Do you support or oppose euthanasia? Euthanasia happens in many places around the world, some where it has been legalised, and some where it has not. Euthanasia is only currently legal in 6 countries and in 6 US states, but is illegal everywhere else around the world. Currently in the UK, euthanasia is illegal, and attempting to euthanise someone, even if they request it and no matter what their condition is, can be punished with up to 14 years in prison under the Suicide Act 1961. Do you agree with the current laws, or do you believe that euthanasia should be available to those in need? Why euthanasia should be illegal?
First of all, many people argue that euthanasia should be legalised everywhere across the world. There are many reasons for this, one being that they believe somebody who is suffering from terminal illness should have the right to choose what happens to them and how their condition is treated. People with this opinion believe that since it is their own life and nobody else’s, they should have the opportunity to decide whether they continue living and make their own decisions about their health care, as long as they are capable of doing so sensibly. After all, it is the patient that has to suffer from the illness they have, and they are the one in pain from it. This is one of the most common reasons that over 80% of people support euthanasia, according to The Guardian.
Another reason why many people believe that euthanasia should be legal is that it can be safely controlled by laws and regulations. One of the concerns many people have about the legalisation of euthanasia is that doctors/medical professionals might abuse the freedom to euthanise someone and use it to kill, or that some terminal patients will be allowed euthanasia if they are incapable of making reasonable decisions, such as if they have poor mental health. However, in places where euthanasia is legal, there are strict laws in place to prevent this from happening. A good example of this is in Oregon, where euthanasia has been legalised, however the patient must be a resident of Oregon, must be over 18, and must have a life expectancy below 6 months, along with several other rules in place to prevent the misuse of euthanasia.
In addition to that, people who believe in the legalisation of euthanasia also argue that it is expensive to keep terminal patients alive, and that it is a waste of money to forcibly keep terminal patients alive with machines they are entirely dependent on. To keep a patient alive, hospitals have to pay for dozens of routinely tests and checkups, medicines, machines and other treatments just to prolong their life, however euthanasia would allieviate the cost of everything that has to be paid for, which is especially important in countries that do not provide free healthcare. On average, keeping terminally ill patients alive costs the NHS roughly £7,500 per year for just one patient.
Despite this, many people think the opposite way, believing that euthanasia should remain illegal, and they have several reasons for their opinion. One of those reasons is that they say not all doctors are comfortable with ending somebody else’s life, despite a patient’s request for euthanasia. Most doctors swear by the Hippocratic Oath, which is essentially a formal agreement or ‘promise’ which states the obligations, ethics, and proper conduct of doctors. Due to the fact that part of the oath states ‘I will not kill’, some doctors will not euthanize a person because they believe that euthanasia is killing a person as they are technically ending the patient’s life. According to a survey carried out by The Telegraph, only 1 in 5 doctors are willing to have anything to do with euthanasia.
As well as that, people who oppose euthanasia also claim that many people who are terminally ill unexpectedly recover from the condition they are suffering from. Most terminal patients are not expected to live for much longer after their diagnosis, but some beat the odds and unexpectedly recover, some surviving and others still dying eventually but at a much later time than expected. If patients like these are euthanized, this chance, however small it may be, is gone forever. As a matter of fact, roughly 100,000 hospice patients in the US end up making a full recovery after being diagnosed with a terminal illness each year.
Moreover, people who are anti-euthanasia also argue that if euthanasia was legalized, people would be easily pressured into making a decision that is not entirely theirs. Deciding whether or not to request euthanasia definitely isn’t an easy decision, but when family members have their input things can easily become complicated. Sometimes, if family get involved, they can and will easily influence the patient’s decision, which could result in the patient making a decision that they do not want. To add to that, not all terminally ill patients are capable of making such a big decision themselves, which often results in their families making the decision instead, and there is clear evidence to back this up. According to a leading expert in the ethics of euthanasia, around 1 in 5 patients who request euthanasia are influenced by family circumstances.
Euthanasia is undoubtedly a difficult topic to make a decision on, despite there being an abundance of sources and information out there for people to access, and it’s certain that nobody will ever all agree on whether it is right or wrong and what it’s legal status should be. On one side of the argument, many people believe that it should not be legal because of the possibility of an unexpected recovery, possible influence on a patient’s decision caused by a family member, and even the doctor’s wishes. On the opposite side of the debate, people who support the legalisation of euthanasia think that it should be entirely legal because of the cost of keeping terminal patients alive, the safety laws that they believe would prevent anybody abusing the availability of it, and most importantly, the patient’s right to make their own decisions about their healthcare. In my opinion, euthanasia should be available to terminal patients if they have decided that they no longer want to keep on suffering as long as they’re reasonably capable of making a sensible decision themselves, because they should get to choose how their condition is treated, and nobody should be forced to suffer. We allow our pets to be euthanized to ease their pain and suffering, so why not people too?