Euthanasia is the ever controversial topic in debates in ethics. It is the taking of someone’s life upon request by that person, who has a terminal illness. Laws have been passed to legalize this act, however, there are still many that don’t approve of this and considers human euthanasia as an immoral act and a form of murder. Those who support this act believe that the wishes of the terminally sick patient should be respected. Thus, they respect the personal autonomy of human kind. They are those people who respect the dignity and honor of a person as citizen of this country.
The abuse of euthanasia by doctors is nothing to fear. Specific conditions can be established under which a person may ask for and be granted euthanasia (Zimmerman, 2005). Euthanasia can be a fast and peaceful way for terminal patients to die on their own terms and be at peace with it. For many years, human euthanasia has been the topic of many fiery debates on ethics. Legalization of human euthanasia and the morality of the act are usually questioned by people who are too blind to see the benefits of euthanasia. They even classify it as murder but the way I see it, euthanasia is helping people.
Now, this unresolved issue is really about autonomy and respect. If people have the right to live, then they also reserve the right to die and the right to freely choose how to die. Those people who accept human euthanasia as a moral act are those people who respect the autonomy of a person. In other words, they respect the right of people in being who they really are. By respecting other people’s decisions, this entails respect of the person’s rights as a citizen and treating that person with dignity and respect. It follows that by doing so one also acknowledges he alternative fact that people also have the right to choose to die. For those terminally ill patients, a sound escape from the torture they are in is euthanasia. But what really is euthanasia? When can you classify an action as euthanasia or murder? Who can participate in this act? These are just some of the questions that must be answered to clarify the grounds for committing euthanasia. Euthanasia, as defined in Euthanasia. com, is the intentional killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for that person’s alleged benefit (2009).
Thus, for the act to be considered euthanasia, the person who assisted in the process should have the intention of killing the patient or person. By omitting the benefits of a dependent human may mean that the life support of the human who is dependent on the apparatus is being removed. As a result, natural death will follow. The website continues to state that the patient in this scenario should not be considered brain dead because in the event that a physician removes the life support of a brain dead patient, euthanasia is not committed because in the first place, the patient is already clinically dead.
Thus, the person being helped through euthanasia should have a confirmed diagnosis of a terminal illness and the act should be of sound judgment. (2009) Euthanasia should only be considered if it is EXTREMELY necessary. There are several forms of euthanasia, namely voluntary active, passive, and non-voluntary euthanasia. Voluntary active euthanasia is when the act of killing is done upon the direct request of the person killed (Procon. org, 2008).
There are several conditions that the patient must meet for voluntary euthanasia to be done, as specified in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. This includes: (a) the person should be suffering from a terminal illness; (b) the person has extremely low possibility to benefit from a new discovery of a cure of his illness; (c) the patient is suffering from intolerable pain as a result of his illness; (d) the patient voluntarily and competently wishes to die; and lastly (e) the person is incapable of committing suicide by himself.
There should also be a medical and legal provision given to the patient for him to be allowed to die, with or without assistance (Young, 2008). On the other hand, “passive euthanasia is by letting the patient die by actively removing the life-support of the patient or withholding the treatment from the patient. Therefore, when a physician commits euthanasia by letting the patient die, he basically didn’t produce the effect of death, instead, he just influenced the acceleration of the time of occurrence of death.
Furthermore, this process will only kill those who are mortally ill and will not affect healthy individuals” (Procon. org, 2008). Another form of euthanasia is non-voluntary euthanasia, wherein, the act is done on a person who is incapable of deciding for him or is incapacitated to voice out his wishes. This is applicable in cases where in the patient is: (a) in coma; (b) too young; (c) senile; (d) severely mentally retarded; (e) severely brain damaged; and (f) mentally disturbed to the extent that they are harmful even to themselves (Procon. org, 2008).
If one will review the statistics, according to the survey done in association with the Oregon’s Physician Assisted Suicide Act that was done last 2002, most people killed themselves because they fear of losing their autonomy or they fear being incapacitated. Some kill themselves because they are concerned in losing their normal bodily functions and others don’t like to burden their families with hospital bill or by taking care of them. And some still kill themselves because of unbearable pain brought about by their health condition (“Why People killed,”, 2009).
There are a lot of reasons why people engage in euthanasia. It all boils down to the respect of another person’s decision for their life and the respect for his autonomy. One may also see the benefits that euthanasia can give to the person and to his loved ones. For one, it provides a person freedom from the pain brought by the illness. Take for instance a patient having a terminal stage of colon carcinoma. Through the entire course of the disease, pain is the constant complaint of the patient. He may still endure this pain even up to his last breath, providing he is not under a high dose of pain relievers.
Even if a physician relieved the pain of the patient for a while, the prognosis of a cancer which already metastasized is gravely poor. So why allow the patient to endure more suffering that he had gone through already? Some may argue that as long as were alive, there is hope. Yes, one can hold on to hope. That is why patients submit themselves to chemotherapy where they suffer the side effects of the given drug. Although the intention of healing is there, these chemicals destroy the healthy cells of the patient at the same time.
Thus, one can say that the patient is slowly killing his or herself by taking the drugs that are meant to kill the cancer. So how can anybody say to that patient to hold on when all he experiences is a low quality of life? Euthanasia provides the patient an alternative method to relieve him from that slumped situation. One should also consider the practicality of the method. It is not a secret that medical help is really expensive. From my experience and the experience of family and friends who have required specialized medical treatment it can be twice as expensive when a person is undergoing special medical treatment.
A person cannot rely on insurance to pay all the bills. It can only help so much. So where will the family of the patient procure money for their mounting bill in this present crisis? Thus, euthanasia solves this dilemma. It doesn’t only free the patient from suffering but it also helps the family to start anew after the patient passes away by not being buried in debt. Although it is safe to say that the family loves the patient, one should also consider the burden that the family is enduring by taking care of a dependent person. It is not easy to sacrifice so many things, even your life for the moment, just to take care of your loved one.
On the other hand, the patient may also feel much undignified the moment he loses his independence due to his terminal illness. Again, euthanasia relieves a people from these dilemmas. Also, when a person asks for his suffering to end by taking his life away, as a human, it is his prejudice to choose whatever course his life may proceed. In a way, euthanasia respects the freedom of choice of a person. It can be considered that euthanasia removes the patient from his tormenting situation by accelerating the inexorable natural process of death.
Although many people still find euthanasia immoral and consider it as murder, this act should be seriously considered for legalization. How can one be so selfish in thinking first of their conscience’s dictates when they regularly hear pleading words of freedom from illness by the patient? Shouldn’t these people instead be guilty on allowing their loved ones or peers to suffer? Isn’t it more humane if we allow these terminally ill patients to pass away comfortably with dignity and respect for themselves? Before the people who are against euthanasia react, I hope they will bear in mind that this process is not done to just anybody.
There are considerations to be made and it has a process to undergo. Euthanasia is not an impulsive action. Instead, it is a deed done with respect for the patient so as to give him pride and dignity by helping him to pass away as comfortable as possible. In conclusion, it is unavoidable that in any suggested action, there will be people who will oppose. Thus, it is but normal for other people to oppose the legalization of euthanasia. But in spite of this, legislators should pass the law allowing euthanasia to be done in health giving centers legally.
By doing so, they are laying down the grounds for this action to commence and in this manner; the government will have control in this action. In a way, they have already legalized euthanasia by allowing hospitals to offer the patient’s family an option to not to resuscitate the patient. This is a form of omission of treatment which is done in passive euthanasia. In line with this, the government should also allow the other forms of euthanasia to be legalized. In doing so, the people’s right to die and the right to choose how to die are being respected, showing that the government respects the individual autonomy of its citizens.