Euthanasia, Is There Any Individual Liberty?

1259 words - 5 pages

Pro-euthanasia people typically portray euthanasia as a case of individual liberty. If a person decides that he wants to die, perhaps you and I do not think this is a good idea, but what right do we have to tell him that he cannot do this? They usually describe a situation like this. A person has some terrible, deadly disease; he is trapped in a hospital bed, with all sorts of medical equipment connected to him, unable to move or do much of anything. He is in terrible pain and begs to have these machines disconnected so he can go home and live out whatever life he has left in peace. But the doctors refuse, because turning off the machines would surely result in his death, and they are, as would anyone be, morally against this.Doesn't the patient have the right to make that decision for himself? It is his life. It is extremely rare today for a doctor to try to force someone to receive medical care that he doesn't want. Pro-lifers readily agree that anyone should have the right to refuse medical treatment if he believes the side effects are worse than the disease. If someone refused medical treatment because he literally decided that he would rather be dead, we would assume that he is not being pressured by others and he is sane and not making this decision rashly in a period of depression. This certainly stretches the limits of what we mean by personal liberty, but that's a difficult, debatable moral issue. This is not the issue that we face today. The real issue today is two types of cases: One deals with people who, perhaps because of a serious illness or perhaps for reasons unrelated to their illness, are extremely depressed and say they want to die.These people are no different than anyone else who thinks about suicide, they just have medical problems in addition to their emotional or psychological problems. Some ill people become frustrated that they cannot lead the kind of active lives that they used to before their illness. Some feel guilty about being a burden on their family. Social workers and psychologists have often found that when people like this talk about or attempt suicide, the vast majority don't really want to die. What they want is to get the attention of those around them. They want people to say, 'No, please don't die, we love you', or 'We didn't realize you were so unhappy.' They want their suicide attempt to fail. To tell such a person that he has a 'right' to commit suicide and that you will help him do it, is to say, 'You're right, you are a useless cripple, and the world would be better off without you.' Even if we accepted the idea that some people might make a reasonable decision to commit suicide, surely we would exclude people who are in moments of depression, or otherwise not fully competent. Wouldn't we? The Iowa Law Review published a 'Model Aid-in-Dying Act' (October, 1989) that states might want to adopt. Under this model act, a child over the age of 6 could request 'aid in dying' and if his parents refused to...

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