Euthanasia – One of the Most Debated Topics Today

The topic of euthanasia is one of the most debated topics today. Elderly patients can be pressured into a decision they don’t want to make. Citizens can also be unfairly euthanized as well. Euthanasia should stay illegal due to the obligation to elderly patients, non permitted euthanization, of an individual, and which can open hopefully widen perspective on this issue, as well as many others.

Euthanasia is a complex topic that can’t be described simply and without depth. Euthanasia can be classified into six categories; voluntary active, voluntary passive, non-voluntary active, non-voluntary passive, involuntary active, and involuntary passive. Voluntary, non-voluntary, and involuntary all deal with the consent of the patient while active and passive refer to the means used to cause death. Voluntary is with the consent of the patient, non-voluntary means that the patient’s wishes regarding euthanasia are unknown, and involuntary means that the patient refused euthanasia, but it occurs anyway. Active means that the patient has been administered with a substance to euthanize the patient, while passive means that the patient was euthanized by discontinuing treatments that sustain life of the patient. Passive is typically slower and more uncomfortable than active. Euthanasia and assisted suicide are also slightly different. When euthanasia occurs, the caregiver administers the substance, and when assisted suicide occurs, the caregiver just provides the substance and allows for the patient to administer the substance theirself, allowing them to change their decision up until the substance is administered. As well as the complex concept of what euthanasia is, the moral values of euthanasia are also complicated.

The impact on families and society that the legalization of euthanasia entails are severe. One such example is that the family or close ones of the euthanized individual might receive backlash or conflict in their decision. This could result in the disruption of relationships. In some instances, people have regretted their decision of supporting the euthanization and found it hard to live with. One such instance is demonstrated in the following quote: Rebecca Badger, an euthanized individual, was later discovered by her daughter that her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis was wrong. The autopsy showed that Christy’s mother did in fact not have MS, and would still be alive today. Christy has stated that the situation and what has followed was ‘overwhelming’ (Life). Personal autonomy, defined as the capacity to decide or pursue a course of action without regard for a particular moral value, is something that needs to be considered as well. No man is an island. No person makes the decision to end his or her life in isolation. There are others who are affected: friends and relatives left behind, and the healthcare staff involved in the decision-making process. Euthanasia isn’t just an issue with society and close ones, but also to the patient themself.

If euthanasia is legalized, the right to die might become a duty to die in elderly patients. Many patients are not ready to die, but might feel as if it the responsible thing to do. Caregivers might exert pressure that will result in the decision to euthanize themselves. Quality of life will diminish for those with disabilities as discrimination towards them increase, increasing the feeling of obligation and maybe even depression. The individual might choose death, despite having the desire to live. John Hardwig, a teacher of medical ethics and social political philosophy at East Tennessee State University, thinks that we may have a duty to die when the burden of caring for us seriously compromises the lives of those who care for us (Life). Close ones may be physically and emotionally exhausted, financially unstable, and other family members may be neglected, contributing to the duty to die. The future consequences of legalizing euthanasia could also be severe, shown in the following quote: Many disability advocates take the position that legalizing assisted suicide and active voluntary euthanasia today will lead to active involuntary euthanasia tomorrow. (Life.org) This had already been an issue that has arose in the Netherlands. non-voluntary euthanasia has taken place in the past and in places where euthanasia is legalized, such as the Netherlands, citizens carry ‘anti-euthanasia passports’ in fear of being killed if admitted to a hospital. Euthanasia is only legal in three countries, which include the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, and of those three countries, one is already in violation of human rights as shown in the following quote The United Nations has found that the euthanasia law in the Netherlands is in violation of its Universal Declaration of Human Rights because of the risk it poses to the rights of safety and integrity for every person’s life. (ncbi.gov) In the Netherlands, euthanasia has become an option for early intervention rather than a last resort, as people over 70 who are simply tired of living are able to request euthanization. In the UK, patients can be euthanized without needing permission from family members if the patient doesn’t have a living will stating that they don’t want water and food withdrawn from them. Patients are unjustly euthanized or obligated to come to the decision of becoming euthanized, and with these complications, come more.

When the decision of euthanasia is present, the verdict can be very unfairly given. According to a report done by the US Commission of Civil Rights shows that the practice of withholding food and water from babies born with developmental handicaps is becoming note prevalent, even though many of these defects are medically correctable. (Life.org) Caregivers advertently take away a human life, for a reason that doesn’t justify the decision at all. A survey conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that 63% of paediatric surgeons believe that it is ethically justifiable to starve to death a newborn baby with developmental handicaps. Babies should never be neglected and put aside to starve and scream themselves to death, regardless of the situation. non-voluntary euthanasia is also a problem, demonstrated in the following quote, In Holland, nearly half of all euthanasia cases involve a doctor killing without the patient’s consent or knowledge, according to an analysis of the government’s own pro-euthanasia report by the journal of the American Medical Association. In both cases described above, the act of ending one’s life without their consent or knowledge is being committed. To kill another human being in this sense, is immoral and shouldn’t be allowed, yet in places where euthanasia was or is legalized, scenarios like these has occurred, and will continue to occur so long as we legalize euthanasia.

Bioethicists have based the argument to define personhood on philosophy rather than scientific fact. Bioethicist Joseph F. Fletcher, created a list of traits that essentially defines what qualifies as being a person and what doesn’t. Some examples of the criteria that disqualifies someone as a person, according to Fletcher, would be low intelligence quotients, no self-awareness, and no self-control. With this criteria, over 100 large groups of people would automatically lose their humanity. Some of these groups, which include one-fifth or 1.54 billion of the world’s population, include; all infants under one year old, twins and triplets, prisoners, all comatose persons, pro-life activists, emotional persons, and all religious persons. Thoughts by some bioethicists and paediatricians with this mindset are why euthanasia can be dangerous. Take the case of Terry Schiavo for example. Schiavo, after suffering cardiac arrest, fell into a persistent vegetative state. Courts paid little attention to evidence and protestations of Terri’s parents and medical experts. Medical staff was ordered to euthanize her, and the order came through. She was euthanized passively and non voluntarily by removing her feeding tube. This sparked an international debate over quality of life and right-to-die issues.

All things considered, euthanasia has many complications and ____. It should continue to remain in the illegal state that it is currently in. Again, patients, specifically the elderly, can be manipulated or exploited by staff which can result in a choice they didn’t originally want. In some instances, innocent victims of illness have been unfairly killed. With all the complexity of this issue, it allows for an open mindset which can be applied to many other of the world’s key issues.

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