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Ethical Considerations of Euthanasia

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Would you rather live in pain or die in peace? Euthanasia, also known as mercy killing, is the act of putting a person or animal to death in order prevent pain or relieve suffering either by lethal injection, or by withholding medical treatment. In modern society, it has become a choice for those who are suffering, but is only legalized in seven countries and four states. Euthanasia should be allowed precisely because it is a choice. As an option, it offers people relief and insurance in the case where they come to need or desire it, therefore, euthanasia should be allowed as a right.

People should be allowed the right to die, the right to choose when and how they want to die. This is especially true in those who are undergoing extreme pain, such as terminally ill patients. As people who are in control of our own bodies, we believe that we have the right to control how we want to die. If a patient is in pain and would rather die early to end their suffering, what gives others the authority to deny the patient that relief? Is it better to keep the patient in pain and suffering for a prolonged life of hospitals and medication, or is it better to allow them to end their lives in peace and without pain? Those who are immobilized by their illnesses are forced to lay in hospital rooms, waiting for death. These people are not truly living, they are merely surviving, and if they truly believe death will relieve them of their pain, what gives others the right to stop them? After all, it is the patients who are undergoing pain, not the bystanders who grasp onto the hope of a miracle.

Pain is a terrible feeling, and can even result in disastrous consequences. Sometimes, those consequences are as bad as death. Take for example, Craig Schonegevel, who lived in South Africa and had struggled with neurofibromatosis for 28 years. He had undergone many surgical procedures and decided that his quality of life was quite unbearable. But he couldn’t find any legal methods for assisted suicide, so in the end, on the night of September 1, 2009, he consumed 12 sleeping pills, put two plastic bags over his head and secured them with elastic bands. He was found dead by his parents. According to Desmond Tutu, in the July 2014 Guardian article “Desmond Tutu: A Dignified Death Is Our Right – I Am In Favor of Assisted Dying”, “Craig wanted to end his life legally assisted, listening to his favourite music and in the embrace of his beloved parents, Patsy and Neville. Our legal system denied him and his family this dignity…” Such examples show us that having euthanasia as an open, legal option would be better for those who are struggling with pain, and would increase their quality of life. As people pursue the option of painless death, euthanasia is carried out even while illegal, so it would be in society’s best favor to legalize it and regulate it properly so that a record is kept on those who choose to be euthanized, instead of having people euthanize themselves without knowing the risks and without carefully making their decision.

Patients who are in pain and pursue euthanasia also take up space in hospitals and use up medical resources. As more and more people contract diseases, the demand for medical supplies puts a strain on a nation’s economy. Such a burden is especially true in the case of terminal patients. As they have already been deemed “terminal”, it is expected that they die eventually, yet sustaining their lives only prolongs their suffering and uses up more resources. On the other hand, patients who are curable are deprived of proper medical care and supplies because of the drain of terminal patients, and lives that could be saved would be sacrificed in the hopes for a miracle to descend on an incurable patient. According to Ryan Jaslow in CBS news, September 20th 2013, “Alzheimer’s rates are expected to surge worldwide due to the aging population, and a new report says that will take a heavy toll on an already-depleted caregiver workforce.” As this statement shows us, various long-term diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia are epidemic and puts a visible strain on the caretaker workforce. By providing patients with euthanasia, governments around the world can decrease such a strain on already limited supplies.

In conclusion, offering euthanasia as a choice for those who are in pain in order to die with dignity is a right that people should be allowed. Dying peacefully by euthanasia is infinitely better than committing suicide after enduring more pain, and even the last moments will be filled not with comfort, but with agony. Euthanasia is a way for us to increase our quality of life, and should be allowed for those who need it, but ultimately, the decision is for the individual to make.

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