The Instigator
salam.morcos
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
FourTrouble
Con (against)
Winning
3 Points

Euthanasia should be legalized

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
FourTrouble
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/9/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,797 times Debate No: 75035
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (25)
Votes (1)

 

salam.morcos

Pro

I argue that Euthanasia (or assisted suicide) should be legalized. As a Christian, I do believe that Euthanasia is wrong, but I still believe that it should be legal.

Definitions:
Euthanasia - The painless killing of a patient (at their request) suffering from an incurable and painful disease.

Rules for this debate:
1. No forfeits
2. BoP shared
3. No trolling or disrespect
4. Con must start his or her opening argument in first round.
5. To maintain the same number of rebuttals for both parties, Con must agree not to make any arguments in the final round.
6. Pro will provide a closing statement in the final round and not present any new arguments.

I look forward for an exciting debate.
FourTrouble

Con

Thanks for the debate, Salam. Unlike you, I'm an atheist, but I think euthanasia should be illegal. This should be an interesting debate.

== Equality ==


The 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection of the law to all people. This guarantee is replicated in Article 14 of the European Convention and in the constitutions and declarations of many other countries. We treat people with equal respect because of their status as human beings, without regard to their looks, gender, race, creed, or any other incidental trait. This commitment to human equality is grounded on the belief that all human beings innately have dignity and are worthy of respect.

Legalizing euthanasia undermines human equality in two ways. First, limiting euthanasia to the terminallly ill sends a message that certain people are expendable and others aren't. In effect, allowing euthanasia for some people in certain conditions cheapens the existence of all under those conditions. This is especially worrisome as we expand the categories of people who can request euthanasia (e.g. saying the disabled should have the right to euthanasia implies that the disabled live an inferior and expendable life).

Second, legalizing euthanasia suggests that human life only has instrumental value. But the only way to justify equal protection is by recognizing the inherent value of human life. If human life only has value based on its instrumental worth to society, a critical rationale for equal protection drops away. Why treat people with equal respect if we don't really believe that they're equal? If humans only have value based on their instrumental worth to society, why extend equal protection to those with low IQs? the mentally disabled? the autistic? infants with Down's syndrome? Alzheimer's patients?

== Unintended Consequences ==

First, if human life only has instrumental value (which it must to justify euthanasia), what's to stop non-consensual euthanasia? This is precisely what happened in the Netherlands: after legalizing euthanasia for the terminally ill, the Netherlands legalized non-consensual euthanasia a few years later. This is one of those things where a slippery slope has been proven by the evidence (e.g. the Netherlands). Allowing consensual euthanasia quickly leads to non-consensual euthanasia, because both are grounded on the same justification (i.e. the instrumental value of life). Under that logic, if the value of a life is less than the costs of medical care, then physicians arguably would have a moral obligation to kill patients without their consent.

Second, there's a real danger of abuse. And there's also the risk of doctors mistakenly killing persons without their consent, as well as the risk that the patient is being coerced by others (e.g. family members).

Third, there's a danger about the message that euthanasia sends. Once early death becomes a medical option for some people (e.g. the terminally ill), it sends a message that early death is respectable for others too (e.g. the disabled, depressed, or those merely tired of life). The fear lies in extending the categories of people for whom euthanasia is available. If euthanasia is available to everyone, it cheapens the value of human life.

== Corruption ==

Euthanasia corrupts the medical profession. First, it invalidates the Hippocratic Oath, the standard principle for medical ethics. Euthanasia doesn't heal; it intentionally does harm. This completely violates the oath.

Second, euthanasia transforms the role of doctors. Doctors don't actually perform anything remotely medical; they certainly don't heal. Instead, in euthanasia, doctors kill their patients, and in doing so, doctors santify (1) suicide, and (2) intentional killing. In effect, doctors become priests, granting absolution for a patient's suicide. Meanwhile, the state santifies the intentional killing of another human being. This isn't a role that doctors or the state should have; the medical profession shouldn't be in the business of santifying suicides and the state shouldn't be in the business of santifying intentional killings. That's something better left to religious or moral institutions.

Third, allowing euthanasia could disincentivize the research and development of better medical care (i.e. why improve painkillers for those suffering if euthanasia is a cheaper option?). This slope could even disincentivize cures for diseases, since it'll be cheaper to simply kill people off.

== Suicide ==

Most suicides are hurtful to those left behind. But sometimes, suicide is inspirational, transcendent, and the most beautiful and awe-inspiring act. For instance, Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire in protest after local officials humiliated him and confiscated his wares. He became the "Hero of Tunisia" and "Person of the Year" in Time magazine. His suicide led to riots and protests just hours after, and it culminated in the "Arab Spring," which ultimately led to the removal of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. [3] A bad suicide makes the world worse; a good one makes it better.

A medical treatment isn't good or bad; it's neutral. And that is what legalizing voluntary euthanasia does: it reduces suicide to a medical choice. The question "to be or not to be" becomes a medical rather than moral question. Legalization thus removes suicide from our scope of judgment, and in doing so, it deprives suicide of its dramatic power and meaning.

Speaking about the Eichmann trial, Hannah Arendt famously said that it's the refusal to judge that creates evil. Judgment gives suicide its social power, its ability to make the world a better place. Suicide shouldn't be a neutral act. If we don't judge suicide -- as either good or bad -- then the non-existence of another human being means nothing at all. If suicide is just a medical treatment, there's no room for forgiveness, because there's no room to judge the suicide as good or bad. And if suicide is just a medical treatment, then how can we convince the lovelorn twenty-year old that life is worth it? Or encourage the disabled to continue living?

== Unnecessary ==

First, euthanasia is unnecessary because patients have the right to refuse medical care. The right to refuse medical care is a better alternative than euthanasia because patients -- rather than doctors -- take all moral responsibility for what happens to them.

Second, euthanasia is unnecessary because patients can commit suicide on their own. There's no need for euthanasia if patients can kill themselves.

Third, as an alternative to euthanasia, I'd recommend legalizing assisted suicide instead, which has all the benefits of euthanasia, but with one key distinction: doctors don't kill the patient. This is important because it ensures that patients retain moral responsibility instead of shifting moral responsibility for their own deads to the doctors.

Finally, as an alternative to both euthanasia and assisted suicide, I recommend making deadly drugs freely available to the public. This would remove the need for euthanasia or assisted suicide, as patients could simply buy some deadly drugs and kill themsevles without any problem. The few who take deadly drugs wouldn't need the blessing of a doctor, and for those anxious about how they'll die, a vial sitting on a shelf might reassure and quell their anxiety. There'd be no risk of abuse. And there'd be no intent by doctors to cause death. This is the best result and should be preferred to legalizing euthanasia.
Debate Round No. 1
salam.morcos

Pro

I want to thank my opponent for challenging me for this debate, and for providing an impressive opening argument.

I will support my contention, that euthanasia (or assisted suicide) should be legalized, with the following arguments:

1. The right to die and self determination
2. Wasted health resources and public funds
3. Prohibition targets innocents

There are other arguments, but I believe the following arguments should satisfy the reader to conclude that Euthanasia (or assisted suicide) should be legal.

1. The right to die and self determination

I would like to highlight articles 5 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [1]:

Article 5 - No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 19 - Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression

Bob Dent, who was euthanatized, said it best: "What right has anyone […] to demand that I must behave according to their rules?" That's the point I want to make. While I strongly don't agree that someone should give up hope and be euthanatized, but this is neither my decision nor yours. We must respect people's opinions, no matter how much we disagree with them.

People who are terminally ill suffer significantly. If they voluntarily, repeatedly and freely make the decision to end their lives, we have no right to deny them that right. Doing so will deny them their right for self-determination and will subject them to pain against their will.

2. Wasted health resources and public funds

Euthanasia would free up doctors, nurses and hospital beds. These scarce resources would then be deployed to assist those who are in need, reduce waiting times and improve the overall quality of care [3]. To spend these resources to forcefully preserve the lives of patients against their will is ridiculous.

3. Prohibition targets innocents

In Ireland, Marie Fleming was denied the right to end her life. Her partner was told that he could face up to 14 years in prison if he helped her die! [4] A Pennsylvania woman was charged with murder for assisting her 93 year old father commit suicide [5].

Rebuttal

a. Equality issues?

My opponent stated that "limiting euthanasia to the terminally ill sends a message that certain people are expendable and others aren't".

This argument is similar to saying that designating parking spots for the disabled sends a message that disabled people are inferior. But this is simply not true… disabled people are the ones who requested to be accommodated; they in fact feel insulted when their voices are not heard. The same goes with the terminally ill requesting the right to euthanasia. They argue that the value of human life is not determined by the government, but by the individuals themselves. They can judge for themselves if their life is expendable or not, not the government.

My opponent also claimed that "legalizing euthanasia suggests that human life only has instrumental value". He argued "Why treat people with equal respect if we don't really believe that they're equal?"

I disagree. I argue that my opponent is confusing the objective human worth and subjective self worth. Article 1 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that we must view all humans as equals in dignity and rights [1]. This is the objective view of human worth. A terminally ill person is just as valuable as a healthy person. However, we have no jurisdiction to define the subjective self worth (or instrumental value) of any individual… that would be determined by the individuals themselves.

b. Unintended consequences?

My opponent also warned of the risk of the slippery slope. He wondered if Euthanasia was legalized: "what's to stop non-consensual euthanasia"?

While this is a very common challenge to legalization of euthanasia, it's actually a red herring! Every argument has its own merits and reasons. Non-voluntary euthanasia (or non-consensual euthanasia) may or may not have its own merits and should be discussed separately.

My opponent was also concerned that people may be euthanatized incorrectly by a doctor. However, he hasn't provided any evidence for this possibility. Under the Dutch law, the following conditions must be fulfilled [6]:
- The patient's suffering is unbearable with no prospect of improvement
- The patient's request for euthanasia must be voluntary and persist over time
- The request cannot be granted when under the influence of others, psychological illness or drugs
- The patient must be fully aware of his/her condition, prospects and options
- There must be consultation with at least one other independent doctor who needs to confirm the conditions mentioned above

I argue that such measures are very responsible and would significantly reduce any potential doctor error.

c. Corruption?

My opponent stated that Euthanasia "invalidates the Hippocratic Oath."

I challenge my opponent to state which parts of the oath euthanasia allegedly invalidates. There are several parts of the oath that actually supports euthanasia [7]:

"I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required."
"I will remember that […] that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug"
"…But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty."

I argue that my opponent's claim actually supports my contention, not weaken it!

My opponent also argued that euthanasia transforms the role of the doctor to "priests, granting absolution for a patient's suicide" and that "state sanctifies the intentional killing of another human being"

There are two problems with this argument. The first problem is that my opponent suggested that the intentional killing is always evil or wrong. But this is not true when it comes to euthanasia. I've already demonstrated that the voluntary euthanasia of terminally ill patients is not evil, but merciful.

The second problem is that doctors perform euthanasia with full conscience and out of profound interest in helping their patients. Doctor's don't grant any absolution or lack their off. They simply help their patients end their suffering.

My opponent also suggested that "euthanasia could disincentivize the research and development of better medical care".

I challenge my opponent to provide any evidence for this claim. The number of patients who request euthanasia is very limited, and there's no reason to believe that this claim is true.

d. Suicide and Unnecessary?

Let me start by agreeing with my opponent on the legalization of assisted suicide. (In my opening argument I stated Euthanasia (or assisted suicide)). I do agree that's assisted suicide is a better option for those who are able to receive lethal pills and administer it themselves.

However, how about those who don't have the means to commit suicide? Tony Nicklinson was denied his bid to die [4]. He was suffering from "locked in" syndrome and was living "a living nightmare". It was so horrific that he decided to starve himself to death and died after a week without food. Also Kelly Taylor suffered so much pain that she starved herself for 19 days. She realized that her suicide route was even more harmful that she gave it up and suffered in agony again.

My opponent mentioned that patients have the right to refuse treatment. In light of the two examples before, and the amount of suffering it takes until someone finally dies, you couldn't possibly agree that this is a viable option!

I also strongly disagree with my opponent's idea to make deadly pills available to the public. What would prevent someone from purchasing them to murder others? It has to be monitored to avoid abuse. Also, its ease of access could have people kill themselves because they were having a bad day! Euthanasia and assisted suicide is only provided to patients who frequently and persistently request it.

Thank you.

[1] http://www.un.org...

[2] http://www.ethicalrights.com...

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...

[4] http://listverse.com...

[5] http://www.cnn.com...

[6] http://en.wikipedia.org...

[7] http://en.wikipedia.org...

FourTrouble

Con

== Rebuttal ==

(1) Pain

First, pain isn't the reason people seek euthanasia. The reason people seek euthanasia over 93% of the time is loss of autonomy. Pain is rarely (if ever) cited as a reason people seek euthanasia. [1]

Second, the answer to pain isn't euthanasia. The way to deal with pain is through pain control (which is getting better each year) or through "terminal sedation." In "terminal sedation" patients in pain are put into a deep sleep until they die naturally; this is an acceptable practice that doesn't require intentional killing.

Third, we shouldn't change the law based on emotions such as pity (which is effectively what Pro's appeals to pain are). An emotional response to a situation isn't inherently the correct response. Just as acts inspired by anger or jealousy are often wrong in the eyes of the law, so acts inspired by pity and compassion aren't necessarily just. Proponents of euthanasia usually bring up as many tragic cases as they possibly can because they know the immediate gut reaction benefits them. But laws shouldn't be determined by immediate gut reactions to a single case. Laws are general and need to be forward-looking; they're designed to produce the best outcomes overall. No law produces the best outcome in every case, and we have to be careful about letting our emotions play a role in determining the law.

(2) Autonomy

I agree with Pro that people should have the freedom to refuse medical treatment and the freedom to commit suicide. We only disagree about the freedom to be euthanized (which I argue isn't a basic right). Pro argues that euthanasia is a basic right as a matter of autonomy (i.e. self-determination). But under an autonomy principle, we'd have to honor requests to be euthanized from all competent individuals. Either we approve all acts of self-destruction on the basis of the who-are-we-to-judge principle, or we don't allow euthanasia at all. Pro's halfway euthanasia -- allowing it for the terminally ill but nobody else -- simply cannot be justified by an autonomy principle. To approve of euthanasia on the basis of autonomy necessarily extends euthanasia to all autonomosly arrived-at decisions. Thus, Pro can't justify euthanasia through autonomy, since his advocacy restricts the availability of euthanasia.

(3) Costs

Pro says euthanasia would "reduce waiting times and improve the overall quality of care." First, apply this against Pro: with escalating medical costs, states acting as guardians of financially-burdensome persons would have incentives to euthanize. Pro says the state shouldn't encourage euthanasia, but that's precisely what it'll do, at least in effect, because of escalating medical costs. Second, justifying euthanasia on the basis of medical costs turns a moral question -- whether doctors can kill their patients? -- into an economic question. That's simply ignoring the real issue at stake in the euthanasia debate. The reality is that economic matters don't -- or at least shouldn't -- factor into moral decisions.

(4) Affect on Innocents

Pro says "innocents" are harmed by making euthansia illegal. But this is simply untrue. First, in the Mancini case, the Pennsylvania woman wasn't convicted of anything. Her case was actually dismissed by a judge because the prosection's case was based entirely on "speculation and guesswork." [2] Second, in the Marie Fleming case, nobody innocent was ever prosecuted. Third, there's little indication that anyone is ever prosecuted for assisted suicide or euthanasia, so Pro's fears are simply unfounded.

== Equality ==

(1) Death is not the same as a parking spot. Giving the disabled parking spots doesn't send a message that disabled people are expendable. It says nothing about the value of a disabled person's life. Parking spots just send a message that disabled people are disabled. That doesn't mean their life is any less valuable. By contrast, telling disabled people that doctors are legally allowed to kill them but not allowed to kill others clearly sends a message that they're expendable. And sending a message that the disabled are expendable while others aren't sends a clear message that the disabled person's life is less valuable.

(2) I'm not confusing anything objective or subjective. I'm distinguishing between intrinsic value and instrumental value. I argue that equal protection of the law only applies if human life is valuable in and of itself (i.e. if human life has intrinsic value). If human life isn't valuable in and of itself, if human life is just a means for acquiring something else, then there's no reason to treat all human beings with equal respect (i.e. if human life only has instrumental value). Pro doesn't seem to understand the distinction between intrinsic value and instrumental value. It's a pretty standard distinction in moral philosophy. [3]

== Unintended Consequences ==

(1) Pro doesn't address the "slippery slope" arguments at all. Legalizing voluntary euthanasia leads to the legalization of non-voluntary euthanasia. The slippery slope is not just a theoretical probability -- the slippery slope is an empircal reality, proven by the Dutch experiment. Pro doesn't dispute that at all. He just says that non-voluntary euthanasia is different and therefore irrelevant. But it's not irrelevant, because it's the direct result of legalizing voluntary euthanasia, as both a theoretical and empirical matter.

(2) Pro misrepresents Dutch law. In the Netherlands, doctors can kill patients without their consent. [Pro's 3] [4] [5] The conditions Pro cites are actually just the conditions necessary to avoid prosecution, even if there was an error or abuse. Furthermore, there's tons of evidence of euthanasia performed incorrectly in the Netherlands. [Pro's 3] Official Dutch surveys show a high incidence of clandestine euthanasia, suggesting that half of all killings go unreported to authorities as required by law. And in these unreported incidents, most doctors admit to not following any required protocols. [4]

== Corruption ==

(1) Pro suggests that euthanasia doesn't violate the Hippocratic Oath. This is what the Hippocratic Oath says: "I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I give advice which may cause death." If doctors can't give advice that causes death, they certainly can't euthanize their patients. The Hippocratic Oath requires that doctors heal, and it prohibits them from killing their patients.

(2) Pro misunderstands my absolution point. If a patient can commit suicide, but chooses instead to have a doctor euthanize him or her, then that patient is absolved of any moral responsibility that comes from committing suicide. The doctor thus functions as a priest, taking moral responsibility for his patient's death instead of his patient. Euthanasia places doctors in a moral rather than medical role. That euthanasia requires no medical monitoring only serves to emphasize this point.

(3) Pro doesn't against my point that euthanasia could disincentivize the development of better medical care. Instead, Pro challenges me to provide empirical evidence, but that mistakes the nature of my argument. I was making an analytic argument based on the laws of economics. To adequately respond, my opponent must explain why my analysis is wrong, not simply request empirical evidence. The logic for my argument is straightforward -- euthanasia is a cheap means of responding to patients suffering grave pain, so why research better medical care if euthanasia is a cheaper option? Thus, legalization disincentivizes research of better pain medicines.

== Suicide ==

(1) Assisted Suicide

I didn't realize my opponent was arguing for assisted suicide -- the resolution said euthanasia specifically -- so I'll drop this point.

(2) Necessity

Even those with "locked-in" syndrome, paralyzed entirely except for eye movements, have an option of refusing food and water as long as they can communicate their wishes. The reality is that anyone can kill themselves with a little forward planning and determination. That fact makes euthanasia unnecessary. Nicklinson's case shows that there's escape from life for anyone who wants it. Furthermore, there may be a technological fix to locked-in syndrome in the future; it's important to incentivize technological advancement over euthanasia.

(3) Make Deadly Drugs Available

First, Pro's autonomy, compassion, and who-are-we-to-judge principles support making deadly drugs available to everyone. If someone wants to kill themselves, who are we to judge?

Second, the point of making deadly drugs available is to provide a quick and painless death. That's also the point of assisted suicide, except my version is better because suicides are morally responsible for their deaths instead of doctors. There's no corruption of the medical profession, and there's no risk of abuse or mistake (i.e. involuntary euthanasia).

Third, anyone can commit murder or suicide already, so there's no reason murder or suicide rates would increase. Murder is already illegal; that's enough disincentive for murder. Access to lethal drugs doesn't incentivize murder more than all the other means for murder. And access to lethal drugs also doesn't incentivize suicide; there's already ways to kill yourself available. In fact, available drugs can already be used to kill yourself. These drugs are simply more efficient at it, but that doesn't mean suicides would increase.

However, I want to emphasize that my advocacy doesn't depend on making deadly drugs available. I'm simply offering two better options: (1) the status quo (where euthanasia is simply illegal), or (2) making deadly drugs available. I argue that each of these options is better than legalizing euthanasia, but I don't need to prove both to win this debate. As long as one of these options is better than euthanasia, I win the debate.


[1] http://tinyurl.com...
[2] http://tinyurl.com...
[3] http://tinyurl.com...
[4] Neil Gorsuch, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia
[5] http://tinyurl.com...
Debate Round No. 2
salam.morcos

Pro


I want to thank my opponent for a very impressive rebuttal.


Rebuttal


I made three arguments to support my contention:


1. The right to die and self determination


My opponent and I both support assisted suicide, and the right to commit suicide. But as he mentioned in round 2, we disagree whether euthanasia is a basic right. He argued that "under an autonomy principle, we'd have to honor requests to be euthanized from all competent individuals".


I want to explain to my opponent that he appears to be misunderstanding what euthanasia is. Euthanasia only applies to those who don't have the means to commit suicide otherwise [1]. Euthanasia is less about the method (how it's done)… but more about the purpose (the right to die). The dying person couldn't care less about who would euthanatize them or how. They just want to die peacefully.


By denying them the right to euthanasia, they are essentially being denied the right to die… they are denied the right to self determination… they are denied the right to autonomy.


My opponent argues that "Pro can't justify euthanasia through autonomy, since his advocacy restricts the availability of euthanasia."


The reason that euthanasia shouldn't be allowed to everyone else is because most people have the ability to commit suicide. As I mentioned earlier, euthanasia is about the purpose (dying) not the method. There's no need for euthanasia for the average joe since they can commit suicide. For example, a Winnipeg woman travelled to Switzerland to take lethal pills and die [2]. There was no justification for euthanasia for her; however I hoped that Canada would have allowed her to receive the lethal drugs.


2. Wasted health resources and public funds


My opponent challenges my claim that euthanasia would "reduce waiting times and improve the overall quality of care." My opponent didn't agree or disagree that waiting times will be reduced (which logically would improve the quality of care). But he argues that economic matters shouldn't factor into moral decisions.


This is a straw man argument. I agree with my opponent that economic matters shouldn't factor much into moral decisions. But what I argued was: "To spend these resources to forcefully preserve the lives of patients against their will is ridiculous." Health resources are scarce… By denying those patients euthanasia, you are hurting two birds at the same time… the patient that you are denying his or her dignity to die, and the patient that you are not providing a hospital bed. How moral is this?


3. Prohibition targets innocents


My opponent challenged my arguments with straw man arguments. He said for example that "in the Marie Fleming case, nobody innocent was ever prosecuted." I agree, but that's not the point. Marie Fleming's partner didn't kill Marie because he was threatened with 14 years in prison. There are numerous reports were innocents were charged for assisted dying [2] [3].


Other points


a. Pain


My opponent argued that pain alone is not the main reason for euthanasia. I don't argue that pain is the central argument of my claims. The three main reasons shown by my opponent are: loss of autonomy (93%), decreasing ability to participate in activities that made life enjoyable (89%), and loss of dignity (73%) [4]. This doesn't change anything.


My opponent also claims that "we shouldn't change the law out of pity." This is a clever statement, but it's misleading. It's not out of pity that we give people human rights and the freedom of opinion. I personally, due to my religious beliefs, don't support euthanasia, assisted suicide or suicide in principal. It's not out of pity that I think euthanasia should be legalized. It's because I realize that I don't have any right to deny them their rights, even if I disagree with what they decide to do. This is not about pity.


b. Equality


(1) My opponent claims that "telling disabled people that doctors are legally allowed to kill them but not allowed to kill others clearly sends a message that they're expendable". This argument is invalid because disabled people have the ability to kill themselves (through assisted suicide which my opponent supports). Euthanasia only applies to those who don't have the means to end it on their own.


(2) My opponent argues that "equal protection of the law only applies if human life is valuable in and of itself". I don't disagree. However it doesn't follow that the protection of the law means the suppression of their right to end their lives.


c. Slippery Slope


My opponent argues that I "didn't address the slippery slope argument". He also doesn't agree that it's a red herring fallacy for this debate, which in fact it is the case. He claims that it’s an empirical reality that non-voluntary euthanasia will follow by citing one example. This is a fallacy. This is similar to saying that "All people will become gamblers after going to the casino because that's exactly what happened to my friend". I'm sorry con – I don't accept this argument at all. I can discuss it on a separate debate.


d. Hippocratic Oath


I was disappointed that my opponent brought the ancient Hippocratic Oath and not the modern one [5]. That ancient oath, which no one follows, starts with this:


"I swear by Apollo the physician, and Aesculapius the surgeon, likewise Hygeia and Panacea, and call all the gods and goddesses to witness, that I will observe and keep this underwritten oath, to the utmost of my power and judgment."


You couldn't possibly believe that modern doctors follow this. The modern oath (shown in my source [5]) doesn't contradict euthanasia.


e. Refusal to commit suicide


My opponent states "If a patient can commit suicide, but chooses instead to have a doctor euthanize him or her…etc" I don't disagree with my opponent! For those cases, they should be subscribed lethal pills (as Con also suggests). We are not in disagreement.


f. Euthanasia discourages research?


My opponent argues analytically (not with empirical evidence) that euthanasia will discourage research. Without empirical evidence, you can only speculate. I argue that there should be no impact because the rate of euthanatized people is too small for this to have an impact on the research. There's no reason to believe that all, or most, terminally ill people will choose euthanasia (I certainly hope not!).


I also find it interesting that my opponent places moral decision above all when he says "economic matters shouldn't factor into moral decisions". I could also argue that "research shouldn't factor into moral decisions!"


But what disturbs me about the "analysis" is that you're denying people their rights out of fear of some hypothetical impacts. This is irresponsible. It's more responsible to study the impact first before justifying denying people their rights… not the other way around.


g. Suicide


My opponent argued that terminally ill people "have an option of refusing food and water as long as they can communicate their wishes". This is horrific! To die out of voluntary hunger and thirst is the better option is shocking. In my earlier round, I showed a lady who starved herself for 17 days before quitting! I can't accept this argument.


h. Deadly drugs available to everyone


My opponent argues that "we should make deadly drugs available to everyone".


We've already agreed that assisted suicide is the better option for those who can kill themselves. However, for those who wish to die but have no means to do so, this is not a solution and we're back to square one. Remember… euthanasia is about the purpose (which is the wish to die), not the method (how to peacefully die).


[1] http://www.ethicalrights.com...


[2] http://www.righttodie.ca...


[3] http://www.ncregister.com...


[4] https://public.health.oregon.gov...


[5] http://en.wikipedia.org...



FourTrouble

Con

== Rebuttal ==

(1) Definitions

Pro's changing his advocacy. He was arguing that euthanasia as "the painless killing of a patient (at their request) suffering from an incurable and painful disease." This isn't limited to people unable to commit suicide on their own. This includes anyone with an incurable and painful disease. Don't let Pro change his advocacy now after he's argued the entire debate -- including his definitions in Round 1 -- that euthanasia is available to anyone with an incurable and painful disease.

(2) Suicide

Pro's case hinges on restricting euthanasia to people unable to commit suicide. I argue that anyone who can communicate has the ability to commit suicide. If you can communicate, then you can refuse medical treatment, and you can refuse food/water. That's enough to commit suicide. The only way that suicide isn't an option is if someone cannot communicate. But if someone cannot communicate, then they're not able to request euthanasia, meaning that euthanasia isn't available to them. Thus, Pro's position that euthanasia is only available to those who can't commit suicide is incoherent, since voluntary euthanasia simply cannot be available to those who can't communicate.

Pro's version of euthanasia is underinclusive. If euthanasia is justified on autonomy grounds (i.e. self-determination), then euthanasia should be extended to anyone who wants it. But in Pro's world, euthanasia is only extended to those who cannot communicate (i.e. those who cannot kill themselves). Thus, Pro's version of euthansia is underinclusive in that most people with an incurable and painful disease can't request euthanasia because they're able to kill themselves. I argue Pro's version of a euthanasia law is totally superfluous, since nobody qualifies for Pro's "euthanasia only for people who can't commit suicide" law.

(3) Health Resources

Pro seems to misunderstand my argument. I'm weighing "lower waiting times" against "increased suicides" (i.e. more people choosing euthanasia). In weighing these impacts, there's two things voters should consider: probability and magnitude. The probability for increased suicides (i.e. more euthanasia) is higher than for lower waiting times because lower waiting times are a result of more euthanasia. I win probability. Increased suicides is also of greater magnitude. Lower waiting times has a marginal effect on the quality of healthcare, while increased suicides means more people dead, earlier, when they still had things to live for. More suicides means families left behind hurt by the suicide. My argument is about weighing "lower waiting times" against its necessary cause -- increased suicides -- and arguing that increased suicides outweigh lower waiting times.

Pro also misunderstands my argument that economic matters shouldn't factor into moral decisions. The decision to request euthanasia should not turn on your feeling of being a financial burden. Pro's logic suggests that someone who's considering euthanasia should consider -- as part of their moral decision to commit suicide -- the resources they'll free up. That's extremely slippery logic that leads down a path to straight utilitarianism. In effect, it equates economic thinking with moral thinking. I'm arguing against utilitarianism, and I'm arguing that weighing goods like "life" against goods like "lower waiting times" simply shouldn't be part of a person's decision to commit suicide (i.e. to end their life).

(4) Prohibitions

First, innocents charged for "assisted dying" aren't committing euthanasia; they're "assisting dying." Second, these "innocents" aren't being convicted of anything, so there's no harm. Pro hasn't shown any harm to innocents, so there's no impact to this argument. Unless there's actual harm to innocents, Pro loses this argument.

(5) Rights

Pro misunderstands the nature of euthanasia. The law isn't about granting or denying rights to patients. Euthanasia doesn't give patients a right to die -- patients are already free to die, by committing suicide, refusing medical treatment, and so on. What euthanasia laws do is empower doctors. I want to be clear about this. The right granted by euthanasia is the right to kill -- and it's a right given to doctors, not patients. I argue that the right to kill shouldn't be granted. I argue that, as a legal principle, there shouldn't be a right to kill (that's effectively murder), and that consent on the part of the victim shouldn't be a defense. Just as a contract regarding slavery isn't and shouldn't be recognized by the law, neither should the law recognize a contract where one person kills another who has agreed to be killed. That's simply not a right that the law should recognize. On the other hand, I agree with Pro that the law should recognize a right to commit suicide, and a right to refuse medical treatments. Those are valuable rights that preserve bodily integrity and freedom, and it's important to preserve those rights while keeping euthanasia illegal.

== My Case ==

(1) Suicide is and should be legal. That is the only right to die that the law can enshrine. Empowering people to intentionally kill another isn't a right and it shouldn't be enshrined in the law.

(2) Pro's euthanasia law undermines equality by restricting euthanasia to certain people. The result is that euthanasia sends a message that some people's lives are expendable and other people's lives aren't expendable. In effect, some people are deemed inferior to others and therefore their life isn't give the full protection of the law. Pro doesn't dispute this. Instead, he just argues that the argument is invalid because of assisted suicide but that doesn't solve his problem. Assisted suicide -- at least as I propose it -- should be extended to all (plus I dropped assisted suicide, implying I'm not supporting it for this debate, and only supported it because of a misunderstanding). Pro also agrees that human life is valuable in and of itself, so any law that allows killing of someone people demeans the inherent value of human life, thereby demanding equality.

(3) Pro hasn't given any reason to believe the slippery slope won't happen. I've given both a theoretical and empirical reason to believe it will: (a) the logic used to justify euthanasia (easing someone's suffering; lower waiting times) seems to justify involuntary euthanasia, and (b) empirically, there's evidence the slippery slope is probable because it happened in the Netherlands. Pro gives no counters other than simply calling my argument a "fallacy" and a "red herring," but simply calling my argument a "fallacy" and "red herring" doesn't refute it. Pro needed to actually explain why my argument is theoretically and empirically wrong by giving analytic and empirical reasons of his own. Pro didn't do this, so I win this point.

(4) Pro says the "rate of euthananized people is too small for this to have an impact on the research." Pro also says the "impact" is too speculative. If that's true, then apply that logic to Pro's "lower waiting times" argument: euthanasia has no effect on waiting times because the effect of euthanasia on the economy is negligible, and moreover, the impacts are too speculative to have any relevance in this debate. Pro's argument about "research" not factoring into moral decisions simply isn't the reality of the world we live; I agree that'd be nice, but as things are, research and development is dictated by the economy, the flows of demand and supply.

== Conclusion ==

Euthanasia undermines equality, corrupts the medical profession, deprives suicide of meaning, and leads to a number of unintended consequences (including involuntary euthanasia). The alternatives are much better. The status quo, where euthanasia is simply illegal, is a much better option than euthanasia. On the other hand, making deadly drugs available to everyone is better than euthanasia as well, since it promotes Pro's value -- autonomy -- more than under my Pro's model. My proposal has all the benefits of euthanasia, but it also has other benefits, such as not undermining equality, not leading to involuntary euthanasia, and not corrupting the medical profession. The key problem with euthanasia is that it empowers doctors to intentionally kill patients. And just as contracts for slavery aren't allowed, contracts allowing murder shouldn't be allowed.

Again, thanks for the debate, Pro. I urge a strong vote for Con.
Debate Round No. 3
salam.morcos

Pro

a. Definition

I am very disappointed that my opponent claims that I've changed my advocacy, when I haven't. I can't accept this argument. I quote my first statement in Round 1 "I argue that Euthanasia (or assisted suicide) should be legalized."

My opponent admitted his misunderstanding in Round 2 stating: "I didn't realize my opponent was arguing for assisted suicide -- the resolution said euthanasia specifically -- so I'll drop this point."

However, I stated that my argument "applies to those who don't have the means to commit suicide otherwise." So did I change my stance in Round 3 as my opponent claims? This is a misunderstanding. I argue that:

If a patient can commit suicide, they should have assisted suicide (receive pills). (My opponent agrees)
If a patient can't commit suicide, they should be able to be euthanatized. (My opponent disagrees)

So in Round 3, I was concentrating my rebuttal on the second part where there is a disagreement. I will do the same in my closing argument here. I want to remind the reader that the purpose of Euthanasia is more about the purpose (dying) than the method.

b. Inability to communicate?

My opponent argues that anyone who can communicate their ability to commit suicide should be able to commit suicide. He claimed that they can deny medication, food or water. While this is theoretically possible, it's practically one of the worst forms of deaths! I already showed terrible example such as "Kelly Taylor suffered so much pain that she starved herself for 19 days." [1] 19 days of starvation, and it still didn't work. This can't be acceptable in any way or form.

c. Underinclusive?

My opponent claims that my view is underinclusive. He argues "If euthanasia is justified on autonomy grounds (i.e. self-determination), then euthanasia should be extended to anyone who wants it. But in Pro's world, euthanasia is only extended to those who cannot communicate"

There are two problems with my opponent's claim. First, I never said that it should only be extended to those who cannot communicate, but to those who don't have the means themselves. My opponent is assuming that communication and ability are the same, and they are not. Second, I remind the reader again that euthanasia is about the purpose which is dying. I argued that because the others have the ability to die through assisted suicide, then euthanasia is not necessary for them (not do they care about it). However for those can't even take the pills, euthanasia is their only choice (Please don't tell me dying from starvation is an option!). By denying them euthanasia, you are denying them their right to die.

d. They had something to live for?

My opponent argues that "Lower waiting times has a marginal effect on the quality of healthcare, while increased suicides means more people dead, earlier, when they still had things to live for."

But I ask the reader, according to whom? Who decides that they still have things to live for? Who decides how life is ought to be lived? Shouldn't this be their own decision? Who gave us any right to decide how anyone must live his or her life?

e. Empower doctors?

My opponent claims that euthanasia empowers doctors. This is incorrect, euthanasia empowers patients who want to die!

f. Slippery slope?

My opponent really disappoints here when he says that "Pro gives no counters other than simply calling my argument a "fallacy" and a "red herring," but simply calling my argument a "fallacy" and "red herring" doesn't refute it." However, his argument is in fact a red herring and I showed examples of how that is the case. This refutes his argument!

Conclusion

I thought that my opponent's conclusion is a perfect example of how much he misunderstands euthanasia. He states:
1. Euthanasia undermines equality
2. Corrupts the medical profession
3. Deprives suicide of meaning
4. Leads to involuntary euthanasia
5. The alternatives are much better

However, my opponent is wrong in each of those arguments. Euthanasia:
1. Doesn't undermines equality. Without euthanasia, there's no equality and those patients are oppressed
2. Doesn't corrupt the medical profession. It's consistent with the modern Hippocratic Oath (See round 2)
3. Doesn't deprive suicide of meaning
4. Is different than involuntary euthanasia
5. There are no alternatives (unless you want them to starve themselves for 19 days or more!)

I ask the reader to examine the evidence. I will highlight the main reasons that euthanasia should be legalized:

1. Patients have the right to die and self determination according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [2].

Article 5 - No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 19 - Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression

2. Wasted health resources and public funds. Health resources are scarce. To subject patients to pain, agony, loss of autonomy against their will, while at the same time preventing others from accessing these resources is absolutely ridiculous!

3. I would like to reiterate what I said earlier. "I personally, due to my religious beliefs, don't support euthanasia, assisted suicide or suicide in principal. [But I think euthanasia should be legalized] because I realize that I don't have any right to deny them their rights, even if I disagree with what they decide to do."

I want to thank my opponent for a very good debate. I truly enjoyed his arguments, even though I haven't changed my stance on the subject. Thank you Con.

[1] http://listverse.com...

[2] http://www.un.org...


FourTrouble

Con

I agreed not to make arguments in this round, so I'm limiting myself to some summary and a couple clarifications.

Clarification: I argued "assisted suicide" because of a misunderstanding. I thought Pro was arguing only for euthanasia, because the title doesn't say anything about "assisted suicide." After I realized the mistake, I dropped "assisted suicide" entirely. I switched gears to arguing against it. There's ambiguity about what the resolution is -- is it solely about euthanasia or does it include assisted suicide? This was unclear so I dropped assisted suicide. For purposes of this debate, then, I argue against assisted suicide. All of my contentions apply both to euthanasia and assisted suicide. I want to clarify that my arguments are aimed at both, because Pro mistakenly thinks I support assisted suicide. Don't punish me for Pro's misunderstanding.

Summary: Euthanasia gives doctors the right to kill terminally ill patients. I argued based on that fact that euthanasia undermines equality, corrupts doctors, deprives suicide of meaning, and leads down a slope to involuntary euthanasia. I gave two alternatives: the status quo, where things remain as they are now, with euthanasia illegal, and my other option that we make deadly drugs available. Pro's arguments are that euthanasia improves autonomy and saves money. I argued that this isn't true, and I argued that my proposal for deadly drugs does those things better -- autonomy and costs -- while not falling prey to any of the harms of euthanasia.

Thanks for the debate. Vote Con.
Debate Round No. 4
25 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
whiteflame
Heh, that's part of why it was so long. Also gave me some insight into things I did wrong, so it helps me out too.
Posted by FourTrouble 1 year ago
FourTrouble
Thanks for the extensive RFD whiteflame -- it's got some good insight that I'm sure was informed at least in part by our debate.
Posted by salam.morcos 1 year ago
salam.morcos
I don't necessarily agree with all your points, but I see where I could have done a better job. I think I should have been more clear in my definitions which would have helped me and FourTrouble at the same time. I expected whoever is against Euthanasia will be against assisted suicide too, but that was a poor assumption from me. I have to admit that the main reason I dismissed the slippery slope argument altogether instead of properly challenging it was because I get irritated oh how the slippery slope argument was used against gay marriage "how about 2 men and 2 women...etc". But I should have done a better job explaining that. But in all honesty, great feedback.
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
whiteflame
Heh, you're welcome. One of my longer RFDs for sure.
Posted by salam.morcos 1 year ago
salam.morcos
Wow! I've never seen such a details response before (even though you voted against). Thanks whiteflame!
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
whiteflame
RFD (Pt. 1):

On definitions and cases, this misunderstanding seems to be the result of some bad cross talk, but it becomes clear what's being argued by the end of the debate. Pro clearly argued for euthanasia and assisted suicide. Those were his ground. Con clearly (after R1) argued against both of those and for both the status quo and widely available deadly meds. He dropped his support for assisted suicide in R2, and clarified that drop multiple times. Since Con's cases contradict one another, I'd rather that Pro had called him on the double case, as his cases simply complement each other, but since he didn't do that, I'm forced to accept Con's cases as they stand.

Before I get into the flow of the debate directly, there's one thing I'd like to spend some time on, as I think this is an important point that both sides generally mishandled.

There's this strange back and forth going on here with regards to the availability of suicide in status quo. Both sides recognize that suicide is possible, for anyone, without euthanasia or assisted suicide. There are matters of suffering involved in some of these methods, and I'll get to those shortly, but this availability presents concerns for arguments from both side.

For Pro, this undermines the autonomy point. If anyone can commit suicide at any time, that's the ultimate autonomy. It's not enhanced by euthanasia. There is increased autonomy in that some individuals who would otherwise be required to suffer as they attempt to commit suicide will be given the option of a quick and painless death, and so what Pro's done is expand choices rather than autonomy, but the point is quite a bit weaker with this in play.
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
whiteflame
(Pt. 2)

For Con, this undermines the argument of exclusion. If everyone has available methods for committing suicide, then all Pro is doing is adding to the number of methods for some, while leaving others to contend with all other available methods. That makes it much more difficult to find harm here. An extension of options to one group that previously didn't have it while another group lacks for those options isn't particularly harmful except on the level of equity, and it's more difficult to determine what that lost equity means. Equity matters on the other end (who is expendable and who's not), but I'll get there later.

It similarly undermines the argument of increased suicides. If it's clear that anyone can commit suicide freely, then why would euthanasia increase the number of suicides overall? Why doesn't euthanasia simply become another means by which suicide is committed? Why would the people who pursue euthanasia not commit suicide by other means, lacking that option? I get two reasons for this (corruption and economic calculus), but the latter seems non-unique (people will always question whether their lives are worth the cost others are paying for them), and corruption seems at least possible under the current system, though I can see how it would be exacerbated in a system with legal euthanasia (more on that later). It's interesting that the best explanation I get for why the number of lives lost changes only appears in Con's R1 and never gets mentioned again: this point that early death is viewed as respectable. Due to the mutual drop, it's rather weak now. I'll address expendability later, as that's a more complex point.
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
whiteflame
(Pt. 3)

With that, I'll get into the flow. In order to do this effectively, I'm going to have to compare Con's status quo alternative to Pro's case, and then Con's deadly drugs alternative to the same case. If Con proves either of these alternatives are better, I vote Con. I'll start off each set by stating a summary of the alternative, and then move forward from there.

Pro's Case #1: Status Quo

This actually isn't the status quo, but rather a slightly modified version. In some locations, euthanasia is legal. It's pretty clear how it works, though. The power to commit suicide is taken out of the hands of medical personnel and placed entirely under the control of individuals. I don't see any direct responses to this case, and so what's working against it is the major points.

1. The right to die and self determination

This applies to both cases equally, so I'll address everything here. The point regarding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights just doesn't go anywhere. Why does it matter that these articles support the use of euthanasia/assisted suicide? Why should this Declaration, or for that matter, Bob Dent, be a reason to support either of these things? I could see an argument being made that countries should abide international law, but it's never stated. Apart from that, I need an explanation as to why this Declaration exists, and why Dent is right. Merely saying that "we must respect people's opinions" isn't good enough. Why should we respect their decisions, no matter what they are?
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
whiteflame
(Pt. 4)

Assuming I agree that we should respect their decisions, though, I'm still having a hard time seeing how Pro's case does more to respect them. If the decision is to end one's life, then aren't they capable of doing so without assistance? Both of you seem to agree that assistance isn't necessary, even if a lack of it can be torturous for some. I'll get more on that later, but it seems that the self-determination you're talking about here is the determination that someone else assist you with your death, rather than the determination that you should die. In that case, I need an explanation for why people should be able to receive whatever care they request. That explanation is absent here, and so I can't do anything with this point.

2. Wasted health resources and public funds

This applies to both cases equally, so I'll address everything here. This point is basically granted to Pro, in that it's assumed that the deaths of individuals by euthanasia/assisted suicide will reduce waiting times and improve quality of care. But there are three problems with this. First, it seems as though this would only occur if the number of suicides increase. It's assumed that they would increase because some individuals who would otherwise have a ridiculously hard time committing suicide would engage in it. I accept that, since both sides function under the argument that suicides will increase. Second, Pro says in other arguments (namely R&D) that the number of suicides that occur via these methods is likely to be rather small, so any impact here is going to be similarly small. Third, Con's response that making this an economic issue incentivizes medical professionals to use it as a means for reducing costs stands quite strongly by the end of the debate. This lends credence to the point that suicides will increase, and thus fuels this point, but it also fuels the corruption point, which I'll get to later.
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
whiteflame
(Pt. 5)

All this being said, Pro still garners this point. The only question is, what does it mean? Maybe waiting times would be substantially reduced and quality of care improved, but those are difficult to quantify. Maybe they are speculative, but I really can't ignore them. So this point generally goes to Pro.

3. Prohibition targets innocents

This applies to both cases equally, so I'll address everything here. Again, this seems to be a point that Pro is generally giving away to Con. I think Pro proved that some individuals have been harmed by assisting in the death of individuals who could not reasonably end their own lives. Con's right that these are just charges and not actual convictions, but even the charges by themselves stand to be somewhat important, if only by putting these people through some hell. The problem is that I don't see that impact being elucidated. Yes, threats of legal action are bad, but I'm unclear on why the threats themselves should be weighed as important here. It's a point Pro is winning, but it just doesn't have much strength, especially as this seems exceptionally rare.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 1 year ago
whiteflame
salam.morcosFourTroubleTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Given in comments... apologies for all the email updates!