Is it wrong to intentionally kill a person with their consent in order to relieve that person’s suffering from agonizing pain? Imagine a loved one suffering in a state of coma. The doctor has discovered that he or she is in a vegetative state with no hope of recovery. Neither you nor the patient’s family has their living will regarding prolonged medical treatment. What do you recommend on this issue? Do you suggest he or she undergo euthanasia or suffer forever in a vegetative state until a natural death? Euthanasia has long been a controversial issue of medical ethics. What is euthanasia? Licensed doctors and physicians perform euthanasia by assisting the death of a terminally ill or suffering patient. Euthanasia can be broken down into two main methods: passive and active. Within these methods are several forms of euthanasia: voluntary, involuntary, and non-voluntary. Euthanasia performed with permission of the patient regarding wishes to end their life is termed voluntary euthanasia. Voluntary euthanasia will not forgo if the patient signs a living will affirming his or her wishes regarding life prolonging medical therapy. Involuntary euthanasia is the killing of a patient against their will and without their permission. Family members, close relatives, and doctors will decide in the cases of involuntary and non-voluntary euthanasia. The practices of euthanasia can drastically reduce suffering patients in hospitals, while increasing medical funds for treatable and curable patients. If a patient is suffering from unbearable pain with no hope of a better quality of life, it is unethical to allow them to continue living in agony.
How does active and passive euthanasia differ in terms of morality? Passive euthanasia takes place when a physician reduces or eliminates the treatment and medication of keeping the patient alive. Sometimes physicians turn off life supporting machines and other times, they deprive a patient of food or water. In doing so, a patient would not have the supporting nutrients to stay alive, which will lead to death by starvation and dehydration. Active euthanasia occurs when physicians prescribe antibiotics, morphine, or chemotherapy that will painlessly kill the patient. Many religions deem it wrong and unethical because it is an intentional act of murdering a human life. In contrast, passive euthanasia is not a deliberate act of murder, but an act of “allowing death” to occur. In fact, death is inevitable and happens daily by means of natural and unnatural causes. Cancer, aids, murder, and natural disasters are all causes of death. Anyhow, the either two methods, “allowing to die” or intentional termination of life, equally results in death. The more dignified death is by active euthanasia; however, the more ethical is by passive euthanasia. The use of active euthanasia is a more dignified way of death because it is quicker and painless, whereas, passive euthanasia is rather slow and dreadful. Depriving patients from food is inhumane and unacceptable. In reality, it is morally wrong to kill, but it is equally wrong to allow someone to die in a long anguishing pain. The point of euthanasia is for a patient to die with pride and harmony, thus, active euthanasia is more appropriate.
Medical funds and access to medical resources will increase with the legalization of euthanasia. A vast majority of incurable and untreatable patients occupy in medical resources causing a shortage of hospices for others. In reality, many treatable patients have no place to stay and struggle to find a convenient hospice. With the increase of medical funds, more treatable patients will heal and recover. Hospices would change to being a joyous place for treatable patients, instead of the gloomy and unhappy place that it has always described to be. With the increased recovery of patients, there will be less worry, stress, and emotional pain. The elderly and patients should not feel vulnerable to doctors and physicians. When there is a legalization of euthanasia, there must be a law to regulate the acts of euthanasia. Doctors should not abuse the rights of euthanasia by changing the right-to-die into a right-to-kill. As long as there is a regulation for the rules of euthanasia, hospices would not be a vulnerable place for the deceased and elderly. In all euthanasia cases, physicians should first determine the patient’s decision by request. Only the patient should have the right to decide euthanasia because it is their life, not others. As far as consent goes, a conscious and competent patient should have full authority whether or not to undergo euthanasia, unless it is a case of non-voluntary euthanasia involving a patient in a permanent vegetative state. If a conscious and competent patient gives consent and truly wishes to die, it should not be constrained. Euthanasia is a right to die and freedom of choice, in which everyone has the right to choose when and how he or she wants to end his or her life. If so, do children and teenagers have the right to choose to die? A legalization of euthanasia would not be any different from the legalization of alcohol and cigarette smoking. In reality, children and teenagers are not mature and stable enough to make proper choices that adults can. In a sense, it is like telling a child they must meet the required age limit before he or she can die. Similarly, a person must be at least twenty-one years of age to drink, sixteen to operate a vehicle, and eighteen to smoke a cigarette. An adolescent must be sixteen years of age or older to die. By the time, a teenager turned to be sixteen and is legally permitted to die by euthanasia, they might realize their immature thoughts were bizarre. This is absurd, but the law prohibits underage adolescents to commit to a careless decision. Furthermore, euthanasia is a right to die and freedom of choice for patients who are in misery from an incurable disease. Euthanasia should be limited to those only who are suffering and terminally ill. Euthanasia is a right to die in goodness to relieve pain and torment. Severe depression and emotional issues are treatable with the support of a psychiatrist, but physically incurable diseases cannot. People who commit suicide act in depression and emotion. Suicidal people are not physically suffering from a disease or pain, but emotionally suffering from depression. This is the reason euthanasia should only be limited to the elderly and those who are physically suffering. Euthanasia should be carried out on patients who are unable to live competently and independently.
In one case of euthanasia, a patient, Terri Schindler Schiavo, collapsed at her home in full cardiac arrest due to a bulimia disorder. She fell into a coma and a persistent vegetative state. This case was an indecisive type of euthanasia. In my opinion, it had conducted morally wrong. In one instance, the Schindlers’ personal attorney reported that Terri Schiavo had cried and screamed for life the day before the feeding tube was scheduled for removal. As reported by Barbara Weller, “She just started yelling, ‘I waaaannt, I waaaannt.’” In a sense, it was easy to comprehend what she wanted. She verbally expressed her will of wanting to live, but the doctors and physicians begged to differ. Doctors stated she was not competent and aware enough to make a justifiable decision. It was morally wrong of the judge’s decision to have her feeding tube removed. She might not have been fully aware or conscious of her surroundings, but she had emotions of sadness, joy, and laughter. The tears from her eyes were enough to show her consent of wanting to live. However, she was in a state with no hope for recovery. More than half of her brain had scarred and deteriorated; there was no cure or treatment in medical science that could have helped her gain a better quality of life. She was in such misery; her death should have happened much sooner than it did. It was dreadful and morally wrong, but in the end, her death was the right choice.
Should there be a legalization of euthanasia? Voluntary euthanasia should be the only form of euthanasia permitted. However, physicians should not instinctively dismiss the other forms of euthanasia. Voluntary euthanasia should be allowed, while involuntary and non-voluntary should be monitored and limited to an extent. If the patient signs a living will expressing their concern to cease life support and genuinely wish to end their life, doctors should grant it. In reality, it is wrong to kill a person without that person’s consent, but it is equally wrong to allow them to suffer. Euthanasia not only relieves the pain of the patients, but also relieves all stress and worry associated with the patient. Euthanasia eases all emotional and financial worries of friends and family that revolves around a patients’ suffering. If a person is in a coma or vegetative state and unable to give consent, either written or verbally, euthanasia should not be discussed if there is even a slight chance for recovery. A miraculous heal can happen at any time. If there is advancement in medical technology that can treat terminally ill patients, better their quality of life, and replace lost motor neurons, euthanasia would not even be considered a choice. Stem cell treatment is the closest to a miraculous treatment there is, but until there is a legalization of stem cell research, there should be a legalization of euthanasia. Non-voluntary euthanasia can be limited in a way where only patients in a vegetative state, who are unable to give consent, and with absolutely no hope for recovery should receive a dignified death with consent of family members. Non-voluntary euthanasia should only happen if the patient is inevitably on the verge of a prolonged suffering death and is diagnosed certainly with no chance of recovery. That should be the only time non-voluntary euthanasia is considered. In truth, not many people in the world would want to live the rest of their life in a vegetative state than to die, including myself. To put it simply, if I were in a permanent or even, persistent vegetative state, I would rather choose death. For terminally ill patients, death will occur eventually. The question to ponder is will one rather die a natural death suffering for a longer time or an immediate assisted death to end the pain overall? Would one rather die in pain or in peace and dignity? This difficult question could be answered only if one were to be situated in the position of a terminally ill patient. Everybody has had the feeling of pain before, such as a broken bone or chronic back-pain, but I cannot imagine the pain that bounds terminally ill and vegetative patients. In the circumstances, it would be tough to remain faithful to God.