used to a new way of life with time and can continue living?

This issue does not have one clear solution so the line can be easily crossed and many people can be almost forced to end their lives. For example, in Oregon, where euthanasia is legal, the insurance company offered a female who had cancer to try assisted suicide instead of paying for her chemotherapy (Why say “no” to euthanasia, n.d.). Needless to say that the woman was put under the pressure and her determination to live was affected. In this way, the legalisation of assisted suicide almost turned into killing people and incitement to suicide.

Moreover, it cannot be proved that scientists will not find the treatment of a particular disease in a short period. The sphere of healthcare is developing, and lots of innovative medicines are produced every year. Even if they cannot cure a person, they are likely to make one live longer. So when referring to euthanasia, the patients lose their chance to be saved. Thus, as assisted suicide becomes legal, many representatives of the vulnerable population will be reluctant to refer to healthcare facilities believing that they might be killed instead of being treated.

Still, it is very expensive to maintain a patient on a bed in an ICU for years without a chance of recovering. Even terminally ill people are to be supplied with lots of things, they are to be provided with healthy food, and their physical condition is to be considered, so it may cost thousands of dollars when the medicines are included (Ofri, n.d.). That is why the decision to euthanize them may be considered the most effective solution, as it will not only stop the sufferings but also save the money of their families and government (Morris, 2013). However, it seems to be unethical to consider the life of a human being in terms of money because it is not a thing that can be easily brought or solved.

Moral Reasons for Euthanasia

Euthanasia is also often argued regarding its ethics. People cannot decide whether it is morally right to refer to such measures or not. On the one hand, the doctors help their patients to forget about suffering but, on the other hand, they kill people who had an opportunity to live at least a little bit longer (What is euthanasia, 2014).

Physicians have different views towards euthanasia, but all of them realize that the person dies because of their actions, which affects them negatively. The representatives of the medical personnel have their thoughts regarding the legalization of euthanasia. Some of them believe that they help their patients, others wish to make the clients live as long as possible. But even the first ones understand that they are to assist in killing a person, which is mentally not easy to do. Many doctors refer to psychotherapy, as they are suffering and cannot cope with their feelings. Some medical workers (especially nurses as they spend much time with the patients) take a day off not to be present during this procedure (Kumas, Öztunç, & Alparslan, 2007).

It is hard for the family to accept the fact that the person they love will be killed. The nearest and dearest people of the person who is terminally ill suffer a lot as they see their relative dying. However, it is much easier for them to accept that they did their best to save this person and spend at least a few more hours with him/her. The majority of people would rather have their loved around even if one is just lying in bed.

However, when a person is not able to conduct everyday activities, it is better to let one die. Terminally ill individuals often feel that they are the burden for their families and prefer to end their lives sooner to let the family live (Karlsson, Milberg, & Strang, 2012). Moreover, those who are in the vegetative state and are not supposed to wake up are not euthanized just to give their families false hope. Emotional attachment to a person makes them support one’s life even if there is no rational reason for it. Thus, it is more merciful to euthanize one who has no chances to live normally and allow his/her family to avoid stress for decision-making for the patient and watching their loved ones in pain.

Euthanasia from an Islamic Point of View

Religion plays a huge role in the lives of many people. It created a framework of the things they accept and provides guidelines for decision-making. The value of human life is also described in all religions as well as the views on its termination (Ethics: euthanasia, 2014).

Life is said to be given by God, so only God has the right to end it. Several religions have numerous followers and according to them taking a life is not an option. The true believers of Islam believe that just because one’s life is bad or under severe threat, the person has no choice to end it. In Kuwait, for example, euthanasia is illegal, and it is completely forbidden not just to do it but even to recommend from an Islamic point of view.

When deciding whether to accept or reject mercy killing, Muslims refer to Quran where it is said that “no person can ever die except by Allah’s leave and at an appointed term” and “do not take life, which Allah made sacred, other than in the course of justice” (Quran, 2004, 3:145; 17:33). Thus, it occurs to be clear that religion forbids any interventions in the ending of people’s lives. In this perspective, there is no difference whether one was killed by mercy or anger. In the eyes of God, euthanasia is a homicide.

Still, some people would argue and claim that if the intervention in the life that was given by God is forbidden, then it deals not only with the process of dying but also prolonging life. When treating the patients with medicines and keeping one on the life-supporting appliance, the medical personnel affect the destiny of the individual. From the other point of view, if God allowed such things as medicines and euthanasia to be created, why should people refuse to use them? However, the words that are written in the sacred writing should be followed directly. In this case, no questions occur, and it is clear that euthanasia is forbidden.

Conclusion

Taking everything mentioned into consideration, it can be concluded that the views on euthanasia are different, and the decision to accept or reject it will never be made so that everyone supports it. As the human lives are considered, it is better to choose the lesser of two evils. Thus, till the moment definite guideline for euthanasia occurs, it should not be allowed, even if it is morally right because it can be abused and used as a cover for murder. The fact that the minority of countries and only several states in the US accept euthanasia proves that today people are still not ready to accept it as mercy and that it should not be legalized.

References

Ethics: euthanasia. (2014). Web.

Karlsson, M., Milberg, A., & Strang, P. (2012). Suffering and euthanasia: a qualitative study of dying cancer patients’ perspectives. Supportive Care in Cancer, 20(5), 1065-1071.

Kumas, G., Öztunç, G., & Alparslan, Z. (2007). Intensive care unit nurses’ opinions about euthanasia. Nursing Ethics, 14(5): 637-650.

Marcoux, I., Mishara, B., & Durand, C. (2007). Confusion between euthanasia and other end-of-life decisions: influences on public opinion poll results. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 98(3), 235-239.

Morris, M. (2013). 10 arguments for legalizing euthanasia. Web.

New Health Guide. (2015). Web.

Ofri, D. (n.d.). Live well guide. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

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Why say “no” to euthanasia? (n.d.). Web.

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