Voluntry Active Euthanasia
In Dan Brock’s “voluntary active euthanasia”, Brock discusses some of the reasons which supports the idea to allow voluntary active euthanasia. He argues against killing of the patient involuntary and states that it is acceptable to let the patient die by not taking away his or her life. I will agree with Brock’s view on legalizing the use of active ethunesia because patient’s autonomy should be respected. I will disagree with the legalization of physician assisted suicide based on it’s consequences, effects on the society and religious issues.
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Euthanasia is defined as killing or allowing the patient to die which prevents further suffering. The two kinds of euthanasia are active and passive euthanasia. Active euthanasia is defined as injecting drugs or medicines given on patient’s request which causes death and is beneficial for the patient’s health condition. On the other hand, passive euthanasia is defined as withdrawing the patient from life sustaining treatment by removing machines or feeding tube etc. The difference between active and passive euthanasia is that active euthanasia specifies “killing the patient”, while passive euthanasia specifies “letting the patient die.”
Brock makes the point where he mentions, “ Both character and likelihood of abuses of a legal policy permitting euthanasia depend a significant part of on the procedures put in place to protect against them”(Brock 451). If voluntary euthanasia is legalized, then society will be automatically led down the slippery slope to involuntary euthanasia. Brock classifies the slippery slope of euthanasia in the following pattern, which are to inform the patient about the terminal illness and possible treatments, considering the patient’s autonomy related to undergoing active euthanasia, all the possible treatments to reduce the illness should be used and an evaluation should be done to make sure that the decision made by the patient is in the correct mindset and not due to depression which explains the slippery slope argument that if voluntary euthanasia is permissible and allowed, then it won’t take too long to allow or legalize non voluntary euthanasia. I strongly believe that patient should be the one to say if they want to keep fighting or let go.
I will first agree with Brock’s view on respecting patient’s autonomy to make decisions of their life. As Brock states that, “a good life is determined based on one’s own understanding”(Brock 646). This statement explains that you control the outcome on how your life should be determined based on your own moral. Being able to control the end of your life would bring satisfaction and or a dignified death. Self determination allows a person to take responsibility for their lives and live in accordance with their own conception of life. Every individual has his/her own definition of a good life, which gives them the right to make a decision based on their wishes. As Brock mentions, “death today is increasingly preceded by a long period of significant physical and mental decline," and while many people can still find meaning and value in their lives, despite these new disabilities, others find that the impairments that come at the end of life make it impossible for them to live a life they consider good”(Brock 646). This statement explains that in today’s world there is an increment in death of people due to long-term physical and mental illness. It also mentions that people think due to a certain impairment their life has no meaning and lacks purpose which makes them live a life according to their wishes. By doing so, the person is forced to live a life that is against their wishes and is worthless in their view. What’s the point of living if you are constantly sick or you will never be able to live to your future potential. I believe that the base of judgment is based on the goodness of self determination and well-being.
I will further support my argument in favor of active euthanasia by stating Brock’s quote, “killing is often understood, especially within medicine, as unjustified causing of death”(Brock 444). Brock exemplifies this concept using two logical scenarios. The first scenario is of a sick lady whose son takes her life by removing her from the respirator to speed up her dying process. The purpose of doing was to inherit her wealth. In my view, this act of killing is not justified. I think this act of killing was involuntary (against the patient’s wish) which is not morally justified. The other scenario mentioned by Brock is related with the same lady who if asks her physician to let her die due to her unbearable condition would be fair. This illustrates that the doctor kills her according to her own wish instead of allowing her to die on her own. The difference between the greedy son and the physician’s action is that the greedy son took the lady’s life against her wishes which in my view is not permissible, while the physician took the lady’s life by respecting the patient autonomy which makes it a permissible act. Brock states that, “euthanasia cannot be wrongsimply because it is killing instead of allowing to die”(Brock 445). This statement supports the idea of killing the patient suffering from a disease that is painful and incurable. It does not allow the patient to die himself but is instead killed to provide relief and reduce the suffering. This statement supports my view where Brock states, “that the best life possible for him or her with treatment is of sufficiently poor quality that it is worse than no further life at all" (Brock 646-7). This sentence explains that a patient who decides to take his life with the help of a physician believes that it is better to have no life rather than undergoing treatment which will not increase their chances of having a better health condition. In my view, when active euthanasia is applied for a patient’s well-being, it is permissible but if the person does not want to be killed, his autonomy is violated which makes it impermissible.
Even though, I respect Brock’s view that if physician assisted suicide or voluntary active euthanasia is ever legalized, strict guidelines or laws should be enforced and followed while respecting patient’s autonomy. I disagree with the legalization of physician assisted suicide because it can be very problematic. Would Physician assisted suicide lead to more people wanting commit suicide? How can we prevent people to abuse legalization of PAS specifically? What will be the effects of legalization of PAS. Some patients do not wish to live long, how is this morally right for a physician to encourage a treatment for death purposes? I fear that the legalization of PAS would lead to suicide numbers increasing, clinical depression sky-rocketing and more lawsuits against physicians by family members who didn’t understand the wishes of their loved ones. There are several arguments and issues which need to be explored through research and education. Legalizing active euthanasia or PAS are dangerous and will might open the door to abuse. I would prefer living in a country where several ways are researched, which promote better ways to live rather than considering dying or taking one’s life as the first option.
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I am personally against the legalization of active euthanasia and do agree with Brock’s arguments. I think euthanasia goes against nature because our nature is to survive and euthanasia is about not surviving. It is getting so popular and common that when hope of recovery is gone, patients and their families decide to end a patient's life to prevent further suffering. It is not in our self-interest to accept euthanasia because if we allow to kill ourselves, we won’t get another chance to reconsider the option to live and face the difficulties of life. Also, miracles of getting well from a serious illness happen and if we accept euthanasia, people will lose hope. Therefore, it’s always possible to survive. Life is a precious and fidelity gift of God. We have no right on our lives to end it. One more main factor that makes people go against eutanasia is their religion. In some religions, it is prohibited to take one’s life, no matter how painful the illness is. For example, in my religion, we are supposed to fight for life at all cost. Also, if euthanasia is not legalized in the country, there will be a decline in number of suicides and people will have other options to consider which might be helpful for the health condition and the treatment process. Finally, It should be legalized once it has the proper regulation set up where it can not be abused.
In conclusion, I think euthanasia is a sensitive topic to debate on because it has pros and cons that effect the life of an individual. In my view, active euthanasia should be acceptable only if the patient wishes, and is suffering from pain and disease that is not curable. By not legalizing euthanasia in a state or country, there will be less suicide cases and patients would prefer other options first before undergoing active euthanasia. If legalized, it needs to come with lots of rules and regulations so there is no gray area for error, backlash or pain. Death is not the right solution for these issues. Factors like fear of pain, depression, being a burden on family, expenses of treatments, feeling loneliness leads the sick and elderly patients to end their lives. We should care for people, and not make them feel a burden on society and support as long as they live by showing their prestige.
- Brock, Dan W. “Voluntary Active Euthanasia.” The Hastings Center Report, vol. 22, no. 2, 1992, p. 10., doi:10.2307/3562560.
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