One of the numerous factors of extended lifespans of human beings is the improvement in medical technology. Medical technological improvement has led to healing patients with chronic retrogressive diseases but not all the time . Amongst the strides of medical technological improvement such as chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant, euthanasia inclusive is one of the highly controversial topics in the world and debated in various medical and media spaces and according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it is defined as the act or practice of killing terminally ill individuals in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy. It basically giving people the right to die. The word was derived from the two Greek words – eu (well) and thanatos (death) – meaning a good death . Other names given to it are mercy killing and assisted suicide. Euthanasia is usually administered to patients suffering from excruciating pain but also pertain to reasons such as life changing physical injuries and psychological factors associated with terminal illnesses . Voluntary euthanasia, non-voluntary euthanasia, involuntary euthanasia and active euthanasia are known to be different types of euthanasia . Furthermore, in some countries like: Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Colombia, Canada, the United Kingdom, India, Japan, Australia and certain states in the United States of America euthanasia is legal up to a certain degree that is voluntary euthanasia or active euthanasia. The debate on the legalization of euthanasia has a wide range of participants including physicians, experts in ethics and health law, politicians and the general public . Advocates argue that those who suffer greatly would benefit from the legalization of euthanasia. However, this essay seeks to throw light on the fact that euthanasia should not be granted because in a long run it contradicts the Hippocratic Oath and leads to the misplacement of trust among patients and doctors, the slippery slope argument and biblical facts out way the positive aspects of euthanasia. Therefore, I argue that the right to die should not be granted and euthanasia should be banned.
In the light of events, euthanasia contradicts the physician’s Hippocratic Oath and undermines the medical profession thus leading to the delicate destruction of the patient-doctor relationship. The Hippocratic Oath is an oath created by and named after Greek philosopher and physician Hippocrates, who is also known as the father of medicine in the western part of the world. It is recited by physicians to guarantee medical conduct to their patients . When doctors or physicians administer euthanasia, they violate the oath in the sense that, the Hippocratic order “do no harm” is a foundation of a medical expert’s obligation of care, an obligation in which the legalization of euthanasia will upend and a patient’s life could be ended . Also, if euthanasia is legalized, it will demoralize the medical practice and weaken the patient-doctor relationship and such a relationship is essential in the medical practice. Medicine is dutiful to healing and the improvement of human health and using it to cause pre-mature death contravenes its rudimental values . The Hippocratic Oath is put in place to guard patients and society by noting that doctors or physicians are not supposed to deliberately end a patient’s life but instead their obligation is to act on the patient’s best interests till their natural death. But once euthanasia is legalized, doctors will be able to put it out as an option to patients more, rather than other possible means . This makes patients, especially terminally ill patients, lose trust in their doctors because they think their doctors will want to hasten their death if all other possible means fail. All of this will lead to the change of view of medicine in the eyes of the public and doctors and will lead to the distrust of doctors among patients.
On the other hand, advocates of euthanasia agree it should be legalised in respect to the human rights of the patient. Human rights were established as a declaration of liberty and to be utilized to ensure freedom from assaults on one’s life, nobility or property. They are considered to apply to every person or equivalent groups equally and are unrestricted and forced on others as an obligation to respect them . They argue that since society is committed to recognize the rights of the patient and respect their decisions, if a person decides he or she wants to end their life, it therefore should be allowed being that he or she is the sole owner of one’s life . This is commonly identified as an expression of autonomy, that is, one’s right to make decisions on their own without outward forces influencing them. A capable adult can refuse medical treatment, even in circumstances where this could bring about his or her demise. It is immoral to force people to continue to live while through agonising pain and suffering when there is an option to relieve them of that pain. This disrupts their personal freedoms and human rights . In situations where the patient is suffering from an incurable illness or ailment where intensive treatment such as palliative care will not affect their lives positively, they should be allowed to choose euthanasia as its their right. Restricting them of the right to choose will be forcing them to suffer, which would be punishing and a contradiction to their human right. Every individual has the right to choose and in cases of individuals going through agonising pain, the main objective of society and healthcare providers should be relieving the patient of that pain rather than preserving their life and making them suffer till their actual death.
Another reason why euthanasia should not be legalized is that it will lead to the slippery slope argument. According to (Pereira 2011), the slippery slope argument is a complex legitimate and philosophical notion that normally affirms that one exception to a law is followed by further exceptions until it reaches a point where initially it would have been unacceptable . The slippery slope argument of euthanasia is that if euthanasia is legalized, more importantly voluntary and active euthanasia, it would later lead to the slippery slope of involuntary and non-voluntary euthanasia being accepted years later . Voluntary and active euthanasia is administered with the consent of the patient whilst involuntary euthanasia and non-voluntary euthanasia is administered without the consent and against the will of the patient . The decision to have euthanasia administered is left in the hands of the patient’s family members, doctors or physicians. This results in people getting euthanized when they don’t wish to die due to the abuse of that power that doctors, or physician have . Euthanasia is usually administered to terminally ill patients, but its legalization will lead it administered to certain groups such as the old, the incapacitated, the disabled (both adults and children) as well as patients going through emotive distress who do not and cannot ask for it . An occurrence was in the Netherlands, where euthanasia is legalised, no less than 1000 patients were killed each year by euthanasia without consent over a 10-year time frame from 1991-2001 . Euthanasia promotes the devaluation of human life, particularly for the vulnerable in society. It will be considered as a treatment option for not only those with terminal illnesses but for people with illnesses that can be cured by treatment and once it starts, it cannot be stopped.
In contrast, advocates of euthanasia believe the legalization of euthanasia eliminates pain and suffering. Unbearable pain and suffering are a standout amongst the most incessant reasons why euthanasia is requested. There is a vast difference between pain and suffering that being, pain is considered being moderately objective whilst suffering is an unclear and divisive idea . According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, pain is typically restricted to physical suffering related to bodily disorder like an ailment or injury whilst suffering, according to Oxford Dictionary, is the state of undergoing pain, distress or hardship usually related to mentality. It would be brutal and unjustifiable to make terminally ill patients bear the unendurable pain they experience, especially patients who suffer from incurable sicknesses like Human Immune Deficiency Syndrome(HIV), dementia (which is mostly associated with old age) and cancer, or conditions where intensive treatment would not relieve them of the pain thus affecting their quality of life . Also, old age can be a factor to experiencing unbearable pain. Nowadays, people are living longer than they are used to and we realize that occasionally exceptionally old people are experiencing not only physical condition but also a wide range of minor ailments like poor vision or hearing, arthritis and a wide range of age-related medical issues. All these illnesses affect the person’s life negatively thus opting for euthanasia to put him or her out of misery . In relation to family dependency burden, most patients believe that to end dependency burden among the family, euthanasia is the best option. In cases where the family does not have enough funds to pay the medical bills, their ill family member believes that if euthanasia is administered, it will take away the burden off the family. More often than not, patients found in this situation allow their thoughts to take a better part of the decision they make especially in a situation like this. Some significant components that gives off an impression on how most patients suffer are: uncontrolled side effects, mental misery and existential endurance .
Notably, on religious grounds, euthanasia is seen as a sin both in Christianity and Islam. In relation to Christian faith, human life is a gift from God, must be preserved and saved and only He can take it away. Human beings don’t decide when and how they are born neither should they decide when they die . The Catholic Church has demonstrated suicide as a mortal sin, the only sin that we many confer without having a chance to repent . It is seen as awful as suicide, whatever the causes or reason to end one’s life so quickly. It is obvious that the value of life amid Christian understanding drives away from euthanasia . As said in Genesis 1:26-27 (NLT),
26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our own image, to be like us. They would reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” 27 So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created; male and female he created them.
This rightfully explains why only God has the decision and power to take away our lives by explaining how we are created in His image and highlighting the significance of human life and life as a gift from God and also stating we not being the owners of our bodies, but rather stewards of it, as well as emphasising the valuableness and sacredness of human life . In relation to Islam faith, it is stated in the Quran that a Muslim is aware that any pain apparent in their life is a test of Allah to confirm the faith and spiritual state of mind of a Muslim . Suicide is seen as a sin, as is murder and cannot be forgiven when it happens. A Muslim should not end their life due to misery and hopeless feelings from the pain they are going through. Since the Quran states that a Muslim knows his or her body, it shall be known when the end of life is near and so he or she must not interfere with the process. This right to die is not argued in Islam because they believe life is a wonderful gift from Allah and the physical body will return back to Him when He pleases .
Despite all this, advocates believe it should be legalized due to the fact that it relieves the patient of pain and suffering and also it is the patients human right to choose. In conclusion, the legalization of euthanasia should not be taken into consideration due to the fact that it contradicts the Hippocratic Oath which leads to misplacement of trust among patients and doctors. It also leads to the slippery slope of involuntary and non-voluntary euthanasia and goes against the beliefs of two most popular religions; Christianity and Islam. Hence, I stand on these points that euthanasia should not be legalized.