There are many aspects to euthanasia. The first one is when you decide that you want to end your life because of unbearable pain. This aspect means that you get a choice in whether you continue your life in intolerable amounts of pain, or chose to end your life gracefully and with as much dignity as you can. This also not only benefits your self but also means that you do not have to put other such as family members through watching you in pain and watches you suffering. Some people believe that we owe it to these people to help end their lives, as it is unfair to make them continue to live in pain. In addition, with this, people may change their minds. It is proven that people with a terminal disease such as cancer long for death one day, but cling to life the next, so the recommendation, should euthanasia be legalised, is that there should be a 15 day cooling off period in which patients can change their minds. If they still wish to end their life after the cooling off period then, providing that they are in perfect mental health, a doctor would be allowed to end their life, leaving the patient with as much dignity as is possible. There are problems with this though. If the patient is aware of family members being disturbed by the patient’s pain, they might begin to want to end their life in order that their family is not hurt. This would complicate things, as it is not correct for someone to end their life to benefit others.
When discussing euthanasia, people often forget that it does not just affect the patients and their families, but the doctors as well. One doctor who supports it says that he is torn between his goals as a doctor, saving lives and helping people who are suffering. He believes that helping people is the morally right thing to do, so that they do not suffer unnecessarily. However, he does understand that it is difficult to do and so should not be thought of as ordinary. On the other hand, a different doctor disagrees saying that he values sitting with dying patients, and that we should not try to control life. He also states that if euthanasia is made legal it would encourage people to chose to end their life prematurely instead of looking for better health care. In addition, doctors would have to live with the guilt that they helped someone die. As the law stands in the UK now, doctors can administer large quantities of morphine to patients in severe pain, which leads to death, but cannot actually kill them.
There are worries with euthanasia that if it is made legal, then the state could take over and kill off the elderly or mentally ill, so that they no longer have to pay out as much for pensions or for mental institutes. This would mean that people were being killed by involuntary euthanasia, and it means that we would render the elderly and mentally ill as useless and something that we can dispose of as they cannot contribute to society. This is the same as what happened in the Second World War in Nazi Germany. In 1939, Adolph Hitler ordered the mercy killing off all of the sick and disabled in a project called Aktion T 4. This project first focused on the newborn and young children but then moved on to adults as well. This is one of the problems if euthanasia was to be legalised. We need to understand who controls it and who can do the killing.
Euthanasia is currently legal in only two countries, Netherlands and Belgium. Assisted suicide is also legal in Oregon (USA), but euthanasia is still not. Below are some statistics on euthanasia rates in the Netherlands.
Although suicide has been legal in the UK since 1961, but assisted suicide still is a crime. Assisted suicide is hard define a category for, as it can be seen as selling people the means by which to kill them selves, for example in a experiment carried out in 1965 showed that when a upset woman tried to buy 200 aspirin from a shop, was never refused sale, and only one person asked her if she was okay. This could be seen as assisting in a suicide as the shopkeepers provided the means for which this woman could have killed herself. In addition, the book Final Exit written by Derek Humphrey, which describes in detail various methods in which to kill yourself including dosages for various types of medication, is not considered as assisting in a suicide because we cannot prove that the advice given in the book influenced a person’s decision to kill themselves. In 2001 there was a case in which Diane Pretty, a 43 year old woman who had Motor Neurone disease which had destroyed all of her muscles, wished to end her life when she had tried all the treatment that was available to her. She was not physically able to take her own life and wished her husband to do it for her. She went to court to try to get it made legal but was refused. In these circumstances everyone should be able to chose whether to live or die.
Another form of euthanasia is turning off a life support machine on a patient who is in a P.V.S (Persistent Vegative State). This was also illegal until recently. This was made legal following the Hillsborough football disaster in 1989 in which 96 people died when crowd control was slackened at a football match, resulting in many people being crushed up against a wire fence, and suffocated. Tony Bland was one of these victims. It left him in a P.V.S. His heart still pumped, he breathed, and most of his other vital organs worked, all unassisted. His eyes opened and shut; he yawned and moved reflexively; he reacted to loud noises with a start. Nevertheless, as far as doctors could tell he could not perceive, think or feel, and would never regain consciousness in this life. The English High Court, the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords all ruled that all food, water and antibiotics might be withdrawn from Tony Bland and sedatives administered so that he would die peacefully. There is also much controversy with this as people debate who this actually benefits. The patient has no say in it, and could have woken up the next day for all we know. It benefits the family as it means they can family let go of the patient and stop living each day thinking what if he wakes up today.
In conclusion, euthanasia is not immoral as long as it is voluntary or the decision is taken by a family member in absence of the person not being able to make the decision. Euthanasia should never be left down to the government to control, with them killing people just because the can and it means they would have to pay less pensions out as that is immoral and should not be allowed. By making euthanasia legal it would be beneficial to most people as you never know when you may want to end your suffering or want to die gracefully rather than by choking on your own vomit for example. Therefore, in conclusion everyone should have the right to an easy death, if they want it.