What is Euthanasia?
Euthanasia is a Greek word meaning ‘good death’. Euthanasia is the practice of assisted suicide with the intention of relieving pain and suffering. It is also known as mercy killing or physician assisted suicide. A doctor is allowed by law to end a person’s life by a painless means, as long as the patient and their family agree. Euthanasia, in the simplest terms, is mercy killing for those patients for whom there is no end to their pain; it’s a blessing for those who wish for a dignified death rather than prolonged suffering.
Like all things that deal with life and death, it has been a controversial subject of debate due to its seeming infringement of a person’s fundamental right to live and has become one of the most actively researched and debated subjects in modern bioethics. Several arguments have emerged, both in favour and against the practice of euthanasia.
Arguments for euthanasia include:
- Freedom of Choice – The right to die should be a matter of personal choice.
- Quality of life – Physical and emotional pain from prolonged illness impacts the quality of life an individual leads. Only, the patients who are suffering know how they feel.
- Dignity – Every individual should have the right to be able to die with dignity. Many who witness slow death of others believe that assisted death should be allowed.
- Humane – It is considered more humane to allow the person to choose to die to end intractable suffering. It will shorten the grief and suffering of loved ones.
- Resources – A more objective argument states that it will free the resources like lifesaving equipment and medication to help those who can be fully cured and want to live rather than the terminally ill.
Arguments against euthanasia include:
- The doctor’s role – it will be a difficult decision for the health care practitioners to make, especially in light of Hippocratic Oath
- Moral and religious arguments – Most religious faiths see this practice as murder and morally unacceptable. According to them, it violates and weakens the society’s respect for the sanctity of life.
- Guilt and patient Competence – Patients may feel psychological pressure into consenting for euthanasia thinking they are putting financial, emotional and mental burden on their families if the cost of the treatment is high. Also, in case of people with illnesses like depression asking for euthanasia can complicate the decision.
- Regulation and legality – Euthanasia cannot be properly regulated hence it will be difficult to ascertain who is eligible and who should not be allowed.
People advocating the right to life would criticize it to the nail, trying to justify that taking away one’s life is like overreaching one’s power, similar to sinning against God, whose beautiful gift is life. But when this beautiful gift turns to be a burden, a prolonged misery, isn’t it necessary to put an end to it rather than to continue the intense pain and suffering? Legalizing Euthanasia is a difficult terrain to walk in, and to prevent its abuse, strictest measures need to be taken. Euthanasia empowers people to put an end to their prolonged misery and gives one the power to die with dignity.
Let us know what do you think about euthanasia? Should it be allowed or not, comment with your reasons below.