Euthanasia is a practice of ending life, or killing, in purpose to end someone’s pain and suffering due to the illness. Euthanasia is also known as the “killing from mercy” and the original name is derived from Greek language, meaning “good death”, where “eu” translates as “good” and “tanathos” means death.
Classification of euthanasia
There are different types of euthanasia: voluntary, non-voluntary, active or passive. However, voluntary, passive euthanasia is the most commonly practiced.
Passive euthanasia involves the withdrawing of common treatments necessary for the continuance of life. Active euthanasia involves the use of lethal substances or forces to kill.
Voluntary euthanasia is conducted with the consent of the patient. This kind of euthanasia is legal in some parts of the Europe, and it is known under the name assisted suicide, since the patient brings about his or her own death with the assistance of a doctor. Non-voluntary euthanasia is conducted where the consent of the patient is unavailable. These kinds of patients are usually children born with severe birth defects. Involuntary euthanasia is conducted against the will of the patient, and it is regarded as a crime in legal jurisdictions.
Reasons for Euthanasia
People supporting the practice of euthanasia usually claim that everyone has a right to decide when their life should end. Moreover, they believe that it should be the ultimate civil right to end their suffering and get a peaceful aid in dying. This claim is based on the notion of personal autonomy. One of the positive reasons behind euthanasia is also that it ensures that no one dies in painful agony. For many patients, this would be the only possible way to die with dignity. Another strong argument for euthanasia is that this practice could free the hospitals from incurable patients. In that way, there could be more room for patients with diseases that can be cured.
Reasons against Euthanasia
People opposed to the practice of euthanasia often fear that the legalization of assisted suicide could lead society down to legalized killing of disabled, elderly, and mentally incompetent people. This is the famous “slippery slope” argument. Another strong argument to refuse euthanasia is its possible impact on medical economics. In other words, opponents fear that the future medicine could promote euthanasia as a form of health care cost containment. The average cost of euthanasia is somewhere around 40 dollars, while the complete care for a dying patient normally costs ten thousands of dollars. Another strong reason against euthanasia is that it could involve an assisted suicide of many patients who do not have health insurance. The opponents also strongly believe that a proper medical treatment provides complete morally acceptable conditions for a death with dignity. Moreover, in many cases, it is not clear whether the patient wants to die or not.