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What are the main issues in the debate about euthanasia.

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Introduction

Euthanasia means 'good death.' It is used in situations where death is deliberately chosen, and not when someone is killed by accident (for example, in a car accident or failed medical treatment). Someone will choose to kill themselves or someone close to them because they feel that death is the best option in the situation. This usually happens when someone is suffering from a terminal illness and wishes to die in less pain, and so therefore, wishes to die sooner. There are different types of circumstances when it comes to euthanasia, and there are two different ways of administering it; 'actively' (deliberately enforcing death, for example, by a lethal injection) and 'passively' (simply 'letting die,' for example, by withholding life-prolonging treatment). Although there are moral issues with particular circumstances in which euthanasia is administered, (for example, suicide) the main form of euthanasia that I shall be commenting on is active euthanasia, voluntary and non-voluntary, because I believe it is a factor with more ethical consideration and I personally have strong views on the matter. The simple justifications of euthanasia are as follows; it humanely ends a patient's suffering, it shortens the grief of loved ones, and many people argue that one should have a right to decide when they die. If the law were changed, doctors could carry out euthanasia legally. If one could die with dignity, then it could possibly help others face death. It would also help doctors if they knew of their patient's intentions. The simple criticisms of euthanasia are as follows; some may argue that patients are incapable of making a rational decision, and may change their mind, but would be unable to tell the doctors this. People have also been known to recover after doctors have diagnosed them of having a terminal illness, and so euthanasia would be wasteful in this case. Some may believe that euthanasia devalues life, as it becomes 'disposable.' ...read more.

Middle

Then there are quotes spoken by Jesus, such as the famous 'love your neighbour as you love yourself.' This can be interpreted in many ways under circumstances such as a request to die from a relative. Is the correct care for an individual the care that serves their request? Is it more caring to let the patient die painlessly, with dignity, or more caring to extend life as much as possible? In the case of Christianity, I believe duties towards one another conflict with duties towards God. This is because duties to one another require respect for every living thing. With respect, comes respect of one another's decisions. Of course, to accept one another's decisions, they'd have to respect another's rational decision to have their treatment stopped, or even their request to be actively killed. As I mentioned in the ethical analysis, it is up to the individual Christian to decide which is more important - 'quality' or 'quantity.' If Christians generally interpret the idea of 'quality' in life and that one another's decisions must be respected, then it can conflict with early teachings that life is a gift from God. It could be the other way round; Christians may prefer quantity to quality, and believe strongly that life is a gift from God. If a request for an early death from a relative came about, then Jesus' preaching of 'love your neighbour' would probably be neglected. Christians also believe that no one can judge the value of an individual's life: it lies within God's understanding and it is not for us to decide. Humanists, on the other hand, believe that the value of life lies in oneself. Thus, Christian beliefs need a compromise when it comes to euthanasia. Christians have especially set up hospices for the terminally ill. These are aiming to care for the patients individually, and prepare them for death. This is because in the past, the dying were deprived of the truth, and brave faces were put on by friends and relatives, pretending that everything was all right. ...read more.

Conclusion

For example, in Holland, (where euthanasia is legal) a decision for euthanasia will be responded to thirty days afterwards, when a doctor will induce it. I believe that this system works, and also believe that non-biased professionals should judge the situation and decide whether or not a request for euthanasia should be granted. It would, therefore, still be judged upon the situation. It would then be up to friends and relatives to decide if they feel that it is the best thing to do in the situation. A lot of people do, of course, have objections to the legalisation of euthanasia. Mainly, it is because it is against their personal morals, which includes conflict with their religion. There is obviously no way of compromising all of these principles, other than simply saying that there is of course no obligation for them to go through with euthanasia themselves. I do personally think that they should accept this, but no one can demand them to do so. We must also consider the effects of the legalisation of euthanasia besides others' disapproval. Because no one is able to predict the future, we can only guess the consequences of any action. Many people argue that life would be taken too light-heartedly if euthanasia were legalised; I personally do not think that this will happen, providing that the rules for which euthanasia can be carried out are strict. If I may, finally, quote Joseph Fletcher, 'Christian action should be tailored to fit objective circumstances, the situation.' This sums up my argument completely, except that it should apply to everyone, and not just Christians. If the morally right action were judged upon the situation, rather than merely condemning particular actions without any consideration of the individual circumstances of a situation, then perhaps religious and non-religious people, moral and not-so-moral people would agree that euthanasia, under some circumstances, is morally right. On the same scale, people could decide when euthanasia is morally wrong in some situations. Alice Clark An analysis of the moral and religious issues raised by euthanasia 1 ...read more.

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