Whether Euthanasia Can Ever Be Ethical
Euthanasia is basically a legal term that refers to a medically aided mercy killing. It will be recognized that in most countries euthanasia is assumed to be illegal. This raises two basic questions of whether euthanasia is unethical or ethical. In order to answer the two broad questions we need to understand the types of euthanasia. The first type of euthanasia is the patient’s voluntary decision. This occurs when the patient inquires the doctor to terminate his or her life as soon as the patient suffers dearly. In this type of euthanasia the patient is assumed to loose the hope for a civilized quality life and recovery and further wishes to transfer the psychological and financial burden to his or her family (Keown, 2002).
The issues associated with this type of euthanasia extend to include questionable mental competency and the social pressure which extensively affects the decision of the patient. It generally agreed that if a patient is proved to be mentally competent then the government should not disagree or question the euthanasia decision of the person. Several religions do not accept suicide and nearly everyone considers euthanasia as a type of suicide. The other type of euthanasia is the involuntary decision by the patient’s family and friends where they plan to terminate his or her life and is commonly regarded as euthanasia with no patient’s consent. It will be realized that this type of euthanasia is extremely complicated as the family members or friends may fail to agree on ending the life of the patient. Euthanasia is termed to be illegal to many countries and there seems to be no laws and policies explaining the party responsible for the final euthanasia decision. Based on the above definitions, euthanasia can never be ethical.
It will be realized that the central ethical and legal issue that revolves around euthanasia is concerned with the ownership of life. It extends to address whether human beings can control and own their lives and if they have the right to take it away under any conditions. According to the religion, it is generally accepted that life belongs to God therefore He is the one who gives and takes it away. This implies that no human being who can actually give or take away life. It will be noted that those who tried to control human life particularly in the Qur’an were severely condemned (Phil, n.d.). The death moment is usually under the control of God and thus no human being has a say on this issue. No one should try to delay or hasten the death of another person. The prohibition of life essentially applies uniformly whether for genocide, homicide or suicide. The concept of individual choice and freedom does not actually apply in this perspective for the reason that life doesn’t belong to human beings and that taking life away generally causes harm both to the society and family. This clearly implies that the freedom of choice vested on the people is basically constrained by the harm that it truly passes to others.
Studies reveal that extend to which many patients have the right to discontinue or refuse treatment has become a disputed question allover the world. It will be documented that patients who have legal competence should make final decisions regarding their nutritional support and medical treatment. It is required that the patients should be fed according to their wishes and only forced when there arises an instantaneous threat to life. The legal competence conditions extend to include mind soundness, adulthood, freedom from compulsion or duress and a comprehensive understanding regarding the legal and medical issues involved. Based on the definition of death then euthanasia can be termed as being not ethical (Jecker, Jonsen & Pearlman, 2007). According to the traditional definition, death is meant to refer to cardio-respiratory arrest. Death can also be defined as higher brain or whole brain death. It is agreed that if the patient happens to have a higher brain death then the life support should be withdrawn on the fact that he or she is dead (Kasule, n.d.). In regard to the traditional definition of death life support can not be removed at any stage of the patient’s illness.
Although euthanasia is assumed to be the most loving and kindest thing since the patient’s desire is respected and that people are fairly entitled to a dignified and pain free death, arguments against euthanasia hit the whole atmosphere. Killing in all conditions is presumed to be wrong and that God gave us a gift of life and we don’t have the right to take it away. Euthanasia also faces both secular and religious objections. Religious opponents disagree for the reason that they consider that God is the only one with the right to consider when a person should die. Secular opponents on the other hand argue that rights are subject to our obligations. We must put into account our obligations towards the society and therefore balance our rights to die as individuals against the consequences directed to the society as whole.
Right to life clearly entitles a person to maximally enjoy the right of not to be killed in case they are not willing. The people in favor of euthanasia will automatically claim that this right is basically meant to prevent the misuse of euthanasia because when a doctor takes life of a patient who is not willing to die violates the rights of the patient (BBC – Ethics). This undoubtedly implies that euthanasia is unethical as it infringes the right to life and should be banned. In conclusion, euthanasia is never ethical and doctors have no right to interfere with the death of the patient as it is fixed by God and therefore disease should be allowed to take its natural route until death. Patients should therefore continue to obtain life support such as provision of good nutrition and medical care and an establishment of public policy regarding life support is very crucial. The policy should be administered clearly and applied to all patients with no regard to race, gender, diagnosis or age.
BBC – Ethics – Euthanasia: Pro-euthanasia arguments. (n.d.). BBC Homepage. Retrieved July 17, 2013, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/euthanasia/infavour/infavour_1.shtml#top
Jecker, N. A., Jonsen, A. R., & Pearlman, R. A. (2007). Bioethics: an introduction to the history, methods, and practice (2nd. ed.). Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Kasule, P. H. (n.d.). Euthanasia: Ethic-Legal Issues. Mission Islam. Retrieved July 17, 2013, from http://www.missionislam.com/health/euthanasia.htm
Keown, J. (2002). Euthanasia, ethics, and public policy an argument against legalisation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Homework Help Press.
Phil, B. (n.d.). Is Euthanasia Ethical? « Phil for Humanity. Phil for Humanity. Retrieved July 17, 2013, from http://www.philforhumanity.com/Is_Euthanasia_Ethical.html