Should Terminally Ill Patients Have the Right to Die?
Euthanasia refers to ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering. Terminal illness means any illness which ends in death and there is no possibility of recovery. So is it fair for terminally ill patients to suffer pain for longer than they need? And should they have the right to end their own life?
People are usually eager to avoid death because they value being alive, because they have many things they wish to do, and experiences they wish to have. Obviously, this is not the case with a terminally ill patient who wishes to die. Euthanasia provides a way for terminally ill patients to relieve pain; it is unfair on them to endure unbearable pain. Also it can help to shorten the grief and suffering of the patient’s loved ones, as it’s not just the patients suffering but their loved ones are too. Many people think that each person has the right to control his or her body and life and so should be able to determine at what time, in what way and by whose hand he or she will die. Most people would have their pets put down if they were suffering – this would be regarded as kindness. Why can’t the same kindness be given to humans? Patients should also have the right to decide the value of life and death for themselves and have the freedom of choice, but it is not always the case.
Tony Nicklinson, 58, suffered from locked-in syndrome (paralysed from the neck down and unable to speak.) summed up his existence as 'dull, miserable, demeaning, undignified and intolerable'. He took his 'right-to-die' case to the High Court however was unsuccessful, later that month died naturally. Patients shouldn’t be forced to stay alive; it’s unfair on them and their family. Tony Nicklinson was living a life he didn’t wish to live and his daughter described it was ‘pure torture’ for him.
A survey found that 47 per cent of people said they were prepared to help a loved one to die, even if it meant breaking the law. Euthanasia would allow patients to die quickly and painlessly. Euthanasia could also free up scarce health resources and vital organs could be saved so doctors can save the lives of others. Illness can take away autonomy (the ability to make choices) and dignity, leaving you with no quality of life; euthanasia allows you to take back control in deciding to die, so it gives patients their dignity back. Many times we don’t have enough money to pay for the needed medical care not knowing if the patient is going to get any better. In a way, we are just wasting time and money on a situation that won’t get better. If the patient wants euthanasia, why not do it if we cannot end the huge amount of money wasted on a treatment that won’t help.
On the other hand, allowing Euthanasia could lead to less good care for the terminally ill. It undermines the commitment of doctors and nurses to saving lives. Doctors have a moral responsibility to keep their patients alive. It could also discourage the search for new cures and treatments for the terminally ill. Euthanasia exposes vulnerable people to pressure to end their lives. There could be moral pressure on elderly relatives by selfish families or moral pressure to free up medical resources. Those patients who are abandoned by their families may feel euthanasia is the only solution.
It's also impossible to measure suffering in any way, and it's hard to come up with any objective idea of what constitutes unbearable suffering, since each individual will react to the same physical and mental conditions in a different way. So how would we measure what ‘terminally ill’ is? If everyone reacts differently, we cannot say one patient is worse than the other, nor can we say one is better than the other. Adding to that, how would we establish when the right time is to perform the procedure? Sometimes miracles can happen, and patients make a great recovery, but we never know what can happen and it would mean taking a massive risk.
Religious people believe Euthanasia is against the word and will of God. They believe to kill oneself, or to get someone else to do it for us, is to deny God, and to deny God's rights over our lives and his right to choose the length of our lives and the way our lives end. Christianity teaches that suffering can have a place in God's plan, in that it allows the sufferer to share in Christ's agony and his redeeming sacrifice. They believe that Christ will be present to share in the suffering of the believer.
There are many reasons why people think we shouldn't kill human beings; all human beings are to be valued, irrespective of age, sex, race, religion, social status or their potential for achievement. Human life is sacred because it's a gift from God. Euthanasia devalues human life, and accepting euthanasia accepts that some lives (those of the disabled or sick) are worth less than others, which is unfair as we are all equal.
Overall I believe terminally ill patients should have the right to die, as I’ve already said they have their own freedom of choice and should be able to decide when and how to end their life. It stops them from all the unnecessary suffering and pain and also stops their families from suffering with them. However there would need to be some fair tests to measure and establish if the patient is eligible for the procedure. Adding to that, Doctors should have no influence on the patient’s decision, it should just be decided by the patient, unless they are physically unable to, then by their direct family or relatives. There should be very specific and strict rules leading up to the procedure.