Should Euthanasia Be Legal?

Do you think euthanasia should be available to human beings?

I recently ran across a very interesting article where they ask different faith groups about end of life issues and what their faith group would have to offer non-religious people. The answers basically tried to answer whether or not euthanasia should be allowed, and predictably, many of the faith groups said that it shouldn’t be – not because they had good reasons to dissalow it, but because life is a gift from God so therefore it’s not ours to end if we so wish.

Here’s a sample of the answers.

Rabbi: “Religious people are more likely to appreciate life as a gift from God, over which they exercise trusteeship. Life is theirs to nurture, but it is not theirs to terminate.”

Rev. JOHN COUNSELL: “If there is an eternal purpose to our existence, if we are not just the product of millions of biological accidents, then this evidence of the divine that we call “life,” deserves the awe, respect and protection that people who understand it for what it is advocate. The Nazis promoted the idea that some forms of human life were not sacred and were not worth protecting. I believe that kind of reasoning is pure evil, no matter how politically correct or socially acceptable it presents itself.”

Muslim: “The believer in life after death will have a much broader point of view. He/She will be prepared to make sacrifices in the expectation of a reward in the Hereafter. He will not cheat and rob because he knows he will never escape the final judgment. He will always be on the lookout for some investment for greater dividends in the eternal world.”

Atheist Humanist: “Most maddening are attempts to infringe on our right to die with dignity. A god who doesn’t give a rat’s behind about saving a child shouldn’t dare to care how we decide to end our terminal and painful existence.

No thanks, ye of overreaching faith, while you obsess over post-life salvation that may never occur, we view this precious life is miraculous enough, providing sufficient meaning and purpose, not only for ourselves but also for those we love.”

Catholic: “The Church holds human life to be sacred because it is a gift from God. It teaches that every human life is valuable with an inherent dignity and worth from the moment of conception. Because human life has an inherent value and dignity that distinguishes it from other forms of life, we treat people differently than how we treat suffering animals.

Many pet owners and farmers have had the difficult task of putting down a suffering animal. We do this in part because an animal cannot find any meaning in its suffering nor can it think beyond the present moment. But human beings are different and we can see that asking someone to kill us to end our suffering has profound ramifications for how we as a society see and value human life.”

Personally, I think it should be allowed. I don’t think anyone should be forced to end a life or be forced to have their life ended. I think it should be a personal choice that is made when the person is of sound mind. I should be able to choose when and how I will leave this life, and if someone else wants to use God belief to make their decisions, that’s fine by me. I don’t believe in God or an afterlife so it has no ramifications on me and other peoples faith shouldn’t be the deciding factor (or even a factor) on my end of life decisions.

It’s crazy to me that we allow the option to put our animals down when their quality of life is next to zero, but we don’t allow our fellow human beings and loved ones the same level of courtesy. If a religious person believes that their life is governed by God and they don’t have the right to end it, then that is up to them. I would support their right to make such a decision, but I feel I should be granted the same level of respect. I’m a thinking, feeling human being and deserve the right to make my own decisions, especially when it comes to something as important as how I leave this life. No religion has the right to tell me how I should die.

However, I think there would have to be clear legislation to go along with any euthanasia law so that it can’t be manipulated by greedy family members who want to speed up the process of death without the persons consent. There would have to be no loop holes in the law, and it would have to be carefully crafted.

What do you think?

And if you belong to one of the denominations listed above from the article, do you agree with their assessment?

Thanks for reading!

Note: If you enjoy these types of topics, reading the entirety of the linked article is worthwhile. I didn’t use them all because of size restraints. I didn’t want this article to be too long.

 

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34 Comments

  1. Here’s my thought: Any time the government makes a law saying that this or that should or can be done to a person, a process develops that becomes wildly out of control. Maybe they should make one certain country that one could fly to if they wanted to end their life. There would be no citizenship requirement and no long term ability to live there. They just fly in and they are allowed to terminate in a pain free way.

    That way, no government would have their hands on it. Personally, right now I want all the days I can get in my life, but who knows how I would feel if I was dying painfully. Strike that, if I was lingering painfully, I know I would want to die.

    I have already told my family, including my kids that when I die I want to be cremated and have my family take a trip to Disney World in Orlando and surreptitiously sprinkle my ashes in Epcot, in the gardens.

  2. I’m commenting before researching, something that’s very dangerous. If I recall correctly, Oregon has a law allowing euthanasia. It’s very well articulated, and I should try to find it if you’re interested. Basically there needs to be a diagnosis of life expectancy less than 6 months, and there needs to be a second opinion confirming that diagnosis. If those conditions are met, and the person is of sound mind, he or she can choose to end their life.

    • Just did a little looking into it. Seems the patient can administer the medication to end their own life in Oregon and a few other places, like Washington and New Mexico.

      I didn’t know that. Thanks for making me aware of it.

      I also agree that illness isn’t the only reason to want to opt out of living any longer.

      I’m sorry for the loss of your grandmother.

  3. This is a tough one, admittedly.

    The intense suffering and indignity that people go through as they approach death is heart rending.

    Nevertheless the human life must be allowed to proceed from conception to death without murder as an option.

    For once it becomes ethical to commit evil in order to yield a good result, than any sort of depravity becomes ethical.

  4. I haven’t read the referenced article yet (it’s a workday and I do have work-related tasks at hand), but I will when time allows. In the meantime, though, I do have a living will with “do not resuscitate” instructions. I don’t want to be kept alive by artificial means. Further, if I am still mentally sound enough to make my own informed decisions, I support death with dignity over constant, untreatable, unrelenting pain and suffering. But as the comment above noted, there do need to be clear guidelines in that prevent someone who is merely depressed, suicidal, or is mentally incompetent from abusing assisted suicide.

    Thanks for posting about this. This topic, now that I’m getting “up there,” is of interest to me, and I will go back and read the linked article.

  5. As I have thought more about this, I think that the real danger of allowing euthanasia is that one who is ill might be pressured by loved ones who simply can’t stand to watch a prolonged death or do not want to deal with the problems of caring for a family member who will be a burden, such as a child with a developmental disability.

    There is a lot to think about in this subject. So many areas where abuse might take place.

  6. When someone is terminally ill I think they should be able to choose to live or die. In Oregon, I believe, that is legal. There was a documentary about it, “How to die in Oregon”. As far as suicidal from depression etc I’m not so sure. I work with psych patients and most times if they can be medicated, go to therapy, or overcome some difficulty in their life they regret attempting suicide. When someone is depressed they are not thinking clearly so I wouldn’t feel comfortable letting anyone who wants to die be euthanized. Even those who are terminally ill I think should go to a counselor to be sure that us what they want. But otherwise, it is their choice. I wouldn’t call myself a humanist necessarily, but I am an atheist.

  7. “I think it should be a personal choice that is made when the person is of sound mind.”

    I think it should be legal, and we have a good model, guidelines in Oregon. I watched my stepmother die a horrible death from pancreatic cancer. If I am ever in such a situation, where it is certain that my disease is terminal, I will go to Oregon and alleviate my family from profound suffering as well. I’m not afraid of death. I just don’t want to experience horrific suffering.

    Studies have been published in JAMA showing that the most religious people with advanced cancer tend to get more aggressive EoL care at the end of life, and generally don’t have living wills — leading to unnecessary suffering. Basically, they are given false hope by the religious community.

  8. Traditionally, Jews frown on ending ones life for any reason but I most certainly do disagree. We’re under no obligation to live a life of horrible pain and suffering. I also think that as we age, choosing to end our lives should be an option. I’ve spent time in nursing homes, hospitals and caring for my own grandmother while she slowly deteriorated. There is no joy and dignity in dying, for most people. We celebrate because our life expectancy has increased but that does not mean that everyone who lives to 80+ has a good QUALITY of life. All that to say, terrible illness is not the only reason one may opt to end their own life.

    • Completely agreed, Dena.

      “We’re under no obligation to live a life of horrible pain and suffering. I also think that as we age, choosing to end our lives should be an option. I’ve spent time in nursing homes, hospitals and caring for my own grandmother while she slowly deteriorated. There is no joy and dignity in dying, for most people.”

      Well said.

  9. It’s sad that we put down pets more humanely than we put down humans. We’ll give them a shot that puts them down quickly and painlessly. Yet we make humans starve to death or sufficate. And the ways they put down criminals is even worse. I’m so glad Canada doesn’t have the death penalty. I think that humans deserve the same humane treatement that we give to pets.

  10. I haven’t met two people, clergy or lay, who agree on this except in the most general way. Personally, I think it would be nice to know there’s a way out other than long term suffering, but opinions differ hugely on this even among people who usually agree.

  11. We have a doctor over here who has now been disbarred because he has supplied the lethal medication for terminally ill, or elderly people to euthanise themselves. I am in agreement with it. Apart from the ethical and law considerations, I think that every individual should be able to choose how and when they leave our earthly coil. It’s getting ‘it right’ so it can take place and for that I have no answer.

  12. Hello good mate.
    I believe the state should have no say on how I die, but if it must, then the state must make it possible to access end of life solutions that allow me to die with dignity.
    Am all in support of eythanasia

  13. “Thou shalt not kill, but need not strive / Officiously to keep alive” -Arthur Hugh Clough.

    Like many of the other commenters, I’m sceptical of the state interfering with end-of-life decisions, but I do think that it should be the right of every rational human being to decide their own fate. If I’m in agony, or have deteriorated mentally to the point where I cannot remember who I am, then I want to be able to end that suffering, or instruct my loved ones to do it for me.

    If we don’t have that right, then we are slaves; either of the state or of a god, but still slaves.

    • You know, that whole “Thou shall not kill” thing has made me wonder. Why engrave that on the tablets and then send the Israelites into the promised land with instructions to utterly destroy the various people in the land? And the whole law about stoning this person and that person for crimes. I can’t make sense of this. it’s so incongruous. I’m baffled.

      Sorry for going off topic.

  14. Just putting my two cents in. People can and have defeated the odds. I being one of them. I should not have made it when I was younger but I did. That being said, I’m not sure about how I feel about this subject. But, if done, it should be humane and as painless as possible. Animals who are put down are given a shot that makes them die peacefully. If euthanasia is done that is how it should be.

    I am against euthanizing children and people who do not have a sound mind. They cannot make the decision by themselves.

  15. Pingback: Should People (Even Depressed Ones) Be Allowed To Kill Themselves? | Godless Cranium

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