Euthanasia may also be problematic in that sometimes in life miracles, as rare as they are, can happen. Many people argue that a person who is terminally ill may make a miraculous recovery- it has happened in the past. A farmer in Holland is living proof that miracles do happen in real life. Hans Vight aged thirty-one fell off a ladder and was immediately rushed to hospital where he fell into a deep coma. His determined wife vowed never to give up on him and six years later her prayers were answered when he woke up from the coma.
When a sick or elderly patient asks for euthanasia, it can sometimes be caused by psychological and emotional pressures. There is the risk that some unscrupulous relatives might bring pressure to bear on elderly and burdensome patients to have them request euthanasia in order to inherit their estate.
Yet, despite these admittedly powerful arguments, I still agree with the concept of euthanasia and I believe that carefully controlled legalised euthanasia should be an option for people who want it. We have been given the right to live but should we not also have the right to choose how and when we die?
Obviously, making a decision about whether to live or die is not easy. However, I believe that euthanasia should be legalised. Some patients are fixed in a hospital bed with many tubes and life-prolonging devices attached to them even though they have untreatable diseases and are in a great deal of pain and distress with no real quality of life. These patients are left lingering, until eventually they die. These conditions are hard for me to accept. I strongly believe that if a patient asks a doctor in earnest to perform euthanasia, that they must give great consideration to this request. I reiterate; pain is not the key issue- quality of life is.
I see the non-legislation of euthanasia as causing pain and heartbreak for families and friends who have to watch in misery as the person they love suffers in great agony or simply just slips further away from them into a coma. Obviously, the pain of losing a close relative or loved one is indescribable. This person is gone and many people come to terms with it, but often a larger trauma, which causes more grief, is having to watch that person suffer while you look on hopelessly with no chance of easing their pain. When finally that person dies, their relatives good memories may be overrun by the memories of that persons last few days of agony and misery, when all they could do was watch them suffer and loose dignity.
As I said earlier, everyone would like to die with dignity. A classic example of the whole reason as to why euthanasia should be legalised is Sue Rodriguez, a mother in her early thirties. Sue died slowly and painfully of Lou Gehrig’s disease. She lived several years with the knowledge that her muscles would eventually waste away until the day came when fully conscious, she would choke to death. Sue begged the courts to reassure that a doctor would be allowed to assist her in choosing the moment of her own death. They refused. Sue spent many days agonising over the hopelessness of her plight, the severe pain and the distressing knowledge that her life was useless until eventually a doctor who, in February 1994, covertly broke the law to help this poor woman die in peace. I find it sickening that people have to go through this and it could be stopped if more people were in favour of euthanasia. Euthanasia is not an evil act, but one of great love and compassion.
In some cases, it could be said that we treat animals more humanely than our fellow human beings. If an animal is terminally ill, the vet is called upon and the animal can be ‘put to sleep’. Of course the owner is upset over the loss but they feel that they have done the right thing morally, by putting the animal out of its misery.
I do not think that we can necessarily look at human life in the same way however, as humans are higher beings. But what is better, letting someone suffer a prolonged and very painful life, or allowing him or her to die with dignity, in peace and without pain?
In addition, I believe that a majority of society agree that euthanasia should be legalised. In a recent survey over 60% voted in favour of euthanasia. Also, the late Dr Leslie expressed his feelings on the issue when he said, “ I sincerely believe that those who come after us will wonder why on earth we kept a human being alive against his own will when all the dignity, beauty and meaning of life had vanished. We could have been punished by the law if we kept an animal alive in similar physical conditions.” Never was a truer word spoken.
Also, from a purely economical point of view, the financial cost of long term medical and nursing care is significant. Euthanasia removes the necessity for this type of care allowing funds saved to be spent elsewhere where life may be usefully preserved.
All the reasons I have outlined convince me that it is crucial to society as a whole, and to individuals in particular that euthanasia be legalised. We think of ourselves as a caring society, one that does not believe in causing pain and suffering, but if this is the case then why is there still a debate on the issue of euthanasia being legalised? I simply cannot understand how anyone with a conscience can stand by and watch a human being whose mind and body have been plagued by disease, and not give them the choice of leaving behind pain, indignity and despair. I reiterate; euthanasia should be available to whoever requests it if the circumstances justify it. We need to put an end to this inhumane and barbaric law.
Gemma Nicol Page