Euthanasia is Morally Wrong
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The matter of euthanasia continues to be a contentious issue within today’s society. Over the past years, there have been a slew of debates that have tried to justify the practice of assisted suicide, otherwise known as euthanasia. Gallup’s survey in 2007 served to illustrate this fact by showing that over 75 percent of Americans believe that euthanasia should be permitted. However, what Americans have failed to discern is that legalizing any form of euthanasia goes against the sanctity of life and will result in no limitations to the justifications of why it is being performed. It seems as if society has become so debauched that the American people honestly feel that they can condone ending the life of a precious individual.
Perhaps in order for one to construct a fitting viewpoint on euthanasia, one must be knowledgeable on the philology and background of euthanasia, along with having a clear comprehension of some underlying terms. Euthanasia is a term which “derived from the Greek word “euthanatos”, meaning simply a good death” (Perri, 1996). This word is extremely vulnerable to the various interpretations of all people; therefore, many people fall short when it comes to understanding the two distinct types of euthanasia. These two unique types are known as active and passive euthanasia. Active euthanasia is described as being “the deliberate ending of a person’s life with the intent of reducing that person’s suffering” (Perri, 1996). For instance, active euthanasia can be as simple as injecting a patient with a harmful toxin. On the other hand passive euthanasia is typically defined as the “withdrawing of medical treatment with the intention of causing the patient's death” ("Types of euthanasia," 2001). Now an example of passive euthanasia is simply when a patient is perishing and the doctor choices not to recover them. Now it is imperative that one recognizes the distinction between active and passive euthanasia. Another aspect in which euthanasia can be classified is as involuntary or voluntary. Involuntary euthanasia “is when a patient’s life is ended without the patient’s knowledge and consent” ("Types of euthanasia," 2001). A perceptible example of involuntary euthanasia is when a patient is in a coma and does not have the capability to decide what should happen to him. Lastly, the subject of voluntary euthanasia is “the patient requests that an action be taken to end his life, or that life-saving treatment be stopped, with full knowledge that this will lead to his death” ("Types of euthanasia," 2001).
Although all aspects of euthanasia should not be legalized, the two categories that are focused on more are that of active and voluntary euthanasia.
Now that the key terms have been broken down it is time to get an abrupt history of the bill that initially permitted active and voluntary assisted suicide. The mindset of Netherland’s health minister, Dr. Else Borst was to establish the protection of physicians and to provide a compassionate way in which to end suffering. It was in fact Dr. Borst who shepherded the Netherlands to pass this bill in 2001 (Schadenberg, 2012). However, euthanasia was habitually performed in the Netherlands long before this law was implemented; there just were not any consequences for this act. What is so mind-blowing is that the guidelines of this infamous bill were written so preciously that the protection of all patients was to be ensured. Yet new data continues to testify that patients are instead being oppressed and misled. According to LifeSiteNews a recent report on Euthanasia states that “approximately 550 of Dutch euthanasia cases involve the death of people who didn’t give an explicit request or consent to being euthanized” (Schadenberg, 2012), meaning that passive and involuntary euthanasia was wrongly administered. Although these facts are apparently ominous, they are disregard since supporters of euthanasia consider this to be permissible to society. This is showcased to be true by the 13% increase in euthanasia from the euthanasia 2008 statistics to the stats of 2009 (Schadenberg, 2012). The question is what are the main factors that contribute to people resorting to death?
Now it is universally accepted that patients should be permitted the right to make decisions that affect their lives; however, does this still apply when it deals with the request for an early death? This question is the underlying explanation as to why euthanasia evokes schism in the United States. In today’s society many patients with chronic and critical illness desire to be relieved of their suffering. As a result of their sufferings patients begin to develop a “cry for help.” When patients feel that their needs are not being met, they ultimately contemplate death. Yet regardless of a patient suffering a physician should not agree to administer death, but instead emphasize to the patient their worth in this world. Especially since the physician’s civil obligations is to pro-long life and provide palliate care (The Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, 1984). If doctors and people start to defend and carry out euthanasia then it may, in the long run, eliminate all reverence people have of human life. Vitalism is the idea that “life is of such absolute worth, that it is wrong either to shorten the life of a patient or to fail to strive to lengthen it” (Keown, 2002). Vitalism perfectly defends that all humans are sacred because they are a gift from God, and should be valued as such. Regardless of one’s age, sex, religion, and social class their sanctity is precious. Acclaimed German Philosopher, Immanuel Kant, stated it perfectly when he said “always treat people as an end in themselves, never as a means to an end” (Keown, 2002). As afflicting as it is to say euthanasia does not allow the world to assist people with their disabilities, because as a society we have already disposed of them.
Equally important to that thought is that the contention of euthanasia is so convoluted that it would be near impossible for the government to codify. Pro euthanasia arguments have declared that euthanasia should be legalized, as long as there is a proper justification. For instance, if a parent has a child that is severely disabled, then it is reasonable for them to request euthanasia. What these arguments fail to address is if proper justifications are required, then who determines what reason are accepted. (Lewis, 2007, p. 197). With that in mind, the fact that even people who are for euthanasia say that certain limitations are needed, proves that they too realize that this issue is morally unacceptable. If this was not the case, then all people should be given the right to decide death, whether a patient is physically, mentally, or emotional suffering. On that note, one also needs to consider that the minute the world allows euthanasia to be conducted; the tolerance for discomfort will be lowered. It is inevitable that everyone at some point in their life will experience affliction; these trials are ultimately what shape and mold humans into who they are. Yet, with euthanasia legalized, the minute that pain becomes unbearable people will choice the route of death. Moreover, the justifications for euthanasia will expand beyond just the terminally ill, but to anyone who does not want to live anymore. The government does not have enough influence on the people to successfully establish limitations to assisted suicide. People will continue to fight to have the limitations reduced. As a result, the world will see the justifications for euthanasia greatly expand beyond just the terminally ill; but that anyone who simply does not want to live will be an adequate reason to die. (Lewis, 2007, p. 200).
The reality is that unless the world quickly initiates an undertaking against euthanasia, then our future generations will continue to become desensitized to this issue. That is why it is important that the world develop a passion and concern for the suffering. To achieve this goal, one needs to be surrounded with people who constantly deal with this affair. For instance, one can take the time to visit a hospice center, since this environment is overflowing with people who are contemplating death because of their physical condition. It is then that people can establish sincere friendships with the ill and profess to them that their life is vital and worth living. Simple friendships like these can help the suffering look beyond their pain, and discover hope and meaning. In addition, people who are against legalizing euthanasia should be just as passionate and create a movement to encourage people to understand the harm that euthanasia presents. Bills such as the “Voluntary Euthanasia Bill 2012” are attempting to ensure that people are given the right to choose euthanasia in order to hasten death. This shows how passionate euthanasia activists are to get this bill signed into law. With this object in mind, it is safe to say that people must vote. Regardless, of the way one feels about politics and government, voting is the only method for ensuring that people’s voices are heard. If one waits for others to become involved, then it is a guarantee that assisted suicide be legalized.
Clearly, legalizing euthanasia would be a step backwards in the way that people value life. One can even speculate that although more people decide to be an advocate on this issue, there is still a great chance that euthanasia, in the near future, will still become legalized. In fact, political and well-known figures have already proclaimed that the world has waited too long and that assisted suicide needs to be permitted. However, just because the world has become desensitized and more accepting of this morally wrong issue does not mean it is acceptable. So stand firm in knowing that the lives of all humans hold tremendous value, and that euthanasia is such a complex topic that it would be extremely difficult to codify. It is clear that an operative approach to euthanasia will continue to endorse to ill patients that their life holds significant value, and that they deserve to experience their final stage of growth.
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