Why Should Euthanasia Be Illegal
Do you wish to die in peace or live while suffering? Or perhaps you may hope that there is an alternative for you to live longer and not suffer as much. If that is the case, the legalisation of euthanasia may affect and influence the chances and your choice of living longer. Euthansia is the deliberate action taken to end a life in order to relieve persistent pain and suffering. Euthanasia can be classified as voluntary, non-voluntary or involuntary. Firstly, voluntary euthanasia is conducted with consent such as if the person is terminally ill. Secondly, non-voluntary euthanasia is conducted when the patient is unable to give consent due to their current medical condition and the authority is given to their next of kin. Lastly, involuntary euthanasia is given even without the patient’s consent and can be classified as murder as it is against the patient’s will. Euthanasia is also separated into passive and active euthanasia. Passive euthanasia is when life-sustaining treatments are withheld and the patient’s life is not prolonged. Active Euthanasia is when the patient is killed unwillingly or through lethal substances and can be counted as murder. The debate of legalising euthanasia has been ongoing for a very long time. With people who are pro-euthanasia arguing that legalising euthanasia can bring an end to the suffering of patients, the legalisation of euthanasia actually brings along an unimaginable amount of threats, especially to the vulnerable. Furthermore, is there a need for euthanasia in our medically advanced world now? Despite the reasons behind why euthanasia should be legalised such as the freedom of choice and compassion towards people in pain, it should not be legalised as the over-usage of euthanasia, alongside with the weakening and lack of proper regulations leads to a slippery slope. Additionally, the protection offered to people’s lives will diminish, undermining the reasons to legalise euthanasia.
Why should euthanasia be illegal? People in favour of legalising euthanasia feel that it should be made available to put an end to the needless suffering of the patients. One of the most important arguments involving euthanasia is the protection of human rights. People have the right to choose when they want to die. Jerry Brown, California’s Governor, said, “I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn’t deny that right to others.” Another significant argument is that we should have compassion towards the people in pain. It is only humane that we allow people such as the terminally ill to end their life if they are suffering unbearably. Legalising euthanasia would protect susceptible individuals from a painful death while ensuring that they die with peace and dignity. Dr Robert Olvera, a physician in Santa Ana mentioned that “Some people need help dying.” and “Suicide is really a call for help.” But is killing them really the right way to help them?
If respect for choice is the reason why euthanasia should be legalised, why should euthanasia not be made available to anyone who autonomously requests for it? This is when a slippery slope occurs, caused by the over-usage and weakening and lack of proper regulations. A slippery slope is where the expansion of euthanasia causes harm to vulnerable patients such as the elderly and disabled and people who might otherwise live for a longer time. If terminally ill patients are given a choice to be euthanised due to their suffering, why are others like the mentally ill denied the choice of euthanisation? Yet, if anyone who was suffering is given a choice for euthanisation, the death rates in the world will rise drastically. Furthermore, how would the doctor decide that the patient’s life no longer have worth and purpose other than on the basis of a judgement? All lives are worthy, and with euthanasia we are offering them death instead of loving care. Moreover, the commitment of physicians and nurses are undermined with the legalisation of euthanasia. Vulnerable groups such as the elderly and people with disabilities may be pressurised, manipulated and even forced to accept or request for euthanasia by people around them such as their overburdened family members. This abandonment will then leave them in despair, making them feel as if euthanasia is their only solution left. Safeguards are said to be put in place to make sure euthanasia will not be over-abused. However, safeguards are not effective in preventing a slippery slope from happening as it will weaken overtime. Despite the safeguards, over 500 people in the Netherlands are euthanized involuntarily every year. On the other hand, the number of involuntary and non-voluntary euthanasia deaths in Belgium is thrice than that of the Netherlands’. A recent study shows that in the Flemish part of Belgium, 66 of 208 cases of “euthanasia” (32%) occurred without request or consent of the patient. This proves the point of the ineffectiveness of safeguards. Likewise, some people may not be in their right minds to make choices on ending their lives. Studies using systematic assessments in terminally ill patients have clearly shown that depression causes the desire for a hastened death, including the wish for euthanasia to drastically increase. However, when their depression is treated effectively, most (98-99%) changed their minds about wanting to die. Hence, euthanasia should not be legalised due to the severe consequences of a slippery slope. Tom Coburn, the US Senator once mentioned “The Declaration of Independence says that we should have the right to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nothing in it says we have the right to pursue death, nothing.’.
According to the principle of ‘beneficence”, we may be obliged to benefit others sometimes. This includes supporting the legalisation of euthanasia to put an end to people’s sufferings. However, legalising Euthanasia would be diminishing any form of protection offered to the lives of people. True compassion respects that all patients are equal in dignity and should not be treated in ways where their dignity is impaired. Hence, their suffering should be alleviated in respected ways and where suffering cannot be further alleviated, we should stand by them and support them to show solidarity. Killing is and will be the ultimate abandonment. Furthermore, a dead person feels nothing, so how is euthanasia “relieving their suffering”? If euthanasia is legalised in more places, compassion will instead be undermined for those who are suffering. Why do they not choose to kill themselves if they are suffering now that euthanasia is legalised? Euthanasia then becomes the only option to relieve pain. Of course, there is an alternative. Palliative care is present to alleviate the suffering and symptoms of the patients. Palliative care experts say that palliative care eases the passage of patients and allows them to die with dignity. Hence, euthanasia is unnecessary as it will destroy the purpose of palliative care, acting as a solution that is cheaper and more efficient in alleviating suffering. For instance, in England in 2006, over 70 percent of members of the Royal College of Physicians and over 95 percent of those in the specialty of palliative medicine agreed that improvements in palliative care will allow for good clinical care, giving patients death with dignity. Moreover, allowing euthanasia reduces the motivation and pressure for doctors to search for new cures and hence will lead to lesser attention on the terminally ill patients, which decreases their chances of living. In medical ethics, legalising euthanasia would also be violating the hippocratic oath which says “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect.” Instead of preserving human life, physicians will be hastening death.
Thus, euthanasia should not be legalised as it threatens the lives of people and ruins the very little hope of wanting and being able to live.
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