Moral Permissibility of Euthanasia Voluntary Active Euthanasia Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Moral Permissibility of Euthanasia

Voluntary Active Euthanasia

Voluntary Active Euthanasia can be described as a perfectly competent patient's appeal and request to be aided in the process of dying. This act is completely voluntary and by the choice of the patient himself due to the medical condition that he or she might be facing. It is a simplistic appeal on part of the patient to be provided with the necessary ways or assistance in putting an end to their own life. There are various methods to go ahead with this process, which may involve giving the patient a certain form of drug, putting a halt to some kind of treatment that the patient was undergoing or any other means of assistance. This form of providing an access to the person to commit suicide is referred to as assisted suicide where the doctor, physician or person in charge aids the person with their own will to go ahead with the act (Otlowski, 1997).

"Merciton" is one example of assisted suicide whereby a lethal drug is hooked up to the patient who initiates the intake but is to be constantly monitored because assistance is required in order to take the process forward. Although this is assisted, it is entirely up to the patient whether or not they want to continue with it and the physician is only involved to the extent of helping out. The satisfaction and right to make the decisions is wholly dependent upon the patient. Voluntary Active Euthanasia or any form of assisted suicide is banned and illegal in most countries due to moral, ethical as well as religious reasons. Some countries have serious legal implications for those who are caught in the act or evidence suggests that they have been assisting in going forth with such an act.

Moral permissibility of Voluntary Active Euthanasia

Although various countries have stated euthanasia as an illegal act and have held serious implications against it, it is still best to consider the other side of the story and reason out why this concept exists and what the motives of people who subject to the act really are. Realistically speaking, no one wants to die and they all want to live a happy, healthy and prosperous life. Then how do people "voluntarily" choose to put an end to their life. They must have some valid and negotiable arguments for which they claim to opt for suicide.

Let's consider the scenario of a terminally ill individual suffering from a serious epidemic or non-curable disease like cancer or HIV where even if there are chances of survival, they are an extreme financial drain and the end result of the chances of survival are extremely thin. Also, the treatments of such diseases such as chemotherapy are extremely painful for the patient and they hurt more than the disease itself. There are few people who want to go through that pain in order to survive, while the others are usually done with the pain they have had to live through. This is sometimes the reason why people opt for active voluntary euthanasia. It is not because they do not want a perfectly healthy life, instead they do not think they can go through more pain and they are sometimes done with their sufferings (Keown, 2002).

While considering the extent of the disease, the financial cost and the pain it is going to inflict, it is also reasonable to consider the age of the patient. A young life sometimes seems to be more preferable to save rather than an individual who is at a later stage in life and has lived their youth fruitfully and happily. We do realize that every country has a limited amount of resources that they can utilize and spend; even the medical and health resources are generally restricted compared to the amount of people suffering from diseases.

Hence, the act of curing a patient and the medical facilities provided are in a way restricted and have to be carefully selected on whom to utilize them. There are numerous cancer patients fighting out there but only few have the resources and the financial balances to even pay for the treatment. Even if the treatment is subsidized by the government itself or by other agencies, it seems like a preferable option to apply them on a life that is young and may be able to repay the expenses and add to the country's development rather than a patient who may already be retired from their job and saving their life may only cause more strain on their families and the economy as a whole. If the patient themselves opts for the option of active euthanasia, it is okay to consider the option. In the old age and as the person ages, their resistance capacity also diminishes and their chances of survival become thinner. The patients that realize this reality sometimes offer to put an end to their own suffering and ask for assistance in ending the pain and saving themselves as well as their families from going through that burden (Dowbiggin, 2003).

Speaking from a religious point-of-view, some religions argue that the choice of life and death does not rest in the hands of the individuals. Instead, they suggest that this is a decision for God to make because he is the sole entity to decide who gets to live and whose life has come to an end. If we take it from this point of argument, then maybe all other factors and arguments put forward might seem meaningless but sometimes it is okay to look at things from another perspective. Judging from the societal view or on moral terms, the person themselves have full autonomy and say in whether or not they want to survive.

No one knows the pain of the disease or suffering more than the person who is going through it and it is just as painful for the loved ones to watch someone so close go through the suffering and that state where they fight for their survival. These treatments do not come easy and in the world and economy where it is difficult for many to acquire the finances to feed their families twice a day, paying for such treatments might end up crushing them completely. Even if they choose to spend all their savings and end up selling whatever they own to get their loved one treated, it may be that the chances of saving that person are completely nil and spending so much would be a lost cause and in the end it would create even more severe implications of the family that the person leaves behind if they do not end up making it.

Also, it should be remembered that this is not a form of murder or the person is not just committing suicide because they have had enough from life. This scenario is very different from these two types.

Considering other cases of euthanasia, there may be a case where there is the threat to a pregnant woman and her baby and only one of them can be saved. The woman might choose to end her own life in order to bring her baby into this world and give it a healthy life to live. If the woman herself decides that it is more important for her child to survive, then it is her decision because she is the one in charge of the two lives. In either case, one of the lives has to be put an end to so it is the choice of the mother and the family to choose who it is more worthy to save (Gorsuch, 2006).

Abortion may also be able to comply with these circumstances slightly. For instance, if the mother finds out in the early stages of her pregnancy that the birth of the child may be a threat to her life and even if they are able to save both the lives, the baby has high chances of turning out to be mentally challenged or with any other form of serious deformity, then the parents might chose to end the pregnancy and abort the child. Since the child itself is out of question in making the decision, the parents are the ones who attain the responsibility of making such a decision. The family might not want an abnormal child or do not have the finances to look after the child so they opt for this. It does not exactly comply with what euthanasia is all about but it does sort of have the same basic background.

Voluntary Active Euthanasia differs from suicide in many ways. Suicide can be for various reasons such as depression, loneliness, mental retardation or other such issues where the person is not necessarily thinking straight but can be cured and is healthy otherwise. It is important however to keep in mind the motives for which voluntary euthanasia is considered and the fact that the person, in their clear and normal state…

Cite This Term Paper:

"Moral Permissibility Of Euthanasia Voluntary Active Euthanasia" (2012, May 30) Retrieved January 21, 2018, from

"Moral Permissibility Of Euthanasia Voluntary Active Euthanasia" 30 May 2012. Web.21 January. 2018. <>

"Moral Permissibility Of Euthanasia Voluntary Active Euthanasia", 30 May 2012, Accessed.21 January. 2018,