As a Christian, I believe that God is the giver and taker of life. "There are over 60 scriptures in the Bible that refer to the sanctity of life." Most memorable of these is "thou shalt not kill." Euthanasia has many ethical questions that must be answered before mercy killing is legalized.
First, does a person have the right to do with his body as he sees fit? In some respects, yes. If he is legally of age, he can drink, smoke, tattoo his body, and so on. On the other hand, prostitution is illegal in all states but Nevada (sin city) because it does not happen in a vacuum. There are societal spillovers. In the same vein, assisted suicide is not just a person making a decision to end his life; it is giving the right to end someone's life to a doctor, a relative, or guardian. This opens the door for abuse. As in all societal questions, no one can promise that every time the rules will be followed.
Secondly, if a person is terminally ill, who should decide when it is time to die? Is it the person himself, the doctor(s), or the family? Each of these has its own set of problems? For example, the family will be stressed and filled with anxiety. Should they make that kind of decision? Who will make that decision?
Today, modern medicines and pain killers are certainly effective. Most dying people can be relieved of their pain. There are hospices that practice pain and symptom control so that a terminally ill person can die with dignity. Quality of life does not mean that there will be no suffering or pain and that the person must be healthy, whole and happy all of the time. In reality, no one has the answers to these questions. That is one of the primary reasons that assisted suicide should not be legalized.
Could euthanasia translate to premature suicide? Sometimes doctors get the diagnosis wrong. What if the person is mentally ill or depressed? Should that person have the right to die when he chooses? Studies have shown that euthanasia will apply more to women and minorities. In Dr. Kervorkian assisted suicides, 72% were women; of those women, 75% were not expected to die within six months and were still able to function within their homes. Financial burdens will also play a part in the decision of whether or not to die. Rather than place a burden on the family, some would chose to die first.
Natural death does not require that extraordinary means are used when a person's vital processes have ceased to function. When there is no hope, life support machines do not have to be used. The goal should be to help the dying person to be as comfortable as possible until the natural death occurs.
Legalizing euthanasia is a slippery slope. It is like opening up a can of worms. What will the ramifications be? What are the unintended consequences? Until all these questions have been answered, let us leave the time of death to God's will.