The Ethical Side of Euthanasia
The topic of euthanasia has, for many years, elicited ethical debates and uncertainties. The topic has gradually gained media coverage with various groups advocating for changes in laws and legislation regarding the matter. Euthanasia is the intentional termination of a patient’s life to end pain and suffering. Euthanasia can be active or passive. Passive euthanasia involves quickening the death of a patient by withdrawing critical medical support such as ventilators, withholding resuscitation, and stopping certain medications. Active euthanasia, on the other hand, is the direct action is taken, such as the administration of a lethal dose of medication at the request of the patient that causes death. Their descriptions, however, do offer any justification because while the processes differ, death is the common outcome
This controversial ethical issue has received huge attention with many proponents as well as opposing views. Euthanasia advocates argue that a person has the right to end their life to end the pain. According to them, in the modern civilized society, people should be allowed to die in dignity and without pain. They insist that a person should be allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies, including ending their own life if they don’t want to live anymore. Forcing people to continue living in pain and suffering is immoral and violation of personal freedom.
Opposing groups of euthanasia, on the other hand, believe that it is morally and ethically wrong to intentionally end a person’s life even if it is certain that the patient will eventually die. Religious opponents raise the sanctity of human life, arguing that life is a gift from God that should be preserved and respected.
They also view euthanasia as murder and violation of the human right to live despite the patient’s consent. According to them, there are other alternatives such as palliative care, that can be used to alleviate pain and suffering without taking life.
They also site the abuse of autonomy and human rights, adding that euthanasia goes against the principle of autonomy, which prohibits a patient from voluntarily ending the conditions necessary for autonomy, which includes death. They also argue that most patients who request euthanasia are seldom autonomous because most of them are critically ill and often irrational.
Some opponents also believe that if euthanasia was legalized, it would be abused and end up in the death of people who did not want to die. Not legalizing euthanasia protects vulnerable patients who maybe be coerced into accepting euthanasia for various reasons.
In most countries all over the world, active euthanasia is still illegal. In Britain, euthanasia is considered murder with a jail term of up to 14 years. However, doctors still perform euthanasia covertly even when it is still illegal. Currently, the main debate revolves around establishing the “appropriate circumstances” when euthanasia can be employed.