Essay on Euthanasia
Should People Have the Right Die?
For some time now, many doctors, families and human rights advocates have been disputing the issue of euthanasia. The issues concern the right of a patient to request a merciful death, or if indeed this right at all exists. The process of killing an individual, often an ill person or patient, to relieve their suffering is known as euthanasia. It is a concept that gets a lot of emotive reaction from human rights advocates, mainly because these individuals argue that no one has the right to take another person’s life. They say that mercy killing constitutes murder. Sometimes, it is the patient themselves who requests euthanasia. In these cases, “assisted suicide” is the term often used to refer to the act.
Some countries consider euthanasia to be illegal and, depending on what the circumstances are, any person who performs euthanasia could be imprisoned for up to as long as 14 years. They could even be accused of manslaughter and tried for the same. Therefore, it is essential to examine and know what rights individuals have in terms of asking for or performing euthanasia. As UK laws currently stand, an individual can refuse medical care or treatment, particularly as their life approaches its end. In some cases, patients draw up binding contracts or letters to ensure their wishes are complied with by carers and medical professionals. Such contracts may stipulate that a doctor should not administer any unwarranted treatments to the patient or perform any operations on them. Currently, the only countries that practice legal euthanasia are Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg, or where another individual can intervene to end the life of a patient. Mercy killing is considered appalling and even repulsive in some cultures.
The subject of euthanasia has given rise to countless published articles, with one of the stranger euthanasia suggestions being death by “rollercoaster.” The rollercoaster idea was designed by Julijonas Urbonas – a designer in Lithuania – so that the lives of patients who so wished could end in a thrilling way. Urbonas also suggested that a mercy killing need not necessarily be boring or undertaken in hospital. While the designer’s ingenious idea met with some opposition, there is a clear message: that an individual can choose to end their suffering, and if he or she wishes to die, they could do so in a happy way. Whether intentionally or not, Urbonas is issuing people with a license or right to die as well as the right to choose how they die – not necessarily in a hospital bed attached to endless tubes or surrounded by medical staff and family members. Additionally, this conveys the message that in the opinion of Urbonas, it is the right of people to die, and anyone who so wishes should have the wherewithal to exercise their right.
The ethics of the issue attracts a lot of debate, and people tend to argue about the whole notion of “the right” to die. A lot depends on the beliefs of a particular person. Looking closely at the circumstances, a patient may ask to end their life, especially if no cure exists. The reason for doing this is to end pain. This, however, is different from asking to die because one is feeling depressed. On the other hand, people also have a right to life. Therefore, the patient’s family and medical team should look at the reasons for the euthanasia. The act of euthanasia is only acceptable and legal where there is medical evidence to show a patient has no chance of survival. In any case, regardless of the patient’s wishes, their family needs to be consulted. A patient may express a wish for palliative care, while their family and friends see death as a natural process. Furthermore, a patient could turn down treatment or state their wish to die by euthanasia in their will. Even if euthanasia is personally chosen by a patient, the issue’s legalities, especially where these concern the person’s human rights, need to be discussed with a lawyer.
Undoubtedly, death is part of life’s journey, but at times, it is best to live and simply wait for the end to come in its own time. Individuals do not have to take such decisions into their own hands.