Permissability of Euthanasia in the Society

Updated on January 22, 2019
Kevin Ouda profile image

Kevin is a freelance writer with bias on social and political sciences topics. I have written for over five years on different topics.

Ethically, passive euthanasia is acceptable by a majority of people because they believe the act leaves the death of a patient to the will of God.

Moral permissibility of physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia has been a topic of controversy for many decades. Scholars have defined euthanasia in many ways with some supporting the practice while others oppose it. Euthanasia can be loosely defined as the practice where medical personnel prescribe a lethal dose of medication to patients with their permission to end their life. There are many reasons why a doctor can administer a deadly drug to a suffering patient: Due to suffering from old age, suffering from terminal diseases, agony from an accident, as well as others. The paper tries to address the permissibility of euthanasia with respects to ethical morals governing life. Physician-assisted suicide is permissible and should be legalized.

Practices of euthanasia are grouped into three major categories including; voluntary, non-voluntary, voluntary, and involuntary euthanasia. Involuntary euthanasia the act is performed with the permission of the patient while involuntary euthanasia involves performing the act of assisted suicide without the consent of the patient. On the other hand, non-voluntary euthanasia is an act of ending a life of a suffering patient who is not in a position to give permission. Further, there are two groups of euthanasia which include active euthanasia and passive euthanasia. Active euthanasia is an intentional act where lethal life-ending drugs are administered while passive euthanasia involves voluntary withdrawal or withholding of medical treatments that prolong a patient's life resulting in death. Ethically, passive euthanasia is acceptable by a majority of people because they believe the act leaves the death of a patient to the will of God. On the other hand, critics claim that active euthanasia is not morally right since the doctor participate directly in the death of a patient.

This article will argue in favor of the moral permissibility of voluntary active euthanasia. However, this article will also consider the general opposition to voluntary active euthanasia. For doctors to perform euthanasia, they have to follow the provisions of the law: Firstly, in carrying out euthanasia, the law requires doctors to diagnose a patient who is suffering from a terminal disease as having a life expectancy of approximately six months, and another doctor must ascertain the claim. Secondly, the patient must apply for euthanasia ones in writing and two times orally with waiting periods of two weeks between every request. Thirdly, the prescribing doctor must ascertain the mental competence of the patient before making the decision. Fourth, the law requires the patient to take the life-ending drugs on their own. Lastly, there have to be a presence of two impartial witnesses who are not potential successor, employees of the hospital where the drug is administered, or relatives. Presently, physician-assisted suicide is legal in states such as Washington, Oregon, Vermont, and Montana with Oregon having the longest record of physician-assisted suicide.

Before reflecting on the ethical permissibility of euthanasia, we must first consider the meaning of life. Most medical personnel define being alive as continued functioning of the brain. At this point, we get another term- living. And there is a difference between being alive and living. A question that must be answered first is that: Though a person's brain may still be functioning and they are breathing, their life is filled with suffering and with no optimism of happiness, would we consider that truly living? Most people would agree that independence is crucial although living a full life involves many aspects. Agreeably, the ability of human being to be in command of their own body and do what pleases them, so long as what they do does not hurt others, is essential to the existence of human beings.

Other than that, what is the situation if people can no longer perform activities that they love like eating, walking, talking or even laughing? Loss of autonomy affects the sense of the dignity of a human directly. However, critics dispute this claim and state that loss of autonomy is part of growing old while patients with terminal illnesses do not subscribe to that reasoning. Consequently, according to a study done by the Public Health Division of Oregon, patients with terminal diseases when questioned about their opinion on the end of life and they reported; loss of memory, loss of enjoy-ability for activities, and loss of dignity in order of decreasing significance as their concerns. Consequently, there is an apparent distinction between prolonging one’s death and prolonging their life.

Additionally, there are other points of view to euthanasia that need to be considered such as a utilitarian view of less suffering and comparing humans’ and animals’ euthanasia. The utilitarian approach is focused on decreasing suffering and increasing happiness to the highest degree as possible. The strategy argues that euthanasia is morally ethical because it is aimed at decreasing suffering to patients. However, it is correct to say that freedom, justice, and rights of human beings, especially patients, in this case, are equally crucial. However, in states where assisted suicide is practised, the law provides that the act maintains justice and protects the rights of critically ill patients and not permitting them to decide when their life in suffering should end denies them their rights.

Preventing patients from deciding when their life should end when they are in agony, and suffering increases their suffering and for every person that is involved. In the case of animal euthanasia, the act is performed to end their suffering, and at old age, the situation only gets worse. Consequently, in case of pets, humans may feel discordant because of the love they have for them, but it would be arguably in their best interest- to end their suffering. This logic could still be applied to human beings although many people would claim that humans are not equal in any aspect of life because of morality and mental capability. Although humans are superior to animals in issues of morality and mental capability, both beings are sentient. The argument for assisted suicide and euthanasia should, however, be conducted justly through agreement and the doctors performing euthanasia should have the highest moral convictions.

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    © 2019 Kevin Ouda

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