Euthanasia as a term has the ancient Greek roots and can be translated as good death. The first country which legalized euthanasia was the Netherlands, when it first occurred in 2002. Nevertheless, this practice is not available for all people. There are three obligatory conditions that can allow a person to make this choice: a person must feel the pain that is unbearable; there is no cure for a persons illness; a person concludes that it is an option only if he or she is able to think clearly. These conditions prevent a patient from experiencing any pressure or abuse on behalf of the parties concerned. In the United States, at first, the practice of assisted suicide became legal in Oregon. This event occurred in 1997. Today, this practice is legal in many countries around the globe. Nevertheless, it has a big number of both proponents and opponents. Euthanasia should be an option for individuals who are terminally ill, including but not limited to cancer and Alzheimers patients, as it can help them avoid great pain and suffering. In addition, it is peoples right to control their lives, and it can protect their families from various difficulties related to taking care of a terminally ill person.
Euthanasia as an Option for Terminally Ill Patients
To decide whether people should have the right to go through assisted suicide, it is crucial to remember the quality of life of terminally ill patients. There are many individuals who argue that euthanasia is unethical and practicing it is morally wrong. However, most of such people are healthy, and they do not know what it is like to be a terminally ill patient. Healthy people have jobs where they can become successful; they have love partners whom they want to start family with; they can go in for sports to fight against stress or depression; they can travel to another country, if they have enough money; they can change their lives in case they are dissatisfied with it; they can spend nights visiting night clubs; or they can become activists or volunteers to help make the world better. In general, healthy people can manage their lives the way they wish, and they can also feel that they belong to the society. Terminally ill patients do not have such opportunities as their lives are miserable and full of pain. Patients who will never recover have their own definition for such concept as good health. For such individuals, to be healthy means to be able to deal with their pain, to communicate with relatives, and to remain sound in mind. Moreover, they are deprived from other joys of life. They tend to enjoy so little that only family and the absence of pain is significant to them. It is essential to mention how the last days of life can pass for individuals who choose euthanasia. They do not spend their last days in a hospital, they do not wonder what will occur after their death, they tend to either pray or meditate, they can eat without a tube, their course of chemotherapy is ended, and pastor visits them. Euthanasia is a possibility for patients who will never recover not to wait till their natural death comes, often suffering from severe pain. Euthanasia allows a person to plan his/her last day, say goodbyes to the family members, and not wait till the pain negatively influences his/her mind, as well as the ability to think clearly.
Euthanasia as an Option for Cancer Patients
To understand how a person who has terminal cancer lives, it will be essential to learn a real-life story about it. The Guardian, a reputable and well-known newspaper, presents such story to its readers. Kate Granger found out that she had cancer when she was comparatively young with her twenty-nine years old. Doctors said that her life could last for approximately fourteen months longer. For her, as well as for all other people with the similar diagnosis, staying positive and trying to smile from time to time is extremely difficult as the thought of death is always present in the mind. Granger tries not to think about it, but she never succeeds. She does not remember how she felt before she learnt her diagnosis. Every day, there is a number of issues that do not let the women forget about death. For instance, she has to take twelve pills each day, she has to go to hospital from time to time, and people surrounding her are always more sympathetic than they should be. When Granger refused to continue her palliative chemotherapy, her only dream was to live a normal life for some time and start working again. Someone might say that it is a strange desire, but healthy people seem not to value what they have. Besides returning to work, the woman tries to act as usually at home, as well. For instance, she does not ask her relatives to cook something for her or to clean her apartment. It is painful for her to realize that once she dies, she will miss so many good moments connected to her and her close people, such as, for example, the birth of her niece or the wedding of her friends. Nevertheless, regarding the fact that she does not know how much time is left, she cannot make any plans. It is possible to conclude that cancer patients are very strong people, and they are willing to fight against the disease till the end, often with the help of denial. This woman is young, and her symptoms are not so severe, but the situation can change, if they become worse. As a result, two options she has are to let the pain torture her body and mind, or to go through assisted suicide.
Euthanasia in Case of Alzheimers Disease
Many people who suffer from Alzheimers disease choose to go through assisted suicide due to several reasons. Firstly, this condition makes their quality of life extremely low. They forget about various things all the time. Sometimes it can lead to embarrassment, for instance, when a person forgets to put on some item of clothes. In other cases, the consequences can be more dangerous. For instance, a person can leave home and go in the unknown direction. In such state, a person might not notice a vehicle or even a bicycle and receive injuries. Moreover, this persons condition is very unpleasant for family members whose obligation is to take care of their close one. An ill person suffering from the given disease acts like a newborn child even though he or she is not. Thus, relatives have to watch after such person all the time for him or her not to receive a trauma or a burn. Such patients can also endanger their whole family as due to memory lapses, they can forget to switch off gas, which can lead to the fire. Surely, nobody would let this person approach a stove during the day, but at night time different unexpected things can occur. It is not clear how relatives should behave in this situation, but their options are limited, if they do not have enough money. They cannot tie a person as it is illegal and immoral; they cannot close this person in his or her room at night because this person might scare in case of waking up, and hysterics might lead to injuries; and they cannot watch a sick person at night all the time, as well as people have their lives, jobs, and responsibilities. As a result, such patients often think about committing suicide: You know I plan to kill myself, Sandy said all though 2013, whenever the thought occurred to her. Patients who do not have the option to choose euthanasia can decide to commit suicide, and from the ethical viewpoint, it is much worse.
Euthanasia Brings Relief to Relatives
There are many people who believe that euthanasia can be not only humane but also compassionate. Such people tend to support such point of view due to the fact that they faced the situation where no other solution was possible. Such situations can be connected with the fact that these people have relatives whose brain is severely damaged. For such patients, there is always a time when options of treatment other than euthanasia are no longer available. Relatives of people, who are in a vegetative state, would prefer this process to withdrawing or withholding taking medicine. Cohen et al. decided to examine how people from twelve European nations perceived this debatable practice. The researchers included the views from the following countries: France, Northern Ireland, Belgium, Ireland, Denmark, Iceland, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, and Great Britain. The results were remarkable: A significant increase in acceptance of euthanasia from 1981 over 1990 to 1999 can be observed in almost all countries. The results varied from country to country, and the average figure was twenty-two percent. The biggest number of new supporters was in Belgium, namely sixty-nine percent. The weakest increase of new supporters was in Denmark and comprised of only nine percent. Spain and Ireland showed astonishing results with fifty-two and fifty-six percent respectively. The authors of the article provide the reasons why they believe such increase occurred. They connect it with the fact that more people become educated, and they start valuing individual liberties more than before. These are the general reasons, but they vary in different countries. Thus, in Belgium, this trend appeared when people started valuing their right to self-determination and, at the same time, their religious believes ceased to be especially important. Besides, in Belgium, as well as in other countries, mass media started discussing the given issue. Public debate makes people learn that terminally ill patients have their rights, as well, and they also have the right to choose. In Germany, there were not many new supporters even though the permissiveness towards homosexuality, abortion, and divorce increased in the country. The researchers relate it to the history of the nation. It reminded people of the euthanasia program of the Nazis. Thus, history can also influence the acceptance of this practice.
Euthanasia as a Persons Ultimate Right
Swanton emphasizes that a person has the right to choose death and demonstrates his proofs with an example of Australia. First of all, a person owns his or her body. Therefore, every person is entitled to make decisions concerning it. For example, nobody prohibits people to have tattoos, or to go though plastic surgery. They can alter their bodies the way they wish with some people deciding to have a genital reconstruction surgery. All these body alternations are rather debatable, as well. Still, a person is unlikely to suffer from severe pain, if his or her nose remains a little deformed, or if there is no possibility to have a tattoo. As for euthanasia, it can really relief somebodys sufferings, so it is a persons right to choose it.
Another point is that religion cannot dictate rules to all individuals. Usually, in a country, there is one major religion. In most cases, this religion prohibits euthanasia. Considering the big number of believers, the authorities might be reluctant to allow euthanasia as many people will be strongly against this decision. However, it is not clear why believers have the right to establish the rules for irreligious people. If they are not religious, they are not obliged to follow these rules, but the authorities rarely take their rights into consideration.
Most people 80% of Australians would argue that if you are terminally ill, are of sound mind, and not clinically depressed, and choose euthanasia, then it is morally right. When it concerns euthanasia, only a particular individual can decide what is humane and what is moral, while other individuals cannot participate in making this decision. In a society that is humane, those people who care for terminally ill patients must put the individuals dignity and prevention of suffering above all.
How Famous People Treat Euthanasia
Without doubt, every famous person who often encounters reporters should have a list of ready replies that are related to a big number of controversial issues, including euthanasia. It would be too long to discuss the opinions of all stars, so it is better to choose only two of them, which relate to different spheres.
Stephen Hawking is one of the most prominent physicists of the present day, and he supports this practice. In one of his interviews, the brilliant scientist pointed out: I think those who have a terminal illness and are in great pain should have the right to choose to end their lives, and those who help them should be free from prosecution. The cosmologists life cannot be considered easy, as well. When he was twenty-one years old, doctors diagnosed that he had motor neuron disease. They also predicted that his life would last for no longer than three years. Now he is seventy-four years old, and he spent most of his life bound to the wheelchair. He communicates with the help of a sensor that is linked to a cheek muscle, which is a computerized voice system. He emphasizes that in order to go through euthanasia, it is crucial that a person is willing to do it. He remembers an instance when doctors allowed his wife to decide whether to switch off a life support machine or not as he was in a difficult condition after severe pneumonia. His wife was aware that he was a fighter, and he wanted to live, so she refused to do it. As a result, the scientist points out that no pressure must be put on a person who makes this vital decision, but such option must exist.
Ricky Gervais is a renowned British actor, producer, director, and comedian. He is well-known for playing key roles in several famous TV-series. This public person also supports euthanasia. He shares this view in one of the interviews: I believe youre the master of your own body and you should be able to die with dignity and say when youve had enough. Despite the fact that the actor is only fifty-two years old, he is pleased that he has a chance to manage his death.
Arguments against Euthanasia
At the same time, there remain many individuals who are strongly against this practice. They provide many arguments to support their opinion, and some of them seem to be rather logical. Therefore, it is worth mentioning their views, as well. Some of the opposers of assisted suicide claim that some of the statistics becomes more disturbing: In Oregon, a recent study of people who took their lives with assisted suicide revealed that one in every six were suffering from depression. Such fact is alarming as it means that there is a chance that every sixth person who chose to undergo this procedure might have thought unclearly. Thus, it is possible that one-sixth of these deaths could not be considered humane. However, the fact that those patients had a depression did not necessarily mean that it was deep enough to make them choose to die. The study indicates that in the future, specialists should pay more attention to a patients psychological state and maybe double check him or her before presenting a medical report that allows euthanasia.
The opponents of the given procedure argue that very soon, advances in modern medicine can let doctors find cures for illnesses that could not be cured earlier. Thus, the lives of terminally ill patients might become bearable in the future. Without doubt, advances in medicine are facts without contradiction. However, this argument is comparatively vague due to several reasons. Firstly, it will take a considerable amount of time till such advances become the common practice. Secondly, when it occurs, it is possible to revise the laws related to assisted suicide and add the new provisions in order to adjust them to the contemporary realities.
Assisted suicides have increased 450% in the US state of Oregon and 700% in Switzerland in the last fifteen years. In another country, where this practice is allowed, namely the Netherlands, the increase in the number of patients who choose euthanasia is even faster. The opponents of this practice connect the huge increase in such cases with the new tendency. They point out that euthanasia has turned from a choice into a duty. Such people believe that now, when such a convenient option as euthanasia exists, many patients feel that it is their duty not to be a burden for their relatives. The appearance of such feeling can threaten the patients of various groups. The first group involves patients whose relatives do not have a sufficient amount of money to support them. In this case, a person might come to a conclusion that if he or she stays alive for a longer time, then his/her relatives will most probably be in a huge debt and deprive themselves of different benefits, such as new clothes or even good nutrition for some time. Thus, a patient might not wish to die, but he or she will feel that by choosing euthanasia, the welfare of his/her family will be safe. The second group involves patients who realize that if they remain alive and their relatives will have to watch their deteriorating state, they will suffer emotionally. It may be caused by the fact that a terminally ill individual may be in great pain for several years. During all this time, his or her relatives will remain extremely stressed. The illness of their close person might have a negative effect on all the spheres of their lives. Thus, the desire of a suffering patient to relieve them of such a long-lasting and emotionally unbearable ordeal is natural. The given argument makes sense as these individuals are very vulnerable and try to take care of their relatives when their relatives should do it for them. As a result, a deep analysis conducted by psychologists can reveal the true nature of their desire to go through this procedure. In its turn, such analysis can disallow patients under pressure to make this decision.
To conclude, many opponents of euthanasia argue that it is unethical, patients might feel pressure to help their relatives, and depressed patients must not be entitled to demand it. Nevertheless, in many cases, this practice is helpful to both suffering patients and their struggling families. Terminally ill patients often have to continue living in pain when no medicine, despite all advances, can reduce it. Even such prominent figures as Stephen Hawking and Ricky Gervais, among many others, agree that individuals should have the right to choose live or die. Without doubt, the given fact may be reviewed in the future, but today, this practice is mostly advantageous.
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