Sunday, October 25

Advantages and Disadvantages of Euthanasia

The debate on how a person should live or die has been long-standing. Particularly, the debate on the premature ending of life, that is, euthanasia has its complex ethical, moral, religious, and cultural aspects to it. Let us look at the perspectives from both sides.

WHAT IS EUTHANASIA?

Euthanasia is the act of intentionally causing death, particularly of an incurable or terminally ill patient, to relieve their suffering and pain. The motive behind the idea of euthanasia is to benefit the person whose death is brought about. It is among the most controversial concepts in bioethics because of the ethical, moral and legal issues it poses.

CATEGORIES OF EUTHANIZATION

There are different categories of euthanasia including voluntary euthanasia, non-voluntary euthanasia, and involuntary euthanasia. Voluntary euthanasia is the practice of termination of a person’s life with their consent. This is done with the assistance of a physician or doctor and can also be called as assisted suicide. Non-voluntary euthanasia is when explicit consent of the patient is not available. For instance, a patient who is in a coma or a vegetative state cannot give their express consent. Involuntary euthanasia is the opposite of voluntary euthanasia. It is done without the consent of the patient and is illegal in most countries.

Another classification of euthanasia is active and passive euthanasia. Active euthanasia uses lethal substances to terminate a patient’s life. And passive euthanasia is withholding treatment necessary for continuing life.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Euthanasia

ADVANTAGES OF EUTHANASIA

Right to die

The right to die is the right of a terminally ill person to refuse life-sustaining treatment. Every person has the explicit right to live the way that they want and see fit. Similarly, this concept is also of the opinion that every person is entitled to end their life or entitled to be euthanized if they do not wish to continue living. They should not be forced to submit to their family members or the government authorities. A person’s right to die is linked to their right to self-determination. Self-determination is an international law principle that states that it is the right of every person to determine their destiny. Death is a private matter and as long as it does not harm anyone then no one should interfere with a person’s personal choice to be euthanized. Hence, we must have the right to choose what happens to us.

No Suffering

Euthanization is a humane way of ending a person’s suffering from avoidable pain. People with incurable and painful diseases have to undergo unnecessary suffering and futile procedures only to extend their pain. Mostly, instead of trying to prolong one’s life, we prolong their suffering and death. A terminally ill patient has no cure. A person experiencing excruciating pain from an illness should have the option of choosing their fate. The only humane way to relieve them of their pain is by euthanizing them.

Last resort

Euthanasia is used as a last resort when all other possible treatments are exhausted. It uses assistance for termination of life only when there is suffering involved. The objective of euthanization is to end a lengthy death especially when the process involves severe pain.

More Control

A person can have more control over the final decisions of their life. Obligations do not end merely because a person dies. Financial duties and responsibilities have to be taken care of by the patient’s family and loved ones. Also, euthanasia helps the patient avoid feeling like a burden to their caregivers as they are more in control of their decisions. This helps in financial as well as emotional transition of a person’s death easier. In other words, the choice to end one’s life gives the person the freedom to plan their death’s transition better for everyone involved.

No Problem in Legalizing it

The legalization of euthanasia will not be overly problematic. Several countries have legalized it and so far no issues have arisen. Netherlands was the first country to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide (suicide assisted by a physician or doctor). Other countries like Belgium, Luxembourg, and Switzerland permit it with specific regulations and it has not created any problems to date. Countries like India have no legislation in place for euthanasia. But in 2018, the Supreme Court of India permitted passive euthanasia under strict guidelines. A 2019 survey conducted by the National Centre for Social Research in London found that around 93 percent of people in the United Kingdom approved or did not rule out doctor-assisted suicide. Hence, there is overwhelming assent across the world.

DISADVANTAGES OF EUTHANASIA

Scope for Misuse

A major disadvantage of euthanasia is that there is scope for misuse. It is possible that a patient is forced into the euthanasia process for someone’s gain. In India, the Apex Court permitted the removal of life-support systems for terminally ill patients or those in incurable comas. They can also decide against artificial life support by creating a “living will” (a document that sets out a patient’s wishes on how they want to be treated when they are unable to communicate in the future). This can be misused as there are no safeguards to ensure that these living wills were not drafted under coercion.

It is also possible that people can end their lives for reasons other than their illness. Loss of autonomy, and freedom from debts or other obligations are some of the reasons why people want to opt for euthanasia. This goes against the purpose of the aim of euthanasia.

Can Be Premature

There is a possibility that euthanization can be premature. There have been instances where patients with terminal illnesses have completely cured. And new inventive drugs have also received positive responses from patients. The field of medical research and clinical trials are constantly advancing themselves to look for cures and solutions to incurable diseases. Additionally, it is also possible that a terminal diagnosis was inaccurate. A person may live longer than the time frame given to them. They could even healthily live for many years after. Though it is not possible to have a medical miracle every time, one should not rule out the possibility.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Euthanasia

Religious Beliefs

Most religions practiced across nations are against euthanasia. Christianity is broadly against euthanasia and assisted suicide and considers it morally wrong. They categorize it as murder and contrary to what God intended. Similarly, Islam also considers euthanasia to be against their beliefs and texts. The central religious text, Quran interprets that early termination of life either by suicide or with help from someone is a crime. Though Hinduism is divided on the subject, they do believe that by ending a person’s life the timing of the cycle of death and rebirth gets disturbed.

Less Care

Euthanasia is an easy route instead of finding a cure for the terminal illness. This can lead to less care for the patients. Nurses and doctors would not be dedicated enough to save people’s lives if the option of the right to die was extended to patients. This could also mean that there would be lesser motivation to fund medical research and clinical trials to find cures for these diseases.

Therefore, the pros and cons of euthanasia must be weighed in by looking at the situation and with everyone involved. Above all, the patient’s condition, the family involved, and the doctor that has to administer it – all of this has to be taken into consideration.

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Pros and Cons

PROS

CONS

Right to die

Scope for Misuse

No Suffering

Can be Premature

Last Resort

Religious Beliefs

More Control

Less Care

No Problem Legalizing it