The Cover Letter
Many arguments towards and against euthanasia (mercy killing) have emerged without a common ground. Those who are for euthanasia are arguing that it is a person’s right to choose between life and death and, therefore, they should not be subjected to great suffering; while those against euthanasia are arguing that it is against the God’s will and that it reduces the dignity of human beings.
This essay explores the arguments of two extreme positions and based on the arguments provide a middle ground position on the issue. While the essay provides a middle ground position on the issue, readers, whether for or against euthanasia, should not take the position to be absolute and divert from their initial positions. The reader should also know that it is usually good to take middle ground positions in critical issues, such as this one.
Providing a middle ground position on the topic is similar to providing a judgment after evaluating and analyzing arguments of both extreme positions. The points for and against euthanasia were all strong, and one can be convinced by either side of the arguments. The arguments revolved around God, human dignity, humanity, the value of life, morality, and the rule of law. This means that people make judgments and decide according to their view as to how the topic relates to the above mentioned topics. Both extreme positions do not agree with a point, if it does not fully support their view. Furthermore, they do not weigh both sides of the arguments and provide a middle ground position.
After consideration that judgments and decisions can be realized by developing middle ground positions, one’s perspective towards the topic has changed. Since both extreme positions contain the strong points which are enough to convince people, evaluating and analyzing them and coming up with a middle ground position greatly help.
The research writing process was not without difficulties. Since many popular topics had been tackled before, and there was no need of repeating them, finding a topic for discussion was the first challenge encountered. After making a list of possible discussion topics, it was also difficult to choose the one for discussion. While researching, writing and editing was not difficult, making a sound judgment and coming up with a middle ground position was slightly challenging, taking into consideration that one of the extreme positions was previously being supported.
Researching the topic was very enjoyable. The arguments for both extreme positions were very strong and convincing, and without sound judgment, one can be left wondering which position to take. It was, therefore, interesting to strike a balance between the two, and come up with a middle ground position. The assignment teaches people that good judgment does not only involve supporting one of the extreme positions in a topic or issue, but also taking a middle ground position that can satisfy the two extremes. While this was a class assignment, it can be practically applied in the real world when making important decisions, including the national issues.
Euthanasia is a topic that has generated numerous debates around the world with both extreme positions believing that their stand is the best. While some countries legalize euthanasia, others do not. The topic becomes real when, for instance, a close relative is in great pain and suffering and demands mercy killing, but either family members or the law do not allow. The relative then continues to suffer for a period of six months; reminding one to allow him to undergo mercy killing, before dying naturally. It was, therefore, important to inform the two extremes, using this assignment; that it is sometimes good to take a middle ground position in such controversial topics.
Readers should be aware that the ground taken by this research is a middle ground position taken after analyzing and evaluating arguments of the two extreme positions, and is not meant to change the current positions of readers.
Euthanasia, also known as mercy killing, is an act of intentionally killing a person to relive him or her from great suffering or pain. This does not apply to an act of giving someone the pain-relieving drugs that have an effect of shortening his or her life. Euthanasia is said to occur when people look at the intention. Therefore, allowing patients who are terminally sick to think that there is nothing can be done to relieve their sickness or pain is what is referred to as euthanasia.
There have been numerous debates between those supporting and those opposing to euthanasia. This has led nations to develop laws legalizing or illegalizing it, depending on their stand on the issue. Those in its favor strongly support such laws and encourage friends and families to accept the mercy killing when in great pain; while those against condemn laws legalizing it and provide strong reasons to prove their stand. Since a consensus regarding euthanasia has not been arrived at and will not be arrived at any soon, it is prudent to develop a middle ground position which may be acceptable to both sides.
Those people who are for euthanasia argue that when people go through their last illnesses, they usually develop symptoms that cannot be treated, and are allowed to endure the suffering longer than they may wish. It is, therefore, better and kinder to let such people die a dignified death than let them continue suffering, as they will eventually die (Maughan 2). This argument assumes that patients ask for euthanasia because there is no treatment for their symptoms or illnesses. It, therefore, excludes physical symptoms, as they are usually treatable and their pain reduced. The treatments of the symptoms, in this case, are assumed to be managed by specialists at home, in specialized hospitals, or in pain control units.
This nullifies those sufferings from motor neuron disease, which usually are choking to death, as their effects can be controlled under close care and monitoring; and other unpleasing diseases, such as paralysis, whose effects may not be reversed, but it leaves patients alive. While patients may be receiving the physical support through medication, emotional and spiritual support may render them not request for euthanasia. Pro-euthanasia, therefore, advocates for a dignified death in cases where physical, emotional, and spiritual help is totally not applicable.
Every person has his or her fundamental ‘right’, including the right to die. Pro- euthanasia people argue that patients have a right to die and instead of being subjected to great pain and suffering, they should be left to choose between life and death. The right to die here means the right to have one’s life terminated by a doctor, having satisfactorily satisfied that the patient’s condition cannot be treated and will die as a result.
This position is, however, impractical; it will interfere with the rights and freedom of doctors. The right of death of a patient will grant a doctor an opportunity to kill. In addition, a person’s autonomy will be negatively affected; important people in the society would fear asking medical assistance from doctors, fearing that doctors may recommend euthanasia. Doctors may also misuse this to ease their work of taking care of critically ill patients.
Economists for euthanasia, such as Jacques Attali, argue that it is very costly to keep alive old people, who cannot reproduce. The cost of keeping terminally ill patients, even after knowing that they will die because of their condition, is equally expensive. This position is impractical, however. The costs of maintaining the dying patients are usually exaggerated due to the intensive nature of care required. Otherwise, it only needs nursing care and its costs are not higher as compared to those for curing illnesses.
Arguments against Euthanasia
Those against euthanasia argue that it is unnecessary to practice the act, as every illness can be physically, emotionally and spiritually controlled. Moreover, they are concerned with the integrity of doctors and family members (Zdenkowski 4). When doctors are given the chance to mercifully kill the terminally-ill patients, they will misuse it when they feel a patient’s condition will be demanding. The society’s regard for doctors will also decrease (Goel 228). Family members of the sick person, who are tired of taking a lot of their time caring for their patients, may also take advantage and abuse euthanasia. They may force their patients to request for it, or privately arrange with doctors. Some family members may have interest in their patient’s wealth or properties, and may use euthanasia as a scapegoat to inherit them.
This view is, however, impractical. A doctor has a calling of saving lives, and any duty he or she performs is geared towards making a patient feel better. It is not, therefore, practical for a doctor to recommend euthanasia to a patient, who goes to seek help from him; instead, he’ll prefer to refer the patient to a different healthcare facility. In addition, the loss of a family member is a great blow to families. Many family members may wish their patients could stay longer with them even in their sick conditions than die.
It is against the sixth commandment of God to kill the person (Essex 205). Those against euthanasia argue that God’s sixth commandment prohibits an intentional killing of a person; which euthanasia advocates for. The Bible distinguishes between intentional and unintentional killing. It does this by evaluating the type of weapon used for killing and the kind of enmity existing between a killer and his victim. Though there may be no enmity between a doctor and a patient in euthanasia, the intension to kill the patient is ill. God is the giver and taker of life and should be the one to deprive a person of life.
Every person has a natural right to life, and denying a person this right on the basis of relieving him or her from pain and suffering is not good (Pollard 5). Euthanasia goes against this rule, as it allows patients in great suffering and pain to be relieved through mercy killing. Doctors, by doing this, have their freedom and rights of protecting patients’ lives and making them feel better by relieving them from their pains. No one knows where people go and what they feel after death, and it is wrong for those advocating for euthanasia to purport that they relieve patients from their great pain and suffering.
Practicing euthanasia makes doctors go against their moral standards and is, therefore, morally wrong. When doctors swear their oaths, they promise to take care of the lives of patients and not to give any medicine when requested or suggest issuance of medicines that can cause death to patients. This position is impractical; with the development of technology and lifestyle, many types of illnesses emerge, some of them cause days or even years of unbearable pain and suffering to patients, which may bring a medical condition to the care giver. Can such patients be kept for many years at the expense of affecting the care givers?
Middle Ground Position
Based on the above extreme position arguments, the middle ground is to allow euthanasia to be performed without infringing patients’ right to life, and having consulted with all stakeholders. This is the best solution to strike a balance between the two extreme positions.
Some issues may be argued for a very long time without coming to a conclusion. Taking a middle ground position in such arguments leaves all parties satisfied. Euthanasia should, therefore, be performed without infringing the patients’ right to life, and after consulting with all stakeholders. It should always be the last resort.