Death is a sensitive topic. People just don’t like the idea of it, it’s natural, we want to survive. Looking death in the eye and accepting it is a part of our life just as much as breathing is difficult. We will all die – some of us will suffer others will die almost instantly, but it will happen to every one of us. Most of us hope to die of old age peacefully in our beds surrounded by family, but that’s probably not how it will happen. Instead, many of us will probably get sick from cancer or some other ailment – fight it for a while and if we’re lucky die quickly. Others will lay in the hospital long enough to suffer, long enough for most of your family to grow complacent and stop visiting, until finally it’s only you – alone with your suffering begging for death, but it just won’t come. Negative, I know, but a fact for a few of us.
So what are we to do? Which is a greater evil – watching a member of the human race suffer for days, weeks, or even months on end because we find it immoral to end a life with dignity or gracefully and painlessly choosing the time of our departure surrounded by family? What is the answer?
Who are the healthy to choose for the sick?
Moreover, who are we, the healthy, to choose for the sick? Especially since we cannot relate to their situation – if they are begging for a release with dignity who are we to deny it? Can we really say with certainty that endless suffering is better than death? If you say yes, how do you know? It seems to me that only the sick can say for sure – that choosing death is an individual and personal decision – one no man can make for another.
I have always found it ironic that we grant our pets, who can’t tell us what they want, the relief from suffering “out of love”, the very relief we deny an individual begging for the same option.
Fear of abuse – When Euthanasia is appropriate:
First of all, if you have read this blog before, you know that I am an advocate of personal choice. So typically a person who chooses for them self to be assisted to end their life should have such a choice. However, that of course can be abused. Even a sick person my be wrong about their ability to survive – and in some cases death may seem a better option. So we have to establish some sort of moral guidelines to when one may choose death over life.
For example, we would not want to allow a severely depressed person to engage in euthanasia simply because they are mentally unequipped to make that decision. Likewise we wouldn’t want a cancer patient to decide prematurely that death is a better option than treatment. We should choose life and healing whenever possible. I often think back to my hardest times of life, when I wanted to give up, and I am thankful I kept going. On the other hand we do not want to deny a physically tortured person on the doorstep of certain death the rights to go with dignity either. So a professional decision must be made – do we allow a person to choose or not and when?
First of all I think that the mental and physical capacity of an individual must be determined by a professional before one can be legally euthanized. This is simply to keep a perfectly healthy person who can be cured from making a decision that can’t be reversed. In fact, I would advocate having a mandatory second or third opinion. When making decisions about life there can be no margin for error. Above all, when a person can be saved, we should first choose life.
One may say “miracles happen”, but there are obvious circumstances when a person is dying. If you disagree then you probably haven’t been around a person in their final days when they can’t control their bowls, their bladder, and their skin is deteriorating because of sitting in their own human waste – worst of all they are of sound mind giving them the distinct torture of recognizing ever aspect of their pain and suffering. In these situations – how can we deny such a person the right to end their suffering?
Thus, if the situation is proclaimed dire and appropriate by a doctor(s), then a person should be allowed to pass with dignity.
We don’t like it:
People don’t like to talk about euthanasia because most of us can’t or choose not to imagine a time when we would be faced with a similar situation. Most of us will be lucky enough to never have to. It’s a moral dilemma and a topic of fear – so we ignore it and it becomes ever easier to just ban idea from society and our brains. Fear and a distaste for the idea prevents a truly intellectually honest conversation about the topic.
Should a decision like this be taken lightly? NO! However, it is one that should be protected and carefully monitored by doctors, families, and the very individual in question. The government should stay out of it.