*This is a delicate post and is a way of understanding, not judging. Please express your opinions in the same manor.
The concept of Euthanasia is such a complex and complicated matter. This topic is so divisive because it is filled with people from both sides, all intelligent in their own ways, yet trying to come to an agreement on such a controversial idea and expecting or hoping one side to let go or lose the battle. What makes this debate so heated is the fact that people have such different opinions and want their own way while scarcely working together to find a solution to benefit all. Fyodor Dostoyevsky once said, “Nothing is easier than to denounce the evil doer; Nothing more difficult than understanding him” (“A quote by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.”) In trying to understand one another at least there can be a sense of trying to come to a solution that will appease everyone. And with understanding, comes the aspect of emotion involved with the concept of Euthanasia. I don’t personally believe that anyone could think that there is any way not to have emotion involved when dealing with any side Euthanasia. I believe this is extremely emotion based whether on the side for or against, for the vary basic understandings of each side; one typically knows that emotion hopes to not cause people anymore pain than they can deal with, as well as emotion causes people not to want to end a life that is precious. There are a multitude of reasons why people would decide to agree and disagree with Euthanasia and trying to understand them will better help people to try to work together for the benefit of mankind as a whole instead of against each other.
There are many reasons as to why people would agree and disagree with Euthanasia. Some people would believe, like the late eighty-three-year-old woman in Choosing to Die can be a Rational Decision for the Elderly, that allowing someone to have the right to choose their own time and way of dying is the right of the individual. The right to die with dignity was very important to that lady and she worked hard to get what she would have called a peaceful and dignified death. In the article, Euthanasia, a doctor spoke of new medications and technologies that can help people survive longer. In some circumstances, many elderlies are left suffering in hospitals and racking up huge amounts of debt while they wish that they could just end it. People talk about the right to own your body and thus have the right to choose how and when you can end it if one feels the quality of life is left wanting. This subject also brings in the other tremendously heated debate about abortion, which we won’t get into just now, however, the two main sides, Pro-life and Pro-choice are very relevant in the debate about Euthanasia. Even if there are technologies to prolong life, does that mean that people have to accept it, do they have the right to choose? There are definitely ethical, moral and religious standpoints to listen to, though we won’t get into that yet. There’s something to say about compassion and mercy killing when the quality of life is null and there is tremendous suffering, where death is virtually inevitable, where prolonging life would be cruel, however, where is that line going to be drawn, who decides? In the case of the eighty-three-year-old, she couldn’t understand the fact that Doctors wouldn’t want to help her, what she thought was a reasonable request. Though she couldn’t understand, Doctors do have the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm, and I believe assisted suicide qualifies. Besides that fact, the woman still couldn’t understand and she still thought she was sound in her reasoning and deserved to be heard out and get help allowing herself to die. This woman’s case was also unique for the very reason that she was not at all terminally ill or depressed in any way. She had said that she lived a complete life and she was happy with her circumstances. And though she said she wasn’t in as good condition as people thought, she didn’t want to get to a point of deterioration and being put in a nursing home; this woman just wanted to die. The issue with this is that where is the line to be drawn in allowing suicide and what message will that send to the human race? If we have the choice to end our life, whether we’re sick or not, what will that do to the suicide rate, what will that tell the children? Suicide is currently illegal as well as assisted suicide which in a court of law would be considered murder. While suffering and terminally sick people is another aspect on considering Euthanasia, who can rightfully decide the quality of life worth living or the amount of suffering required in order to choose to die? This eighty-three-year-old lady was not physically or mentally hurting and she wanted to die and she fulfilled that wish; young teens are dealing with depression that hurts tremendously yet ending their life is against the law. If there is no set rule or standard, who’s to say what’s right and what should be allowed for some and not another?
On terms of suffering, there begins a whole other side on whether Euthanasia should be allowed. In the video, Euthanasia: Medical Ethics- Real-World Applications, it was brought up that there are many ethical, moral and philosophical aspects to be discussed in such debates and its difficult for any one person to decide. It is apparent that people want to die, whether they are mentally competent or not, or whether they are suffering physically or not. As of now, suicide and assisted suicide is illegal and is punishable by imprisonment. The reason for this is because it has long been in our laws, whether religious or not, that killing is murder and therefore wrong and illegal. This doesn’t stop people from wanting the right to choose however. Not even just that, but there’s even involuntary euthanasia, in which someone else, your doctor or next of kin decides for you, whether in your will or not. Some people can’t even stand this for who is the right judge, who can rightly decide and say who is worthy of living? In the video, Life and Death: Medical Ethics of the Schiavo Case, the doctors and next of kin decided, because she was in a vegetated state of consciousness, that they would end her life. They believed that because of massive brain injuries that there was nothing left of her. Though people have survived before, there was no way of knowing for sure, or perhaps there was no life left to be had for this woman. Perhaps sometimes it’s just the right thing to do. The problem is, where is the line that says this person has the quality of life and this person doesn’t? In the Real-World Applications video, one woman who was awfully sick and handicapped went to a doctor and was told that during her next surgery, to just not resuscitate her because the doctors thought her quality of life was just suffering and not worth living. The woman was horrified that doctors could think that way and even suggest such a thing. Who will be the one to say, who gets to decide who is worth living and who is not? Just because one cannot perceive personhood in another, does not mean that they are not worth living.
Perceiving personhood in another is not for one man to say, we are all worth giving a chance. If we were to ask Socrates what he thought, I believe he would say that Euthanasia was wrong. I believe that Socrates would believe that suicide would be selfish in the one person’s part. In some ways people, would disagree with me saying that technically Socrates committed suicide himself, so he would be a hypocrite, however I would have to disagree again. It is true that he did welcome death, only however in a sense of a philosopher’s mind, in that his whole being was to prepare people and himself for the wonders that come after life. Life is only the beginning and it must be understood so that when death comes, it is not to be feared but celebrated. Socrates did not however want to die, he was forced, though he did not fight it, as to not fight the government which he adhered to, as well as he knew what was to come for him; the great unknown with the gods. I do not believe for a second that Socrates would promote suicide. He even said that if the gods existed, then they would condemn us if we killed ourselves. He used the example of us being sheep or cows that are shepherded by our gods. We belong to them and if for some reason we decided to end our existence, you are taking away the gods belonging, thus they would be mad.
Being persuaded one way or another in this debate is a difficult one. In one way, I can totally understand why one would want to end their life if they are suffering, however perhaps there should be rules in play that prevent someone from just wanting to end their life just because they want to. BBC Sherlock said, “Taking your own life. Interesting expression, taking it from who? Once it’s over, it’s not you who’ll miss it. Your own death is something that happens to everyone else. Your life is not your own, keep your hands off it” (Harry, Robin). Euthanasia is a complicated topic, one where I can’t even say for sure, especially because I have not been in a situation where this has occurred. Based on where I am now in my life, I’d have to say that unless it is a unique circumstance where the person’s life is absolutely not viable and no chance of surviving, assisted suicide should not be allowed. Until there’s a line that says what is acceptable, there will be chaos. I also believe that talk is cheap, and while I am pro-life, I am also pro helping our people and not just saying what should be done. The elderly must not feel as though they are a burden; they must not just be thrown into nursing homes and they must feel as though they are appreciated for the wonderful people they are, like how people used to respect and take care of their elders. Ben Okri said, “The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering” (“Ben Okri Quotes.”). That is why I am for life.
“A quote by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.” Goodreads. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.
“Ben Okri Quotes.” BrainyQuote. Xplore, n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.
Harry, Robin. “Your life is not your own, keep your hands off it.” TV Fanatic. N.p., 15 Feb.
- Web. 21 Feb. 2017. https://www.tvfanatic.com/quotes/your-life-is-not-your-own-keep-your-hands-off-it/.