Euthanasia Essay, Research Paper
Voluntary euthanasia is a very contentious issue in today?s society. This is where a terminally ill patient?s life is ended at their request. The law allows doctors to withdraw treatment or administer high doses of pain-relieving drugs even though they expect this will result in death. However, euthanasia is still considered a serious crime.
Advocates of euthanasia argue that it prevents terminally-ill patients from pointlessly suffering and that it lets them die with dignity. For instance, Ken explains to the judge that he doesn?t want to continue living such a degrading life where he can?t even ?urinate for himself? and has to be rolled over by nurses so he does not ?rot away from bedsores?.
It is also argued that we have no right to prevent people doing anything that does not harm others in a free society. Therefore, we should legalise euthanasia. Ken is a good example of this. He is prevented from dying despite the fact he has made a ?calm rational decision? to die as Dr Scott explains it at the end of Act One.
The final argument is that since the law already allows the removal of treatment or the administration of high doses of painkillers, hastening the patient?s termination, euthanasia should be legalised to make the law consistent.
The most emphatic opponent of euthanasia is the Catholic Church. Its beliefs on this issue are based on the Doctrine of the Sanctity of Human Life. This doctrine states that it is utterly wrong to destroy human life. Based on this premise the main arguments for euthanasia can be debated:
The advantages of avoiding suffering and preserving dignity are negated by the evil of taking a human?s life.
The law is obliged to ban acts that are grossly immoral, and therefore we should not allow euthanasia.
By removing treatment or administering high doses of pain-killers the doctor does not actually do anything that is immoral.
There are also many practical problems with legislation. It is possible that euthanasia could be misused by unscrupulous people who want the patients?s legacy, or by hospitals trying to save money. Then there are also problems with creating legislation. For example, who decides if a patient is mentally ill and unable to make a rational decision about euthanasia? In the play Ken has to be examined by a psychologist named Dr Barr who decides he is sane and suffering from ?reactive depression? and that he is ?reacting in a perfectly rational way to his situation.? However, Dr Barr could of easily made a mistake and diagnosed Ken with a mental illness, and Ken could of been forced to live the rest of his life with the ?high spot ? of his day being a ?new catheter? or ?an enema?.
Opponents also argue that cures may be found for patients such as Ken. However, the fact is that most patients can not bear to wait for a cure when they live such debased lives, and they believe their life to be a hopeless cause. For instance, Ken says ?I am almost completely paralysed and I will always be that way.?, when he talks to Mr Hill.
To summarise, the arguments for and against euthanasia are fairly clear if we are objective. However, I am subjective and on the basis that that a large majority of terminations are comfortably decided by our present system there is no need to legalise euthanasia. To do this will open the right to a ?good death? to the vagaries of theologians, legislators, medical practicioners, etc. who may be divorced from the realities of lying in a bed of pain, excreta and debasement!
Clark, Brian; ?Whose Life Is It Anyway??, published by Samuel French.
Taylor, Barry; ?Euthanasia-is it a ?good? death??