Debate Rounds (3)
Euthanasia is defined by Merriman-Webster as "the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy." Since most people trust the Webster definition to be accurate, I believe this definition makes the argument for legalizing Euthanasia. I will however do my best to expand.
"the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering."
On the surface, letting someone die who is suffering and has a terminal illness seems like a no-brainer? Why wouldn't we let them die to end their pain? But there is a reason this is illegal in most countries, and it is not for the 'religious nonsense' that you might think.
Firstly, there are always times when a person is in pain or is suffering and will do anything to have that pain end. Often that pain diminishes, or the person learns to live with it. Pain is always relative. By giving into momentary weakness, it deprives the person of the few precious moments they have left. Death takes away everything a person ever was and ever will be.
Secondly, there's a real concern as to who makes the end-of-life decision. In many countries, relatives are given the right to make that decision on behalf of the patient. This creates a dangerous scenario, particularly if the relative stands to inherit money from the patient. In some countries, doctors have been known to encourage euthanasia in order to save on medical costs, or to retrieve a healthy organ.
Do we want the elderly pressured into euthanasia, because they are a burden on society? Should they be made to feel guilty for choosing to live past seventy-five, when they have some painful conditions? If that doesn't frighten you, it should.
Before the physician or third party can "pull the plug" on someone they must have consent or be given the legal right to do so if the patient cannot physically give consent. I don't think that cutting costs especially in the medical field is a bad thing. It would lower costs for others and put more towards care. If someone who is terminally ill has only weeks or months left to live, and they have the ability to save someone who could have years or decades to live by an organ translate I say go for it. If the dying patient is a registered organ donor and have given consent for euthanasia then they are a hero in my book by saving another life.
I am not advocating the widespread euthanasia of anyone over the age of 75. I am simply saying that if someone is terminally ill they should have the right to die in order to end their own pain and suffering, the pain and suffering of their loved ones, and potentially cutting medical costs and saving lives with organ transplantation
Change is always hard. People go through a state of depression when confined to a hospital bed, when they lose the use of their legs, when they receive the news that they only have a few months to live. It's easy to give up and end it, but to do so can often be a mistake because a single moment of beautiful life makes the pain worthwhile. People who think they want to end their lives end up changing their mind. It happens all the time. If it didn't, there would be no need for suicide hot lines.
I see that you would like to limit euthanasia to only those that are in pain, and only those that have a terminal illness. Well, life is a terminal illness that is full of pain. We're all going to die eventually, and we're all going to experience unimaginable physical and emotional pain. That does not mean that we give up.
But the real problem is the slippery slope. Once you open the Pandora's Box of euthanasia for only those suffering and terminally ill, it is only a matter of time before the criteria changes. In fact, in the Netherlands, there is already a group pushing to allow anyone over 75 that is tired of life, to kill themselves. Is this the society that we want? Old people feeling worthless and being encouraged to end their lives and stop being a burden?
In your response, you state that:
"I don't think that cutting costs especially in the medical field is a bad thing" in response to the suggestion of the terminally ill being encouraged to die.
This is exactly the slippery slope that I fear. Cost should not be a consideration when deciding whether or not to end someone's life. A nation that makes its citizens feel guilty for the 'selfishness of continuing to live' is not a nation to be proud of. It is a nation that has lost its way.
And while there may be various safeguards in place, it takes only a collusion of two people to falsely state that someone claimed they wanted to die before killing them and stripping their organs., saving medical costs, and allocating their estate.
Suicide attempters should not be lumped in with the terminally ill who are asking for the right to die on there own terms after a long life. In chapter 7 of Deviant Behavior Alex Thio quotes statistics that say that the majority of suicide attempters do not actually want to die. (Thio, 2013) My point is that the suicide attempts are generally attention seeking behavior. Legal euthanasia would only apply to the mentally competent and terminally ill. I agree that pain can impair decision making. So can narcotics. Why is that acceptable but the right to die is not?
Im not saying that patients should be coerced into the decision for profit or cost cutting. But if this is there decision and lower medical costs are an added benefit than that is a good thing. There are laws and safeguards to protect from the collusion you mentioned. Like the rest of the legal and medical system it is not perfect. This lack of perfection should not be an excuse to keep patients from there rights.
Why not? That's what this is. People who want to kill themselves.
You then go on to state that many of those that attempt to kill themselves, don't really want to die, and are just seeking attention. Can the same not be true for those requesting euthanasia? Perhaps it is their way of saying that they don't want to be left alone, or that they want their family to visit them more often? Or even that they want a pack of cigarettes and a six-pack-of-beer.
Think of all the people that are healthy that try to kill themselves because they're depressed. Now add on to that, constant pain and the news that they will never leave the hospital bed again. That's enough to make anyone depressed, and it wouldn't be a surprise if a lot of people initially ask to die, rather than face their new reality. It doesn't mean they won't change their mind three weeks down the road when they are able to tolerate the pain, and accept the little time they have left. But under your plan, they won't be alive to come to that realization.
It's good you agree that patients should not be coerced into dying for profit and cost cutting. But let's take an example:
Let's say Agnes, is a 75-year-old woman in chronic pain with four months left to live. She has full insurance, and her cost of care will be about $200,000 to live out the next four months. She has no family left and drifts in and out of consciousness. Do you think it's possible that the insurance companies will encourage the doctor to encourage her to end her life, and everybody gets a nice little bonus? Who cares, right? She's just an old lady. Where's the harm?
Do you think doctors always advocate for the patient's best interest or do you think they sometimes advocate for what's in their best interest? Have you ever heard of doctor's getting bonuses for prescribing certain drugs, or signing patients up for trials? Do you think doctors ever order unnecessary tests because they get extra money?
I agree with you.
If the people are in constant pain
If there is no way to control the pain
If they are definitely going to die soon
If there is zero chance they would ever change their mind
if they have a clear state of mind
if there is no chance the doctor could encourage them to do this against their wishes
if there is no chance family members would encourage them to do this against their wishes
if there is no chance that someone might falsify their 'intent to die'
if it never goes further than only those people with terminal illnesses and in great pain
if insurance companies don't incentivize doctors to urge their patients to die
Then maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing. But that's a lot of 'ifs'.
But there's so many things that could go wrong. You yourself state "the legal and medical system is not perfect"
And that's exactly why euthanasia must not be allowed.
If we don't allow euthanasia, the worst thing is someone is hopped up on drugs for a couple weeks before they die.
If we do allow euthanasia, the worst thing that happens is people die before they want to, to facilitate other people's greed.
The dangers far outweigh the benefits. It seems like a pretty simple choice to me.
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