Leslie is an online writer who covers a variety of cultural and economic topics.
While researching human euthanasia, I scoured the internet looking for facts. I wanted one piece of scientific data that could possibly prove that human euthanasia has a place in the medical profession. Unfortunately, everything I found was nothing more than an opinion—sometimes masked as a fact.
There are two opposing views regarding human euthanasia:
- It’s unfortunate but humane. Humans have a right to choose.
- It’s wrong.
I don’t know that a clear choice regarding legislation can be made because there is an inability to take our opinions out of it.
So, I do not have scientific evidence, but I can tell you that human euthanasia feels wrong to me. I can logically see both sides of the argument. Terminally ill patients should not have to suffer, but why not hold out hope for a cure? I am scared of what comes after human euthanasia, I am apprehensive about putting a price on human life (health care cost containment), and I am concerned about how doctors will cope with such contradictory responsibilities. These aspects of the argument prevent me from accepting human euthanasia as a “medical treatment.”
Though the “slippery slope” is often brushed aside as a weak argument because it does not actually happen, I am unable to alleviate my concern for what the next step would be. According to the International Task Force, there are currently opportunities for NOT terminally ill patients to get help with their suicides, with the only criteria being an “unbearable illness.” (International Task Force: FAQ, 2004). Couldn’t Tourette’s syndrome be considered unbearable? Dementia? Paralysis? As well as stage four cancer? Who draws the line between unfortunate and unbearable?
I also do not like the prospect that a parent could potentially choose human euthanasia for their sick child. (This is a likely scenario if human euthanasia becomes legal because parents almost always make medical decisions for their children and legal human euthanasia would be considered “medical treatment.”) The slippery slope theory is a point of disquiet for me when I consider the idea of legalizing human euthanasia.
Some opine that the next step with human euthanasia is “health care cost containment.” With healthcare issues at the forefront of the Administration’s mind, I wonder if cost containment goes hand-in-hand. Will my grandmother be “put down” because she cannot be a productive member of society?
In addition to my fears of what is down the road from human euthanasia, I worry about the added stress to the medical profession. It is a contradiction that a doctor would swear an oath to help, save, and protect life but at the same time have the option to take life. (Pregnant Pause, 2000). Do teachers have the right to abuse our children? Would a CEO ever work to decrease profits? What if, instead of protecting us, police officers went on citizen-killing sprees? It seems impossible to me that a doctor could both heal and intentionally kill on the same day.
I do not have any personal experience with this issue to draw upon. I do not have statistics or medical research to back up my opinion. I just know that whenever I think of a doctor helping a patient die, my stomach churns.
- Euthanasia: Euthanasia is the intentional killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit.
- Voluntary euthanasia: When the person who is killed has requested to be killed.
- Non-voluntary: When the person who is killed made no request and gave no consent.
- Involuntary euthanasia: When the person who is killed made an expressed wish to the contrary.
- Assisted suicide: Someone provides an individual with the information, guidance, and means to take his or her own life with the intention that they will be used for this purpose. When it is a doctor who helps another person to kill themselves it is called "physician-assisted suicide."
- Euthanasia By Action: Intentionally causing a person's death by performing an action such as by giving a lethal injection.
- \Euthanasia By Omission: Intentionally causing death by not providing necessary and ordinary (usual and customary) care or food and water.
Rita L. Marker and Kathi Hamlon. Frequently Asked Questions. International Task Force. May 16, 2006 <http://www.internationaltaskforce.org/faq.htm>.
AMA: Anti-Euthanasia, Pro-Pain Control. Pregnant Pause. May 16, 2006. http://www.pregnantpause.org/euth/amagomez.htm
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2009 Leslie Broussard