Thursday, July 28, 2011
Euthanasia- By Allyson New
Providing assistance to one’s suicide, regardless of age, is a very controversial issue in the United States and in other parts of the worlds. While others disagree, under certain circumstances Euthanasia is a personal, dignified choice and should only be considered as a last resort option, when death is inevitable, and the suffering is too much to bear.
When pain becomes constant in a person’s body and their quality of life is slowly wearing down, euthanasia can begin to seem like a reasonable solution. “The principle of mercy requires that pain and suffering be relieved to the extent possible.”(Battin, Margaret). Whether the situation involves a young, terminally ill child, or an elderly person whose every breath is dependent on a respirator, they along with their families are forced to realize their paths of life are soon to end. Although letting nature take its course, is the opinion of some on the issue of assisted-suicide and that doctors should not be at the hand of death, others believe “physician assistance in bringing about death is to be provoked just when the person voluntarily seeks it and just when it serves to avoid pain and suffering”(Somerville, Margaret). Death at the hands of a doctor can be unimaginable and some might even say it’s unethical. But, when life can no longer be lived, or for that matter enjoyed, why should physicians be criticized for being so-called murderers? They were respecting the patient’s wishes, and what was best for them was kept in mind. “A typical case might involve an irreversibly brain-damaged newborn, who, instead of dying as expected, lingers on, suffering terribly. In such cases, some doctors feel obligated to hasten death”(Magne, Charles).
Infants are obviously not given a choice when it comes to the issue of assisted-suicide, and can’t defend themselves when euthanasia is presented as an option but, for older patients, they’re given a choice. “Proponents of assisted-dying point to autonomy and mercy. The principle of autonomy holds that people are entitled to be the architects, as much as possible, of how they die.”(Battin, Margaret). It is not always logical but, we live in a world today that allows it. Euthanasia “may feel like something the patient can openly choose…we live in a society that tolerates many obfuscation and hypocrisies, and this may be another we ought to embrace” (Battin, Margaret). Instead of recognizing the negative possibilities to assisted-suicide, “a better approach might be…developing quality palliative care programs that can address the holistic needs of seriously ill and dying persons as well as the concerns of their families”(Hamel,Ronald). Individuals don’t choose life but, they have a choice in how to live it. No matter how far they travel, when someone decides the end of the road is near, their paths should not be blocked by laws and ignorance.
The financial costs of a long-term illness can be overwhelming and “leave people in debt. That makes ethicists fear that euthanasia might be requested for financial reasons”(Magne, Charles). Assisted-suicide is not the greatest solution for getting out of debt but, in the long-run, it can free up medical funds to help others. The life of a person should not be reliant on machines or constant struggles with disabilities. “The mere fact that a means was capable of sustaining life did not necessarily mean it was beneficial to the person” (Hamel, Ronald). Life is an incredibly valuable thing, and those who make it worthwhile are worth even more. But, what happens when the weak cannot get stronger and the sick can no longer get healthier? At that point, medical funds would be of much better use benefitting life, rather than sustaining one that can no longer be helped.
On October 5, the Oregon law allowing doctors to prescribe lethal injections for dying patients will be challenged by the opponents who strongly believe it is murder. Although “most states…recognize a patient’s right to withdraw unwanted life support machinery”, they prohibit the action of hastening death (Lavi, Shai). Dying is a natural process, and many believe it should remain that way. A major concern for doctors injecting death is the abuse of power and it “risks undercutting the integrity of the medical profession”(Battin, Margaret). When all the options have been weighed and debated on whether or not machines and hospitals should run the rest of what very fragile life elderly and terminally ill patients have left, it is no surprise to hear “institutional or social pressures might make people victims of assisted-dying they did not want”(Battin, Margaret). As euthanasia became more and more accepted in society, peer pressure became constant for the lives of patients who were consumed by the walls of the hospitals. With no way out for the terminally ill, they were unable to escape the words they tried so hard to block out. The walls of their hospital room transformed into a high school, full of pressure and the inability to decide for themselves.
Not only does euthanasia end life, but, it manages to devalue humans in the process. Experiencing pain is part of being a person, so why should lives have to and want to end of something we were created to experience? Rabbi Michael Goldberg, a former hospital chaplain believes, “A great deal of the suffering at the end of life is either self-inflicted or inflicted by friends and relatives, it’s not due to disease.” The option of death appeals to patients because they may feel they do not want to burden their families. Lives should not end because the pain is persistent, and for lives to reserve the right to commit assisted-suicide, pushes the limits on freedom of choice.
Whether or not doctors should inject lethal medication in patients who might or might not have requested it is a widely discussed topic, and will continue to be for years to come. There is no right or wrong, Euthanasia is a difficult decision, and when doctors, religion, families and hospitals are all a part of the discussion of assisted-suicide the choice becomes even more painfully difficult. Many forget patients are human beings capable of making life changing decisions and although the answer will not be easy for everyone to digest, the best thing to do is respect the last requests of their patient.