The Euthanasia Debate

man in white and black jacket and pants sitting on black surface
Photo by Grant Whitty via Unsplash.com

Controversy around euthanasia

We discussed already what euthanasia is in previous posts. However, it is perhaps useful to explore why there has been such a fierce euthanasia debate over the years. At first glance it might seem simple: euthanasia seems to be a form of suicide; therefore, people avoid talking about it or are against it. In reality though, this is a much more complicated topic with both sides having multiple arguments.

Let’s have a look at what both “camps” have to say.

Why should you not choose euthanasia?

Law & Religion

There are many reasons why someone should not or cannot choose euthanasia. The first obvious reason is, of course, because active euthanasia is illegal in most countries or regions. However, it is more interesting to discuss why it is illegal. 

For instance, euthanasia is strictly forbidden under many religions and spiritual practices. As a result, in countries where religion strongly influences politics and regulations, euthanasia has a slim chance of being legal. For instance, the Senate of Philippines tried pass a pro-euthanasia law in 1997. However, it eventually failed due to the strong opposition it met by the dominant Catholic Church. But even beyond political influences, some devouts may find euthanasia offensive. Therefore, they would not consider it as an option even if it was legal in their country or region.

Medical arguments

Another anti-euthanasia argument focuses more on palliative care and the care of the terminally ill. Specifically, critics of euthanasia support that we  we may starting caring less about people due to euthanasia. Caring here mostly refers to enhancing the living conditions of the terminally ill. Moreover, they highlight that we need to give proper attention – and funding – to palliative care. They suggest that this way, there would be little to none need for euthanasia. 

Additionally, euthanasia-opposers support that active euthanasia puts too much power – and responsibility – in the hands of medical doctors. Additionally, they point out that prescribed medicine can now cure illnesses that in the past were terminal. This poses the question: what is really terminal and what is not?

The final, and most extreme argument is that voluntary and nonvoluntary euthanasia may slowly lead to involuntary euthanasia.

Why should you choose euthanasia?

Personal Rights & Suffering

People who may choose euthanasia are almost always very sick. Additionally, they are experiencing severe pain and their quality of life is acutely reduced due to their symptoms. It is also important to point out that the severe illness afflicting the person is usually incurable. In other words, euthanasia is used as a way to alleviate pain and suffering when nothing else seems to work. 

An additional argument in favor of euthanasia is the right to die. This argument revolves around two main principles: self-determination and dignity. In other words, this means that people should be able to choose what happens to their body. They should also be able to do so with dignity, without feeling that they’re losing themselves due to their illness and suffering.

For instance, people who argue in favor of euthanasia focus on living a life on life support. Specifically, they point out that requiring permanent assistance in your everyday life to survive is no life at all. They would rather be in charge of their own fate. Especially, if the alternative is  depending on other people or devices to be able to remain alive.

Medical arguments

More practically orientated arguments focus on the fact that euthanasia may also help the medical system. That includes voluntary assisted suicide as well as euthanasia of the terminally ill and unconscious patients living on life support. The argument focuses specifically on how expensive life support measures are. After all, we could redirect these funds and resources to patients who may benefit more from them. This position might seem very much focused on financial resources and it raises its own questions. However, there is a more humane point of view too: people could benefit from the additional, then-available medical resources. 

Finally, in this case it would be easier to regulate euthanasia, making sure that it always remain voluntary. Proper regulation is also the solution to the extreme scenario of a dramatic increase of involuntary euthanasia as well.

Final Thoughts

The above arguments don’t cover every single point that both sides make. What they do demonstrate, however, is how complex the debate of euthanasia is. Regardless of whether euthanasia is something for you or not, it is always good to stay informed about what you are allowed to do. You should also keep in mind that there are certain euthanasia-eligibility criteria you need to meet.

If euthanasia seems something that could interest you, you may be happy to hear that you can fill out Myend’s Euthanasia Statement. Although this document isn’t legally binding, it lets you share your intentions with your loved ones.