Euthanasiais a Greek word that means “good death”. It is the practice ofassisting suicide with the intention of relieving suffering. Somepeople call it mercy killing or physician assisted suicide. Thepractice is categorized in different ways, which are: voluntary andnon-voluntary euthanasia. Euthanasia has been a controversial debatesubject because it is viewed as an infringement of a person’s rightto live. Any argument on the subject leads to a series of complicatedquestions about morality and freedom of choice. In some countries,voluntary euthanasia has been permitted by law. Euthanasia is one ofthe most debated and actively researched topics in bioethics. Somesurveys conducted in the United States and other countries show thatthe number of people in support of the practice is equal to thenumber in opposition to the practice. Many countries have notlegalized the practice. To many, euthanasia is an equivalent ofmurder. However, there are better reasons for consideringlegalization. The reasons do involve hard statistics, as well asliving evidence. In this paper, I will outline the reasons forlegalizing euthanasia. The attempt is also made in this paper to showthat the practice is not evil rather, euthanasia comes along withgood intentions.
Euthanasia saves lives
Legalizingeuthanasia can save lives. But how can ending someone’s life savelife? The question can be easily answered by looking at TheNetherlands where the laws for assisted dying have been legalized.Research documented by the New England journal of medicine in 2005found that only 0.4 percent of procedures were carried out withoutpermission from the patient. One might argue that the 0.4% is toomany, but get this: A 1991 report written long before thelegalization of euthanasia put the number to 0.8% [ CITATION Was02 l 1033 ].Put simply, giving the go ahead for doctors to end their patients’lives halved the number of unwanted deaths.
InBritain, a 2012 study found that some 57000 patients die every yearwithout their consent. They are actually shoved into the deathpathway without their knowledge. Basically, doctors in the UK areindeed practicing euthanasia without the legal frame work.
No lives are shortened
Theirreversible nature of euthanasia is one of the biggest argumentsagainst the practice. When the patient dies, he/she is gone and goneforever. No one knew if the unexpected recovery was the next bigthing, or if the sick person would have lived happily in spite of theillness. However, the argument fails to focus on the available datathat can punch some reasons. Facts show that in all the countrieswhere the practice is legal, it is a near-exclusive preserve for theterminally ill. Despite what evangelists and daytime dramas wouldmake us believe, terminal illness is exactly that and it is just apathway to death. A 1991 Dutch report showed that in 86% of thecases, euthanasia had shortened life by a maximum of a week and anaverage of a few hours [ CITATION Pij93 l 1033 ].Put simply, euthanasia was the last option for the people seeking toescape from unbearable agony. This does not imply that miraclerecoveries are impossible. But the truth is that they arestatistically improbable. The recoveries can be likened to winningthe lottery and getting stuck by lightni9ng on the same day.
Itshocks most people to think of factoring economics into the issues oflife and death. However, it gets more absurd when one looks at thecost of end-of-life care in America. A CNN report showed that forevery four dollars spent in Medicare, one goes to the five percent ofthe beneficiaries in the very last year of their lives. According tothe statistics, the care of a single individual is estimated at 39000dollars. For some households, the bill does exceed the financialassets. The cost could be acceptable if the end-of-life care wasworth the money. Doctors know that the cost of using modern medicineto prolong life is the destruction of its quality. End-of-life careis characterized with brutality, trauma, and it is overly expensive.It puts the patient through long stretches of suffering, which is notnecessary. The suffering lasts for a month or two and the patientfinally dies. When the terminally ill patients start to insist thatthey rather die, one is left wondering who the expenditure willbenefit afterwards [ CITATION Wan12 l 1033 ].
Anopinion poll conducted in 1964 by Gallup Corporation showed that thegeneral public supported the ending of a patient’s life by somepainless means on request by the individual patient, or the familymembers. Since then, the public has been returning the “yes”vote. The current support stands at 70%. Even when the wording waschanged to include unattractive phrases like suicide, the publicstill supported the practice [ CITATION Saa13 l 1033 ].
Euthanasiacannot target the vulnerable
Peopleclaim that legalizing euthanasia can lead to pressure on the old andinfirm to end their lives. The fear is understandable and should notbe taken lightly. However, it lacks a basis on the facts. An analysisof the facts, show the exact opposite. Take Oregon for example. Thestate legalized assisted dying in 1994 and law took effect in1998.After ten years, the number of doctor assisted dying stood at 341.The figure would translate to 0.2% of all the patients’ deaths. Thenumber is very tiny and not worth mentioning. In 2007, the journal ofmedical ethics analyzed the cases closely and found that thevulnerable were not likely to receive assisted death than anyone else[ CITATION Mah07 l 1033 ].
Improvements in the quality of life
Everyone fears death. Everybody wants to live forever. However, a largepart of the fear comes from the worry that the death might bepreceded by agonizing pain. If we knew that our death would bepainless, fear would simply melt away. When the fear melts away, itis replaced by feelings of happiness and contentment. That way, thequality of life is improved.
Euthanasia alternatives are horrifying
Deathis usually slow, painful and undignified. Denying people the right todie would only increase the pain and indignity to a horrifyingextent.
TonyNicklibnson’s bid to die was rejected two times by the Britishcourt. He suffered from “locked in” syndrome and was not able tomove his muscles. He described the condition as a “living nightmare”. Tony was all alone and had no one to help him. He wastherefore left with only one course of action. He starved to death.He stayed for a week without food and died with misery and indignity[ CITATION The12 l 1033 ].
Theother victim of injustice is Kelly Taylor. She was in so much painand starved herself for 19 days only to realize that the route waseven much worse than the living hell that she was in. she startedeating again. Evidently, for many people, the choice at hand isunimaginable agony for years and worse agony for the time taken tostarve.
Laws against euthanasia target the innocent
Inthe year 2013, a court in Ireland prevented an ex-lecturer by thename, Marie Fleming’s from committing suicide. She suffered frommultiple sclerosis and her life had been reduced to irreversibleagony. Her partner, Tom, could face a maximum of 14 years in prisonif he could help her die. Put simply, using a pen and paper, thecourt sentenced the woman to live in unimaginable agony and saddledher partner with the choice of watching the person he loved suffer orhelping her relieve the pain and serve a term in jail [ CITATION Pog13 l 1033 ].Such cases have been reported in other countries as well. In a nutshell, the laws against assisted death, cause suffering andpain not only for the patients, but also for their kinsmen as well.
No flood gates are opened
Thefinal myth is that the legalization of euthanasia would open theflood gates, leading to a happy world of cheap life and easy death.However, data analysis shows that this is not usually the case.Looking at Netherlands again, every year, some 3000 Dutch citizensseek to be euthanized. The figure sound like a lot but a closer lookreveals that it accounts for 1.7% of all deaths. However, getting thedoctor to carry out the practice is not simple even in the liberalNetherlands. The law does not grant every Dick and Harry theirwishes. Therefore the notion of open flood gates is just a baselessmyth.
Justicedelayed is justice denied. Denying someone the right to terminatehis/her life is denying that person the deserved justice. Legalizingeuthanasia would be the best way of rendering justice to the peoplewho deserve it. The claims of many people that the practice couldlead to increased death rates and that the lives of the vulnerablepeople would be endangered are not based on facts. Rather, they arejust myths and misconceptions. It would be a good idea to devise apainless way of killing people in order to alleviate suffering. Thecourts that have denied patients the right to end their own liveshave just made matters worse. People have starved to death in orderto avoid pain and agony. Such measures are not good but many lackanother option. Certainly, euthanasia should be legalized.
Lydia, Saad. U.S. Support for Euthanasia Hinges on How It`s Described. 28 May 2013. 27 April 2015 <http://www.gallup.com/poll/162815/support-euthanasia-hinges-described.aspx>.
A survey conducted by Gallup found 70% of the Americans want doctors to be allowed to hasten the death of the terminally ill. The process was described as an end of the patients life with some painless means. When unattractive phrases were used. for example, "helping the patient to commit suicide", the people still supported the motion but this time, the percentage was 51%. The bottom line is that Americans do favor allowing doctors to asssist the terminally ill in ending their lives.
Mahr, Krista. Legal Euthanasia: No Spur to Suicide. 2 October 2007. 27 April 2015 <http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1667770,00.html>.
Opponents of the euthanasia debate argue that legalizing euthanasia could cause high suicide rates for the vulnerable patients. however, a new study conducted in Oregon and Netherlands showed that the rates of assisted death did not rise due to the legalization of the practice. Ironically, the group that sought assisted suicide was that of younger white men.
Pijnenborg, L, et al. Life-terminating acts without explicit request of patient. 8 May 1993. 27 April 2015 <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8098087>.
A certain study in the Netherlands revealed that the medical decisions with respect to the end of life without the patient`s consent or lawyer contributed to 0.8% of all deaths in the country. For some 59%, the physician had some clue, concerning the wishes of the patient.
Pogatchnik, Shawn. Marie Fleming, Paralyzed Irish Woman, Again Denied Right To Die. 29 April 2013. 27 April 2015 <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/29/marie-fleming_n_3180408.html>.
An Irish woman wanted to commit suicide because she was paralyzed. Ireland`s Supreme Court refused to grant the woman her wishes. The judges said that the country`s constitution that was written in 1937 and influenced greatly by the catholic religion could not allow something like that to happen. Fleming argued that her life had been reduced to irreversible agony and she feared choking to death since she was not able to swallow. Her lawyers contended that Fleming`s right to personal autonomy was being violated. They further argued that suicide was not a crime under the constitution and since she could not kill herself due to the paralysis, someone had to help her. However, the chief justice Susan Denham could not hear any of these.
The Huffington Post. 16 August 2012. 27 April 2015 <http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/08/16/tony-nicklinson-right-to-die-court-case-locked-in_n_1788781.html>.
Nicklibsons bid for euthanasia was reject by the court ruling. He turned to the only option that he found. He starved to death.
Wang , Penelope. Cutting the High Cost of End-of-Life Care. 12 December 2012. 27 April 2015 <http://time.com/money/2793643/cutting-the-high-cost-of-end-of-life-care/>.
Wang reveals that over 125 U.S dollars are usually spent on care near the end of life. this increases the financial burden of many families and they start staggering. the costs are not worth incurring because the aggressive treatment often fails to lengthen the lives of the terminally ill.
Washington Post. 22 February 2102. 27 April 2015 <http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/euthanasia-in-the-netherlands-rick-santorums-bogus-statistics/2012/02/21/gIQAJaRbSR_blog.html>.
Under the Dutch law, doctors must diagnose the illnesses as incurable and the patients must sober and mentally upright. statistics show that Euthanasia is still an uncommon form of death. research shows that it is only in a minimal number of cases (0.4%) where ending of life without the patients` request is carried out.