Should voluntary euthanasia be legal?
Voluntary euthanasia, also known as assisted death, is a medical process which is similar to but distinct from the question should suicide be legal? In euthanasia, a person facing terminal illness has life-prolonging treatment denied and some actions by medical practitioners can active kill the patient. Does this represent a violation of doctors' commitment to do no harm or is it actually an example of it?
Euthanasia is the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering. Voluntary euthanasia is different from non-voluntary euthanasia and involuntary euthanasia in that it has the consent of the patient. Some forms of voluntary euthanasia are legal in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the US states of Oregon and Washington. Voluntary euthanasia should be legal worldwide.
Voluntary euthanasia should be legal
- Argument Every person has a fundamental right over his or her own body and life. Forbidding voluntary euthanasia would be preventing willing but unable individuals to exercise this right. The practice of euthanasia isn't expensive or complicated (quite the opposite), so society has no reason left to deny it to a willing individual.
- Argument Another reason is that the parents don't want their child to suffer so they tell them to take euthanasia.
Voluntary euthanasia should be illegal
- Argument If euthanasia were legalized, some health insurance companies would see it as a profit-enhancing and cost-saving tool. It is well known that many health insurance companies have an economic interest in denying treatment to their patients, and they routinely find excuses to do so. If euthanasia were made an alternative, then it would not be long until they start recommending it instead of more expensive treatments, even if such treatments may lead to recovery.
- Objection One still has the decision and just because ones decision could be influenced, the possibility to decide shouldn't be removed. As an example, we are always being influenced by advertisement to buy certain products, but just because it would be bad for us if we followed all those suggestions we aren't forbidden to buy the products.
- Argument If voluntary euthanasia is made legal, then it won't always be voluntary. Emotional and psychological pressures could become overpowering for depressed or dependent people. If the choice of euthanasia is considered as good as a decision as receiving care, many people will feel guilty for not choosing death. Financial considerations, added to the concern about 'being a burden', could serve as powerful forces that would lead people to 'choose' euthanasia or assisted suicide.
- Objection Dependent people already feel the pressure of 'being a burden'. The legality of the act does not bear upon serious suicidal considerations. Put another way, think about who a dependent person might be concerned with burdening. It might be their family, friends, or care providers, but certainly not the state.
- Argument Legalizing euthanasia can lead to suicide contagion. When the media portrays assisted suicide as a means of 'taking control' or claims that someone helping another person kill themselves is 'death with dignity', then society (including teenagers) is receiving the dangerous message that suicide is a legitimate answer to life's problems.
- Objection The argument relies on speculation as to the behavior of media and the behavior of society as a result. One might also speculate that the "contagion" effect is limited to adolescents, since the study also showed that the effect lessens with age.
- Objection The argument fails to show that an increase in suicide rates ought to be addressed through law (or at all).
- Argument Laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide are in place to prevent abuse and to protect people from unscrupulous medics and others.
- Objection If euthanasia were legal, abuse may arise in some instances, but your argument does not sufficiently show that it would be the norm. The mere possibility for abuse is not a reason to outlaw such a service. What your argument really suggests is the need for well regulated euthanasia and a thorough record of consent, incorporating practices that are resistant to malicious manipulation.