An essay donated by Sloan Zimmerman
Euthanasia: The Right Choice for Some
There are many widely debated topics that divide, and even alienate,
people in our country. One such subject has been argued about for a very
long time, and still, nothing much has been done about it. Euthanasia, also
known as Physician Assisted Suicide or PAS, concerns many people. Some are
worried that physicians would kill people against their will or without their permission if euthanasia were made legal. Others believe that life
is a gift from God, and it therefore should not end unless it is God's will.
This train of thought does not make sense. Euthanasia can help relieve the
extreme suffering of many people, and can be a preferred choice over slow,
painful and often extremely expensive deaths.
The abuse of euthanasia by doctors is nothing to fear. Specific
conditions can be established under which a person may ask for and be
granted euthanasia. For example, a physician may be prevented from actually
killing a person, or taking specific action to kill a person. They could
set up an apparatus, so that when the patient presses a button or removes a
needle, they actually begin the euthanasia process themselves. If a person
asking for help in committing suicide was going through a period of
depression or was not "of sound mind", they would not be given euthanasia.
Instead, they would be given treatment for their depression. Neither family
or friends could ask for help in place of the person requesting assistance.
No one other than the patient could decide whether or not their life was
worth living, or whether or not they could continue to contribute to
society. Such guidelines would tightly restrict euthanasia so that it is
not abused or initiated improperly.
Another way people justify their claim that euthanasia is wrong is
through their religion or faith. People have claimed that suicide
(physician-assisted or not) is "considered as a rejection of God's
sovereignty and loving plan". 1 Others claim that "we are obligated to
accept life gratefully and preserve it for His honor and the salvation of
our souls". 2 These very religious people try to use their beliefs to
forbid anyone else from practicing or supporting euthanasia. However, do
we not live in a country established to protect individual rights and
freedoms, including the right to freely practice (or not) the faith of our
choice? It is against our constitution and customs to force a religious
principle or religious-based law on all people whether they practice that
particular religion or not. If we allow these religious beliefs to govern
our laws, then we are going against everything that so many of our ancestors
fought for -- religious freedom for all.
Euthanasia can be of great benefit to the patients most in need of it.
Many people live the ends of their lives in severe, almost unbearable pain.
Euthanasia would only speed up the inevitable, but would save those persons
from so much needless suffering. Euthanasia is also sometimes sought when
the necessary medical expense to prolong a person's life for a very short
time becomes incredibly large. Such patients may wish to pass any money on
to relatives in their wills, or they may not wish to bankrupt their family
by their final illness. In still other cases, people are affected by a
serious disorder or disease that greatly diminishes their quality of life.
They may not wish to continue their hard life with no hope of relief.
Still others feel that being severely ill and being cared for so
continuously causes a loss of independence and dignity. Even if they never
actually choose euthanasia, many wish to have the option available if it
ever becomes necessary.
It should be apparent that euthanasia can be a positive option. Many
people's severe suffering can be eliminated, merely by speeding up the
inevitable natural process of death. I feel that those who oppose
euthanasia, or use some of the counter-arguments I have mentioned, have just
not thought thoroughly about the issue from the viewpoint of a suffering
patient near the end of life. Restrictions and guidelines can prevent the
abuse of euthanasia, and religion is not a valid or appropriate reason. It
should not be in anyone's power to force their religion beliefs into the law
and onto those who do not share that religion. The minds of such people
should be moved, or at least an attempt should be made to convince them.
I plan to send a letter to the authors of a web site on euthanasia.
Hopefully they will take my thoughts and arguments into consideration. But
if they do not, I still intend to keep influencing people, even if it is
just by debating the issue at home. If I can properly express my opinions
to others, then there is a greater possibility that they will change their
minds, or pass on my thoughts. I could also write to people such as
journalists who have more of an influence on society than I do. In any
case, I hope to change the minds of those who still reject euthanasia. Even
if I persuade only one person, it will be worth the effort.
- "Declaration on Euthanasia," Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1980-MAY-05,
- "Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd edition, Article 5, Topic 2280,"
Originally posted: 2005-NOV-22
Latest update: 2011-AUG-13
Author: Sloan Zimmerman