Euthanasia is the practice of mercifully ending a person’s life in order to free someone from a deadly disease. The Greek word “Euthanasia” simply means “good death”. This refers to the intentional ending of a person or animal’s life to relieve suffering and pain. It is also known as “Mercy Killing”. It is a serious ethical and political issue in today’s society because it goes against the norms of traditional medicine. It is so, because some people define euthanasia as a form of suicide. However, some people actually think that it is a choice that concerns the quality of life.
In fact, people have different standards regarding the worth of life. Others believe that being clinically alive is enough to say that a person should live, but for others, it is simply inadequate. If a person’s life is lacking in self awareness or intrinsic presence as a human being, due to extreme physical or mental suffering, then that person should be able to choose a dignified death rather than an undignified existence. This is evident because of moral conscience, social bias or pressure, and financial situations.
It is portrayed that nurture or environmental factors plays a role that make euthanasia more appealing. In short, some people tend to disregard the moral and ethical values of life when they see a person suffering. Indeed, despite of the moral and ethical issues that contradict the concept of euthanasia, there are certain factors it impacts society positively, which leads it to be more socially acceptable. One factor that makes euthanasia more acceptable is because of moral conscience. It is argued that euthanasia is not considered as a good practice because it weakens the society’s respect for life.
It is believed that all human beings are to be valued despite of their age, gender, sex, religion, social status and their potential for achievement. However, some people who have a different perspective in regards to conscience oppose this idea. Moral conscience urges a person to do well and avoid evil. In this case, the evil that is being measured in this view is prolonging the suffering of a dying person. Also, the act of accepting to end the suffering of a person is a responsibility that is caused by conscience, which does not violate the purity of life.
One of the writers from the book Euthanasia, John Shelby Spong, says that conscience really does play a role in making a decision between mercy killing and natural death. He explains that: “In the past, when medical care was rudimentary and death seemed to be entirely in the hands of God, the issue of euthanasia was simpler. Humans had little technology that could prolong life. In modern times, however, science endows doctors with previously unimagined powers to keep a body alive even when that person no longer has any quality of life. I believe that assisting in such a person’s suicide does not violate the sanctity of life.
However, to prevent people from being victimized by family members who could profit from death of a relative, safeguards need to be established. These include requiring people to have living wills specifying the extent of treatment they want in the event of a serious accident or illness and requiring hospitals to have a bioethics committee to help decide on issues of euthanasia”. 1 In short, moral conscience helps out a dying person to finish his or her suffering. In contrast, they must take into consideration that they can only perform euthanasia if the person dying agrees to get it done.
Through this, people are actually respecting the choice of the dying person since being human also means being respected. Being able to respect a person’s decision, it also builds a relationship between the person dying and the person who is witnessing the suffering. This now creates a social bias between the people around them since people tend to persuade what they think is right. This is another factor that makes euthanasia more acceptable. Social bias or pressure is defined to be a prejudicial attitude towards a certain race, culture, gender, color, age, group and religion.
It also tends to change a person’s perspective, attitude, and values to conform norms. From the book, Euthanasia: The Debate Over the Right to Die, Seamus Cavan says that: “According to this argument, the very fact that a person is in the end stages of a terminal illness makes it unlikely, if not impossible, that his or he decision to die could meet any of the proposed criteria. They point out that being in the end stages of a terminal illness is by definition an extraordinary situation that makes it difficult or impossible to make rational decision”. It explains that, people in such a position, they argue, are already faced with all kinds of pressure that make it more likely that they will choose death. They may be extraordinary pain. They may feel humiliated or degraded by their inability to take care of themselves. They may feel as if they are a burden to their family or loved ones, in either an emotional or financial pressure to end their life so as not to incur further medical costs. They are quite likely to be depressed, in the medical sense, by their situation and thereby unable to think clearly.
Their judgment may be clouded by pain or medication. Also, social bias does really affect a person’s decision when it comes to euthanasia. It is appealing because there is an evident sense of personal responsibility and braveness made by the dying person to relieve their own pain. When they think this way, they tend to make it positive for the people around them, instead of prolonging their agony. Even though, it will be hard for the people around the dying person to accept his decision to die, it is still respected.
Financial situations, like social bias, also play a role in making euthanasia more appealing. Financial situations are also considered as one of the factors why euthanasia should be more practiced by people. Financial situations are part of euthanasia because some people cannot afford to pay the medical bills of that person. This is much evident especially in 2nd and 3rd world countries because some people don’t earn enough money from their jobs to pay the prices of their hospital bills. In this case, it is considered to be in a form of a passive euthanasia.
Passive euthanasia occurs when a patient dies because medical professionals either don’t do something necessary to keep a patient alive or stop doing something that can keep the patient alive. People who suffer from poverty, for example, might not be able to afford life-sustaining drugs or life-saving operation that would extend someone’s life. Passive euthanasia may also occur if doctors turn off a life-support machine or disconnect a feeding tube, which is the only means of keeping a person alive because unfortunate people can’t afford it.
These actions may be carried out at the request of a dying person or their legal representative, who is often a family member. Dr. Mark from the article Alive and Kicking also says that: “As people in developing countries learns about euthanasia, they are requesting it as a way of out of the misery of poverty and hopelessness”. 3 These people believe that it is only through euthanasia that will help them save money and discontinue the suffering and pain of this person.
In this concept, it is a win-win situation because both have compromised to be free from suffering physically and financially. All in all, it is important to note that the levels of these factors come into information whether it can be personal, environmental, or financial. It is shown that nurture does affect the views and perspectives of people when it comes to euthanasia. Considerations have to be made whether the position from one of these areas is even acceptable. It is so, especially with the separation of the views between the dying person and society.
The three factors that were mentioned earlier must be considered thoroughly in order to see its impact to be positive. In the current world of rationed care and economic rationalism, it is not hard to imagine a situation where the availability of euthanasia becomes seen as a cheaper, easier, rational option to providing intensive support, community living and care for those who wanted and needed it. There is no doubt that euthanasia brings a positive factor that opens the options for people. Certainly, euthanasia has factors that deal with society that makes it more acceptable.
Courtney from Study Moose
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