Euthanasia is one of the subjects that have faced intense debate over time, the legalization of euthanasia have been debated for many years with different views presented in terms of ethical and legal consideration for both patients and health care providers. Healthcare providers are faced with ethical dilemmas when caring for terminally ill patients. They are forced to make tough decisions by using their moral reasoning to overcome some of the ethical dilemmas related to euthanasia.
Euthanasia is viewed as murder, however, ethically; physician has the moral obligation to comply with patients’ decisions. Making such decision to either withhold or withdraw treatment for any patient is not an easy decision to make based on the cultural, religious and legal factors. Death resulting to euthanasia is different between countries. Patients who experience extreme pain due to the nature of their illness are permitted to die with dignity in several countries while other countries totally condemn the use of euthanasia. Therefore, such individuals are among the few cases that continue to convince stakeholders to legalize euthanasia.
From a religious perspective; religious leaders see euthanasia to be unnecessary because for them, pain and suffering are not only a medical problem it is more than physical pain. Pain and suffering are as a result of several factors; these include psychosocial, cultural and spiritual. Such views have changed the perspective of the debate about euthanasia. The other aspect of euthanasia that has been ignored. It is a fact that the doctor has an obligation to fulfill patient’s request.
By not legalizing euthanasia is viewed as violating patient rights as the doctor refuses to help patients die. Even though many people are against euthanasia because it is viewed as murder, those who advocate for its usage view euthanasia from a different perspective. For them, the issue of cost and violation of human rights are the two most important arguments presented during euthanasia debates. Even though those who support Euthanasia argue that it helps patients die with and help in containing the overall cost of treatment, others view Euthanasia as an immoral act. Other people view euthanasia as patient’s choice, not a physician; therefore, killing patients even when physicians have signed the code of ethics, is in line with the healthcare standards because the patient has the final say. The physician does not violate human rights.
I believe that there are valid reasons for patients to consider euthanasia because it saves both the patient and their family members from many financial burdens associated with terminal diseases. Euthanasia is the choice, and an alternative for patients who suffer immensely and their decision should be respected to help them alleviate suffering. In many countries where euthanasia is permitted health care cost have been significantly contained. Patients with chronic illnesses do not have much choice but to die peacefully and with dignity. Terminally ill patients are permitted to request from euthanasia to stop suffering.
Euthanasia remains one of the hot topics among many interest groups; some people believe that it is the only humane way to end suffering. Christians believe that humans have to undergo suffering because it’s part of God’s plan. In this debate considering the political, religious, legal and personal views all these people want to justify their reasons as to why euthanasia should be legalized or not. Euthanasia remains a debatable subject because of the varied views that might be valid to a certain point.
You may have heard of the stories of a doctor or nurse deliberately helping their incurable patient pass on to the other side. They are usually promptly arrested, and the mass media enjoys giving these persons names like “Angels of Death” or “Suicide Helpers.” Some people might think such doctors’ actions are merciful and graceful, since many patients who are terminally ill are waiting to die, sometimes being in severe pain. Yet, there are also opponents to this rationale who claim that killing is still killing, no matter what motives the murderer had, or how difficult the patient’s suffering was. One of the main questions in treating patients who cannot be cured is whether mercy killings are to be allowed legally to help end someone’s suffering—the answer should be, “No.”
Euthanasia—the proper term for mercy killing—is the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering. This assumes a patient is aware they are going to die, and in some cases, they must administer the poison themselves. This is also called assisted suicide.
Arguments supporting euthanasia usually present the fact that the patient would have no cure, and no way of contributing to society in the state they are in. They claim humanity cannot help such individuals either: all that can be done is prolonging their agony when suffering from terminal diseases, or letting them live with a defective life in the case of suffering from serious mental deviations. However, the very thought of killing people due to their disabilities seems unnatural; besides, who is competent and authorized enough to decide whom to kill and whom to let live?
The German child Gerhard Kretschmar, whose case is one of the most well-known examples of euthanasia, was born blind, missing limbs, and prone to convulsions. Adolf Hitler gave Kretschmar’s doctor permission to commit a child murder, since medicine could not help him. This incident started the Nazis’ T4 Program (that implied killing incurably ill people, as well as physically and mentally-disabled individuals), and led to the killings of almost 300,000 mentally and physically handicapped people who otherwise would have no other way of being cured (BBC). The problem is that while Kretchmar’s killing was done by parental consent, 5,000 to 8,000 children were forcibly taken from their parents because the state decided to do so. These children were either starved to death or killed by lethal injection.
As the T4 Program continued, handicapped people were killed with gas vans and killing centers, eventually leading to the death of 70,000 German adults. Since this campaign was clearly being used as a murderous machine to take out the unwanted, the definition of euthanasia was stretched to fit the government’s viewpoint. The main danger here is that in the scenario of modern society weakening its control over the issue of euthanasia, history can repeat itself and soon it will be up to the government whether or not you are able to contribute to society.
People who want to commit suicide—due to despair, disappointment, or for any other reason—seem to be unwilling to make this fearsome step on their own. Thus, they strive to share the responsibility of cutting their lives short in the presence of others, basically with doctors. But if a person feels they want to die, they should not bring in someone to do it. If suicide is illegal, then why are we helping people commit suicide? The very fact that people call it mercy killing does not mean that it stops to be a murder, since you still take their lives away.
Euthanasia is an act of seeming mercy, and should not be allowed legally. While being justified as humane towards people who suffer and cannot live a full life, it is a murder no better than many others and different only in motives. No person is authorized to decide whether another person should live or die except that person. In the case of an individual deciding to pass away beforehand, no one should help him or her in this deed. Besides, there exists the danger that governments may take the role of a judge deciding whom to kill, as it has happened in Nazi Germany. The consequences of this could be truly dreadful.
BBC-Genocide Under the Nazis Timeline: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/interactive/timelines/nazi_genocide_timeline/index_embed.shtml.
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