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Euthanasia - Essay Example

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Euthanasia
In Europe, as of 2005, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland have all legalized the practice. There are two kinds of euthanasia – active and passive. In active euthanasia, according to Touyz and Touyz (2011), there is action which hastens death…
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Download file to see previous pages In passive euthanasia, no action is taken to prolong life, and death occurs naturally. In Great Britain, Lord Joffe has introduced a bill which would legalize assisted dying. Although this bill was introduced in 2004, it has not had a chance of passing until recently. The reasons for this is that society has changed with respect to the issues surrounding euthanasia. This paper will examine the arguments against euthanasia, and the arguments in favor of it, and make a conclusion about whether or not euthanasia should be legalized in Great Britain.
Arguments against Euthanasia
There is not a doubt that Christianity, as a religion, has profoundly influenced the debate surrounding the right to die. However, before Christianity was established, the practice was condoned, even honored. In Ancient Greece, one could apply to a tribunal for the right to die, and, if successful, would be given hemlock to ingest. The practice was even the subject of parties – the elderly and the infirm would ingest their poison at a banquet that honored their lives . This changed with the beginning of Christianity, and Christianity, as a religion, was the basis of outlawing the practice. Early Christian thinkers, such as St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine were influential, describing euthanasia as a grave sin. The church continued to influence the debate, even during a period of time during the Renaissance and the Enlightenment of the 18th Century, in which the practices resurged, yet were kept in abeyance by the Church. 7 The Church’s reasoning on the rejection of euthanasia is that the act is inherently wrong. Therefore, because of the fundamental objection to the practice, the Church remains opposed, no matter how much good may come out of it.8  Christianity also believes that it is a sin because life is a gift from God, and, unless one is defending one’s own life, or defending others, life is not to be taken away.  According to this view, man is made in God’s image, so it is not for man to end his own life.9  This is not to say that the Church advocates for keeping someone alive by any means possible. In fact, the official Christian perspective on heroic measures to sustain life is that these measures should not be taken. Denying or withdrawing heroic measures is differentiated from euthanasia because one, euthanasia, is actively ending life and the other, denying heroic measures, is simply letting somebody die. Also, one is intended, and the other is unintended.10  Because the official Christian perspective on heroic measures is clear, this principle would encompass “Do Not Resuscitate Orders” and removing patients from ventilators.11  Therefore, the official Christian stance on euthanasia is that it is forbidden. According to Lin (2003), another reason why the Church has taken this stance is because of the Sixth Commandment, which is “Thou Shalt Not Kill.”  This Commandment, in turn, is based on the view that only God has the power of life and death, and euthanasia effectively usurps this authority.12 St. Thomas Aquinas based his objections to the practice on this view, citing Deuteronomy 32:39, which states that God “will kill…and will make to live.”13 Hatzinikolaou (2003) bases his objections on the respect for the dying process. According to him, death is sacred and the last moments of a person’s life are the moments which should be respected.  It is during these moments, according to Hatzinikolaou (2003) that man has the chance to repent and prepare for his soul to be ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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