Should society allow euthanasia?
- “Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide refer to deliberate action taken with the intention of ending a life, in order to relieve persistent suffering.”
- Principles of the Hippocratic Oath are held sacred by doctors to this day: treat the sick to the best of one's ability, preserve privacy, and pass on medical knowledge to the next generation. In 1928, 24 percent of U.S. medical schools administered the oath to nearly 100 percent today.
- Physician-assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Canada, and Colombia. In the United States, California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington state, Vermont, and the District of Columbia allow assisted suicide.
- As of August 2017, 73% of Americans support euthanasia in regards to terminally ill patients. Acceptance has gone up 3% since 2013.
Though the essence of human life is precious and the preservation of that life should be the government's priority, in extreme cases, one must evaluate whether staying alive is worth the diminishing quality of one's existence. In severe cases, euthanasia should be a valid consideration due to the pain it could eliminate. In Morris v. New Mexico, Judge Nash stated, 'The Court, therefore, declares that the liberty, safety and happiness interest of a competent, terminally ill patient to choose aid in dying is a fundamental right under our New Mexico Constitution.' Judge Nash's reference to the New Mexico constitution should act as a guide to other states because it carefully addresses human liberty in a way that coincides with our national Constitution. Another staple in defense of assisted suicide is the comparison between euthanasia and hospice. 40% of hospice patients die within 14 days, and another 15% within six months. The average hospice stay is a little over two months, essentially making this program one of the final stops before death. The beneficial and cruel reality of hospice is that it costs up to $10,000 per month and doesn't cater to financially challenged Americans with limited health benefits. In 2018, 72% of Americans were in support of medically-assisted euthanasia. Conclusively, the decision to legalize euthanasia would enable civil liberties in American and liberty-loving Americans to come full circle.
What separates humans from animals? We seek to protect innocent life. Based on the belief that life itself is inherently valuable, it's crucial individuals and society at large continue to preserve this idea—the deliberate ending of innocent human life should never be allowed. The idea of 'mercy killing' along with passive or active euthanasia introduces a concept of 'disposable humans' into society. When someone, then, is in 'too much pain' or has 'nothing left to live for,' euthanasia suddenly doesn't seem that unconventional.
But life is fraught with pain and loss, which are subjective markers. Harvard found that 'close relationships…are what keep people happy throughout their lives,' and hope is essential for recovery. Additionally, those subjective markers could feasibly apply to the non-elderly, or alcoholic, depressed, terminally ill, and disabled. A seventeen-year-old was permitted to end her life, despite her youth and access to modern medicine to treat her emotional ailments.
What's more worrisome is how governments may withhold health care for people deemed too expensive to save or not worth the cost, as in the case of Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans in the UK. And family members are not above having something to gain out of a relative's euthanized death (as in Terri Schiavo's case). Perseverance and loving care should be our cultural standard for human life. Not giving up and ending it when life gets hard, and certainly not withholding family or individual ability to choose life for themselves or their loved ones at any stage.