Should euthanasia be legalized?Should euthanasia be legalized?

Expert Answers
lfawley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a challenging question and a good topic to argue as there is merit to both sides of the issue, but that merit is situational. Simply stating that "euthanasia" should be legal is a bit too broad of a statement. However, if you focus in on physician assisted suicide, using an argument of habeas corpus, then you are working toward a much stronger persuasive rhetoric. Essentially, if we are willing to accept the premise that our bodies are our own and as such we can do with them as we wish as long as we are not harming anyone else in the process, then if we choose to die that should be our right. A patient who would rather die than continue to live in an incapacitated or potentially painful state, someone whose life expectancy is limited anyway and whose quality of life is poor, should have the right to choose to die with dignity instead of being forced to suffer. However, where the opposing side makes some valid points is in the fact that external factors such as depression can lead to people making that choice without considering other options. Medical science is constantly evolving, and what is not treatable today may be infinitely treatable or at least successfully manageable tomorrow. As a result, it is imperative that, when considering legalized euthanasia, protections are put into place to insure the mental and emotional clarity and stability of the individual making the request.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Euthanasia and assisted suicide are not the same, however.  Oregon and Washington have legal assisted suicide, with a number of safeguards and restrictions.  The decision has to be made by the person, who is terminally ill, and of sound mind, after a waiting period and approved by a panel of physicians.  The most important difference being that the person themselves makes the decision.

With euthanasia, someone else makes the decision.  A relative, for example, who decides a parent with Alzheimer's should be euthanized rather than go through extended pain and low quality of life.  This has a huge potential for abuse, so I'm against it, even as I'm for legal assisted suicide.  Suppose the son or daughter stands to inherit money or get a life insurance policy?  Maybe doesn't want to pay the medical bills? Perhaps a spouse just doesn't want to endure the years of difficulty.  These things would be very difficult to guard against.

kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Well, it is in Switzerland.  Folks will go there to partake of assisted suicide, and some would argue that it is a service that people want so it ought to be provided.  Others would certainly argue against it if they subscribe to the idea that suicide is a mortal sin and shouldn't be legalized since it would make the path to commiting such a sin so much smoother!

Of course if you believe the rhetoric that got tossed around during the health care debate, Obama will soon be pushing a red button and euthanizing millions of the elderly, so perhaps we are well on our way to legalization.  A slightly more legitimate argument is just that it would save huge amounts of money if people had the choice of passing away quietly rather than fighting to the last possible moment and using every possible resource and drug to help in that fight.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

My guess with a topic this controversial is that you are looking for both sides of the issue.  I think that weighing out and assessing both lines of logic could help create a strong analysis of the topic.  Those who are proponents of it argue that there is a quality of life standard whereby individuals should be able to speak to their own condition.  If a terminal condition causes them enough pain, individuals should, it is argued, be able to end their own life and turn to the doctor- patient relationship as providing comfort in such times.  At the same time, there are those who believe that the preservation of life is so sacred that to even contemplate taking it under any circumstances creates a "slippery slope" where future abuse may occur.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
People will find a way to committ suicide if they really want to. One argument is that they will be less likely to make an unsuccessful attempt that leaves them severely injured if they have the assistance of a medical professional. Others feel that murder is murder, no matter the reason.
krishna-agrawala | Student

Euthanasia refers to a very wide range of action, justified for a variety of reasons. Not all such form of euthanasia are desirable or should be allowed. While under some conditions there may be compelling arguments in favour of euthanasia, the possibility of unintended or deliberate misuse cannot be ruled out.

I would say euthanasia should be allowed only in cases of persons suffering from incurable disease of the kind that make it absolutely imposable for them to perform any work either for themselves or others. Further, euthanasia should be allowed only in the form of withdrawing artificial life support system or perhaps some type of treatment which can be excessively painful. Also the euthanasia should be generally practiced only when desired by the patients. Some exceptions can be made when the patient is unable to express his or her wishes because of conditions such as coma, and is not expected to come out of it.

In particular the practice of mercy killing should not be mixed with euthanasia, and should not be allowed.

In any case, euthanasia should be exercised only in accordance with prescribed procedures designed to eliminate mistakes and foul play in use of provisions of law.