The debate over euthanasia persists today as this issue evokes absolutely controversial views from proponing euthanasia to its total denial.
In this regard, it is possible to refer to the position of supporters of euthanasia, such as E.J. Emanuel. Basically, the position of supporters of euthanasia is similar in many countries of the world. Traditionally, euthanasia is defined as an action targeting at relief of sufferings of a patient and implies ending of the life of the patient who is terminally ill in a painless or minimally painful way. In such a way, euthanasia implies the end of the life of a patient to end his or her sufferings and this act is carried out by a physician. In this respect, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that the consent of the patient or his or her relatives is needed. Normally, it is the patient who takes decision on euthanasia, while, in some cases, when a patient cannot take decision, being in coma, for instance, it is relatives who can desire to put the end to sufferings of the patient. In such a way, proponents of euthanasia argue that euthanasia can never be viewed as a murder because the physician performs his or her professional duties to relieve sufferings of the patient and fulfill the will of the patient (Emanuel, 632).
In addition, it is possible to argue that euthanasia does not necessarily intend the death of a patient. In actuality, the death is rather hasted. What is meant here is the fact that the death of the patient is inevitable and physicians can use euthanasia to hasten the death in order to avoid unnecessary physical sufferings of patients. Secondly, euthanasia is not necessarily unethical termination of a patient’s life because it may be viewed as the practical realization of a patient’s will to remove the life support. Finally, euthanasia is not abusive since, instead of sufferings of a patient, it brings relief
Nevertheless, the aforementioned arguments of proponents of euthanasia do not persuade opponents of euthanasia, such as Battle, 194). The latter argue that euthanasia is absolutely unethical and, what is more, they view euthanasia as a form of murder and, therefore, a crime.
At the same time, it is necessary to remember about patients, their needs and rights. It should be said that, in this respect, the view on euthanasia may also vary considerably from the rejection to the agreement with the necessity of its implementation. In such a way, euthanasia and its legalization provoke numerous discussions which basically refer to ethical sphere but, at the same time, they need to be legally regulated that implies that the legislation concerning euthanasia should be introduced to eliminate existing contradiction in regard to this problem. In this respect, the position of health care specialists and the public opinion are of a paramount importance since any changes in legislation concerning the problem of euthanasia should be primarily based on their acceptance by specialists and gain the public support.
In this respect, it is worth of noting that even health care professionals stand against the legalization of euthanasia. The opponents of euthanasia view it as the unethical termination of life support for doctors should maintain and save human life but not end it as euthanasia implies. Also, euthanasia is perceived as highly abusive since it violates the basic human right, the right of life.
In addition, it is important to remember about the psychological state of patient which ask for euthanasia. In fact, euthanasia is a form of suicide for patients, who need the assistance and supervision of physicians to carry out their will to commit a suicide. However, opponents of euthanasia (Battle, 196) argue that the psychological state of terminally ill patients may be unstable and, therefore, they can take decision on euthanasia being in a state of depression or even being mentally ill. Obviously, it is quite difficult to reveal psychological problems of patients who ask for death. On the other hand, any form of suicide is abnormal for humans and the desire of death indicates to psychological problems of patients, which, though, can be explained by objective factors, such as unbearable physical sufferings of patients.
Thus, the solution of the problem of legalizing or banning euthanasia is essential. In this regard, it is possible to suggest introducing legal changes, which could ban the application of euthanasia without the consent of a patient and his/her relatives. On the other hand, there should be an opportunity for patients and their relatives to conduct euthanasia. At this point, the legislation should admit euthanasia only in cases, when the further physical life of patients is pointless, for instance, when patients’ life is maintained by special medical equipment solely and there is no hope of recovery. In fact, such situations are cases, when patients would definitely die and they are virtually dead but the only thing that keeps them living is the medical equipment.
Batlle, J. C. “Legal Status of Physician-Assisted Suicide.” Journal of American Medicine. 278.19, September 29, 2003.
Emanuel, E. J. “What is the Great Benefit of Legalizing Euthanasia of Physician-Assisted Suicide?” Ethics. 109.3, 1999: 629-642.