Euthanasia: Live and Let Die
Soraya Granados Abad
Instructor: Anne Scott
Advanced Academic English
April 11, 2013
Euthanasia: Live and Let Die
In 2004, Pope John Paul II said “A man, even if seriously sick or prevented in the exercise of its higher functions, is and will be always a man… he will never become a ‘vegetable’ or an ‘animal’. The intrinsic value and personal dignity of every human being does not change depending on their circumstances” (Pope John Paul II, 2004). Euthanasia or assisted suicide is the deliberate action of ending a life in order to relieve unstoppable suffering. Euthanasia is legal in Albania, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, as well as some US states. In some of these countries, euthanasia is generally executed by a medical professional taking into account his patient’s needs and desires; but sometimes a medical professional can dispense the last medication ending his patient’s life without the patient’s consent. However, euthanasia and assisted suicide is forbidden in the majority of countries and could be penalized by a fourteen years prison sentence. (“Euthanasia and assisted, intro”). Legalizing euthanasia is extremely controversial moral and legal issue throughout the world, but achieving that goal is extremely necessary. Although legalizing euthanasia could cause negative effects for society, the positive side of this controversy indicates that asking for death is important for those patients who have decided that after a certain point, the pain has exceeded the desire of living. On the one hand opponents of euthanasia have three main arguments against the practice: medical ethics, alternative solutions, and unintended consequences argument. First, according to the International Code of Medical Ethics, the most important medical ethics is that “A doctor must always bear in mind the obligation of preserving human life from conception” (World Medical Association, 1949). If doctors quit their duty of preserving the life of their patients, the relationship between them will be damaged. As a result of legalizing euthanasia, doctors will prescribe death as a regular basis and will abandon their compassion when battling a complex disease or attending elderly, incapacitated, or patients at death’s door (“Euthanasia and assisted, arguments”). Second, an appropriate care that includes physical, emotional, and spiritual care for terminal patients and their families will be enough to dissuade the patients from considering euthanasia. The cornerstone of an efficacious palliative care resides in treating the patient as a person instead of treating an assortment of symptoms or medical inconveniences. Saunders the founder of the modern hospice movement says, “You matter because you are. You matter to the last moment of your life and we will do all we can to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die” ("Anti-euthanasia arguments,"). Last but not less important, opponents says that even if euthanasia itself is perhaps acceptable, legalizing it will inevitably lead to practices that are not. According to Keown in his book Euthanasia, Ethics, and Public Policy, chances are that after the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia or morally permissible acts, other kinds of morally impermissible acts like euthanasia without consent or involuntary euthanasia will follow (Lillehammer,2002).
On the other hand, supporters of euthanasia believe that sometimes palliative care cannot be enough or cannot be an adequate solution for those patients who have intolerable pain or those depending on third parties to carry on a private, worthy, and decent lives. Some physicians affirm that although good palliative and hospice treatment is given to patients, 5% of those patients do not have their pain lightened during the last stage of their illness. In addition, other patients are convinced that having palliative care will cause a loss of activeness ("Anti-euthanasia...
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