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The Righ to Die - Essay Example

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The issue of euthanasia is one of the most controversial today. There are proponents of its legalization, as well as opponents. To build our own image of the problem, we have to try to understand both points of view.
The proponents of euthanasia apply to the feelings of the public…
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The Righ to Die
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The Right to Die. Controversy. The issue of euthanasia is one of the most controversial today. There are proponents of its legalization, as well as opponents. To build our own image of the problem, we have to try to understand both points of view.
The proponents of euthanasia apply to the feelings of the public. Members of "The Death with Dignity National Center" Oregon's law permitting doctors to assist suicide ensure that terminally ill patients remain in control of their dying process. People in extreme situations for whom recovery is no longer possible use the law as a last resort. Physician-hastened dying happens in every state, every day. Laws will not prevent terminally ill patients from seeking an end to their suffering, nor will they prevent some doctors from quietly helping. Laws can only be used to protect patients and physicians by regulating the practice - ensuring no abuse occurs. With all the technology and treatment options in healthcare today, it is often only the suffering and death that is prolonged - not a superior quality of life. In addition, pain is only one element in this complex problem. For many terminally ill people, it is the loss of dignity and autonomy - the suffering beyond pain - that becomes intolerable. (The Death With Dignity National Center site).
However, the opponents of euthanasia also advance their arguments, contrasting their reasonable explanations with the appeal to senses and feelings made by proponents of the legally assisted suicide. The main point is that the 'justification' of voluntary euthanasia involves rejection of a tenet fundamental to a just framework of laws in society because law assumes that all human beings are entitled to be treated justly. To legalize assistance in suicide is also inconsistent with the same fundamental tenet of a just legal system. The fact that suicide is decriminalized doesn't imply that the law takes a neutral view of the choice to carry out suicide, hence the law must also refuse to justify the behavior of those who help it. If voluntary euthanasia is legalized then the most compelling reason for opposing the legalization of non-voluntary euthanasia has been abandoned. In fact the most active advocates of the legalization of voluntary euthanasia are also advocates of the legalization of non-voluntary euthanasia. They promote the view that many human beings lack the 'moral standing', so they cannot be wronged even if the motive for killing them is merely the convenience of those human beings who do have 'moral standing' (Gormally).
Not only legal, but the moral permissibility of voluntary euthanasia should be mentioned, and here, frankly speaking, not only the arguments of euthanasia legalization adherents have their flaws - their opponents sometimes seem to misrepresent facts. We may believe that we are getting better at providing effective palliative care and that hospice care is available nowadays. However, this is not a complete true. First, there is no panacea. Second, hospice care is available only to a small proportion of the terminally ill and then usually only in the very last stages of the illness. Third, not everyone wishes to avail themselves of either palliative care or hospice care. Fourth, what is intolerable for them is their dependence on others or on machinery and not pain.
According to the traditional 'doctrine of double effect' it is permissible to act in ways which it is foreseen will have bad consequences provided only that the bad consequences must not be so serious as to outweigh the good effect. If the death of a person who wishes to die is not harmful (because from that person's standpoint it is, in fact, beneficial), the doctrine of double effect won't be relevant.
Passive euthanasia, where life-sustaining or life-prolonging measures are withdrawn or withheld, is morally acceptable, whereas active euthanasia is not, because it requires an act of killing. The distinction, despite its widespread popularity, is very unclear. Any act can be regarded either as an act of passive or active euthanasia (Young).
The advocates of euthanasia, in their turn, give evidence that many people in Oregon are having conversations about this issue with their doctors while still in good health. Doctors cannot qualify for the law's "safe harbor" provisions if they do not report use of the law to the Oregon Department of Human Services. A doctor that does not report to DHS would be subject to reprimand (The Death With Dignity National Center site).
The arguments against are heard again: legalization of voluntary euthanasia would also encourage the practice of non-voluntary euthanasia without benefit of legalization. Those who begin by saying they wish to confine the practice of euthanasia to voluntary euthanasia come to think that, no good reason remains for disallowing non-voluntary euthanasia. Euthanasia undermines the dispositions we require in doctors and is therefore destructive of the practice of medicine. Doctors will not inspire trust unless patients are confident that doctors are for no reasons disposed to kill them. The legalization of euthanasia undermines the impetus to develop truly compassionate approaches to the care of the suffering and the dying. One of the dangers of legalization is that euthanasia would be seen as a convenient 'solution' to the heavy demands on care (Gormally).
Still, there are some other unclear questions left. Among those who are against euthanasia there is a belief that passive euthanasia, where life-sustaining or life-prolonging measures are withdrawn or withheld, is morally acceptable, whereas active euthanasia is not, because it requires an act of killing. The distinction, despite its widespread popularity, is very unclear. Any act can be regarded either as an act of passive or active euthanasia. Another common opinion is that if society allows voluntary euthanasia to be legally permitted, it could lead us inevitably to support other forms of euthanasia, especially non-voluntary euthanasia. We have to hope only and share the optimism of those who believe sincerely that there is nothing logically inconsistent in supporting voluntary euthanasia but rejecting non-voluntary euthanasia as morally inappropriate (Young).
1. Gormally, Luke, Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Seven Reasons Why They Should Not Be Legalized 2. The Death with Dignity National Center, Fact and Fiction 3. Young, Robert, Voluntary Euthanasia, . Read More
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