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Should Euthanasia Be Decriminalised? Essay

1013 words - 4 pages

Euthanasia comes from the Greek Eu - Thanatos. Literally means 'well-death' or 'easy-death'. In modern day, euthanasia means to assist terminally ill people to die, at that person's request or by making the decision to stop life support. Most people that request euthanasia is in unbearable pain or suffer physical conditions, which make their quality of life very poor. This decision is not the easy option; it is a very complex and emotional decision for a person to make. In the United Kingdom it is against the law to intentionally take the life of a person, even with their consent. The law does acknowledge that people have the right to die because the Suicide Act (1961) made it legal for people to take their own lives. However, there has been many cases that have challenged the law to be upgraded and has opened the legal, medical and ethical debate on decriminalising euthanasia. This essay will account for the arguments concerning whether to decriminalise euthanasia.Religious opponents oppose euthanasia because they believe that the right to decide when a person dies belongs to God. The basis of the Christian standpoint against euthanasia is that of the sixth commandment "Thou shalt not kill". Christianity teaches that suffering can have a place in God's plan, in that it allows the sufferer to share in Christ's agony and his redeeming sacrifice. They believe that Christ will be present to share in the suffering of the believer. Pope John Paul II has written, "It is suffering, more than anything else, which clears the way for the grace which transforms human souls." (www.religioustolerance.org) Religious people don't argue that we can't kill ourselves, or get others to do it. They know that we can do it because God has given us free will. Their argument is that it would be wrong for us to do so because it would deny God's rights over our lives and his right to choose the length of our lives and the way our lives end. However, if euthanasia were to be decimalised it would not affect the right of religious people to continue following their faith.Humanists who do not have religious beliefs but believe that we have the right to control our own quality of life and autonomy leads to the view, that in suitable circumstances voluntary euthanasia is the morally right course. People should have the right to choose a painless and dignified end. To postpone the inevitable is of no benefit to patient or family. Individuals should be allowed to decide on such personal matters for themselves. So humanists generally support voluntary euthanasia but they recognise the need for safeguards to prevent involuntary euthanasia. (www.humanism.org.uk) Recently a Human rights solicitor took the case of Diane Pretty to European court but the European judges dismissed Mrs Pretty's claim that the British courts were contravening her human rights by refusing to allow her husband to help her commit suicide. Diane said, "The law has taken all my rights away." Diane wanted her...

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