Euthanasia is the deliberate ending of life of a person suffering from an incurable
disease. It is also called mercy killing. Much of society today is in favor of euthanasia
because they think we have the right to decide for ourselves if it is right to terminate
someone’s life. The more widely held opinion is against euthanasia primarily because
society feels that we as human beings are in no position to behave as God and end
someone’s life. The double edge-sword of euthanasia is that while proponents say it puts
an end to useless suffering, those who object believe its inherent evil is that it will put an
end to “useless” people.
The potential effects of a legalized practice of euthanasia are serious. The
improvement in terminal care is a direct result of attempts made to minimize suffering. If
that suffering had been terminated by killing the patients who bore it, then we may never
have known the advances in the control of pain, nausea, breathlessness, and other terminal
symptoms that the last twenty years have seen. Some diseases that were terminal a few
decades ago are now easily cured by newly developed treatments. This means that if we
accept euthanasia now, we may never discover effective treatments for those diseases that
are now terminal.
Every doctor can tell stories of being proven wrong in their prognosis’ to patients
or of people who were diagnosed as terminally ill and recover. Imagine, if euthanasia
were legal, most of those people would have died. That is a major risk too great to take.
Pressure on the patient is a cause of many deaths. Plenty of patients feel guilty for
imposing burdens on those who care for them, even when the families are happy to bear
the burden. The result is a request for euthanasia and the death of a great many patients
who do not wish to die.
Much of today’s health care is provided through managed care and health
maintenance organizations (HMO’s). Under this system, doctors and hospitals receive
more money for doing less for a patient. The economics of this system could be very open
to “cost effective” mercy killings.
It may seem an over dramatic analogy, but “Dr. Death” or Jack Kevorkian, in his
testimony at his trial for murdering a man, said that what he did provided “a final solution”
for his patient. Adolf Hitler also believed in providing a “final solution.” Euthanasia is
abused and will be further abused if it is legalized more. In the Netherlands, it is practiced
publicly. Abuses arise when a patient is wealthy and an inheritance is at stake, when the
doctor has made mistakes in diagnosis and treatment and hopes to avoid detection, or
when insurance coverage for treatment costs is about to expire.
There is no question that by letting a suffering patient die on request, we shorten the
period of suffering. I must admit that I wouldn’t want to endure prolonged suffering and
pain. However, we must not give into the euthanasia “quick fix”, or thousands of people,
such as the disabled, the poor, the elderly, and the young, will be in great danger.
Euthanasia is a type of mercy killing which devastates many humans.