The Legalization of Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide Essay
There are currently only a few countries in the world have recognized the fundamental human right to bodily control by legalizing assisted suicide, however it is practiced almost everywhere, whether legal or not. The word “euthanasia” is translated from Greek and literally means “good death” or “easy death” (Smith, 2002). Euthanasia, also referred to as “assisted suicide”, is the act of a person (most often a physician) intentionally taking someone else’s life in order to eliminate or prevent severe pain (Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, 2008).
There are three types of euthanasia; voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary (this essay only encourages voluntary) (Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, 2008). Euthanasia is frowned upon in most societies around the world for moral, ethical and religious reasons – but this issue could be seen in a different light. There are many remarkably ill people around the world who suffer needlessly. Legalizing euthanasia would give people the ultimate rights over their own fate, save money for governments and hospitals, and end the unnecessary suffering of terminally ill patients.
We, as humans, should have the right to do what we want with both our lives and bodies. As stated in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, section 7: legal rights “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. ” (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982) The statement itself explains that everyone has the right to live, and that they cannot be deprived of it. So, if one doesn’t want to fulfill that right to live for legitimate reasons of their own, then they are being deprived of their own right to live.
The Sue Rodriguez case (1992) involved a Canadian woman who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease a year prior to fighting the legalization of assisted suicide. To quote Rodriguez “If I cannot give consent to my own death, whose body is this? Who owns my life? ” (CBC Canada, 2009). Rodriguez was suffering terribly, and she felt as though she had no reason to live anymore, yet there was no way to legally end her own life. After taking up her fight with the law, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against Rodriguez. Two years later, in 1994, she ended up committing suicide ith the assistance of an anonymous doctor (CBC Canada, 2009). The Sue Rodriguez case provides perfect reasoning as to why voluntary euthanasia should be legalized for multiple reasons. She was terminally ill and her psychological mindset was torturous. She knew that her life was better off being ended, yet she realized that she didn’t even have the right to see this through. The ending of her life two years later also proved that just because the act of suicide is considered illegal, it doesn’t mean people will be discouraged from committing said act.
This shows how strong this urge is in those afflicted with such great suffering and with no hope for recovery. Terminally ill patients are taking up valuable space in hospitals, as well as costing governments unnecessarily large sums of money (Euthanasia and Assisted suicide, 2008). This medical care and money could be spent on people that actually have a chance of survival, as opposed to patients that have extremely slim chances of being living (if that is their choice). Unfortunately, this goes against the “Hippocratic oath” [the pledge doctors take to save the patient’s to their best of their ability (MedTerms). . The oath states that doctors cannot give a patient any form of poison intended to end their life (Smith, 2002). This oath would still stand if euthanasia were to be legalized, and doctors would only go against the oath if it was the best decision for the patient (with their consent). Jack Kevorkian (1928-2011) (also known as “Doctor Death”) was a doctor and euthanasia activist who had actually admitted to committing acts of euthanasia himself (Biography). Kevorkian was the man who made the world aware of the existence of euthanasia, and publicized his opinions on the topic.
In the 1950s, while serving his residency at the University of Michigan hospital, Kevorkian was very fascinated by the idea of death (Biography). Throughout his life, he wrote academically about death and concocted many ideas that would shock the average person. In 1999, he began serving his 10-25 year sentence for second-degree murder (Biography), and was released in 2007 under parole conditions – and he was no longer allowed to provide suicide information to anyone (Biography). Kevorkian passed away on June third of this year.
He will always be associated with assisted suicide and for his groundbreaking opinions on a person’s right to make decisions about their own end, as well as the quote “dying is not a crime” (Biography). There are countries in the world who are forward thinking on this subject. Euthanasia has already recently been legalized in countries such as Switzerland, Belgium, and the Netherlands (CBC Canada, 2009). Very importantly in these countries, there appear to be no signs of the newly legalized act being abused (BBC News, 2009).
Should this situation remain this way, it may just set a good example for other countries i. e. dispelling the fear that if legalized, euthanasia could become overused and abused by physicians. It is inevitable that assisted suicide will continue to happen all over the world, whether it is legal or not (CBC Canada). Legalizing the act of euthanasia should come with strict government restrictions in order for there to be no abuse of the law.
The circumstances would limit legal euthanasia to terminally ill people who have little to no chance of ever living a healthy, happy life and this would have to be assessed by a few physicians and well documented for future reference. There would have to be other circumstances like such as their being a definite and set time where euthanasia is the last and only resort for the benefit of the patient (aside from life support). Mankind has no hesitation when it comes to putting down extremely ill pets to “put them out of their misery”, but why is this so different when it comes to other humans?
Today, we live in a society where we consider any form of humans killing humans to be a crime, which is a very simple view. Nobody wants to suffer, and if anyone were to be put in a position where they were on their death bed for a long period of time and in agonizing pain, they shouldn’t be forced to live through it. Everyone should have the right to make decisions that affect their bodies and lives; even the ultimate decision, when to end their life and therefore euthanasia should be internationally legalized.