Euthanasia is an increasingly talked about topic within society today. It is controversial and personal, but lobby groups are already flooding support for legislative change. This begs the question, should euthanasia be legalised?
I want to start by making this very clear, euthanasia is terrible. Whenever a life is lost, it is immensely distressing for all parties involved. It must be a last resort, and it cannot be a rushed decision. This is not a conversation I want to have, but I feel it is a conversation we need to have.
Euthanasia is a deliberate, intentional act of one person to end the life of another person to relieve that person’s suffering. It is categorised into three types; voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary. I will never support the legalisation of non-voluntary or involuntary euthanasia as the patient is unable to provide consent. Voluntary euthanasia involves the patient making the request, and I believe there can be more justification for this process.
In Australia, Victoria and Western Australia have created legislation which legalises forms of euthanasia. Victoria introduced the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill in 2017, which permitted assisted suicide. These are some critical aspects of the bill:
- A person must be suffering from an incurable, advanced and progressive disease, illness or medical conditions, and experiencing intolerable suffering
- The condition must be assessed by two medical practitioners to be expected to cause death within six months
- A person must be over the age of 18
- The patient must make three requests for the procedure, and the question of assisted dying must be raised by the patient, not the doctor
- If the doctor objects to the procedure, they have a week to inform the patient and are under no obligation to continue
You may not agree with me, but I feel these checks and balances are positive and crucial. They ensure that the patient is making the decision. They allow the rights of the doctor to be maintained. The assessment is undertaken by independent doctors and time is given to allow for no impulse decisions.
Terri Eskdale revealed his support for voluntary euthanasia laws after she witnessed her partner’s unfortunate death. Mark had battled multiple sclerosis for decades, tragically ending in him taking his own life. Terri reflected on the events by stating that without the option of voluntary assisted dying laws, Mark’s death was lonely and caused his family great pain.
She stated that “People should be able to choose a time to die and have people, loved ones around them and die free of trauma because people are killing themselves already. People are ending their lives in unusually cruel ways anyway.”
Her statement reflects an argument presented by pro-euthanasia advocates. Through legalising euthanasia, it allows it to be regulated and for procedures to be put in place. It is similar to the issue of abortion. If an action is going to take place regardless, we must ensure the safety of all people involved first. However, my fear is that legalisation will then give rise to further legislation surrounding non-voluntary and involuntary euthanasia. This I will not support.
Other pro-euthanasia advocates believe that every patient has a right to choose when to die. The words ‘right to die’ doesn’t sit well with me. Is it just the words, or is it the message? I think people should have the right o make the best decision for themselves.
However, there are also many arguments against euthanasia. People believe that it could never truly be controlled as doctors could leave cases unreported. Moreover, the ethical issues that accepting euthanasia accepts that some lives are worth less than others or weakens society’s respect for the sanctity of life are highly valid.
So, where do I stand?
Well, my opinions on this topic and continuously changing as I speak to more people and read new perspectives. Although, I believe that a person has the right to make the best decision for themselves and if they are going through a period of intolerable, incurable and constant suffering, I understand the need for euthanasia situation.
However, two things must be ensured first. The system must be faultless, and every stage must be checked, double-checked and triple checked. When you are dealing with life, no mistakes can be made. Also, the decision must be placed in the hands of the patient. The doctor should never be in a position to make the decision for the patient, regardless of the circumstance.
Where do you stand? As euthanasia becomes more publicised and becomes an issue for governments, they will soon be asking for your opinion. Should it be legalised, or should it remain illegal?