Debate on Euthanasia

Introduction Today we will discuss the dilemma of euthanasia. Euthanasia also known as mercy killing is a way of painlessly terminating one’s life with the "humane" motive of ending his suffering. There are different types of euthanasia: voluntary, non-voluntary, active or passive. * Euthanasia is passive when it merely allows the death of the individual. * Euthanasia is active when it brings about the death of the individual. * Voluntary euthanasia (euthanasia upon request) is performed with the consent of the individual.

* Non-voluntary euthanasia is performed without the consent of the individual (“Without consent” does not imply “contrary to the wishes”). * Involuntary euthanasia is performed against the wishes of the individual.

The subject is controversial and we will confront the two points of view on the issue through this debate.

* The right to die as solution of suffering (the right to die VS the slippery slope argument)

Pro: Euthanasia can be described as the right of a competent, terminally ill person to avoid excruciating pain and embrace a timely and dignified death. It is a case of freedom of choice. Individuals have a right to die when life becomes excruciating or undignified. Euthanasia provides a way to relieve extreme pain.

Moreover, the etymology of the word euthanasia comes from the Greek meaning “good death”. It is an adjective used to describe a successful death. I believe that allowing people to ‘die with dignity’ is kinder than forcing them to continue their lives with suffering. Con: Yes, but legalizing any form of the practice is not the solution. First of all, it will lead to a slippery slope effect. Indeed, the acceptance of certain practices, such as physician-assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia, will invariably lead to the acceptance or practice of concepts which are currently deemed unacceptable, such as non-voluntary or involuntary euthanasia.

Besides, it is not the solution because alternative treatments are available, such as palliative care and hospices. We do not have to kill the patient to kill the symptoms. Nearly all pain can be relieved. What’s more, even doctors cannot predict firmly about period of death and whether there is a possibility of remission or recovery with other advanced treatments. So, implementing euthanasia would mean many unlawful deaths that could have well survived later. * Dignity or devaluation of human life

Pro: Well, I’m not sure. Illness can take away autonomy, and particularly your ability to make choices. In fact, illness can take away your dignity, leaving you with no quality of life. Euthanasia allows you to take back control in deciding to die. Euthanasia can quickly and humanely end a patient’s suffering, allowing him to die with dignity, and I really want to insist on this point.

The disease may lose its autonomy to the patient, making him dependent on others so humiliating and making him lose his self-esteem. If the patient feels that he cannot preserve what remains of his dignity only by choosing death it must be allowed that choice. Con: I don’t think so. Euthanasia doesn’t allow to protect a life with dignity. On the contrary, it devalues human life. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end. He gives you a life and Euthanasia destroys his gift. Euthanasia is a murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded. It is morally unacceptable.

* Personal choice

Pro: Yes, God gives us the life, but then you can make your own choices in your own life. By forbidding euthanasia, we prevent the right to liberty of decision. In the name of human dignity and the right of everyone to have its own existence, it is important to respect the wishes of people die at the end of life. Man is the only master of his body and his destiny, he is the sole judge of what is good for him and it is according to this reasoning that medicine must act. This is a personal freedom that everyone should follow. In addition, while men have the right to waste their life smoking, drinking or even committing suicide, they have no right to euthanasia, which seems illogical.

Euthanasia allows people to stop the pain: it is a personal choice and a right. The choice of keeping our autonomy and stopping the pain is a dignified choice. Most people would have their pets put down if they were suffering, this would be regarded as kindness. Why can’t the same kindness be given to humans?

Con: Yes! some people decide to kill their pets! Is it the pet who has decided to die? No, so it is a murder! Thus, laws against euthanasia are in place to prevent abuse and to protect people from people who want to decide for us, to protect people from unscrupulous doctors and others. Family members influencing the patient’s decision into euthanasia for personal gains like wealth inheritance is another issue.

There is no way you can be really sure if the decision towards assisted suicide is voluntary or forced by others, like people who forced their pets to die. Laws against euthanasia are not, and never have been, intended to make anyone suffer but in order to protect them. Just think about the English doctor Harold Shipman who was one of the most prolific serial killers in recorded history by proven murders with 250+ murders being positively ascribed to him.

* The economical arguments

Pro: Lastly, there is an economic argument for euthanasia. A health care system which is facing serious funding problems cannot afford to spend a fortune for terminally ill or person in an irreversible coma. So, if euthanasia was legal, it could frees up funds to help other people… Con: Yes, it may produce possible impact on medical economics. The future medicine could promote euthanasia as a form of health care cost containment.

The average cost of euthanasia is somewhere around 40 dollars, while the complete care for a dying patient normally costs ten thousands of dollars. However, it could involve an assisted suicide of many patients who do not have health insurance, or even Government and insurance companies may put undue pressure on doctors to avoid heroic measures or recommend the assisted-suicide procedure.

Pro: No I don’t think so. Euthanasia can help decrease the expenditure on health care. If euthanasia is made a possibility, a family will not have to spend as much as they do on a patient who they know is going to pass on soon anyway. Con: Yes, it may decrease the expenditure on health care but euthanasia can lead to a steep decline in the quality of medical care administered to patients.

Doctors and medical professionals will take it easy on themselves and may do little or zilch to actually rescue patients from the venomous jaws of a serious illness. A hospital and doctors exist to save the lives of people suffering from illnesses, not end it. Advanced medical technology and knowledgeable medical professionals have made credible breakthroughs in the battles against illnesses and diseases. All these efforts would only go in vain if euthanasia got the nod from those who yield power.

Comprehension questions

1) What is the difference between active and passive euthanasia? "Active" euthanasia refers to an action one takes to end a life, for example, a lethal injection. "Passive" euthanasia refers to an omission -- such as failing to intervene at a life-threatening crisis, or failing to provide nourishment. It is important not to confuse "passive euthanasia" with the morally legitimate decision to withhold medical treatment that is not morally necessary.

(The question of what is or is not morally necessary is handled below.) When we forego a treatment that we are not required to use, then even if death comes faster as a result, that withholding is not euthanasia in any form and should not be called by the name. 2) What is the slippery slope effect?

As applied to the euthanasia debate, the slippery slope argument claims that the acceptance of certain practices, such as physician-assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia, will invariably lead to the acceptance or practice of concepts which are currently deemed unacceptable, such as non-voluntary or involuntary euthanasia. 3) Do you agree or disagree with theses statements?

* Human beings have the right to die when and how they want to. And they should have the right to refuse medical treatment. * Death is a private matter, and if you are not hurting anyone else, the state should not interfere. * Keeping people alive costs a lot of money, which could be used to save other people's lives. Legalizing euthanasia could frees up medical funds to help other people * Euthanasia can lead to a steep decline in the quality of medical care administered to patients. Doctors and medical professionals will take it easy on themselves and may do little to actually rescue patients from the venomous jaws of a serious illness. => To conclude, should people have the right to die?