Euthanasia (assisted suicide) is the practice of providing and administering drugs to a willing terminally ill patient to help end their life and has been practiced since the Ancient Greeks and Romans. However, in the United States, euthanasia is illegal according to the federal government and has sparked an ongoing debate of legalizing euthanasia since the early years of our country. For instance, in 1647, the early American colonies’ Common Law Tradition prohibited euthanasia, deeming the practice “unnatural”.
Then, from 1828 to 1868, the practice was slowly prohibited in most U. S. states, until Dr. Samuel D. Williams advocated its use in 1870. From there the controversy was refueled and citizens began taking a stance on the issue. By 1994 Oregon legalized euthanasia, then Washington in 2008, and finally Montana in 2010. For supporters, euthanasia preserves a person’s right to determine every aspect of their life, including death and is a compassionate act to end terminally ill patients’ suffering. Opponents argue that legalizing euthanasia will lead to the practice being abused and more deaths in society, like the Netherlands.
Opponents also believe that doctors can’t always predict someone’s lifespan accurately so the patient may unnecessarily take their life and that familial pressure coupled with patients’ fragile mental stability will force them to take the decision. Euthanasia advocators dispute that there is no concrete evidence that legalizing euthanasia will increase deaths and strict regulations should ensure that the patient wants to die of their own volition. Advocators also reason that religious convictions that find euthanasia immoral shouldn’t be allowed to constrain the freedom of nonbelievers.
In addition, humans aren’t punished for aborting their own unborn children who made no mistakes so why euthanasia that ends a patient’s suffering? Also, medical technology today has developed to a point where a patient’s life can be dragged out, with unrelenting pain that rare palliative care can’t even reduce. Despite this, challengers believe palliative care and a society promoting life is better than letting sick people die. They also believe that legalizing euthanasia will reverse society’s process of preventing suicide by licensing doctors to facilitate their suicide.
Regardless of all the arguments about euthanasia, it is a topic that requires a great amount of deliberation. In the article “Easing Death” by the Economist, the central idea is that terminally ill patients should be able to die, but the right should not be available to others. The article believes the terminally ill should be allowed the option of an easy death after all their suffering because everybody deserves to determine every aspect of their life, including death. Also, the author believes all the objections to euthanasia are answerable.
For instance, some objections are religious groups who vehemently oppose euthanasia because of their views and also doctors’ trade associations as euthanasia violates the Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm. ” However, the author states, “The views of particular religious groups should not be allowed to constrain the freedoms of those who do not share their faith. The definition of “harm” is debatable; and anyway these days the Hippocratic Oath is not universally taken. Humankind sets out on many slippery slopes—abortion, for instance—without descending all the down them. (“Easing Death” 2012).
To the author, religion shouldn’t constrain nonbelievers and neither should the Hippocratic Oath that isn’t even taken by most doctors, as these are unfair factors in determining when to end someone’s life. Also, the author believes that humans shouldn’t be condemned for euthanasia when they aren’t condemned for abortion and that humans haven’t went rogue with abortions so it’s most probable that humans won’t go rogue with euthanasia.
For instance, euthanasia has been legalized in Switzerland since 1942 and only accounts for 300 deaths or about . % of the country’s deaths per year, leading to the conclusion that people have not abused euthanasia so far. Also, if there is worry of abuse, then a “carefully drafted, carefully administered law should address those concerns”. However, the author doesn’t think euthanasia should be legalized for the elderly and the mentally sick. For the elderly, they might succumb to euthanasia because of familial pressure from relatives who want their money and the mentally sick will use euthanasia, allowed in Switzerland, Belgium, and the Netherlands, to end their mental anguish when they could’ve been cured.
This author clearly supports the legalization of euthanasia, just like Catherine Thompson who wrote “Why Make People Suffer for No Reason”. The article stated, ‘“Palliative care can’t take away the symptoms that I’m going to have. They can help make it a little better, but I’m still going to suffer from loss of strength, loss of ability to eat or swallow, breathe properly. These are things that palliative care is going to hopefully make it a little easier to face but they’re not going to take it away. ’(Thompson 2015). The article considers that palliative care does ameliorate some pain, but not enough to make life easy so that all people will still want to live through the pain. Therefore, prohibiting the right to die is the same as making someone suffer without any intentions to remedy it, according to Thompson and the Economist. These are all valid points, however, it is foolish and irrational to take a stance without considering the opposing side.
The article “Life Is Too Precious for Lawmakers to Assist Its Ending” by the Sunday Telegraph has valid points for the opposition and its central idea is that while euthanasia can be a compassionate act, life is too precious to be taken away so easily. According to the article, refusing to give someone death when they’re begging for it is extremely difficult emotionally; one of the prime arguments for euthanasia. However, promoting a culture of life, which is in accordance with the Christian cause, is better. To affirm, the article states, “Doctors cannot always reliably predict someone’s lifespan, and unnecessary action might be taken.
It may also be very hard indeed to discern the difference between being mentally capable and being in the right frame of mind to make such a profound decision. And the concept of pure “choice” – that no terminal patient could ever come under pressure to “choose” death – is particularly naive. ” (“Life Is Too Precious” 2014). The article believes that legalizing a framework to help patients commit suicide when they don’t have the mental capability to make such a decision and are forced by factors like familial pressure and doctors’ summation of their remaining life is irrational and dangerous.
Instead, the article believes that we should invest in palliative care and promote a culture where everyone is supported by the knowledge that they’re not alone. The article also thinks that legalization of euthanasia could have “significant consequences for wider society” just like the Netherlands or Belgium. For example, the Netherlands has had voluntary euthanasia since 2002; the number of euthanasia deaths has doubled in six years and even “house calls” are made. In Belgium, there is no age limit to the terminally ill patients receiving euthanasia.
These significant consequences are doing the opposite of promoting life, conflicting with what the article wants. Since the article wants a culture of life, it is against the legalization of euthanasia, similar to Elizabeth Butler-Sloss. Her article “The Law Is There to Protect the Dying” states, “As a society, we go to considerable lengths to prevent suicide, and doctors have an important role to play in this. Yet some are suggesting that this process should be put into reverse for terminally ill people and that doctors should be licensed to facilitate their suicide. ” (Elizabeth Butler- Sloss 2013).
Butler-Sloss reasons that as a society we have constructed a complex and arduous system to prevent suicide and that doctors have one of the most important roles in the system. After all, when a person has attempted suicide, and is injured, the doctor is the one who’s going to attempt to revive them. Without the doctors, the whole system will have a huge flaw: no safety net when suicide prevention fails. However, now people want to reverse the process for terminally ill patients by allowing them to choose suicide and doctors actually assisting them with the ordeal because they are licensed to do so.
To the author, it’s irrational to reverse the process society constructed to protect people for the terminally ill patients who are the “most vulnerable of all. ” Thus, it’s illogical to legalize a structure that preys on the most vulnerable people of all, as claimed by Butler-Sloss and the Sunday Telegraph. With all the compelling arguments now, one can form an unbiased, reasonable opinion on the matter. Finally, one can connect this issue to the most important document in the U. S that laid down the foundation for our country: the Constitution.
For instance, Amendment 9 relates to euthanasia by stating “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. ” (U. S. Constitution, Amendment 9). The central idea articulated in the amendment is that people have more rights than the Constitution states, meaning that euthanasia or the right to die could be interpreted as a right people have that isn’t stated in the Constitution. So according to Amendment 9, euthanasia could be constitutionally legal and therefore, supporting my pro position on the issue.
In addition, another amendment can constitutionally support euthanasia, like Amendment 10. Amendment 10 states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. ” (U. S. Constitution, Amendment 10). In this amendment, it means that the states can decide what the Constitution doesn’t enumerate and since the Constitution doesn’t cover euthanasia explicitly, then the states can legalize euthanasia, which is the case in WA, OR, and MT.
Since Amendment 10 gives the choice to legalize euthanasia to states, ergo the issue is constitutionally connected and supports the legalization of euthanasia in certain states. Finally, Amendment 14 can also support euthanasia constitutionally because it says, “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property,” (U. S. Constitution, Amendment 14). Basically, no state can take away a person’s liberty and liberty entails freedom to live life the way one wants, including death as well.
Through this interpretation, the Constitution supports the legalization of euthanasia, the pro position, but another explanation could be construed to support the con position. For instance, Amendment 14 also says no state can take away someone’s life, essentially the purpose of euthanasia, meaning that euthanasia could also be illegal according to the Constitution, depending on the interpretation. Now in my opinion, euthanasia should be legalized for terminally ill patients because if we have so called liberty, then that entails the right to die, as dying is a part of life.
Besides abortion isn’t illegal, which kills a person who did nothing wrong, but euthanasia that ends a person’s misery is? Lastly, when people mention doctors abusing the practice, one logical answer can disregard that argument: basic human nature. Human nature for countless centuries shows that humans are selfish creatures so the same applies here. Doctors are relatively good people, but aren’t exempt from human nature and will be greedy for money. Now if they abuse euthanasia and kill off their patients, then how will they continue to procure money?
So logically, intelligent doctors will refrain from using euthanasia unless utmost necessary. In addition, if there are strict regulations like a mandatory patient’s psych profile before the euthanasia to ensure they aren’t pressured into it, then it will guarantee that patients are using euthanasia of their own volition. So to end with, the Constitution can either defend or abash the legalization of euthanasia, but I am certain that the legalization should be ratified.
In conclusion, the issue of euthanasia refers to whether or not it should be legal to administer euthanasia to terminally ill patients. Some believe that euthanasia protects peoples’ liberty in their lives, while others argue that it will be abused and lead to significant consequences. Opponents also think doctors aren’t always accurate when predicting lifespans so a patient might pointlessly kill themselves out of anguish and that fragile mental stability combined with family pressure will force the patient into euthanasia.
However, supporters state that there is no evidence to support that euthanasia legalization will increase deaths. They also believe that strict rules will guarantee that patients made their choice voluntarily. Advocators also reason that religious convictions shouldn’t restrict nonbelievers and that humans aren’t punished for abortions so why euthanasia? In addition, medical technology has developed to where lives’ can be dragged out for a long time with no reprieve, not even limited palliative care.
Regardless of this, rivals still think a “culture of life” and palliative care is better than allowing sick people to kill themselves and that euthanasia legalization will practically destroy society’s procedure to prevent suicide because doctors will be licensed to assist their suicide. Now I believe that euthanasia should be legalized in the United States, but not without a strict set of regulations. These regulations will warrant that the doctor administering euthanasia is in accordance with all the Medical Association’s rules and therefore a competent doctor and that the patient isn’t being pressured into this step.
Only after all regulations have been followed very diligently should the final step occur: the administration of euthanasia. Otherwise, the process should not happen or it will be breaking the law and in that case, should be prosecuted as a homicidal case. If all the rules are followed though, then there is no reason for any unrest at all. All in all, if euthanasia was legalized, then there would obviously be more deaths, but people wouldn’t suffer as much and neither would their families.
Also, there would be less “vegetative” people using up the country’s medical resources, as cold as that may seem. Lastly, there would be many protests from opponents like religious leaders and doctors’ trade associations, but they could be expected to die down after a while. Now if euthanasia remains illegalized and the federal government doesn’t change its policy towards it, then we can expect more vigorous attempts from advocators, but not much else. So despite all the debate about euthanasia, ultimately the decision will rest in the hands of the people; it will be your choice.