Thesis Statement: The legalization of euthanasia in some nations and States presents a serious ethical and moral concerns to the society. Nevertheless, euthanasia is a wrong and an immoral act that should not be legalized as a result of its lack of respect for the life of human beings.
The following points will be used to prove the thesis of this essay:
i. The ethical aspect of the concept of “righto die.”
ii. Euthanasia is an act of murder.
iii. Physicians should abide by the Hippocratic Oath and protect lives rather than killing.
iv. Religion consider life as the most fundamental gift from God, and hence it ought to be protected.
v. Euthanasia acts as a refutation of the significance of life and the value for the human life.
vi. There are other treatments that may be utilized in the place of euthanasia.
vii. Legalizing of euthanasia is prone to misuse or exploitation.
According to Baron, euthanasia refers to “the practice of painlessly terminating the lives of individuals who may be suffering from incurable or distressing diseases that makes their lives intolerable to live” (65). The subject relating to euthanasia is one that has led to a lot of controversies in the contemporary society. There are people who support this act whereas other who strongly oppose it. There are several individuals who favor the idea of euthanasia, predominantly because they feel that in a democratic society, free individuals ought to possess the right to make a decision when to terminate their lives. The practice of euthanasia is a legal one in nations such as Netherlands as well as Belgium. In addition, it is as well lawful in states such as Oregon and Washington. Dworkin et al. (54) assert that euthanasia is conducted through giving an individual lethal injections or drugs that will slowly kill someone, or even avoiding doing the necessary thing that can keep a patient alive. The legalization of euthanasia in some nations and States presents a serious ethical and moral issues to the society. Nevertheless, euthanasia is a wrong and an immoral act that should not be legalized as a result of its lack of respect for the life of human beings.
Do people actually have a right to die? A right is an ethical case. People do not have any claim on death; rather, it is death that has a claim on people. Some people perceive the "right to die" as being equivalent to the "right to life." Nevertheless, they are not. The basis of “right to life” is on that life by itself is a gift that people do not possess as a property that one can buy or sell, or just give away at will. People cannot take away the lives of others or theirs. The basis of the "right to die" is on the notion that perceives life as a "something people possess" and which they may discard when it does not meet their satisfaction anymore (Gorsuch 34). The philosophy about the "Right to die" asserts that there is nothing like "life being not worth living."
Euthanasia is an act of murder in the case where it happens involuntarily, which is more or less of killing. Legalizing voluntary euthanasia may lead to both non-voluntary as well as involuntary euthanasia, through the awarding of doctors the authority to make a decision on what time the life of a patient is no longer worth living. According to Lucas, “approximately 1,000 patients in Netherlands were killed devoid of their permission in 1990” (201). In addition, at times it is not apparent whether a sick person really wants to die or not to die. In sharp contrast, euthanasia should only occur when a person wants it (Somerville 113).
Hippocratic Oath- one of the opposition against euthanasia regards the moral responsibility of physicians to protect the lives of their patients, as reflected in the Hippocratic Oath. The prohibition opposing to the killing of patients acts as the first promise of the Hippocratic Oath that is taken by physicians, as medicine's fundamental taboo. A Hippocratic doctor rejects the perception that the choice of a patient to die can make killing him morally right. For the doctors, human life commands respect as well as reverence- through its very nature. Since the respectability of life does not rely upon human agreement or rather patient consent, annulment of an individual’s consent to live does not dispossess an individuals’ living body of its respectability. According to Keown (8), the profound ethical principle limiting the doctor's authority is not the freedom of the patient or his/her own good intention. Instead, it is the dignity and enigmatic power of human life, and therefore, doctors should abide by the Hippocratic Oath that calls for the purity and respectability of life. According to Dodie, “there might be occurrence of a "slippery slope" where euthanasia leads to murder, and legalizing euthanasia will illegally target the poor and disabled people” (70).
Religious concerns- religious leaders and moral teachers consider life as the most fundamental gift from God- one which human beings have stewardship but not complete dominion. It is the moral obligation of people to care for not only of their own life as well as health, but also care for others. As a result, doctors do not have the moral obligation to use whichever available medical measures in any circumstance to end the life of another person. As responsible stewards of life, physicians must never openly intend to be the cause of another person’s death, by action or omission. Therefore, all individuals and groups of good will should reject any proposals for legalizing euthanasia.
Euthanasia should not be legalized as it acts as a refutation of the significance of life and the value for the human life. Proposers of euthanasia often assert that it is permissible to take away the life of a human being under specific circumstances such as terminal illness. Nevertheless, this is an act of rejecting the significance of human life. It is imperative for the lives of human beings to be considered as significant, and to be valued. When human beings assume the role of shortening their lives, or those of others, they play the role of God, hence usurping the divine role. There is a contention that many people in the medical profession assume the role of God on the operating tables, which is an immoral act. No doctors ought to be given the permission to kill another individual on whatever grounds.
There are other treatments that may be utilized in the place of euthanasia such as palliative care as well as hospices. Physicians do not have to take away the life of other patients as the modern medical world has more practices that may be used in the management of pain. Hospice-style palliative care is a good solution to address this issue as compared to euthanasia. The supposition that patients ought to possess the right to die would impose on physicians a duty to kill, therefore limiting the autonomy of the physicians. In addition, a ‘right to die’ among some people may also turn out to a ‘duty to die’ by other individuals, especially those who are susceptible or dependent on others (Keown 44). No matter how sick a person is, we do not possess the right to put an end to his or her life. In its place, we have the responsibility of caring for as well as preserving their lives. The incapability of a person to function or recover from an illness does not make his or her life worthless. In an active euthanasia, the direct cause of death is not the disease of a patient but it is an induced act to the patient that results to his or her death. Active euthanasia is wrong as well as immoral to conduct since it destroys the life of another person.
In addition, legalizing of euthanasia is prone to misuse or exploitation. Mistakes and abuses that emanate from euthanasia cannot be completely eliminated in euthanasia. There are doctors who tell patients about their looming death in days, and yet the patients surprise them with extraordinary recoveries. Huxtable asserts that “many doctors have experienced that embarrassing moment where their pessimistic diagnosis has been proven wrong” (76). In the contemporary world of medicine, there is imperfection of knowledge although science is continuously improving. Therefore, there are several cases where diseases may be diagnosed wrongly, or there are studies in progress to develop a new cure. Furthermore, euthanasia undermines the social role of doctors as healers. Furthermore, there is a distinction between killing an individual who asks for death under proper circumstances, as well as killing an individual devoid of their clear understanding because of feeling guilty through imposing social along with financial burden of care.
There may be cases where physicians may practice negative euthanasia. According to Coster (77), negative euthanasia refers to the withholding of procedures that are life preserving and treatments that may prolong the life of an individual who has an incurable and terminal disease. In such cases, the lives of innocent patients may be ended in the name of ‘death with dignity.’ However, there is no dignity in taking away the life of another person. In the past, dreadful stories flourish relating to euthanasia being performed with tainted and unscrupulous reasons, including the intentional completion of existence without patient assent. Despite the fact that these occasions do propose the requirement for more regulation and control of euthanasia, history has unmistakably showed that any law or framework can be mishandled and willful extermination infringement against human rights would show that slapping on the hand may not be sufficient as a fitting punishment for misuse. Patient and doctor freedoms should first be ensured by strict rules, laws, and protects that are certain to be entirely emulated and implemented. In a nation of flexibility, claims are constantly coming soon, in this way a reasonable line in the middle of murder as well as euthanasia must be described and entirely maintained, or the limits between the two will be permanently crossed (Gifford 23).
Do Not Resuscitate Order: this is a type of advance directive. A Do Not Resuscitate Order refers to a request for an individual not to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation in case one’s heart stops, or in case one stops breathing (Gifford 23). The Do Not Resuscitate Order is a type of passive euthanasia which is honored by many hospitals. Unless offered with other instructions, the hospital staff will make efforts to assist any patient who has ceased breathing. One may utilize an advance directive form or ask the doctor that he/she does not want to be resuscitated and this DNR order will be attached to one’s medical chart.
In conclusion, physicians ought to keep off from euthanasia so as to maintain confidence in the society, and trust in the field of medicine as a healing profession. Since, in the modern medical world, we stand on the edge of advancement, it is right to make an assertion that new studies by scientists that will cure the current disease, will be found tomorrow. It is therefore not good for the physicians to give up hope while they are making their diagnosis to patients. As a result, medical legislation ought not to make euthanasia legal.