Euthanasia is a subject that many people prefer to avoid. It is a subject that has two distinct sides to it. Discussions usually include issues of morality, abuse of power and quality of life. Many people tend to forget about the benefits euthanasia offers the patient and family. If you were diagnosed with a terminal illness, you may be suffering towards the end of our life, reduced to a state that would distress your loved ones and make you miserable. Why is it that the pain must continue? Why is life something to be prolonged, something that must go on even if it brings pain to those closest to you?
Euthanasia should not be compared with death. When someone is terminally ill and in pain, death is not a choice but rather it is inevitable. However euthanasia is a choice that some may opt to take. Those that ask for euthanasia are in pain and suffering to a point where they would rather die peacefully rather than endure for another few days until their heart gives in. Does it not seem rather selfish of us to deny them peace while we watch them in agony? Why do we extend the lives of those that will not get better, who will not get relief from pain?
Many arguments that are opposed to euthanasia claim that mankind do not have the right to end a life. They argue that euthanasia shortens life and eliminates the chance for a patient to recover. However everyday thousands of animals die from the acts of man. Acts that range from casual slaughter to forceful euthanasia. Since when did the terminally ill recover from a fatal state? It is not as if a terminally ill patient can simply recover from a situation which all evidence points towards irrefutable death. In the countries that practise euthanasia, there are rules and strict requirements regarding the patients’ state of mind and physical wellbeing when a patient requests euthanasia. It is not as if someone with the flu can request to be euthanized, only those with no chance of recovery can even apply. Those who say that patients being euthanized may live for another year have obviously not done their research. A Dutch report into euthanasia in 1991 found that in 86 percent of euthanasia cases, euthanasia only shortened life by a maximum of a week and often only a few hours. This shows that euthanasia is more of an escape route for patients who would rather die now and end their agony instead of enduring for another two days.
Why should people be forced to stay alive? The decision of dying is very personal. The government should not be the ones who determine when you are allowed to die. This strips away your freedom of choice and your quality of life, just to extend your life by a few days. What I think is that your life is your own, from the day you were born to the day you die. You are the one who could be terminally ill, just waiting while the pain gets worse. Why prolong the life of one in pain who acknowledges their mortality and agrees to be euthanized? Not only does this suffering affect the patient but also family and friends who know that they can do nothing but wait. Many people all over the world suffer from pain towards the end of their life. Many of us in that position would wish for an end to the pain, but we are incapable of doing so ourselves. Instead we must endure past the point of weak minds and feeble limbs until the day we stop breathing.
Watching a loved one sick beyond help is distressing. When people talk about euthanasia they only consider the pain and wellbeing of the patient. However the families and friends of those in pain are affected as well. From personal experience, euthanasia can ease the suffering of families with their loved one’s dying. My 94 year old Dutch grandaunt had a series of medical conditions including organ failure. Every day she required pain medication which affected her ability to live at home and reduced her quality of life. Rather than be heavily medicated and continue to decline in health she elected to be euthanized in her own home with her family around her. This meant her family saw her as a brave, strong woman even at the end and they did not have to suffer with her through her pain, nor witness her decline. According to a recent study the average percent of terminally ill patients who die in pain is 55%. Would you like those odds if someone you loved was in a position where they had a terminal illness?
Euthanasia is a very opinionated topic, one that does not have a right or wrong answer but rather a topic that needs to be discussed fully. Euthanasia is not legal suicide but rather a symbol of choice, the last choice someone who is terminally ill can make. We should honour their right to end their pain and suffering. After all, we already claim the right to end an animal’s life without a second thought. Why do we refrain from the idea of giving terminally ill people an easier death surrounded by loved ones? We all know that dying in pain is very real for many people, why are we extending this pain?
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By Seth Smith