Table of Contents
The debate on whether or not to legalize euthanasia elicits mixed reactions from different people. Some support it, while others oppose the move to legalize euthanasia. Euthanasia is physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. The four types of euthanasia include active, passive, indirect, and physician-assisted suicide. Canada and Belgium are among the countries that have legalized euthanasia and have brought up a debate among those that have not legalized the procedure leaving their lawmakers in a dilemma (Murdoch, 2021). While some nations find legalizing euthanasia a good idea, a patient’s life is worth more than death. Therefore, legalizing euthanasia is morally unethical, and it should be prohibited globally before it leads to spiral effects such as the legalization of suicide. There is enough evidence pointing to its impact from a moral, spiritual, and medical perspective; the procedure should remain illegal.
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Dignity and Worth of Life
Human life has dignity, and only the giver has the power to take it. Legalizing euthanasia fails to appreciate the dignity and value of human life. Murdoch (2021) finds that legalizing euthanasia lacks judgment because it fails to appreciate the intrinsic value of human life. Those who support euthanasia do so from an emotional point of view. Death with dignity is considered the rationale behind euthanasia, but the definition of death with dignity fails to meet the ethical and moral requirements (Hosseinzadeh & Rafiei, 2017). Legalizing euthanasia might make what should have been private a nationwide or global condition. Its impact would hurt many people who believe in the sanctity of life. Therefore, legalizing it would violate or fall short of deontological ethics. There is no consensus or agreement on what constitutes death with dignity. If that were the reason for allowing euthanasia, then those who hold a different opinion or understanding of death with dignity would be prejudiced. Therefore, euthanasia of any kind should not be legalized because it is immoral and does not serve the needs of many.
Bad Precedent and Slippery Slope
Legalizing euthanasia creates a bad precedent in medicine and can become slippery. Doctors are tasked with the responsibility of saving lives and making patients comfortable. Allowing euthanasia is close to changing the duty and responsibility of doctors from saving to ending lives. Doctors are entrusted with helping people recover; when people seek an opinion or go to a physician, they hope to get better. Legalizing euthanasia would send the wrong message to patients unaware of the physicians’ intentions. O’Rourke et al. (2017) find that physicians must use their skills to heal and help patients recover and not use those skills to end their lives. Errors in prognosis, especially for cancer, are common, and allowing physician-assisted suicide or physician-assisted death would end a life that would have been saved. Despite patients having autonomy, physicians are under no obligation to cave into their need for PAS or PAD. Legalizing euthanasia would make it mandatory for physicians to obey patients who wish to have euthanasia at any given time, even when the doctor can change the situation. A slippery slope is that the life of a terminally ill person is disposable and should not be protected (Sulmasy et al., 2016). Countries that have legalized euthanasia have an increased number of PAS and PAD both locally and internationally, setting a bad precedent.
The country’s already existing standard allows terminally ill patients to decline unwanted, burdensome treatment, resuscitation, and any intervention meant to prolong their life. Proponents of legalizing euthanasia argue that if such standards exist, euthanasia is a better option and it could be seen as compassion for terminally ill patients (Sulmasy et al., 2016). They also argue that terminal illness has no cure and only costs the patient time, dignity, and money, yet the end is already predetermined. They argue that PAS/PAD helps give terminally ill patients dignity in their death. While this position is almost convincing, it fails to consider three things. First, when individuals are terminally ill, their lives still matter, and they have worth. Therefore, justifying euthanasia because of the terminal conditions patients undergo only makes the terminally ill worthless. Secondly, it fails to take into consideration the role of physicians. Physicians should help patients become comfortable and manage their pain even when it is inconvenient—assisting such a person in ending their life because they want to avoid pain and unpleasant procedures only diminishes research and the work of physicians (O’Rourke et al., 2017). Finally, when people are in pain, they tend to make irrational decisions because they want instant relief. Allowing states to legalize euthanasia only creates more room for various patient choices.
Euthanasia continues to elicit mixed reactions from the public. A sizeable number of people support while others oppose the legalization of euthanasia. While some of those who disagree are from religious backgrounds, most arguments against legalizing euthanasia are not faith-oriented. Legalizing euthanasia depreciates the value, worth, and dignity of human life. This essay also finds that legalizing the procedure is a bad precedent and can become a slippery slope for the country and medical practitioners. Proponents of legalizing euthanasia argue that a standard assumption gives patients autonomy when it comes to medication, hence the need for a law or framework to allow euthanasia. The life of a patient is worth more than death. Therefore, governments should stop all efforts to legalize euthanasia at once.
- Hosseinzadeh, K., & Rafiei, H. (2017). Nursing student attitudes toward euthanasia: A cross-sectional study. Nursing Ethics, 26(2), 496-503. https://doi.org/10.1177/0969733017718393
- Murdoch, J. (2021). A step too far or a step in the wrong direction? A critique of the 2014 amendment to the Belgian Euthanasia Act. Monash Bioethics Review, 39(S1), 103-116. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40592-021-00147-z
- O’Rourke, M. A., O’Rourke, M. C., & Hudson, M. F. (2017). Reasons to reject physician assisted suicide/Physician aid in dying. Journal of Oncology Practice, 13(10), 683-686. https://doi.org/10.1200/jop.2017.021840
- Sulmasy, D. P., Travaline, J. M., Mitchell, L. A., & Ely, E. W. (2016). Non-faith-Based arguments against physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia. The Linacre Quarterly, 83(3), 246-257. https://doi.org/10.1080/00243639.2016.1201375