The Easy Way Out
The innate consideration of the practice of euthanasia plagues the mind of many individuals as essentially an argumentative debate over the morality of the controversy as a whole. Many argue the semblance of murder and euthanasia, directly linking the two with a weak thread built upon fallacious reasoning, but a simplification of the term could be deemed as mercy killing. The magnification of the issue has the tendency to be turned around into the question of its legality. But the ultimate question ends up being whether or not euthanasia is ethical. The sole purpose of euthanasia is to intentionally terminate someone’s life due to their inability to fend for themselves.
The common questions asked when the complex issue arises are, “Does all life have value? Should one fight against death even when suffering is intense? Should suffering be lessened [or just completely put to an end by euthanasia?]” (Frederich). The variations of questions continue on and on, but they are basically centralized at one point: is euthanasia morally correct? Physicians, the individual, families, legal officials, and others involved in the cases of euthanizing individuals are also faced with a similar array of questions, basically focusing on the righteousness of the act they would be willingly engaging in. Some may label euthanasia as a callous practice used as an excuse for murder, ultimately putting the blame of the death upon the physician in the physician-assisted suicide, although obviously hyperbolizing the situation. Not only do moral and ethical factors play into the process of euthanasia, but also various religious and philosophical beliefs. As stated by Dr.
Katherine B. Frederich, “Jewish and Christian theology has traditionally opposed any form of euthanasia or suicide, avowing that since God is the author of life and death, life is sacred. Therefore, a man rebels against God if he prematurely shortens his life, because he violates the Sixth Commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill.'” (Frederich). Euthanasia is opposed by the Jewish and Christian cultures as taking the life of someone is as if altering God’s course of action for that individual, deeming the act unsacred.
But according to Derek Humphry, there is a counterargument against the religious ideologies opposing euthanasia. Despite the number of atheists and agnostics in the world, “the many Christians who do believe in euthanasia justify it by reasoning that the God whom they worship is loving and tolerant, and would not wish to see them in agony. They do not see their God as being so vengeful as refusing them the Kingdom of Heaven if they accelerated the end of their life to avoid prolonged, unbearable suffering” (Humphry 22). Euthanasia can be justified, even through the argument made against it by religious ideologies. There stands no legitimate claim made by the ideologies to uphold the fact that euthanasia cannot be proven to be moral.
From the philosophical standpoint, an individual’s rights “must be balanced against the interests of society: the taking of a life, at the patient’s request, may seem acceptable in particular circumstances, but must be forbidden because it attacks values that bind society together” (Carr). In the sense that Carr describes euthanasia, it could potentially be philosophically related to the idea that society should essentially eliminate those who lay a burden upon it. Is the taking of someone’s life considered to be a moral act? Despite the pain and suffering they are forcing to have to live through every day of their lives, these specific individuals still have the right to live a long and full life. This idea of anti-euthanasia has been drilled into the minds of a significant majority. The only justification of anti-euthanasia is that everyone has the right to life and no one is allowed to strip anyone of that unalienable entitlement.
In fact, anti-euthanasia seems to be the attitude of many governments around the world. Euthanasia is only legal in five areas worldwide: Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the states of Oregon and Washington. But why is euthanasia only legalized in these regions? In today’s age, “it is a felony to help someone [commit suicide…] most jurisdictions now say that it is illegal to help someone else commit an act that is wholly legal” (Carr). But why, is there a specified reason? The validation of the illegality again is only justified by the fact that life is to be given and to be used, not to be taken and to be wasted. Although the counterargument argues that everyone has a right to live, then does not everyone essentially possess the right to declare their life over? Aside from religious theological ideologies, everyone has the right to do whatever they would like with their own life.
The justifications pro-euthanasia include unbearable pain, as in death during life, the right to commit suicide, and the fact that one should not be forced to stay alive. Proponent of euthanasia, Humphry, analyzes reasons for the practice, stating that they include, “advanced terminal illness that is causing unbearable suffering to the individual […] and grave physical handicap which is so restricting that the individual cannot, even after due consideration, counseling and re-training, tolerate such a limited existence” (Humphry 19). Euthanizing someone should be done only after a thorough investigation proving that they are truly in a state of misery, of course. This practice “advocates the stress upon the unbearable notions of pain” (Reasons for). Euthanasia focuses upon relieving those from extreme suffering into a state of peace.
It alleviates the anguish from the individual, essentially improving their life, establishing the superior argument over that of anti-euthanasia. The debate over euthanasia has not come to a standstill; it continues to be one of much controversy, with contentions for both sides. The legalization of the situation has not been furthered, but the intent is to bind the general public into pushing for its indissoluble legalization. It seems unwarranted that a populace should suffer through this amount of abject misery, when all that is necessary is a wider scope of understanding about the practice of euthanasia. The debate over euthanasia has caused an affliction in many individuals’ lives, those who wish to bring a close to their chapter of misery in their book of life, but are not allowed to. It is now up to those who wish to see a change in the world, a change in the lives of people who deserve to be relieved from their suffering, those who deserve the easy way out.
It is for those individuals that the attitude of pro-euthanasia must be instilled for, and it is for them that shortcomings in sight must be overlooked.