What is Euthanasia?
Euthanasia comes from two Greek words: ‘Eu’ and ‘thanatos’ which mean ‘good or well’ and ‘death’ respectively. Literally meaning good death, easy death, without severe suffering or mercy killing, for the purpose of putting an end to extreme suffering.
Euthanasia can be characterized as an act of commission or omission which achieves relief by killing the sufferer directly or indirectly.
What Euthanasia is not.
1. Stopping a medically futile treatment where the burden of the treatment outweighs its benefits.
2. Giving treatments that have double effect;
3. When a mentally competent person chooses to refuse treatment.
Types of Euthanasia
1. Voluntary Euthanasia: This is committed with the willingness and cooperation of the patient.
2. Involuntary Euthanasia: This is performed on a competent and informed patient without his knowledge or consent.
3. Non-voluntary Euthanasia: This is performed where the consent of the patient is unavailable (i.e he/she is without proper mental faculty to request euthanasia).
Arguments for Euthanasia
1. The Right to Die: If truly a patient has the right to life, he also has the right to die.
2. Argument from mercy: One ought to relieve the pain or suffering of another person where it does not contravene that person’s wishes, where one can do so without undue costs on oneself, where one will not violate other moral obligations, where the pain is not necessary for the sufferer’s attainment of good and where the pain can be relieved without precluding the sufferer’s attainment of some good.
3. Meaningless or Worthless life: Life which has lost its worth or meaning should be taken.
4. Argument from Benefit to the patient.
Arguments Against Euthanasia,
1.Slippery Slope Argument: To legalise euthanasia will lead to circumstances in which people who are not suffering or who do not wish to die are killed.
2.Sacredness of Life: Life is sacred because it belongs to God and only God has power over life, so He alone can choose when human life can end.
3.The Medical Objections: Legalizing euthanasia would lead to violation of an important medical ethic-a doctor must bear in mind his obligation of preserving human life from conception to its natural end.
4.Adverse Effects on Medical Research Programme.
References : Charles C. C., OP (July2019), Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) and Euthanasia (Mercy killing), pp.4-8,17-27.
Submitted by Mary Posh