Everyone who is born will die.
All humans face death sooner or later
in their lifetime. It is the wish of many, especially suffering
individuals, to die peacefully and without pain. Death is beyond our
control, but should we be allowed to decide the time of our death?
There are proponents on both sides of this controversial issue, but
with all the complications and dangers associated with legalizing
assisted suicide, it should not become an option available to
Many believe that individuals suffering immensely physically deserve
the right to end their pain.
Why should not patients with incurable
diseases be allowed to terminate their misery and find relief for
themselves? It seems unreasonable to some that those with terminal
illnesses should suffer through what is left of their life in agony
knowing that there is no hope for a cure. Yet, the many consequences
of legalizing assisted suicide must be considered thoroughly. If
assisted suicide becomes a fundamental right for certain patients,
there will be no logical way to limit the right to only a small
number of exceptional cases. Such is the dilemma faced by the few
countries that have permitted assisted suicide to be legalized.
If assisted becomes legal, where will the boundary be set at who can
receive the treatment? When it first became legal for doctors to
induce deaths in the Netherlands, the permits were granted only when
a patient was experiencing unbearable pain or terminally ill. Twenty
years after euthanasia became legal in the nation, however, the
guidelines under physicians inducing death have come to include
depressed patients who are physically healthy, patients who
repeatedly and voluntarily request death, elders, and individuals
with severe disabilities. There is not a standard tool that can be
used to measure how immensely an individual is suffering. There is
no limit that can be set and unchangeable.
The border set for those
who can choose to use assisted suicide is edged wider each time a
physician or individual wins a legal breakthrough. If assisted
suicide becomes legal, it cannot be kept from eventually becoming
available to many in virtually all circumstances.
The legalization of assisted suicide also endangers many in
unfavorable circumstances. Not all those euthanized are choosing to
end their lives.
For instance, several cases in the 1991 Remmelink
Report on euthanasia reveals that there are many cases in the
Netherlands where patients are involuntarily euthanized. Babies born
mentally retarded or with birth defects are being denied the chance
of life. It is common for pediatricians to kill newborns in their
cribs. Doctors may make the presumption that those with severe
disabilities would rather die than live.
Without laws forbidding aid
to suicides, real danger of murder being committed under the pretext
of assisting a suicide arises. The legalizing of assisted suicide
takes away the protection of the lives of the vulnerable.
Not only does assisted suicide endanger life, it may lead to the
denying of adequate aid for patients. Legalizing assisted suicide
may dispose physicians and patients to end lives of great suffering
rather than attempt to ease them by using the means already at hand
for relief of pain.
Doctors may consider not to waste the effort to
relieve the pain and depression of patients with medication and aid
when there is a more convenient and permanent treatment option. Some
patients will be deprived of appropriate medication and mental
guidance. What would keep cynical individuals from encouraging those
suffering to end their lives so that they can eliminate the burden
of caring and spending money on the patient? Ailing elders might be
put under the pressure to speed up their deaths from impatient
relatives and cost-conscious health insurance providers, including
the government. Society would gradually be pushing for the death of
If the disabled, chronically ill, or terminally ill people are
declared better off dead, which group of people will be next? Once
the right is granted for some, what will stop others from gaining
the right? Death becomes the easy and permanent solution for
individuals who are suffering perhaps only temporary pain.
Ill-considered decisions to terminate life cannot be prevented and
murder will become all easier. The complications and dangers of
legalizing assisted suicide far outweigh the possible benefits. To
provide necessary protection of life, assisted suicide cannot be
considered and offered to people under any circumstance.
We need to
push for the repealing of laws that grant assisted suicide to
individuals and prevent any other measures that may legalize the act
from being passed.