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Euthanasia: a question of choice

By krosbergen Jan 22, 2014 1856 Words
Euthanasia: A question of Choice
Freedom is defined as the power to exercise one’s own rights, power and desires. In many areas of our life we do experience freedom of choice but when it comes to making our last final choice at how we end of our live, it seems that our rights have been stripped away from us. Euthanasia comes from the Greek language meaning “good death” (Wikipedia, 2013.). It was once viewed as a peaceful or prepared way of passing. There are some people who are opposed to euthanasia. They believe that it is the same as murder and that it goes against all their religious beliefs. What they don’t acknowledge is that it is taking away people’s rights to relinquish their suffering and pain which would allow them to pass peacefully on their terms. Right or wrong, not all situations are the same and this is really what is causing all the issues. Many people believe that by legalizing euthanasia it would open the door to worse actions in the future. I believe that this is completely false and that there is no evidence that supports that. What is the difference between taking someone off life support and euthanasia or the pain interventions that go along with palliative care? Since we already have the right to choose whether we want to refuse lifesaving interventions, we should have the right to receive a lethal injection. We all deserve the freedom to choose our destiny and we should have the right to save ourselves from a long painful death. Legalizing euthanasia would give terminally ill patients the ability to decide their fate regarding their own death. From the beginning of time, the contaversy about euthanasia has drawn a fine line between ones rights and freedoms and having no choice in when facing the end of life decisions. We all have the freedom to decide how we want to live our lives but when it comes deciding how we want to live the end of our lives these choices have been taking away from us just when we need it most. Euthanasia should be a legal right for anyone with a terminal illness when the quality of life is non-existent. For many people, euthanasia is the same as going out and deliberately shooting someone. I believe that this is not the case. Murder victims don’t ask someone to end their lives so how can we put both murder and euthanasia in the same categories. There are three types of euthanasia. Voluntary euthanasia is when the patient requests either passive or active measures to be taken. Passive interventions would involve a request to stop any lifesaving procedures or medications. An active intervention would require a lethal substance either ingested or administered. Voluntary euthanasia would have to be requested by the patient. If someone on their death bed wants to stop the suffering, why should we ignore their right to choose? Another category is non-voluntary and that is where the patient cannot speak for themselves and someone else carries out this action on their behalf. This may be the continuation of the “living will” which the individual may have, years earlier, given this decision to a loved one. Hopefully, this issue would have been part of the discussion. The final type of euthanasia is no-voluntary which to me is the same as murder and shouldn’t even be considered euthanasia. It is where the patient expresses the will to live and does not wish to end their life but it is carried out against their will. Euthanasia should be legalized giving people the final say in their own destiny as long as strict guidelines are followed. Proper guidelines and a look at each case on an individual basis would help to make sure that it is in the best interest of the patient. There are many people are living among us that are suffering from terminally ill diseases many of which are suffering and a few that if they had a choice to end it would seriously consider assisted suicide if that was an illegal option. Until we are faced with the same circumstances we will never truly understand the pain that patients may be experiencing. You can never know just how another is suffering because it is different to each and every person. We have the right of freedom of speech but we don’t have the right to decide when we’ve had enough suffering and want a peaceful parting. The people who are opposed to the act of euthanasia say that it is morally wrong and goes against the human instinct to thrive. They believe we have lots of medications to help us to manage their pain associated with dying but the problem is that they don’t all work for every situation. That is when I believe that euthanasia could give the patient that choice to put a stop their suffering. What kind of quality of life does a chronically ill patient have when they’re stuck lying in bed, on a respirator, unable to eat and unable to enjoy relationships with friends or family. Medications can provide some comfort but they are not always the answer to these kinds of situations since they just delay the inevitable. One of the concerns for those that are opposed to Euthanasia is that in allowing them to have this as a legal option we will be ultimately opening the door to other situations that feel morally wrong. They claim that this will put us on a “slippery slope” which will lead us towards allowing other morally wrong actions to also become legal. This is no different than stating that if we educate our teenagers about safe sex and provide them with access to necessary birth control solutions to keep them safe, that they will all go out and engage in sexual relations as they see this as a form of permission. That is just a ridiculous conclusion. No one in their right mind would say to legalize acts of murder just because we now had the right to end our suffering. These are two totally different situations. It’s similar to saying that smoking is a gateway drug to other drugs and that everyone who smokes would eventually become a drug addict. We all know that this is not the case for the majority of smokers. There will always be those that take things too far but the likelihood is that the majority of people will not abuse this right. I believe it is just the fear of the unknown that puts unrealistic roadblocks to situations they don’t understand or don’t want to think about.

If those that oppose euthanasia are so stuck on morals then why is it ok to withhold life support from someone who isn’t even aware of the decisions being made for them? It would seem to me that it would be acceptable to grant the wishes of someone who is of clear mind since they know what they are asking for, compared to those who have the decision made on their behalf. These days not many of us die due to natural causes anymore. We have so many lifesaving interventions that now when we are rushed to the hospital in critical condition that the healthcare professionals automatically try to save us. For that I am grateful, but what about those whose wishes would be to die if they knew that the outcome would leave them unable to have any quality of life? One example of this is the well-known case of Tracy Latimer. She was a child born with cerebral palsy which was caused due to the lack of oxygen at birth. This left her with severe physical and mental disabilities. She was unable to speak and she didn’t have any physical movement (Robert Latimer, A story of Justus and mercy, 2010.). Had her father not tried to save her, Tracy would have been subjected to a long painful existence. Yes, she lived but at what cost to herself and those who loved her? She had twelve years filled with some happy moments but she also had multiple surgeries that caused her unbearable pain. If they had just let her die naturally when she was born, Tracy would never have had to endure such pain and poor quality of life that led her father to release her of her agony on October 24, 1993. So this leaves me to wonder why we see this any different than when we are asked to help end the suffering of someone with a terminal illness or to pull the plug on someone who is unconscious. There really isn’t much difference. Latimer was a father who watched his daughter suffer from a terminal illness and she wasn’t able to communicate her desires to him. Latimer was a loving and caring father who took it upon himself to end his daughters’ life. As a human race we want to show mercy to those people who are suffering. Latimer is no different but because we haven’t legalised euthanasia yet he has been accused of murdering his own flesh and blood. Why shouldn’t people who have lost the ability to communicate due to illness, not be given the right to stop their suffering? This brings me to my next point lethal injection. Lethal injection is when a substance is injected into someone with the intent of killing them. When a person is dying we provide palliative care which means making them comfortable with pain medication until the time that they pass. You may be wondering why I have grouped both of these together and the answer is simple, they are really not so different from each other. When palliative patients are receiving pain medication to make them comfortable it is not unusual for them to receive lethal amounts of morphine. The issue here is that in order to provide complete pain relief the high doses of morphine are used often end up speeding up the dying process. That sounds just like lethal injection but instead of a quick death it is just prolonged. One of the benefits of allowing lethal injections is that an assessment would have to be completed on the patient and a complete, open discussion regarding the outcome of their choice would occur. Therefore the patient and health team would all be on the same page and would know what was taking place. With the pain management that is involved with the palliative care process not all who are involved are aware of the outcome of this treatment. If they legalized euthanasia, palliative patients could have the option to prolong their pain and death or to say their good - byes and end their suffering at once. In conclusion, I feel that we should reconsider legalizing euthanasia. After all, it is our life and should be our choice in how we want to end it. Legalising euthanasia gives us our power and freedom back and allows us to have our voices heard when we need it most.

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