‘The concept of the Sanctity of Life is not helpful in understanding the issues surrounding euthanasia.’
Discuss. (10 marks) Some may agree with the statement because the Sanctity of Life does not allow people to make autonomous decisions when it comes to euthanasia. Voluntary euthanasia should be an option for a competent adult who is able and willing to make such a decision. The VES argues that every human being deserves respect and has the right to choose their own destiny, including how they live and die. However, the Sanctity of Life is too rigid as it does not make any exceptions. Furthermore, some may agree with this statement because the Sanctity of Life does not hold one’s quality life as important. For example, Diane Pretty used to lead a full and active life but then suffered from an incurable disease that limited her ability to move and communicate with others like she used. Her quality of life was clearly no longer desirable, and that is why she wanted her husband to end her life so that she could die in a dignified manner. However, the Sanctity of Life overlooks the quality of life, as all life is God given and is thus sacred; therefore it does not truly address the issues surrounding euthanasia. On the other hand, both Natural Law and the Sanctity of Life are against euthanasia because of the teachings in Bible, such as in Exodus 20 – ‘thou shalt not kill’. The primary precept to preserve innocent life is based upon this.
Therefore, it is clear that euthanasia is wrong irrespective of the issues that surround it, there are no exceptions. In addition, in Job 1:21 it states that ‘the Lord can gave, and the Lord has taken away’, and this means that only God has the divine authority to take life away, and so euthanasia should not be carried out, it is intrinsically wrong. To conclude, it seems that most would agree with the statement because the Sanctity of Life leaves little room for compassion in comparison to a relative theory of ethics such as Situation ethics, which would aim to do the most loving thing in every situation – so would look at one’s quality of life for example, and other issues surrounding euthanasia. Ultimately, the concept of the Sanctity of Life is not the most helpful in understanding the various issues surrounding euthanasia.