Most people do not like to talk or even think about death; much less the topic of ending one’s own life. However, for some, death is a desired alternative to living in agony. Euthanasia has been a topic of debate since antiquity, and both sides stand firm on their beliefs. The right to choose death is illegal in most countries. I believe in people’s freedom to do what they please with their own bodies. The basic right of liberty is what America was founded on. Euthanasia should be a legal option.
It’s important to start by understanding the different types of euthanasia. Allowing someone to die is, “Forgoing or withdrawing medical treatment that offers no hope of benefit to the total well-being of the patient, or that imposes burdens disproportionate to the potential benefits, allows the patient to die” (Manning 2). Traditionally called passive euthanasia, allowing someone to die was redefined by and is acceptable in the Catholic Church. Active euthanasia, also known as physician-assisted suicide, is when someone other than the patient ends the life of the patient upon explicit request. I view active and passive euthanasia to be one in the same with one very real difference; allowing someone to die delays the inevitable and the patient is left to twist and turn for awhile longer. Peter Chesterfield comments, “A terminally ill, mentally competent patient like me should not be forced to suffer. This is as morally unacceptable as murder” (qtd. In Friedman 8). On the other hand, “The phrase ‘mercy killing’ refers to someone’s taking a direct action to terminate a patient’s life without the patient’s permission” (Thiroux and Krasemann 184). Mercy killing is the form of euthanasia that must be properly monitored and consist of strict guidelines if ever to be made legal. If appropriate advance directives were taken, mercy killing would never occur. By knowing what one would want under the given situation, the act would be active euthanasia.
There are several reasons for the opposition of euthanasia. The first I would like to discuss is Natural Law. The argument is that killing ourselves goes against our very nature. I also think being in excruciating pain for the remainder of a short life is not very natural. What is natural is the want, rather the need to end such pain. If there is no hope of extending life without constant suffering, continuing on in such a manner is nothing but self-inflicting punishment. Natural Law has granted us free will, which brings me to the next point.
“Autonomy is the right of a person to control his or her own body and life decisions” (Manning 26). This is absolutely correct. Governments, groups, and various people can argue against autonomy forever. The simple fact is we have control over ourselves, whether people like it or not. It gives us an added responsibility to thoroughly think about what it is we do with our bodies. These are decisions for the individual. Many of us go through life trying to...