Should Death Be A Personal Choice Philosophy
Euthanasia. One word that is guaranteed to start a debate: be it religious, ethical or moral. Everyone has an opinion whether it is right or wrong. It has been making headlines for years, as many sufferers of chronic illnesses (that can often lead to death) have fought for the right to end their own life's, with the help of loved ones or medical professionals, and at time that enables them to maintain their dignity. With this in mind, I will be writing about the pros and cons that are associated with euthanasia, and whether or not the law should be changed to allow it to happen.
There are many points of view within this debate, whether it is religious and the moral impact of turning your back on God's "divine gift". Alternatively, another argument that is often brought up is that if we allow euthanasia to become legal, we are inviting a repeat of "Hitler's rules", and the abuse of power that will ultimately occur. However, I will also be arguing for the right to decide when we die, that the abuse of power can be avoided and that the world has learnt a valuable lesson on which a "Hitler's rule" would never happen again.
One argument that is often thrown in the faces' of the pro euthanasia camp is "surprisingly" from the house of God. The teachings of the Catholic Church clearly states that to take a life is wrong. This belief at its most basic level is that all life is equal; that the value of someone that is mentally/physically disabled, chronically ill, or close to death is the same of as that of a healthy person's. This aversion to euthanasia is furthered backed by one the most basic tenants of Christianity, which is that "thou shall not kill", by enabling a person to end his/her own life the enabler is going against the will of God, and thus committing a sin. However, not to belittle anyone's belief system, but in a country that is forever becoming less Christian in nature can we continue to withhold the peace that can be achieved from an early death? With modern medicine, the life expectancy is double that of a hundred years ago and many natural deaths are forestalled. For example if someone was to have a stroke that leads to "locked in syndrome"- which leaves the person unable to move or speak without aid of advance computing software- now go back as early as three decades and that would have most likely lead to an early death. With today's medicine, this is no longer the case in fact; the life expectancy for sufferers is now around twenty years. Think of the emotional cost of being completely dependent on loved ones and carers. Who would want that?
The biggest fear that is associated with euthanasia is that once we start to legalise it, it will lead to a repeat of Nazi Germany under the rule of Hitler. This is due to the build up from euthanasia practice in cases of the terminally ill and mentally/physically disabled, to mass genocide to anyone that did not fit into "the master race" mould. That like the Germans under Nazi rule the slope will quickly become a slippery slide in which we as a nation would be unable to live with; that in allowing euthanasia in cases to end the suffering of the chronically ill we will open a gateway to abuse. In which we will try to push our "undesirable" population to be put to unnecessary death. These fears also lead to the worry that doctors may take the choice on whether we want to be euthanized into their hands, and making the choice for us without our consent. Although these fears are valid and should not be dismissed lightly, we can relieve some fears by looking at the countries such as the Netherlands and Switzerland, where euthanasia has already been legalised. For example, euthanasia has been legal for a decade in the Netherlands, and although there have been many horror stories about forced euthanasia, that is all they are, stories. Even when the euthanasia law was changed, the total number of deaths that is caused through euthanasia is only around three per cent. In fact, around half of all requests from patients to end their life with medical help have been refused. If we maintain tight control of legislation like the Dutch, I do not see why we cannot do the same within the U.K.
For many it is a moral choice and they simply view euthanasia as wrong, that everyone is in titled to live. That it is a human right to hold onto life. Which is true, it does clearly state within the European Human Rights act "Everyone's right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law." Therefore, for many this is a good enough reason to withhold the right to ending one's own life with help. On the other hand, take for example the family dog. Its back legs have given out, and it has been plagued with a number of different illnesses. It has been well loved and cared for. The dog is suffering terribly and in continuous pain. What would be the humane thing to do? Euthanasia is a common practice for our much-loved pets. Pets that for many are seen as their children. Whiles I am not saying human life is equal to that of an animal's, but if we left animals in needless pain, we would be classed as being cruel and uncaring. Why do humans not warrant the same rights as animals?
Within the U.K, it has been known for doctors to withhold treatment or food to patients with their prior consent. A point that illustrates this well is patients that have D.N.R (do not resuscitate) on their medical files, which means when a patient flat-lines the hospital staff cannot offer life-saving treatment. Another instance of medical staff withholding treatment is if the patient is on life support machine and has very little or no chance of recovery the family can "pull the plug" which enables the patient to pass away. People may see these acts as cases of euthanasia, and the people that do are right. These are cases of passive euthanasia and are legal within the U.K, and have been since 1993.
Therefore, I find myself wondering that if a country can allow passive euthanasia why it cannot allow active euthanasia. Of course, I would expect tight legislation from the U.K government and for the process to be highly difficult to achieve, as I do believe that people should have a choice to end their suffering. That if proven beyond a serious doubt, the person is of sound mind and is in unbearable pain or mental distress due to a chronic illness that has no hope of ever getting better, then the choice should be there. I know I would rather have the chance to choose.
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