Exploring the Controversy of Euthanasia: Navigating the Moral Terrain
Introduction to Euthanasia
Euthanasia(“good death”) is the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering. It is also known as ‘mercy killing.’ In many countries, there is a divisive public controversy over the moral, ethical, and legal issues of euthanasia.
Ethical Foundations Against Euthanasia
Euthanasia has become an ethical issue and the focus of some of our most controversial public policy questions. I oppose the legalization of euthanasia. But we must do more than simply disagree with its proponents. It is possible, using the belief structures of the Judeo-Christian tradition and other reflections, to develop a persuasive understanding of human life that can serve as the foundation for an ethic that would oppose the legalization of euthanasia.
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Religious Perspectives on Euthanasia
Some persons question whether the concrete norm opposing euthanasia should be a matter of public morality. To answer this question, we must turn to our foundational principle. As a society, we must ask ourselves, How ‘sacred’ is life? Will that natural sense of awe about life, that natural desire not to be vulnerable, be enhanced or threatened by making euthanasia legal?
The Slippery Slope of Euthanasia
Individuals who are against euthanasia on a religious basis are of the idea that life is a gift from God and that only He has the power to decide when an individual’s life ends. They argue that God created human beings in a sacred way, and for this reason, human life is sacred by default. Individuals don’t decide how and when they are born; therefore, they should not be given the freedom to choose how and when to die (Young). Legalizing euthanasia could lead to its abuse in that individuals might be euthanized by their enemies when they are not ready to die. Christians argue that God has the final decision when it comes to human life.
God decides when human life starts and ends; therefore, engaging in acts of euthanasia is sinful and is against Him. This is a common argument among Christians, Jews, and Muslims (Scherer). Other beliefs, such as Buddhism and Hinduism, have a complex point of view on euthanasia. Scholars from the two systems of beliefs argue that euthanasia is tolerable in exceptional circumstances. This point of view, however, does not have universal acceptance among Buddhists and Hindus.
Individuals who are against euthanasia based on the slippery slope idea argue that once the government, through its healthcare system, starts to kill its people, it sets a dangerous example by crossing a line that should never have been crossed. Government laws are subject to change through amendments (Young). It is of great concern that once euthanasia has been accepted in society. It will progressively change from voluntary euthanasia to non-voluntary and finally to involuntary euthanasia.
Legalizing euthanasia may lead to negative consequences that may not be seen at the time of law enactment (Scherer). Such negative consequences may include pressure for disabled people to request euthanasia to reduce their family’s burden. Patients may also request euthanasia because of the doctors’ diagnosis that they have a terminal condition which might be wrong. Researchers may also become complacent and discouraged to research more into palliative treatment and cure for terminal illness.
- “Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide: The Basics”. Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity: https://cbhd.org/content/euthanasia-and-physician-assisted-suicide-basics
- “Euthanasia – An Overview”. BBC Ethics Guide: http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/euthanasia/overview/introduction.shtml
- “Arguments Against Euthanasia”. The Arguments for and Against Euthanasia URL: https://sites.google.com/site/theargumentsforandagainsteuth/arguments-against-euthanasia
- “Euthanasia: How ‘Sacred’ Is Life?” The Independent URL: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/euthanasia-how-sacred-is-life-7936595.html