“There is a time to be born and a time to die… a time to kill and a time to heal… a time to search and a time to give up.”(Ecclesiastes 3:2a, 3a, 6a) Euthanasia enthusiasts would agree with this quote. Euthanasia is a word that can be defined as the intentional termination of life by another at the explicit request of the person who dies. (Webster’s dictionary) The purpose of this essay is to fortify the positive role of euthanasia by explaining why it is that terminally ill patients consider euthanasia an option and what the ethical views concerning this issue are.
The main reason for which people consider ending their life through euthanasia is because they are terminally ill. Terminally ill patients are those who have been diagnosed with a progressive degenerative disease for which there is not a known cure. These diseases include those such as Multiple Sclerosis, AIDS, Huntington’s Disease, or Alzheimer’s Disease. There are three things that motivate terminally ill patients to end their life. The first reason being that they do not want to diminish their assets by incurring large medical expenses as their death approaches, and as an act of generosity they would rather die sooner, leaving their beneficiaries their assets. The second reason that one may consider euthanasia is that when they realize death is near, they wish to have total control over the process. In addition when a person relies on continuous care from another person, they feel that they have lost their independence, which can be considered as a loss of personal dignity. (www.religioustolerance.org)
There are two interesting ethical issues pertaining to euthanasia. The first issue examined is the Physician’s Oath, which states, “Follow that system of regimen which, according to [his] ability and judgment, [he] consider[s] for the benefit of [his] patients.”(Hippocrates) Which translated to the idea that if a patient feels the need to end their life due to a degenerative disease, then the physician, with the consent of the patient, may do so without the intervention of the law telling him or her what they are allowed to do. According to this oath, if euthanasia is a rational method for their patient to consider, the law should not intervene.
The second ethical issue to be looked at is religion. Many religious groups believe that God gave life and therefore God is the only one who can take life away. When applied to this belief, euthanasia is a sin. Many faith groups such as Christian, Muslim or Jewish, believe that these degenerative diseases and incurable pains are a divinely appointed opportunity for learning and purification. To challenge these beliefs with euthanasia would be to go against their faith in God.
Euthanasia will be debated for many years to come. With the information set forth hopefully the beneficial aspects of euthanasia have been made clear. It is important to remember that treatments of physical symptoms are only part of the problem. Mental, social, and spiritual pains all add to the load that a terminally ill patient carries.