Euthanasia - A Moral Issue

Studies in Religion

Voluntary Euthanasia is, basically, when a terminally ill patient decides that they do not wish to
prolong their life and longer, and wish to die by their own volition, with the aid of someone from the
medical profession.
This issue of Voluntary Euthanasia has only really become an issue in itís own right in the last
decade or so. Previously, the idea had not even entered anyoneís mind, as it was widespread opinion that
any form of suicide was wrong. But nowadays, opinions and knowledge have changed, and the topic of
Voluntary Euthanasia has become one of very widespread debate.
There are many arguments against it. Firstly, there is the old case that all human life is sacred. Not
animal life maybe, but all human life is a sacred thing and itís not for humans to decide when another
human being should die. The people who are against Voluntary Euthanasia say that anyone trying to
remove a life from the earth, before it is ready to go is playing God.
Another argument against the idea of Voluntary Euthanasia is the difficulty of doctors to
accurately diagnose a terminal illness. They are basically saying that the medical profession, despite some
public opinion, is not infallible, and does make some mistakes. Also, if the sickness is cancer, it may go
into remission, and then the person, if they were euthanised, would have died prematurely for no reason.
The next argument against the idea of Voluntary Euthanasia is the ambiguity of a valid consent
from the terminally ill patient. Many drugs prescribed to these patients usually have a nasty side effect,
such as depression, or clouding the patientís vision so that he or she would not be able to make any normal
judgments. In these cases, it would be near to impossible, to say if the person had been in a normal
mindframe when he or she made the decision to be euthanised.
This is compounded by the fact that the emotional burden on the terminally ill patients; that they
are disturbing their family, and taking up a hospital bed which might be used better on another more
important person with something to live for, is quite great and might cloud their judgment. If a law for
Voluntary Euthanasia was passed, then a lot of people who think like this would be euthanised, for no
Another argument, one which many people who are for Voluntary Euthanasia might consider just
simply fear-mongering and not a decent fact, is that of history. In Germany, before World War II, Hitler
had old Germans, normal citizens, not just Jews, euthanised. Involuntarily. This caused a big outcry and,
luckily, this horrendous occurrence ceased. However, the people who are against euthanasia say that
Voluntary Euthanasia could easily be abused by doctors and governments.
For example, if a doctor wished to make a patient feel as if he or she wanted to die, the doctor
could. But the doctor could also make the patient feel that he or she wanted to live, the doctor could again.
Therefore, the people against Voluntary Euthanasia say that this puts a dangerous power into the medical
professionís hands.
With the governments also, people believe that it could be easily abused. They say that the next
step onwards from Voluntary Euthanasia is Involuntary Euthanasia, and they do not wish to put this risk
into society.
Many people feel that palliative care is a better alternative to Voluntary Euthanasia. They also say
that they should not be euthanised out of compassion, both to them, and to their families. The medical
profession itself is also against Voluntary Euthanasia as it argues that it goes against all codes that it has
ever sworn to; their aim is to preserve live, not terminate it.
Finally, the danger that many people against Voluntary Euthanasia see, is that it is an
unenforceable law, many doctors will be able to find ways around the system, and maybe press a case to a
patient that they might dislike that they have no hope and that they should wish to die. Maybe more subtly,
but along the same lines. In this way, the doctor could be basically, just murdering the patient and using
Voluntary Euthanasia as an excuse.
However, there are also quite a few arguments for