Euthanasia

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Countless debates have been conducted in recent years regarding euthanasia. It is a topic of great significance and sensitivity, because in the simplest terms, it is a debate about someone’s right to take his/her own life. Ultimately the legalization of euthanasia is a matter of human rights, and therefore the outcome of its debate has great implications on how humans define those inalienable rights. The arguments against euthanasia are numerous, and many of them are valid, good, humanitarian points. After all, euthanasia has been used to justify some of history’s most horrific and terrible genocides and injustices throughout the world. However, the debate of euthanasia, like life, is very complicated. It is very opaque, not black and white. By and large, euthanasia should be illegal. However, to outlaw it universally no matter the circumstance, forces suffering upon certain people and deprives them of their only relief. Legalizing euthanasia is a very controversial topic, however it should be legal in very limited and exact, fiercely regulated situations.

Respect for patient autonomy is a standard for human rights within the medical practice, and the choice of euthanasia is an essential part of these rights. The concept of patient autonomy is a fairly recent standard in medical ethics. After World War II, all the despicable Nazi medical experiments became known to the world. After much litigation and evaluation, the current concept of patient autonomy became very important. The result was that no one may force another to be the subject of research against his/her will. The patient has the option to choose how he/she should be treated. This standard is now all but universally accepted in democratic countries. Currently, the right not to suffer is an indispensible part of patient autonomy and of human rights the world over (Annas 1992).

The choice of euthanasia should be available to patients who are physically incapable of taking their own lives. There are people who are paralyzed in a tragic accident or dying a slow miserable death for years. These people don’t have the choice to decide about their own life. Some of them are alive only by some elaborate medications or machinery without which their bodies will stop living. It used to be the law of natural selection that decided the fate of an injured human being. These days we have machines and committees to “choose” life to continue, though it is more like forcing life without consent. According to nature, our bodies would die far earlier than we sometimes allow. However, it is considered an offense when somebody is helping another person to take his/her own life. There is no law against suicide. Paralyzed or physically inept people have already been robbed of enough: their physical faculties. Is it really the right of another person, a politician, to force their suffering and ensure the inferiority of their liberty by denying them a right a non handicapped person has: suicide? There is a main difference between euthanasia and suicide. Euthanasia is the last choice for people who are suffering and dying, incapable of taking their own lives. In countries where euthanasia is illegal, patients who are mortally ill or wounded, don’t have the option to choose when death will meet them. Healthy, non-handicapped people who decide to commit suicide have the option to choose when they will meet their death (Leavitt 1996). To deny these people the only escape from their suffering and misery, through suicide, is to prolong their suffering and in effect to sustain it.

Euthanasia can be legal in limited, patient chosen scenarios without running the risk of being abused to justify the systematic murder of people. Many opponents of euthanasia agree that to deny a person incapable of choosing suicide is to “force” that person to continue to suffer. Such people oppose the legalization of euthanasia, based on the “slippery slope” argument. That is, if euthanasia is...
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