History and Background:
Euthanasia is a debatable topic since the ages of ancient Greek. In the late 19th century, Samuel Williams was the first to introduce the use of lethal drugs and injections to end a patient’s life intentionally. Since then, the topic gained popularity in the United States and Britain, leading to an appeal in the Ohio bill to legalize euthanasia. The bill was eventually defeated; however, the argument hasn’t lost its prominence.
In 1997, the Supreme Court of the United States of America declared euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide as prohibited acts. This was followed by the state of Oregon to experiment with legalization of physician-assisted suicide. However, the Supreme Court’s decision encouraged seven other states to forbid euthanasia. Many attempts to legalize euthanasia has failed, including rejection of bills introduced in the 1990s.
The problem is with the different circumstances of every case applying for euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide. Patients suffer from physical and mental pain due to their incurable illness and irreversible life events, therefore, Australian democratic government allowed the actions of euthanasia under special circumstances.
However, by 1997, the law was soon declared ineffective and removed. Fortunately, this encouraged the legalization of euthanasia in other countries including the Netherlands (2001), Belgium (2002) and Luxembourger (2009), as well as three states in the United States, i.e., Oregan, Vermont, and Washington.
Identifying the problem:
According to surveys, most patients who are prescribed lethal injections or those who apply for euthanasia are motivated by their hopelessness of getting better, to control the circumstances of their death and to ease their pain. The patients were afraid of being a burden on their family and avoid further costs of their treatment.
The primary argument for euthanasia is the unbearable pain caused by incurable diseases a patient has to go through. The debate questions whether people should be forced to live? Why is it that taking someone’s right to live is illegal but not snatching their right to die?
While, many Americans and people around the world support euthanasia as it can ease the pain of death and eliminate the patient’s suffering; however, others see it as no different than murder or committing suicide and passing on the pain to their loved ones. That is the major problem with the right to die. A patient leaves behind his family and friends that will probably be against the decision of death. It is essential to comprehend that it is the patient’s life and so it should be his choice to live or die. Most people across the globe vote against euthanasia because of religious or moral reasons. Usually, the main concern lies with the terminally ill patients who are in the last stage of their lives and request doctors to aid them with euthanasia. It is a matter of grief that people are in extreme torment and that the only way out of the torment is through suicide.
Modern medicine has done a great favor to mankind as it has increased the lifespan of humans. Today respirators can support falling lungs and keep patients alive. Some patients do have a realistic chance of surviving; however, some patients have little to no chance of getting better, and the treatment only increases their agony and suffering. Delaying death is not always the best option for them when they’re only breathing.
The Opposition of Euthanasia:
People who are against the right to die do not support the concept of euthanasia and question its ethics. They argue that a doctor aiding its patient’s death is against their code of conduct and the Hippocratic Oath. This oath is not followed by many doctors as it also forbids the use of toxic treatments like chemotherapy that can be beneficial for patients.
According to the opposition, party euthanasia corrupts doctor-patient relationship by mistrust. However, Chery Smith, in her response to this accusation, advocates assisted suicide saying that patients who can discuss such issues with their doctors are more likely to develop a good relationship with their doctor and trust their approach. A dying patient is aware that the doctor’s job is to relieve pain, and permitting the doctor is a sign of trust.
Other opponents of euthanasia emphasize on the abuse of such laws. Patients might take such decisions due to their financial crisis. This argument stands strong, but it is also important to respect the patient’s choice since it is in his best interest. If the dying patient is a burden on his family’s wealth and sees that his loved-ones are in pain while he waits for his death, he can choose to end the agony of both, his and his loved ones.
The most unfortunate and upsetting statement that the opponents of euthanasia presents show their lack of sympathy and comprehension of the issue. They believe that the right to die should not be given to anyone at all. The opposition thinks that seeing death as the only option is a sign of weakness and childlike behavior, and call euthanasia an undignified death.
Depression and hopelessness is the main promoter of euthanasia among patients, but this anxiety is the consequence of unbearable pain, never-ending illness and no sign of improvements.
Call to action: Raising Awareness
There is a high possibility that a patient’s condition might be considered incurable by the doctors he can access or the healthcare system he can afford. Hence, it is necessary to improve the healthcare systems first. Secondly, if there is even a 1% chance of the patient’s survival, they should be asked to reconsider the option.
Spreading awareness regarding euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide is essential for people to support it and encourage its legalization. The lack of respect for a terminal patient’s decision is the major obstacle to achieving the goal. People need to realize that a terminal patient deserves equal rights as a healthy citizen. It is crucial to educate the public about the suffering and pain of the dying patient and their loved ones.
Awareness about such issues can be raised through news, media and most importantly through films. Movies have the power to engage the viewer in the story, character’s feelings and understand their situations. This will help the public get a closer view of the issue and why it needs to be addressed.
The right to die must be given to every terminally ill person. This power will bless them with a controlled death. They will be able to leave this world with honor and erase the suffering of their loved ones. While the dying person can’t change how he lived or cure his sickness, he should be allowed to choose how he dies.
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