A recent Ipos Descarie poll showed that many of Quebec’s medical specialists are in favor of legalizing euthanasia and have a belief that the public will give support to this. In Ontario, C-384, which is a Private Member’s Bill, is forcing members of Parliament to consider whether an individual should be able to consider the prospect of euthanasia under particular conditions.
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Those people who are elderly often encounter difficult end-of-life challenges and bringing into effect such a law could have a great impact on them, as well as on those doctors that attend to them together with their families. However, the matters that concern death and dying are normally sensitive and they must be considered with extreme keenness in health care and eventually, all of us are affected. This paper is going to look at this issue of legalizing euthanasia and it is not indicated that legalizing euthanasia is not acceptable based on the fact this doing this is viewed as a lack of respect for human life. More so it is viewed that making euthanasia a legal practice is associated with many dangers as well as risks as compared to the benefits that come with it.
Legalizing Euthanasia should not be accepted
This discussion begins with looking at the meaning of the word euthanasia. “Euthanasia” has its origin in the Greek language and it means a pleasant death. It can either be active or passive. Active euthanasia involves offering a person the means to bring to an end life through assistance that could either be active or direct. On the other hand, passive euthanasia refers to not giving out treatment to a person and this is normally referred to as “letting a person die” (Kerr and McPhail, 1991).
According to Seguin (1992), we are living in a society that does not have the fondness to appreciate or acknowledge death. Assumptions do exist that implies simply can be the management of the diseases and these diseases can be cured by professionals in the medical field. This assumption can even be accompanied by the assumption that there should be the preservation of life not regarding in any way the impairment or suffering that can move with this life. It is assumed that the physicians are always in a position to have knowledge about what the patients require and that in the occurrence of death this is an indication of lack of success and such assumptions are being now challenged.
The rising medical costs and the medical-technological advances that sustain life are putting pressure on the consumers to require extra input into their course of treatment in terms of seeking substitutes to suffering that is prolonged and this has brought about the issue of keenly considering euthanasia as being one of the alternatives that need to be resorted to. In time to come, the people having diseases that can not be cured will be in a position to foretell their likely outcome before they turn out to be incapacitated. According to Seguin (1992), this may give confidence to some people to want to have more direct input into their treatment and in this case to opt for the support to die. Studies carried out also indicate that people encounter their greatest costs in terms of health care in the last period of their life. As the population grows old and the health care costs, as well as needs, go higher, this will lead to a decreased number of people in the workforce who gives out tax revenue that is needed for the delivery of health care. Therefore, the consumers will experience pressure to encounter the reality that will indicate that no adequate health care amount of money will exist to cater for them in the usual way they are used to.
However, this view has been opposed by several people and among them being the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago. According to Anonymous (Lawmakers confirm house health care bill promotes euthanasia among elderly, 2009), Cardinal Joseph put forth an argument that some governments are sending out a clear message that they can save costs by giving encouragement to individuals to encounter death at an earlier time than they would have. Instead of these governments regarding life with reference and cherishing it, they are subjecting the human life to what the cardinal refers to as “utilitarian cost-benefit calculus” and this life can be given up to provide for fiscal policy and the holy vital trimming of a budget
More so, in considering legalizing euthanasia, there is a great hardship associated with legalizing euthanasia. For instance, in Canada according to Criminal Code, R.S.C.(1970), “No person is entitled to consent to havhavingath inflicted on him, and such consent does not affect the criminal responsibility of any person by whom death may be inflicted on the person by whom consent is given.” This code goes on to give a provision that each and every person who gives counsel to another person to allow him or herself to die or assists a person to kill himself or herself, whether or not suicide results, is not innocent of an indictable crime and qualifies to go to prison for a period of up fourteen years (Criminal Code, R.S.C, 1985).
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There is a great need to evaluate once again these sections since they offer protection for the susceptible, but on the other hand offer prevention to other people who may have solid reasons related to medical affairs for them to give consideration of euthanasia from looking for help with death (Seguin, 1992).
However, in the process of evaluating these sections, there must be consideration of the arguments put forth in regard to being against euthanasia. The argument against this is that active euthanasia will bring about higher h level of killing of all those people the society deems to be not fit, those who are depressed, or deemed to be a burden. For instance, those people who are elderly may see themselves as a big burden to their families or to society in general and make a choice for euthanasia to be carried out on them as the best option to end all these. According to (Allmark, 1993), the vulnerable groups as well, those who are impaired, those who are in comas, and those people who are disabled may be in danger. Accepting killing the people who are vulnerable could bring about a horrible dehumanization of society.
According to Smith, Alter, and Harder (1994), in the year 1991 an ,Alberta physicians survey showed that about 51 percent of those people conducted had a feeling that the law should be amended to give room for active euthanasia in the case where the patient requests. However, in the current days, the physicians see this as going contrary to the Hippocratic Oath and may as well look at death as defeat.
More so, asen there is support in Canada for the legalization of euthanasia, according to Lewis (2009), many of the people who are in for the legalization of euthanasia are still having concerns that the sick, those who are disabled and the elderly people could be killed without themselves agreeing. According to him, the Environics Research Group poll established that 55 percent of those people who showed strong support for the legalization of euthanasia had worries that s substantial number of people could be killed without their consent, against their wishes. Supporters of euthanasia feels that the government should come up with better painkilling methods..More so, this survey indicates that 56 percent of the Canadian people, both those who are in support and those who were not in support, aired out some concern that the elderly people will have to feel to be forced to agree euthanasia in order to bring down the costs associated with health care.
According to Somerville (2009), making euthanasia legal would destroy the basic societal value of respect for human life. Among the reasons that are significant to offer protection to health care institutions is the reason that these institutions create and carry value and form consensus for the society in general. Medicine and law based institutions are believed to hold respect for the human life in the general society. Therefore carrying out law amendment to allow the medical experts to carry out euthanasia would severely affect the power of these institutions to bear that value.
Somerville (2009) goes on to say that in summary people need to be concerned about how legalizing euthanasia will have to impact on the institution of medicine, not just in favor of offering protection to it for its own sake, but because of the injury to the society as well that destruction to the profession would bring about. The absolute rejection by the medical professionals of the intentional imposing death is quite vital for maintaining the trust of people and that of the society in general in the medical professionals. These professionals need a clear line that is strongly apparent to them, the patients they attend to and the society that they do not impose death. Both the patients and the general public are supposed to have awareness with total certainty and be able to have their trust in these professionals. Anything that brings in lack of clearness brings in loss of the trust or causes these professionals to become less sensitive to the basic responsibilities to offer protection to life as well as respect is not acceptable. Therefore, Somerville (2009) concludes that making euthanasia legal will do this.
According to Somerville (2006), the main reasons why euthanasia should not be legalized include; (i) that it is not right for one person to kill another other than in the situation of self-defense. (ii), the harms and dangers associated with making euthanasia legal are far much heavier than the benefits that can be derived from such a move. According to her, to legalize euthanasia would basically alter the manner in which we get to understand ourselves as people and the meaning of life. Human beings set up their values and find meaning in life by buying in to a story that is shared. And this story has always focused on the two great events which are life and death.
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Prevention of abuse is fielded by opposers’ of euthanasia. This reports indicate that, at the moment euthanasia is legalized it will now start spreading and expanding. For instance, initially euthanasia was just there for those people who were elderly undergoing suffering that could not be relieved and were competent to offer acceptance that was informed and over and over again asked for euthanasia. But in the recent times, the Groningen protocol stretched it to encompass the newborns that are disabled.
Somerville (2006) goes ahead to report that those people who are in for the legalization of euthanasia raise an argument that the medical experts are already carrying it out in secret. Somerville (2006) goes ahead to suggest that although this might be true, this does not imply that this is right. More so, if these experts are not obeying the law against murder, why would they have obedience for the laws controlling euthanasia? The total hatred by the medical professionals of killing people is quite essential for carrying out the maintenance of the trust of people and society in them.
According to Anonymous (Arguments against Euthanasia, 2010), it is said that euthanasia will have to be voluntary. There can be pressures that are psychological and emotional that turns out to be too much on the people who are dependent or depressed. Therefore, if euthanasia is legal and considered to be a good choice in regard to getting care, several people will have the guilt of not choosing death. The considerations in terms of finances coupled with a feeling of being a burden to other people could play a major role in pushing an individual to choose euthanasia.
He goes ahead to highlight that those people in support of euthanasia put it that the voluntary euthanasia will not bring about involuntary euthanasia. However, this is not a clear picture of things in real sense. He goes ahead to take a case where there is an elderly person in a nursing home who does not even have a clear mind is told to put his or her signature on a form to accept to be killed, this might not be clearly classified as either voluntary or involuntary. The euthanasia that is legalized would most likely move to a point where the people will have to be expected to volunteer to allow their lives to be taken away.
As it has been seen in the discussion, legalizing euthanasia has its own benefits especially where the elderly person is suffering so much and there is no any other way to relieve him or her of pain and therefore there can be resorting to euthanasia as the last option upon his consent together with the family. However, this is not reason enough to make euthanasia a legal practice.
For instance, making euthanasia legal will be an indication of lack of respect for human life. This view is held by both religious and secular divisions. More so, legalizing will affect negatively the field of medicine as well as law portraying them to be institutions that do not have respect for human life. People may end up loosing trust in the medical professionals. More so, the benefits that come out from legalizing euthanasia are very much less as compared to the dangers and risks associated with it.
As much as governments may consider allowing euthanasia in some circumstances where this seems to be the best option, it might not be right for this to be legalized for this might bring in more complicated issues where people who might be depressed or seeing themselves as a burden to opt for euthanasia and yet there might still be other options. This implies that legalizing it may give room for other loopholes where the human life might unnecessarily be destroyed. So the best way to avoid this is to ensure that there should be no legalizing euthanasia.
Anonymous, (2010). Arguments against Euthanasia. Web.
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Anonymous, (2009). Lawmakers Confirm House Health Care Bill Promotes Euthanasia Among Elderly. Web.
Allmark, P. Euthanasia, (1993). Dying well and the slippery slope, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 18, 1993, 1178-1182.
Criminal Code, R.S.C., (1985). c. C-46, s. 241; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 7
Criminal Code, R.S.C. (1970). C-34, s.14.
Kerr, J. and McPhail, J. (1991). Canadian nursing: Issues and perspectives, Toronto, Mosby Year Book, 202.
Lewis, C. (2009). Euthanasia supporters worry about misuse. National Post. Don Mills, Ont.: 2009. pg. A.6
Seguin, M. A. (1992). Gentle death. Toronto, Key Porter Books Limited.
Smith, M., Alter, S. and Harder, S. (1994). Euthanasia and cessation of treatment. Ottawa: Canada Communication Group-Publishing.
Somerville, M. (2009). Euthanasia would hurt doctors; we must consider the damage to medicine if physicians are allowed to kill. The Ottawa Citizen. Ottawa, Ont.: pg. A.15
Somerville, M. (2006). The euthanasia debate; [Final Edition].The Vancouver Sun. Vancouver, B.C.: pg. A.7