PART A: SUMMARY
I would like to begin by defining the issue of the article by Patrick Nowell-Smith. The issue of his article is legalizing euthanasia and giving people a right to decide when and how to die.
What is euthanasia and why is it such a complex matter that raises all different kinds of opinions? According to the American Dictionary, euthanasia is defined as "the act or practice of ending the life of an individual suffering from a terminal illness or an incurable condition, as by lethal injection or the suspension of extraordinary medical treatment." It can be active euthanasia (relieve person from pain by killing) or passive euthanasia (letting die). Newell-Smith raises the questions if the person has a right to die when he/she wants to and how he/she wants to especially if suffering from terminal disease accompanied with excruciating pain. Since most of painless ways of dying involves assistance, Nowell-Smith states that the person has a very limited right to die when chooses so. He believes that person must have a right to die at a time and manner of his/her choice and that there is no moral difference between passive and active euthanasia. He also concludes that society should change their look at Death itself, not prohibiting its discussion as it once happened to Sex. Therefore he believes that laws on euthanasia should be liberalized.
Nowell-Smith arrives at above conclusion by looking at three reasons for euthanasia should not be permitted and setting pros and cons against them hoping that reasons against will be stronger for reader. The reasons are: religious, moral and practical. He takes a detailed look at the last two reasons because there is not much to say about the first one except that God is given us lives and he is the only one who has a right to take is away. Nowell-Smith believes it’s not reasonable to prohibit euthanasia solely on these grounds.
Nowell-Smith looks at moral right based and utilitarian theories. The right of not to be killed can be argued against by the right to want to end living. He provides an example of euthanasia societies where a lot of older people who still enjoy live just have a desire to have an opportunity to end their lives the way they want to. The fear of being helpless and slowly dying in the institutions drives these people to join these societies and ask for a law to be changed. Nowell-Smith also makes an argument against Law Reform Commission of Canada’s report Euthanasia, Suicide and Cessation of Treatment that suggests that euthanasia laws should not be changed. One of the arguments is that it may go out of control and could lead to serious abuses and mistakes. Nowell-Smith argues that it can be controlled stating the example of Dutch system where voluntary active euthanasia practices only in hospitals and where everything is considered before any action is done so there is no mistake.
Then he moves to discussing differences between...