Physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia is a very complicated and controversial problem in the modern world. The problem has evidences for and against euthanasia. There are also many proponents and opponents of the problem. The paper will consider one of the types of euthanasia – physician-assisted suicide. First of all, it is worthwhile to provide a definition of the term euthanasia. The following is one of the most appropriate definitions of this term.
The term Euthanasia originated from the Greek word for “good death.” It is the act or practice of ending the life of a person either by lethal injection or the suspension of medical treatment. Because of this, many view euthanasia as simply bringing relief by alleviating pain and suffering. The word has also been applied to situations when a decision is made to refrain from exercising “heroic” measures in an end-of-life situation (“Facts about euthanasia”, n.d.).
Simply speaking, the main goal of euthanasia is to relief pain and suffering of a person who has no chances to survive. That is why its sounds more reasonable to “kill” a person, because it is the most desirable solution for a person. Usually, a person asks for such an act. Sometimes relatives of a person may be initiators of this act. In fact, there are many different types of euthanasia. Among them, the following ones may be pointed out:
- Voluntary euthanasia is a situation when a person asks to help him/her to die. Thus, it is a decision of a person that suffers from pain or other negative consequences of disease or trauma.
- Involuntary euthanasia is a situation when a person is “killed” without his/her knowledge. Usually, relatives of a person make such decision in order to help him/her.
- Active euthanasia happens via usage of special drugs, and passive euthanasia occurs when a person do not accept measures which are needed to maintain life.
- Physician-assisted suicide is performed by health care professional intentionally via overdose of drugs.
- Finally, assisted suicide is a suicide that is accomplished with the help of another person.
The main question of this research paper is whether physician-assisted suicide should be legal. In fact, it should be said that this act is already legal in some countries. For example, one can mention Netherlands. This opinion can be proved by the following words.
Dutch doctors practice active euthanasia by lethal injections (96.6% of all deaths actively caused by physicians in 1990). Physician-assisted suicide is very infrequent (no more than 3.4% of all cases in Holland of active termination of life in 1990). For patients who die of a lethal overdose of painkillers, the decision to administer the lethal dose of drugs was not discussed with 61% of those receiving it, even though 27% were fully competent. The Board of the Royal Dutch Medical Association endorsed euthanasia on newborns and infants with extreme disabilities (“Facts about euthanasia”, n.d.).
In order to answer the question of this paper, first of all, it is reasonable to provide the main concept, which is the basis for opponents of this idea. Generally, opponents claim that life of any person is absolute value and treasure. This life is given to a person by God. It means that no one has a right to take away this life. Additionally, there is always a chance that some miracle can happen and a person will survive. It would be unreasonable to discount such a chance. This is the main thesis of opponents of euthanasia. Now it would be fair to answer the next question.
It is believed that these arguments are not enough
That is why the answer is that euthanasia should be legal. The arguments are provided below. First of all, the arguments of the opponents are provided. Among them, the following ones may be pointed out.
The strongest argument is that life is given by God and only God has a right to take it away. Suffering may be a part of a person’s fate. As one can see, this argument has a religious context. Respectively, it is simply impossible to talk about euthanasia in countries, where religion plays a significant social role.
Euthanasia may become involuntary. It means that sometimes people may make such decisions without the will of a person. They may have a lot of motives for it. For example, children may desire fortune of their father, etc. Powerful mechanism of control should be implemented. Without such a mechanism, euthanasia may be used for simple murders.
Also, there is a risk that euthanasia will be applied to people that are note terminally ill. According to the current requirements, such an act can be possibly applied only to terminally ill people.
Two problems can be distinguished here: the definition of the word terminal and the changes which are connected with the fact that euthanasia is used beyond the cases when it is really needed. It should be mentioned that manipulations with this act may take place. By this it is meant that euthanasia may be applied to people that are not terminally ill. This opinion can be proved by the following words.
There are many definitions for the word “terminal”
For example, when he spoke to the National Press Club in 1992, Jack Kevorkian said that a terminal illness was “any disease that curtails life even for a day.” The co-founder of the Hemlock Society often refers to “terminal old age”. Some laws define “terminal” condition as one from which death will occur in a “relatively short time”. Others state that “terminal” means that death is expected within six months or less (“Arguments against euthanasia”, n.d.).
It has been already said that there is always a place for a miracle in this world. There may be even minor chance that a person may survive a disease. Such chances can be related to development of medicine, unlearned abilities of a human’s organism, or simply a mentioned miracle. Sometimes it is better to wait a while and save a life of a person.
Euthanasia can become a means of health care cost containment. The modern world is seriously affected by the consequences of the global financial crisis. Every organization is forced to save in such conditions. Health care institutions are not an exception. They also have to contain their costs. Euthanasia may become a great instrument of doing so. That is why no one can be sure in real motives of euthanasia in every separate case.
Finally, euthanasia decreases society’s sanctity of life. It is a very bad sign, since it will extrapolate to the other sides of social life. If it is allowed to kill terminally ill people, than death penalty should also be accepted and, probably, disabled people should also be provided with a chance to stop suffering.
Thus, the main arguments against euthanasia have been provided. Now it is time to provide counter arguments in order to support their main thesis. First of all, it is believed that any person has a right to rule his/her life. Only a person can make decisions which are related to his/her life. If a man decides to finish life – it only depends on him/her.
There are a many diseases that provide no chances to a person to survive and are associated with pain and suffering. It looks more reasonable and even humane to end life of such a person and ease the pain, since there seem to be little sense to live in suffering additional 4 years, for example
Sometimes, terminally ill people may be a great burden for their relatives. It sounds somewhat cruel, but it is often a true. In such situations, ill people may decide to take this burden away from relatives. Such decision is a strong one and should be respected by society.
If an action promotes the best interests of everyone concerned and violates no one’s rights, the libertarian view maintains, then that action is morally acceptable. In some cases, active euthanasia promotes the best interests of everyone concerned and violates no one’s rights. Therefore, in those cases active euthanasia is morally acceptable (Moreland, 2009).
Once again, one may talk about some financial aspects of this problem. Keeping life of terminally ill people costs much money. On the other hand, there are no chances that such people will survive. This money can be used to save lives of other people that still have chances to survive. It is believed that it is a very strong argument, especially in the modern conditions of the global financial crisis.
Even some religious people support the idea of euthanasia
They claim that God is love. Love is expressed in compassion. Taking away suffering and pain from a person is a form of compassion. That is why one cannot claim absolutely that euthanasia is always against a will of a person.
Finally, it should be said that a legal policy should be accepted when society supports some particular idea. More and more people support the idea of euthanasia. It is believed that the world’s society is able to accept such approach to a human’s life. That is why the authorities should accept policy as a legal set of rules, since only in such circumstances it will be possible to control the process and make it safe and effective. Society is ready for such an idea, and this idea may help avoid negative consequences. It can be called as the main thesis of this research paper.
To conclude it is worthwhile to say the following
Euthanasia can be defined as a process of ending a person’s life in order to take suffering and pain from him/her. There are many types of euthanasia. Physician-assisted euthanasia has been discussed in this paper. This is a type of euthanasia which is implemented with a help of a health care professional. It has been said that it is quite difficult and controversial problem in the modern society. There are a many opponents and proponents of this idea. Among the arguments of the opponents, the following ones have been pointed out:
- The strongest argument is that life is given by God and only God has a right to take it away.
- Euthanasia may become involuntary. It means that sometimes people may make such decisions without will of a person.
- Also, there is a risk that euthanasia will be applied to people that are note terminally ill.
- There may be even minor chance that a person may survive a disease.
- Euthanasia can become a means of health care cost containment.
However, it is believed that these arguments are not enough and that society is ready for euthanasia and this readiness should be realized in a legal policy. This was the main thesis of the research paper. Generally, the following arguments in support of euthanasia have been provided.
There are many diseases that provide no chances to a person to survive but are associated with pain and suffering. It looks more reasonable and even humane to end the life of such a person and ease the pain.
Sometimes, terminally ill people may be a great burden for their relatives. Keeping life of terminally ill people costs much money. On the other hand, there are no chances that such people will survive. This money can be used to save lives of other people that still have chances to survive.
Finally, it should be said that a legal policy should be accepted if society supports some particular idea. Even some religious people support the idea of euthanasia. They claim that God is love. Love is expressed in compassion. Taking away suffering and pain from a person is a form of compassion.
Generally, euthanasia should be legalized
An appropriate mechanism of control and realization of this idea should be implemented. Practice of the countries that have already legalized this policy should be used. However, it should be adapted to the local mental features. It is believed that it is possible to bring many benefits for society, realizing this idea in the most appropriate way. It is a difficult task, but the final benefits are going to be much higher than the initial costs.