One of the most controversial topics discussed in today’s society in terms of whether it should be legalized or not is euthanasia. Euthanasia is the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma. The practice of euthanasia is illegal in most countries around the world, including a majority of the states in the US. Although there would be consequences if it were to become legal, euthanasia should be allowed in the US because there are more benefits associated with euthanizing a terminally ill patient rather than disadvantages. If euthanasia was legal in the US, there would be several advantages such as money/equipment saving, helping prevent further suffering of terminally ill patients and their families, and protection of an ill patient’s freedom of choice when in a life or death situation.
Physicians perform euthanasia via lethal injection, and it is illegal in most countries and regions around the world. However, some countries and states allow assisted suicide for terminally ill patients; those countries include The Netherlands, Belgium, Colombia, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, and Canada. Euthanasia is also allowed in six of the United States: Colorado, California, Oregon, Vermont, Montana, and Washington (State and DC). However, several states have begun to consider legislation that would legalize active voluntary euthanasia. Medical Doctor Michael Manning’s 1998 novel, Euthanasia, defines voluntary euthanasia as “Intentionally administering medications to cause the patient’s death at the patient’s request and with full, informed consent.” Terminally ill patients who wish to be euthanized pay money to travel to these countries and states, which is a major problem and is a reason euthanasia should be legal in all US states. Along with this, there are also several other reasons why the practice of euthanasia should be re-evaluated and reconsidered for complete legalization in the US.
One of the most important benefits that would come from allowing euthanasia is money and equipment saving, which is also greatly beneficial for the economy. If euthanasia were to be allowed in the United States, it would free up equipment needed for patients with curable diseases. Because euthanasia is not allowed, doctors are forced to place terminally ill patients on machines and other equipment, even though those patients are incurable and are going to inevitably die at some point due to their illness. Legalizing euthanasia would free up equipment for patients’ whose diseases are curable, and not a death sentence. This would also save money because we would not have to worry as much about spending money on more equipment since it will free up more equipment for more patients, which also makes it economically helpful. If euthanasia was allowed in the US, we may also be able to save more lives because there would be more available equipment for patients with curable diseases, making it a more valuable use of our limited machinery.
Another reason euthanasia should be legalized in the United States is that such legislation would reflect our society’s value of protecting a person’s freedom of choice. If a person who has an incurable disease is suffering and is in great amount of unbearable pain, they should have the freedom to choose whether or not they want to end their suffering by ending their life. However, many doctors may refuse to euthanize a terminally ill patient because it goes against their moral beliefs. Those doctors may believe that they are doing more harm than good by euthanizing an ill patient, but if that patient is wanting to end his/her life because they can’t handle the pain and suffering anymore, then that doctor would be doing more good than harm by helping that patient end their suffering. For example, many people believe that when you die, your spirit goes to heaven and you are healed through God. A patient who is suffering from a painful/incurable disease may believe in those things and want to end their life because they believe they will be healed through God. If an ill patient wishes to be voluntarily euthanized, then we should respect that person’s decision and not let him/her continue to be in extreme pain and suffering.
Furthermore, euthanizing an ill patient would not only help a patient’s pain and suffering, it would also be helpful to that person’s family. The families of terminally ill patients are also in pain when they witness one of their loved ones continue to deteriorate and slowly die. If euthanasia was allowed, it would help the patient’s family because they do not have to continue to witness their family member suffer, which can be just as hurtful to the family as it is to the ill person. That patient may also be at the mercy of many staff, nurses, and their family; if that person were to be euthanized, it would also allow them to die with dignity. Legally allowing an ill patient to be euthanized would also be “Giving the terminally ill patient the opportunity to choose when they die and how they die… and the ability to say what they want to say or do for their family before their death” (Seven Important Euthanasia Pros and Cons, Flow Psychology). Allowing patients to make their own decision with regard to euthanasia protects their right to choose what would be best for them and the rest of their family.
Despite there being several benefits if euthanasia becomes legal in the United States, there are also several potential negative consequences that could come from allowing it. For example, one of the most common issues discussed in the euthanasia debate is that of religion. Most religions believe that killing is the ultimate sin against God. If a physician that is true to his/her religion was assigned to euthanize an ill patient, they may refuse to do so because it goes against his/her moral and religious beliefs. Another problem our country would encounter is that euthanasia could potentially lead to the devaluing human life. In a worst-case scenario, voluntary euthanasia may lead to involuntary euthanasia because physicians and hospitals may view euthanasia as a method of saving money since it would free up funds and equipment for other patients with curable diseases. This could become a major problem and lead to many ill patients becoming involuntarily euthanized because it may be forced upon them by hospitals.
Our country would also have to consider whether an ill patient is mentally competent enough to make the decision to be euthanized. For example, a patient who is not thinking clearly because of their illness may wish to be euthanized without knowing that they may eventually be cured through treatment. This is why voluntary euthanasia should only be granted to patients who have been medically evaluated and are mentally competent of making the decision. It could also devalue human life because it sets a bad precedent for other countries and people around the world, as “this also gives the impression to other places and young children that the human life has a lesser value” (Seven Important Euthanasia Pros and Cons, Flow Psychology). This could have a negative influence on many children, as well as other countries, as they may view death as an easy way out of life, which would lead to major problems in the US, as well as around the world. However, the positives of legalizing euthanasia in the US still significantly outweigh the negatives.
Euthanasia has been a highly debated topic in terms of legalizing it for many years now. There are several potential benefits associated with euthanasia, despite there being some potential negative consequences the country would have to face. The US should only grant voluntary euthanasia to patients’ who are mentally competent to make the decision, and it would help our country by saving more money and lives by freeing up equipment and resources for other patients with curable diseases. It will also help terminally ill patients and their families because it will aid them in discontinuing their unbearable suffering. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, euthanasia protects patients’ freedom to make a choice that they determine to be in them and their family’s best interest.
- Seven Important Euthanasia Pros and Cons, Flow Psychology, June 2, 2015, educational
- http://euthanasia.procon.org/, non-educational
- https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/euthanasia-voluntary/, Voluntary Euthanasia, December 16, 2014, education
- https://www.utm.edu/staff/jfieser/class/160/6-euthanasia.htm, Moral Issues that Divide Us, James Fieser, 2008, educational
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3070710/, Legalizing Euthanasia or Assisted Suicide, J. Pereira, MBChB MSc, 2011, educational
- Euthanasia, Novel, Michael Manning, Doctor of Medicine, 1998, educational
- https://www.scu.edu/ethics/focus-areas/bioethics/resources/legalizing-euthanasia/, Legalizing Euthanasia: Medical Perspectives on Death and Dying, Derek Humphry, Richard Gula, 1991, educational