Assisted suicide or euthanasia has been a topic that grabbed attention during the Covid-19 period. Over the last two years, Covid-19 has caused the involuntary deaths of thousands of people. Although this has pushed many people to take good care of their health to avoid future illnesses, it has also led a minority of people into isolation and depression. Over the past two years, the death rate has increased, but not only because of natural causes. Unnatural death with a person’s own will has also been rising in form of suicide and euthanasia. However, the question remains: Is it morally correct to take one’s own life?
The heavily laden issue of euthanasia and assisted suicide is filled with moral dilemmas and complexities. There are several types of euthanasia defined, with active voluntary euthanasia, assisted suicide, and physician-assisted suicide creating the most public discussion. In general, these terms refer to the termination of a person’s life to mitigate their suffering, usually through drugs. Euthanasia is currently illegal in several cities, mirroring the status quo in most countries, though there are a few countries and states where euthanasia is legal under certain conditions.
Understanding Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide:
The term “euthanasia” comes from Greek and means “good death.” However, in its most common sense, euthanasia refers to the termination of a person’s life in order to ease their suffering, usually from an untreatable or fatal condition. Because of this, euthanasia is also known as “mercy killing.” It describes deliberate actions taken to end someone’s prolonged suffering. Meanwhile, assisted suicide can be defined as “Intentionally helping an individual to commit suicide by providing drugs at their voluntary and competent request.” A physician can prescribe a patient a drug that they can take without the help of another person or medical provider in order to commit suicide with their own medicine. This drug usually causes unconsciousness in five minutes and death in thirty minutes.
Why Do Patients Request Physician-Assisted Suicide Or Euthanasia?
Even as society explores ways to generate and protect life, some people choose to end their own in order to end intolerable suffering that no treatment can alleviate. A longtime thought and pain have gone into this heartbreaking and difficult decision. Here are a few reasons that push people to choose suicide or euthanasia:
- Not wanting to live in pain or misery.
- Not wanting to be reliant on others for personal care.
- Depression or other mental health issues.
- Hopelessness or exhaustion with life.
- Loss of ability to maintain personal relationships
- Feelings of isolation and separation
According to several studies, problems of dignity, autonomy, and liberty, rather than unceasing pain or other symptoms, lead to requests for Physician-Assisted Suicide. Patients want to be in authority, so they keep a deadly dose of medication on hand in case their suffering gets worse over time.
Arguments to support Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide.
- Autonomy is the right of every individual: Death with Dignity Act meets all four criteria for making autonomous decisions: understanding of the intended process, ability to consider many alternatives, mental capacity, and lack of interference. Death decisions, both to time and circumstances, are deeply personal. A competent individual should be able to choose their own death.
- Due Process: Treat all cases alike in order to be just. Competent, terminally ill patients may hasten death by declining life-sustaining treatments that are difficult. For some patients, refusing therapy will not be enough to hasten death; suicide will be their only option. We must enable assisted death for such patients as a matter of justice.
- Generosity: Some physical and psychological burdens are so severe that they cause unspeakable misery and anguish. It is not always possible to lessen this type of pain. As a result, physician-assisted suicide is an act of compassion and human response to unbearable suffering.
- The disclosure of discussions: Some argue that assisted suicide already occurs but is in mystery. Morphine drips, for example, which is presumably used for pain relief, a covert form of assisted suicide, or euthanasia. That this is illegal prevents open debate in which patients and physicians could take part. Legalization would encourage honest discussion.
Arguments in Opposition of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide.
- The Preservation of Human Life: The value of human life is fundamental to the anti-euthanasia argument, and this can have both secular and religious grounds. Human life deserves the respect and preservation, according to fundamental philosophies. It is morally wrong because it goes against strong religious and secular traditions that oppose taking human life.
The Christian perspective sees life as a gift from God, and it should be taken by anyone but God himself. Like Christian belief, the Islamic faith states that “it is the sole decision of God to give life and to cause death.” They permitted withholding or withdrawing treatment when it was futile, as this is allowing death to take its natural course.
- Euthanasia is an act of murder.: Irrespective of the patient’s consent, society considers an action with the primary intention of killing another person to be inherently problematic. It refers to active voluntary euthanasia as “consenting adult killing.”
- Passive versus active Distinction: There is a significant moral distinction between passively “allowing to die” and actively “killing.” Treatment refusal or withholding treatment is justifiable because it equates to letting die (passive), whereas physician-assisted suicide is not justifiable because it equates to killing (active).
- Probability for abusive behavior: The proposition here is that certain groups of people can pressurize or force an individual into assisted suicide because they lack access to care and support.
- Cost-Cutting Strategy: Family members and health care providers who are liable to pay for treatment may encourage assisted suicide. It is important for physician-assisted suicide to remain illegal in order to protect against these abuses.
Euthanasia is a polarizing issue, with active voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide at the forefront of discussion. It has the legal status of a criminal offense in many countries, conferring murder or manslaughter charges under criminal legislation and common law around the world. In contrast, only a few countries and states have made euthanasia and assisted suicide legal. The many arguments for and against euthanasia, as well as the few that are outlined, provide only a glimpse into the ethical debate and controversy surrounding the topic of euthanasia.