Vital 1Jose VitalS. HackneyEnglish 1022, April, 2013Euthanasia: Permissible or ImpermissibleLife is often noted as being precious; something that many wish to preserve forthemselves and their children, but when we look at abortion it is mainly turned down because itis said that a fetus is a person with rights as soon as conception. When the subject is made aboutthe right to take someone’s own life then it becomes a more complex argument. Literallymeaning a “good death,” euthanasia is a topic that has been argued from the permissible andimpermissible spectrum. Those in support of this practice believe euthanasia should be a viableoption for individuals who suffer from incurable diseases. The proponents of euthanasia teachthat once a patient’s quality of life has degenerated to an unacceptable level, a patient has theright to end his life. Those who oppose euthanasia believe it to be unjustified in the sense that itis the taking of someone’s life, therefore making it immoral. However this is a decision made byone’s own free will, a choice that should be respected by members of society, especially whenthe person is plagued with a terminal illness that will certainly reach a point of intolerable pain.Although others argue a hospice a more viable choice the patient will still feel discomfort, evenwith aid of pain killers. In all euthanasia is something that shouldn’t be kept in the dark, since itis something that many people are seeking even without the help of a doctor, which should pressmore states to legalize the practice of it.When discussing whether euthanasia should be permitted we first have to look at thepatients concerns and reasons for wanting early death. Looking at a few patients’ reasons for
Vital 2wanting to be euthanized could reveal other motives that isn’t as obvious as wanting to end theirpain suffering. A study done on 6 patients with advanced cancer expressed five reasons fordesiring euthanasia: knowing the progression of the disease, future suffering, fearing that theirfuture will be worse than death, wanting good care to end their life’s, and maintaining theirdignity(Yvonne Y. W. Mak, Glyn Elwyn, and llora G. Finlay). This study shows that there areother factors that motivate the end of life treatment, motives that are rational in the case of beingterminally. Patients with terminal illnesses are aware that their conditions will worsen andbecome unbearable, even before their illness envelopes the patients’ deal with psychologicalissues, considering the themes presented, that make them question their lives for what it wasthen, and what it will become when the disease takes over. Wanting to maintain and preserveones quality of life through euthanasia should then be taken positively, since it deprives them ofa life that will surely bring them more pain and suffering. An issue that present in the choice onetakes to end their life to stop pain and suffering, is that it may not actually be that person’schoice. Opponents of euthanasia argue that, “for active or passive euthanasia to be voluntary thepatient must freely will that his or her life be ended” (Campbell). It should be clear that in orderto qualify for euthanasia a patient must have a pending terminal illness, and must be choice ofhis own, but my opponent seems to think “the decision to die is not freely chosen, but compelledby pain” (Campbell). One of the main obvious reasons a terminally ill person would chooseeuthanasia is to stop their pain and suffering, so of course their choice would be compelled bypain. Campbell’s example of a victim of torture begs to differ, saying that someone spillingsecretes do to torture is parallel to someone taking the choice of euthanasia do to pain. Thedistinction here is that someone who chooses to end their suffering through euthanasia iscompelled by an internal issue, as to where someone who chooses to end their suffering by
Vital 3telling there torturer what they want to know, is compelled by an external issue. The subjectmatter also remains different in this comparison, since the person’s illness is not prolonged by anoutside force that seeks to attain information; it is an incurable disease that has no motive, no selfconcept, and no reason to prolong a person’s pain, it’s only certain that it will end the person’slife. So given the person’s circumstances it would only be reasonable that the person take theprocedure’s to make his death a peaceful one.Further distinction must also be made in the active physician’s role in euthanasia and thekilling of a person. There must be a line drawn between killing, and euthanasia, for it is oftenmistaken by its opponents’ to be murder. In the case of murder the murderer did not have theconsent to kill the person, and therefore is unlawful. Unlike killing, which infers there isviolence, and the presence of a victim, euthanasia has the consent of the person, so that a trainedphysician can take his life, in what some consider, a practical and humane manner. As JohnDavis says in his article, it is an inappropriate use of the word, when the patient is asking inaiding him or her die. The issue is that it presses many to think of euthanasia in a negative light.When we consider what makes killing wrong and what makes euthanasia right, we can argue thatit is the person’s consent that makes all the difference, but that can’t be all that’s needed.Consider a middle aged woman who aided her elderly friend in her suicide, and a licensephysician who gives a large dose of morphine to a dying cancer patient (Davis). Which is moreimpermissible? Well one would certainly agree that although the middle aged women had herfriends consent, but she had no right to help in the suicide, especially without proper training,and others can agree that the doctor had good intentions, and ended the patient’s life humanely.So what also has to be considered in euthanasia is the humane process that takes place. Usually ahumane death is one that is free of suffering, one that ends a person’s life in a peaceful manner,
Vital 4and euthanasia certainly offers that. Of course there are differences between active and passiveeuthanasia, passive euthanasia being the less humane. This is where the patient might refusetreatment, food or water, and might use gases and paper bags to end their lives (Methods ofEuthanasia). This course is usually taken when the patient see’s no better choice put to end hislife. If more forms of active euthanasia were offered less people would have to resort to suchdestructive means of ending their lives. It could also be argued that the active role that the doctorplays in the patient’s death undermines the trust that the patient, and public put in its healthinstitutions that are supposed to provide health and welfare for its patients (Kerridge andMitchell). Although it can be said to undermine the patient’s trust, in regards to the doctor notfulfilling his duties as a healer, it is still within the patients’ rights to ask if such treatments areoffered to him.Whether a dying patient should want to end their life early is an autonomous choice, andto deny them this right is unreasonable. When there are treatments that patients might consider,but are withheld due to restriction in the unified public plan, is denying them a right that isoffered to every individual in their debilitating situation (Ikonomidis and singer). Not givingeveryone equal rights to treatment, infers that one is incompetent to make his own decision, andfurther implies that he will make the irresponsible one. A person’s physical illness does notrender that him incompetent to make decision, more than likely it gives him a realisticassessment of his situation, and allows him to decide the overall wellbeing of his family, andhimself. Determining whether a patient is competent enough to make the decision towardseuthanasia leaves room, but what must be considered is that there are measures taken to evaluatethe person decision before going through with the procedure. In Ian H. Kerridge’s and Kenneth
Vital 5R. Mitchell’s article they include the processes that the patient and doctor must evaluate beforetreatment:the patient is at least 18 years and the medical practitioner is satisfied reasonably that:(i)the patient is suffering from an illness that, in the normal course of events result in thedeath of the patient; (ii) there is no medical measure acceptable to the patient that canreasonably be undertaken in hope of effecting a cure, and, (iii) any medical treatmentreasonably available to the patient is confined to the rest of pain and/or suffering with theobject of allowing the patient to die a comfortable death; a second medical practitioner,has examined the patient and confirmed; (i) the first medical practitioners opinion as tothe existence and seriousness of the illness ; (ii) that the patient is likely to dies as a resultof the illness; (iii) the first medical practitioner prognosis: and (iv) that the patient is notsuffering from a treatable clinical depression in respect of the illness; the illness iscausing the patient severe pain or suffering.Given this assessment, the patient is aware of his incurable illness, and can be confidentin going through with his end of life treatment. It was also made clear that the patient must be 18to even be allowed treatment. Looking at the particulars of the process, this surely goes againstthe autonomy of the patient, and can be seen as an unjustified means to prevent treatment. It isunjustified in the sense that other patients with the same illness get treatment, but due to theperson’s age, he is refused treatment. It could also be categorized as discrimination towards aperson’s civil rights, but because it is not a right given to everyone it wouldn’t actually fall underthat category. So what is relevant to this situation is that person is simply too young to makesuch a rash decision, and if the argument made is that a young person’s life is more valuable,than an old person’s life it must be supported by evidence. Of course there can be no evidence
Vital 6brought forth to prove this statement to be true, so there is no good reason to even deny someoneunder 18 that right. It is prevalent that people way below the age of 18 gets diagnosed with aterminal illness, which is no more curable than someone with a terminal illness above or at theage of 18. So when patients’ are diagnosed with a terminal illness they most certainly shouldhave the right to euthanasia, since they are likely to suffer the same pain as any other patient withtheir illness.People are afraid that if euthanasia were legalized it would send a negative message thatindirectly says "its better to be dead than sick or disabled" (Allowing euthanasia reinforces). Itmakes people uneasy when they believe the subtext of the euthanasia is that all lives are notworth living. The point that opponents try to make is that persons with disabilities go throughmuch pain and suffering, and some are even ostracized by society, which will lead to theelimination of disabled people. In an article, Ben Mattlin describes his experience with a lifelongdisability, and opposes the death with dignity law because he believes people like him will beforced to end their lives (The Debate About Assisted Suicide). Whether the patient is disabled isbeside the point, euthanasia is only offered to those with an incurable illness that will surely endtheir life, not someone who is disabled, and who can manage their misery with counseling. First Iwould like to state that the regular procedure of euthanasia has to be requested by the patient.Secondly a person who is disabled is just as capable as an able-bodied on making decisions, evenif they are not mentally impaired. Third of all are laws that restrict the treatment of mentallyimpaired person. Fourth of all psychological support is provided to those who are disabled, whomay want to chose euthanasia. Therefore all people should have the equal right to live, and thechoice to end their lives. What some of the opponents don’t understand about euthanasia is thatit is not the first thing offered to a patient; the doctor will first offer the choice of palliative care,
Vital 7which “is physical, emotional and spiritual care for a dying person when cure is not possible”(What is palliative care?). This is used to promote the wellness of the patient and reduce thepatient’s desire to die sooner. When palliative care is not enough it would be in the doctors bestinterest to offer euthanasia. Doctors reveal that only about 5% of the patient’s pain is relievedduring his treatment (Anti-euthanasia arguments). That is a very small margin for the patient tofeel any better, so it is obvious why they would turn to euthanasia. Palliative care can seem like agood support system, but it can lead many patients to prefer death over dependency. To many itmeans surrendering time with their family at home, for a lonely hospital bed. It also brings a lossof alertness, when it comes time for the patient to pass, and say goodbye to their loved one.When the person undertakes they take aggrandized amount of pills that can make them feel semi-anaesthetized, which most patients find stressful when they want to have coherent conversationswith their loved the ones. Although palliative care can be useful in the first stages of the patient’sillness, it provides very little help in the end stages of their illness. After a patient life has beenprolonged father than expected, it would be respectful to that person’s autonomy and dignity ifthey be left to die, regardless any treatment providing comfort.Arguing the permissibility of euthanasia can end in a slippery slope, but when youconsider the onslaught of issues the person with a terminal illness must live with, from the timeof hearing of his or her illness, through the time that the illness has taken its toll, it is
Vital 8understandable why it should be permissible. Even if there is an opportunity to further a person’slife expectancy, the right to end his or her life should not be denied. Once a person is fully awareof their fatal illness, then that person is competent enough to go through with end to lifetreatment, regardless of their age. It should be made clear that the decision for euthanasia is onetaken after all hope of improving a person’s health is gone without a reasonable doubts that thereisn’t a cure. With this kind of practice the person can preserve what little good life they hadbefore. With so many people already seeking help from professional and unprofessionalphysicians, it should become apparent to other anti-euthanasia jurisdictions, that this is a problemthat will persist until it is made available to the people.
Vital 9Works CitedCampbell, Neil . "An Problem for the Idea of Voluntary Euthanasia." Journal of MedicalEthics 25.3 (1999): 242-244. Print."BBC - Ethics - Euthanasia: Anti-euthanasia arguments." BBC - Homepage. N.p., n.d.Web. 16 Apr. 2013. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/euthanasia/against/against_1.shtml#h10>.Davies, Jean . "Raping and Making Love are Different Concepts: So Are Killing andVoluntary Euthanasia." Journal of Medical Ethics 14.3 (1988): 148-149. Print.“- Euthanasia - ProCon.org." Euthanasia - ProCon.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2013.<http://euthanasia.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=000181httKerridge, Ian , and Kenneth Mitchell . "The Legislation of Active Voluntary Euthanasiain Australia: Will the Slippery Slope Prove Fatal?." Journal of Medical Ethics 22.5 (1996): 273-278. JSTOR. Web. 16 Apr. 2013.Mak,, Yvonne , Glyn Elwyn, and Ilora Finlay. "Patients Voices Are Needed In DebatesOn Euthanasia." British Medical Journal 327.7408 (2003): 213-215. JSTOR. Web. 26 Feb. 2013."Methods of Euthanasia | The Life Resources Charitable Trust." Home. N.p., n.d. Web.16 Apr. 2013. <http://www.life.org.nz/euthanasia/abouteuthanasia/methods-of-euthanasia/>.
Vital 10Sklansky, Mark. "Neonatal Euthanasia: Moral Considerations and Criminal Liability." Journal ofMedical Ethics 27.1 (2001): 5-11. Print."The Debate About Assisted Suicide." The New York Times 4 Nov. 2012: 2. The NewYork Times. Web. 18 Mar. 2013