Euthanasia, more commonly known as ‘mercy killing’, is a contentious
issue that is debated more and more these days.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines euthanasia as `a gentle and easy
death: bringing about of this, especially in the case of an incurable
and painful disease`. Euthanasia would usually be the injection of a
lethal dose of medication administered by a doctor. In this essay I
intend to explore the various arguments surrounding euthanasia and I
will put forward my reasons for claiming that euthanasia is morally
One of the more common arguments in support of euthanasia is that it
stops the pain of the terminally ill sufferer once and for all, so
called ‘mercy killing’. Some people argue that if a patient were in a
lot of pain and distress it would be better to give them an `easy` and
humane death. While this may be acceptable for a sick and dying dog, I
ask you, is it really an acceptable way to treat a human?
On the other hand there are often others, especially in the Hospice
movement who maintain that if given the right treatment sufferers do
not need to endure pain. They also argue that with the proper care and
attention terminally ill patients can be helped to `die with dignity`.
In this country there are over 150 hospices that care for people with
conditions such as cancer and AIDS. Teams of nurses, highly skilled in
pain relief, staff these hospices. They help the patient both
physically and psychologically; hospices can even cure people who were
originally thought to be incurable. In fact up to two-thirds of
patients leave hospices alive.
Those who advocate the use of Euthanasia argue that not only does it
end the suffering of the patient but it also permits their relatives
to get on with their lives earlier and put an end to the constant
worry. There is no doubt relatives do have to go through a lot of pain
and distress as well. They have to go through the trauma of watching
their loved ones dying which must be a dreadful experience. Someone
who knows all about this is Clem Lewis who had to endure the ordeal of
watching his wife die of dementia. He said, “I believe now that if l
were told I had Alzheimer’s disease, my reaction would to tidy up my
affairs and make a quick exit while I had the ability to do so. I
would hate to bother anyone or have my children’s inheritance
squandered on keeping me alive at a nursing home in a demented state.”
He also said, in contrast to this, “If I had been able to give her
(his wife) an ‘exit pill’ I should have been tormented with guilt ever
Consequently, if a relative allowed a lethal injection to be given to
their terminally ill loved one there is a very good chance that, like
Clem, they would feel incredibly guilty for a long time afterwards.
How many of us would...