Euthanasia also known as assisted suicide has been one of the most discussed and controversial issue around the world. It is the act of ending a person’s life for those who are suffering from painful diseases. According to the Oxford Fajar Dictionary, it is defined as a “gentle and painless death for a person suffering from incurable diseases.” Otherwise, it is known as a “good death” which usually referred as “merciful killing” (El-Haggan, 1997) According to Johansen (2001), the main classification of euthanasia is voluntary and involuntary euthanasia. Voluntary euthanasia is conducted with consent whereby the patient’s request that action to be taken to end their life. Therefore, it is death of the patient with the full acknowledgement of the patient themselves. In contrast, involuntary euthanasia is the act of ending a life with no consent of the patients themselves. It usually occurres when the patients are too weak or unable to communicate like vegetative or coma patients. The decision is usually made for the patient by the ones who are closely related to the patient. It is appeared to be clear that both types of euthanasia have a distinct line between one another (Johansen, 2001). On the other hand, Johansen (2001) stated that when the act of euthanasia is ready to be carried out, doctors may use several ways to end a patient’s life. There are two procedural categories of euthanasia which are passive and active euthanasia. Passive euthanasia is defined as detachment of medical treatment deliberately which caused the death of the patient (Johansen, 2001). For example: the doctors disconnect any life sustaining machine such as dialysis machine or respirator that help the patient to survive. On the contrary, active euthanasia is the act of killing with specific steps should be taken to end the patient’s life such as lethal injection by the doctors. These are the few basic definition of euthanasia that has been carried until today. “During the last few decades, we have heard lots of rights emerged such as the right to health, right to privacy, right to dance naked and now the right to die.” (Kass, 2004). Questions arise as to why there is a right to something that is inevitable for human beings. Does that mean that human beings are going to be immortal (Kass, 2004)? The question is no I perhaps. Euthanasia has been practiced for centuries to benefit people to avoid their fear of immense pain and suffering; however, many people are unaware that euthanasia can actually bring more harm than good and it should not be legalized in our country.
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Proponents to the act of euthanasia stated that everyone has the right to choose what is best for them. They have stated a few points to support the act of euthanasia. Firstly, Kass (2004) claimed that they are fear of painful diseases and prolong dying process by the continuity of the medical treatment. With the advancement in technology, many powerful life sustaining machines and medical treatments help to prolong their life. These terminally ill patients voiced out that the ongoing of medical treatment brings more suffering physically and mentally. Physically in the sense that the pain to receive countless medical treatment injections and the side effects of the medical treatment; such as balding. In addition, mentally, it is painful for them to face their family because they became a burden on their family especially for the ones with financial problem. Therefore, these points move them forward of wanting themselves to die with dignity. It helps to avoid further suffering and not to be discriminated by the others. They need not want to beg for suitable kidney for a transplant. They need not want to die like animals gasping for their last breath of air (El-Haggan, 1997). Although I can understand these points of views, I have to disagree. Radtke (2005) suggested that the patients have treated euthanasia as a way for a better pain management, which is not a right way to do so. In addition, humans should always work their way toward better life, not the way to end it. According to Radtke (2005), serious illness and disability of a person are statically having the most chances to have the feeling of suicide. This is especially during the early period of the disease which strikes them psychologically in a short period of time. However, all this will take time to recover. The first few years may be the most depressing time for them in order to adjust themselves in normal living life (Radtke, 2005). A similar case was found during my research from a person named Richard Radtke. He had a peaceful life until he knew that he had disease of multiple sclerosis (MS) and trigeminal neuralgic. These diseases have known to be one of the worst pain that can be felt to man. Radtke (2005) stated that the pain does not respond to morphine and he had to take a whole new series of medication. Things got even worse when his wife left him because of the disease. That was 20 years ago; he managed to overcome this difficult phase of his life and became stronger than ever. With his persistence and determination, he is living happily now with his second wife and grateful that he did not make the decision for assisted suicide (Radtke, 2005). If the legalization of assisted suicide is approved in our country, we will lose a lot of people who can make a difference like Richard Radtke. If that is the case, everyone will start hastening their death once they know they are in pain. Therefore, we should start effort on working a pain management for them rather than helping them to hasten death because euthanasia is not the answer for pain and suffering (Radtke, 2005).
Opponents of the legalization of euthanasia claim that tendency for human abusing the rights of euthanasia is very high. This is because human tend to take advantage when they are given freedom to do a specific act (El-Haggan, 1997). In fact, it very much exists. For example, divorce rates have risen to 600% after the approval of “no-fault-divorce” in Canada 30 years ago (Rotheisler, 1997). Supporters of the act of euthanasia defend the point saying that specific laws can be set up to regulate the abuse of euthanasia. In addition, rules and procedures should be emphasized before any form of euthanasia can occur. For example, the patient’s condition should be stated clearly in a specific document and must be reviewed by other doctors to gain approval for euthanizing the patient. Hence, the act of euthanasia can be identified whether it is really necessary to do so. Moreover, the government will take stern action towards doctors or any profession that was found abusing the act of euthanasia. Even so, this will not help to solve the problem. Fenigsen (1989) stated that one of the good examples of a country which euthanasia is very much abused is Netherlands. At the beginning, euthanasia is only allowed to be done on terminally ill patients that gave their consent; this is known as voluntary euthanasia. Later on, they legalized euthanasia on involuntary patients, only to those who are too weak communicating such as coma. It is going worse as now euthanizing the depressed patient is legalized. Hence, the act of euthanasia is increasing through the years until today (Fenigsen, 1989). El-Haggan (1997) stated that this is a situation which the act of euthanasia falls under the “slippery slope” theory. It is a situation whereby once the act of a specific action occurs; it may give rise to other problems or worsen the condition. Therefore, it is not wrong even for me to predict that one day they will start by euthanize mentally retarded patient to those who cannot afford to pay for the medical treatment. Hence, it should be approved in our country because it is impossible for society to go back to the original state once they fall into the slippery slope.
Advocates of the act of euthanasia argued that assisted suicide is not wrong in terms of morality. In fact, it is morally right. A moral person is one who conducts good value in life without doing bad or harm to anyone. In addition, morality is based on the amount of happiness and suffering that can be acquired by the majority. With the act of euthanasia, it is morally right because it can help to reduce suffering for a patient who is terminally ill. Why prolong the dying process when it gives so much of suffering? Therefore, euthanasia can help to minimize their pain and suffering. Moreover, it can help to save vital resources in the hospital which can help to save other patients who have higher survivability rate. Not only that, healthy organs from the euthanized patient can be donated to others who in need for a transplant. Therefore, their death will be more meaningful and it will not be a waste. Hence, it is morally right based utilitarianism theory. This is because euthanasia can help to provide greater happiness than suffering to the majority of people. However, opponents to the act of euthanasia states that assisted suicide violates the society’s norm even it provides greater happiness (El-Haggan, 1997). This is because the act of euthanasia is also a type of murder or killing to end another human’s life. Moreover, assisted suicide is also wrong is all religious teachings. For instance, Buddhist and Hindu teachings stated that the act of assisted suicide interrupt the death and rebirth cycle which leads to a bad karma (Jayaram, 2010). Moreover, it is a serious offence because it violates the rules of the religion and life is treated as noble and precious. On the other hand, Christianity is strongly against euthanasia. This is because life is created by God and it is created in God’s image (Anonymous, 2009). In addition, the natural process of death should not be interrupted. Overall, religious teaching stated that the act of killing or suicide is not allowed. Other than that, suffering is a phase in human’s life. In the human world, everyone has stress and conflicts in life. When we able to overcome a problem, it makes us stronger every time and more experienced to face our next challenges. Therefore, if we are fated to be infected with deadly diseases, we should fight until the very end because life is valuable and precious.
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All in all, I have to agree that the act of euthanasia should not be legalized in our country. El-Haggan (1997) stated that society should see euthanasia as a downfall instead of a popular trend. Even though, euthanasia can help certain types of people to minimize the amount of suffering, whether it is mentally or physically, we should not take this as our solution to pain (El-Haggan, 1997). In contrast, they should look for pain management alternatives that very much exist today such as counselor and psychologist. In addition, humans should do their best to save one’s life instead of a way to end them especially to any profession in the medical field
(El-Haggan, 1997). It is morally wrong if we neglect the patient’s suffering and move on. However, it is a solution that can create a whole new series of problems in a nation, society and the country. Therefore, it is definitely fair to say that the legalization of euthanasia is not a right response that should be conducted in our country.