For all human beings death is one of the most intricate truths to cope with. In spite of this, people take decisions to finish their lives, which in turn result in ending their pain and suffering. This practice is known as euthanasia, or even commonly called as assisted suicide by those who are against the practice completely.
However, whatever term we may use to label it, it is an issue that society should become more familiar with. For instance few countries like Switzerland have legalized the practice and extend great support to those who want to end their lives so as to get away from the detriment of their disorders. However, this practice is only legal and offered only to those who are going through terminal illnesses or vegetative states. Although there are many controversies that surrounds euthanasia, there are numerous religious activists and humanitarian groups that are totally against it.
Honoring the Right to Life and the Values of the person exercising that Right
Human spirit as one of the strengths, exposed in the life experience of a lot of people having disabilities, is the capability to attain good self-concept and positive body image regardless of the negative responses around them. Just as our life is precious to us, similarly, it is equally important and precious to anyone else too. Thus, at a basic human level we all experience bliss, love, care, delight, grief, pain, sadness, isolation, and love and whether we are born normal or with any disability, none has a right (parents, society or doctors) to take the decision on ending it.
There have been many cases of euthanasia in the past, one of which is of Jodie and Mary, who were conjoined twins, born in Manchester in the year 2000. According to the doctors, if no intervention had taken place, both Jodie and Mary could have potentially died in three months time. They also said that if separated, one of the twins would have definitely died, while the other twin would have had the chance to live.
Much debate has been made regarding the ethics of this particular case, especially because the parents were against an intervention like euthanasia or that resulted in the intentional death of one of the twins and considered it as same as murder. However, the operation was carried out successfully, against the wishes of the parents, and Jodie who was stronger twin was given the organs needed for her survival, while Mary's life ended. The question is does society at large or the doctors have any right to decide to end a life? In an article by Richard Doerflinger Assisted Suicide: Pro-Choice or Anti-Life, the author has focused on medical-moral issues, ethics in science and clearly explained as to why the practice of assisted suicide or euthanasia, is completely wrong (1989).
I totally agree with Doerflinger's main argument against euthanasia and that it may lead to corruption and misuse by all those involved. According to the author, health care providers in search of economic gain, will obviously use euthanasia to their advantage, while doctors, who are short of time or space will also impose euthanasia on patients whether it is in patients' best interest or not. And last but surely not least, euthanasia will one way or another awaken the beast within all of us, since "skill and the instinct to kill" are within human beings and thus, this cycle of killing another human soul will never stop (1989). In fact, there are many patterns where one can see that the serial killers caught by the police defend their actions as a way of mercy on their victims to provide them a form of relief from their troubled lives i.e. euthanasia.
Furthermore, another such case is of Tracy Latimer who was murdered by her own father, Robert Latimer. According to him the proposed surgery given by the doctors would remove Tracy's pain but at the same time leave her leg "forever floppy." Yet of what possible relevance is that to the consideration of Tracy's well being; or indeed to her life? Even though Robert Latimer's appeal of his second-degree murder conviction challenges that he "had the legal right to decide to commit suicide for his daughter by virtue of her complete lack of physical and intellectual abilities." However, we must question as to why he was convicted of second-degree murder rather than first-degree murder, when the evidence and other details leave little ambiguity that he intentionally and consciously planned the manner and means of his daughter's death (Derksen, 2010).
Although, Latimer has put forward a significant concern about Tracy's hip joint surgery that would result in a mutilation of her daughter's body. Again body-piercing (ears, nose, stomach etc.) to many people is mutilating, but values of everyone are changing on a daily basis and what seems to be as a mutilation to one may be natural or beautiful to another.
As a human being, I, too, find it exceptionally comfortable to feel sympathy for a parent's anguish and sorrow seeing a sick child in pain. But does this compassion extend to the justification of murdering a 5-year-old child? There is pain and suffering in every one's life. But who are we to decide for another person's death and call it as preferable mercy or kindness? Life is the most precious and personal possession; and whether the quality of that individual is normal or not, nobody can judge the value of another individual's life.
Here, we can quote the minimum conception briefly stated as an effort to guide one's behavior by reason ? that is, to do what there are the best reasons for doing ? while at the same time giving equal importance to the interests of every individual who will be involved and influenced by one's conduct or behavior. Thus, we can easily seen minimum conception in the case study of Tracy Latimer whose father decided to end her life who had no right to decide to end his daughter's life. Her life should have not be shortened or ended just because her quality of life was not normal.
Here, along with other things, these examples give a picture of what it means to be a careful or conscientious moral agent, who has actually impartial concern along with the interests of others affected by what he or she does; at the same time carefully select facts and study their implications; accepts values of conduct only after examining them to ensure they are sensible; listen to reason even when it means that his/her earlier convictions may have to be amended; and finally, act on the end result of this deliberation.
Another case that ended a life for the benefit of other lives was of Baby Theresa. She was born anencephalic, without a brain. Here, her parents decided to donate her organs to children who might benefit from transplantation. Even the physicians were in support of the parents' decision, though their country law was against it.
The question is it ethical to remove Baby Theresa's or any such child's organs, following in her immediate death in order to save the lives of other children? Few argued by defending the parents' decision to donate their dying child's organs for "the greater good" and weighed features significant to "quality of life." According to them it isn't murder to speed up the pain free demise of a futile case and that "playing God" always happen when providers interfere in order to save a life.
But again would it have been right to remove the infant's organs, thereby causing her immediate death, to help other children? It just does not seem right to use people as means to attain other people's ends or in other words it is unethical to kill in order to save. It's unethical to kill person A to save person B.
According to those who were with the parents' decision agreed on the given suggestion based on the idea that, because baby Theresa will die anyway and her organs were doing her no good, other children, could benefit from them i.e. could use the well-functioning organs of baby Theresa and replace them with their own troubling organs. Is this a sound argument? Removing her organs would harm Theresa, because without them she would die immediately.
But for many people being alive is a benefit only if it enables one to carry on normal activities, have quality of life, and have thoughts, feelings, and relations with others around. While, anyone with absence of such things, and only has mere biological existence is worthless. Another group of people who were against the parents' decision rightly said that we should not use people as means for other people as it is completely wrong. Taking Baby Theresa's organs means that using her as a means to other people's ends. The idea that we should not "use" people is obviously a right frame of thought or conduct. In order to justify this, consider the…