Should Euthanasia or Physician-assisted Suicide Be Legal?
There are two opposing views concerning the issue of whether physician-assisted suicide should be legal or not. Those who think that euthanasia should be legalized provide the examples of suffering incurable patients who deserve to decide whether they want to live or not. They also remind that it is significant to consider that a suffering patient may be a burden for his or her relatives after years of being in a coma. Moreover, they present evidence that legalizing mercy killing will not have a harmful effect on minorities. Nevertheless, there are certain reasons for forbidding mercy killing and the society is not ready for it to be allowed.
One of the most obvious reasons to legalize euthanasia is the possibility to end sufferings of the person who is terminally ill. Although nowadays medicine is advanced, it is a well-known fact that there are still illnesses that nobody can cure. For instance, a patient who has terminal cancer may suffer from terrible pains and realize that he or she will spend the last days of the life in agony. People should be allowed “to end their lives which have lost all quality” (Girsh). Realizing that nothing can relieve the pain is very frustrating. It is very difficult for a patient not only physically but also morally. A person who knows that the miracle will not happen and that doctors are not able to do anything dreams to die as soon as possible. However, legalizing euthanasia may have negative consequences as well. The unwillingness of the government to legalize euthanasia does not mean that anybody wants patients to suffer. The aim of the government is to protect the citizens of the country, and people who support legalizing mercy killing and blame the government for not doing it should understand it. The government seeks to “prevent abuse and to protect people from unscrupulous doctors” (Marker & Hamlon). Mercy killing may have a bad impact on the quality of medicine in the future. Taking into account that mercy killing is legal, doctors may stop fighting for a patient’s life even when there are still chances to save it. It is natural for a human being not to do more that somebody asks him or her to do.
Another reason for legalizing mercy killing is the concern about the way the relatives of a terminally ill patient feel. The government should not be in charge to decide who deserves painless death and who has to suffer no matter what he or she wants. Moreover, it is difficult for officials to consider all the details of every particular case. A patient’s relatives and friends are the most affected in this situation, and “these intensely personal and socially expensive decisions should not be left to governments, judges or legislators” (“Planning for Worse than Taxes”). For instance, if a patient is in a coma and there is no possibility that he or she will ever emerge from a coma, there is often the moment when relatives have no more strength to look at the person realizing that he or she is only half-alive. The problem is that not all people are good and some people may take advantage of mercy killing. Firstly, one of the relatives may try to kill a person to come into an inheritance. For instance, an attempt is not successful and that person is critically ill. With the right for relatives to agree to euthanasia, nobody will ever know what has happened. Secondly, mercy killing may be profitable for medical facilities; thus, “the medical community has to have restrictions on what it may do to people with disabilities” (Drake). Unfortunately, there was already the case when a medical facility decided that if a newborn child would be disabled, then it was no use saving his or her life. Consequently, legalizing mercy killing may help to hide such intentions of medical facilities.
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The analyzed issue is also controversial because people are concerned about the possible damage that minorities can experience as a result of legalizing mercy killing. On the one hand, most doctors are prominent people who should realize that all people are equal. The statistics of deaths in Oregon prove that doctors do not violate the rights of the minorities; “although 2.6 percent of Oregonians are African American, no African American patients have chosen assisted suicide” (Ganzini). Mercy killing is legalized in Oregon and the data confirms that the minority groups do not prevail in the statistics of people who have agreed to euthanasia. On the other hand, the data in Oregon is scarce to argue that legalizing mercy killing will not affect minorities. The study lasted for four years. It always takes time till the prejudice enters a particular sphere. It is also possible that during those years there was simply no chance to choose between, for instance, a poor patient and a rich one. Thus, sooner or later, “those who will be most vulnerable to abuse, error, or indifference are the poor, minorities” (“When Death Is Sought”). One day a doctor may choose to save a millionaire’s life instead of taking care of a retired housecleaner, or a neighbor’s life instead of the one of an immigrant. Therefore, no one can guarantee that this will never happen because giving preference is in the human nature.
Although there are reasonable arguments to allow mercy killing, the government should always remember about the possible consequences of passing such law. Legalizing euthanasia may lead to the chaos, and too many people may die because of somebody’s will to benefit from their deaths. Even if to consider the sufferings of some patients, there will be more victims when the government allows euthanasia than when it forbids it.