Euthanasia is derived from a Greek word ‘Euthanotos’, which literally means good death. It refers to the practice of intentional ending of life to relieve the pain and suffering of a person. Voluntary Euthanasia is often the most focused topic for pro-Euthanasia supporters, so I’m going to focus a little more on that, although the arguments will apply for involuntary Euthanasia by default.
The traditional moral argument given by pro-Euthanasia supporters is that since a terminally ill patient is going to die anyway, it is better to cut the pain and suffering and allow him to die peacefully. And with ‘dignity’.
The main problem with the argument is that it disregards the psychological effect the ‘open door’ will have on a terminally ill patient. Being terminally ill does not render a person useless. In fact, I would argue the morality of assessing the worth of someone’s life.
Take Aya Kito, for example. Aya Kito was a girl who was diagnosed with spinocerebeller ataxia at the tender age of 15. It is a progressive, degenerative, genetic disease in which a person retains full mental capacity but progressively loses physical control making the person a prisoner in his own body.
Now, this girl wrote a diary called ‘1 liter na Namida’, literally translated ‘1 liter of tears’ which is a compilation of all the hardships she endured. In their own words, this book is a source of comfort and strength for the thousands of people with the same disease. She achieved what many just aspire to.
Pain and suffering is a part of life. Death is an inevitable end. For people with a greater share of suffering and a closer death, we need to provide a support system.
Legalizing Euthanasia is like saying-‘We understand why you would want to die. Now you legally can.’ No one decides the worth of anyone’s life and no one can.
Proclaiming that being terminally ill somehow affects the purpose of living is a fundamentally flawed statement. And legalizing Euthanasia is devaluing human life. Legally.
A practical problem with legalizing Euthanasia is that it can become a means of ‘health care cost containment’. And many would have financial motives. How are we going to differentiate between a legitimate appeal to an appeal which has financial underlinings. Another point often disregarded while arguing for is the mental disturbance and weakness of an ill patient. How are we going to differentiate between a person actually wanting to die on his own accord to a person passively believing he has no reason to live because of the egging by the relatives. There is a thin line between the two.
For a country that upholds that no innocent must be hanged, even if it means freeing 10 guilty people, legalizing Euthanasia would be turning a blind eye to the basic core of its own laws.
The slippery slope argument is perhaps the most important argument against Euthanasia. Legalizing voluntary Euthanasia is legalizing the right to death of terminally ill. But why only terminally ill? Why not everyone who is depressed and/or feels worthless? Why not old people who have lost the desire to live? Why not indeed! Because, once we try to play on to the fear of death, a degeneration ensues.
The best measure of future is through the past. In Netherlands, which was the first country to legalize Euthanasia, there is a citizen’s action group that wants to legalize assisted suicide for all the people over the age of 70. This is a demand of the citizen’s initiative calling itself ‘out of free will’. A number of prominent Dutch citizen’s have come out in support of the initiative, including former minister’s and artists, legal scholars and physicians. Their reasoning is simple, ‘Enjoy old age up to a point’.
Legalizing Euthanasia is going to break open a wall, that will act as a trigger for a lot of more deaths. This is what ensues when we try to legally play with the fears of the populace.
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