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Reasons Against Euthanasia

Reasons Against Euthanasia

The issue of euthanasia has been vigorously debated in the last couple of decades. It is considered illegal in majority of the countries around the world, with its opponents thwarting any attempts to legalize it.
Debopriya Bose
Last Updated: Apr 8, 2018
Euthanasia, or 'mercy killing', is one of the most emotive and controversial issues in the healthcare sector today. It has been the subject of numerous debates and discussions, and still remains mired with strong arguments by its opponents and proponents. As the title suggests, we will be try to understand why people oppose euthanasia, but before that, it is important that we get a primer on the issue of euthanasia.

In simple terms, euthanasia can be defined as a practice of ending the life of a terminally-ill person in order to alleviate his/her suffering. Euthanasia is classified into the following types:
  1. Voluntary euthanasia
  2. Involuntary euthanasia
  3. Non-voluntary euthanasia
It is pertinent for the readers to understand these categories as the debate on euthanasia involves the manner in which a patient is assisted with euthanasia.

Voluntary Euthanasia
Euthanasia is classified as voluntary if the patient expresses a desire to die with the assistance of a doctor. This type of euthanasia is further divided into active and passive euthanasia. In active euthanasia, a lethal drug, or injection, is administered to the patient in order to assist him in dying quickly. Passive euthanasia, on the other hand, involves the withdrawal of life-supporting devices, or drugs, so that the patient dies over a course of time.

Involuntary Euthanasia
Considered illegal in every country in the world, this type of euthanasia occurs when it is performed on a person without taking his consent. Laws around the world equate this type of euthanasia with murder. Involuntary euthanasia gained notoriety around the world, when it was used by the Nazi regime to put mentally and physically disabled children to death.

Non-voluntary Euthanasia
If a person is not able to express whether he wants to live or die, and still a doctor, or a physician goes ahead and assists him in dying, the form of euthanasia is known as non-voluntary. This form of euthanasia comes into picture in cases of seriously-ill children, patients in coma, etc. Like involuntary euthanasia, it is criminal to perform non-voluntary euthanasia in most countries with the exception of Netherlands, where it can be performed under certain specific circumstances.

Now that we know the categories euthanasia falls into, we can go ahead and understand the opinion of people who oppose euthanasia.

1. Although there is some sort of tolerance among opponents on voluntary euthanasia, they firmly believe that permitting voluntary euthanasia will sooner or later lead to other, inhuman forms of euthanasia. Adolf Hitler, the dictator of Germany, put many differently-abled people to death citing the "Survival of the fittest" theory of Charles Darwin. Opponents of euthanasia argue that permitting euthanasia in any form will be detrimental to the society. They state that a pro-euthanasia society will be stoic and emotionally-hardened, and instead of taking the long road of helping their near and dear ones to recover from serious illnesses, people may choose the shorter route of putting them to death.

2. Opponents argue that euthanasia is against the wishes of the God. As the creator of the entire universe, God has put every soul on earth for a purpose and until that purpose is met, He does terminate its existence. People against euthanasia substantiate their claim by quoting religious verses and the stand of religious leaders on this issue. Their argument, however, finds little support among supporters of euthanasia, who believe that it is imprudent to allow someone to suffer in the name of God. Euthanasia supporters also refute these arguments as these do not apply to people who do not believe in the existence of God.

3. Opponents of euthanasia argue that a majority of patients seek death because of the situation they find themselves in, and if an effort is made to better the situation, the patients may change their point of view on life and death. Opponents also believe that if better facilities are provided to the patients, the whole debate on euthanasia will cease to exist. Patients in tremendous pain can be put on palliative care so that their appropriate care is taken. As the human body is capable of achieving the unthinkable, it is important to remember that there is always scope for improvement in a patient.

4. People who oppose euthanasia point out to the fact that patients who have requested for euthanasia are limited in number. Their right to decide the best course for their lives needs to be respected, but not at the cost of a vast majority of other terminally-ill patients who start each day of their life with new hope and optimism. If assisted-deaths become a norm, the determination of such people will be seriously deterred. Opponents argue that it is in the best interest of everyone to believe in the sustainability of life and accept the pain and suffering as a part of it.

5. Anti-euthanasia activists refer to the fact that countries which have experimented with legalizing euthanasia have had issues with monitoring its use. Due to inadequate laws, patients who have never expressed their desire to die have been put to death in the name of voluntary euthanasia. These cases, the opponents point out, prove that euthanasia will be a failed, inhumane experiment, if adopted on a global scale.

6. Putting terminally-ill people to death poses a big question on the relationship between an individual and the society. By raising the issue of euthanasia, the society undermines the value of the human life. Opponents say that in times of crisis, the approach should be to put a brave front against adversity, rather than take the escape route and put someone to death.

7. Opponents argue that euthanasia opens up a whole plethora of issues for people working in the healthcare sector, specially doctors and physicians, who are asked for assistance in putting patients to death. Opponents claim that people who support euthanasia forget that their demand of legalizing voluntary euthanasia will put a strain on the doctor-patient relationship. Legalizing euthanasia can also give doctors enormous powers and they can be corrupted by acrimonious relatives of a patient to end his life.

8. Last, but not the least, opponents of euthanasia believe that euthanasia takes away the human experience of death. There are many anecdotes about families braving the death of a loved one together and in the process, evolving as better human beings who value life, and who have the understanding to reflect on the deeper meaning of the purpose of human existence in this world. Opponents believe that when a patient is put to death using euthanasia, the meaning of life and death is lost for the loved ones of the patient.

These were some reasons, opponents have against euthanasia. We are aware of the fact that people who support euthanasia have valid reasons for their stand on the issue. The fact remains that euthanasia remains a subject on which people have different views. Signing off, we hope that this write-up was able to highlight the reasons people have against euthanasia.