Is it right to die? I would state the question in another format, is there a right to die? It is the most difficult question to receive an answer as we focus on people suffering from different conditions, be it psychological, physical or emotional, that beyond doubt, have led to terminal illness. I cannot give a straight yes or a straight no. The debate has been so hot in several nations. Several stakeholders are considering going the Oregon way. The whole debate focuses on suicide.
By way of philosophy and other disciplines of ethics, it is very difficult to judge whether suicide is wrong or right. It has hitherto paused hard questions that get diverse responds from different persons. These persons can be philosophers from different eras, different geographical regions, and customs. It is further mesmerizing that those of the same times, similar traditions, and even same places arrive at different answers as pertains this very subject.
If euthanasia was to be made legal, there are no criteria that can be used to determine the very genuine cases. Those people who proposes this action, as they define the rights of a person focuses narrowly on the normal cases only; an adult person, who is in his or her right mind, acting in their own volition, putting in consideration his or her own possessions or those entrusted to this person. I would therefore question the basis for determining the abnormal circumstances, and the limits that are sensible in today’s cultural situation.
In this, we think of the slippery slope concern, soon many cases will transit to explicit murder. We will not have guarantee for people who instigate murder and claim that the people they killed were more than willing to die. The people that will fall as victims of this murder are the disable, disadvantaged, or those considered to be “undesirable” in the society – those who are a burden to their caregivers or even the state, which should be obliged to giving indiscriminate care to all groups of people.
Goldberg (n. d), states that, “Thus, many U. S. ommentators fear that, if assisted suicide and euthanasia were legalized, death would be inflicted unwillingly on disabled, disadvantaged, or otherwise “undesirable” individuals who might be considered a burden by their caregivers or the state” (Goldberg, n. d). He continues to say that “Biased physicians, family members, or managed care organizations might consciously or subconsciously influence difficult or expensive patients to take advantage of assisted suicide” (Goldberg, n. d). It is also clear that no human endeavour is immune of abuse. This will make the Oregon requirement difficult to trust.
Even ‘acting on one’s own volition’ is still not good because many patients may act quickly without enough information of existing medical care, thinking that their fate is just death. So why wont we restrict the ‘person’s autonomy’ till the person is fully informed? Thinking this way will definitely call for not legalising euthanasia. John Stuart Mill gives an example of person who wants to cross a broken bridge, as he concludes he says that this person would not really continue to do that if he is fully informed about the dangers of going that way (Mill, 2005).
The other concern that we have is that this practice will be in total contradiction with the present physicians’ role as healer. It is a stipulation that physicians should always do their best to save lives and not destroy them at all. The physicians’ role should be limited to saving lives as it has been over time. Legalizing euthanasia means that the physicians’ role is broadened to the point of the patients’ advocate in the maters concerning their own health and ways they want it to be handled.
This will arouse the craving of patients to commit suicide and allow many cases that would otherwise be alleviated, to run to the worst. Still on the issue of rights, every one has a right that is inherent in nature and anyone should not interfere with the individual’s rights. People should therefore exercise their own rights without interfering with others’ and no one should interfere with the autonomy of this individual. As we say that rights are inherent in an individual, we are saying that these person posses this rights because of the life that he has.
Without this life, the rights he claims to have are null and void. This takes us to the point that no one should interfere with the life because it is the carrier of this same rights. Mill states that, “But by selling himself for a slave, he abdicates his liberty; he forgoes any future use of it, beyond that single act” (Mill, 2005, pp 67). He continues to say, “He therefore defeats, in his own case, the very purpose which is the justification of allowing him to dispose of himself” (Mill, 2005, pp 67).
In our case the person who decides to die no longer has the autonomy that we advocate to give in allowing them to die. The person defeats his own reason for wanting to die. Mill continues to say, “He is no longer free; but is thenceforth in a position which has no longer the presumption in its favor, that would be afforded by his voluntarily remaining in it” (Mill, 2005, pp 67). He concludes on this matter that, “The principle of freedom cannot require that he should be free not to be free, it is not freedom, to be allowed to alienate his freedom” (Mill, p 67).
If we have to protect the autonomy of individuals then we should protect their lives too. We can still work without euthanasia because many of our physicians have worked hard and are still working hard to come up will the best palliative care for the terminally ill people. Under good circumstances of proper palliative care, this practice will be unnecessary. This care can conserve the dignity of terminally ill people till they die. It is therefore our responsibility to give them this care rather than to help them kill themselves, which is not dignified at all (Chochinov, 2002).
Though, the numbers of people supporting euthanasia is growing with time, everyone should think about the above-discussed concerns. This will help each one of us know that we are capable of giving good care to terminally ill patients without letting them die suicidal deaths. We can think it right that allowing them to die is actually denying them their autonomy, and hence the inherent rights. We should always strive to give perfect care than to kill.