The Ban on Euthanasia
Imagine your girl best friend gets into a car crash. After the incident, you find out she suffered major spinal cord damage and her legs will be paralyzed for the rest of her life. You go to visit her in the hospital the same week but arrive to shocking news. She tells you she has lost the will to live and wants to be euthanized, or painlessly killed. She tells you she is worried about how this accident will affect her family financially, and how she will be a burden to them. If you could make her decision for her, would you end her life because of her paralyzed legs, or would you send her to a mental health care facility that would improve her mental health and help her realize she can still live a great life with her paralyzed legs? But first, to make a decision about whether to euthanize your friend or not, you should know exactly what euthanasia is. Euthanasia is when a physician painlessly kills a patient with his or her consent. There are four different types of euthanasia: voluntary and non-voluntary euthanasia.
According to John Green, an editor and bestselling author, in the cases of non-voluntary euthanasia, voluntary euthanasia involves the patient’s consent, and in non-voluntary euthanasia, the patient is unconscious and cannot make a decision, so the decision to euthanize the patient is made by someone else (Jenkins). Also, active euthanasia is when deadly toxins are administered to a patient to purposefully end the patient’s life. Passive euthanasia is when life-prolonging substances are not given to a patient in order to end the patient’s life (Nordqvist). Some people consider euthanasia a way to end a patient’s life with dignity and without suffering. Others believe euthanasia violates the Hippocratic Oath and would be unnecessary with adequate mental health care (Chandler). Euthanasia should be outlawed because it violates the Hippocratic Oath, administers an excessive amount of power into the hands of doctors, does not have to be a step taken to avoid suffering, and it is a step that people who are pressurized into the option want to take.
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Euthanasia should be banned since it opposes the Hippocratic Oath and places too much power in the hands of physicians. The Hippocratic Oath is an ancient oath of ethics created by Hippocrates, a Greek physician. Almost all the medical schools in the United States take the Hippocratic Oath when they graduate (Britannica). According to a translation of the original Hippocratic Oath done by Ludwig Edelstein, a classical historian and scholar of Greek medicine who taught at UC Berkeley, John Hopkins University, and the University of Washington, the original Hippocratic Oath states physicians swear to quote keep [the sick] from harm and injustice, end quote and never quote give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it end quote (Tyson).
Since its first recitation at a German medical school in 1508, the usage of the Hippocratic Oath in medical schools has only increased since then. It has been in use for more than half a century, proving the document’s sustained importance to doctors. Although the Hippocratic Oath has been in use for hundreds of years, it is not antiquated because its message to modern-day physicians is still relevant. One example of this is when the Hippocratic Oath promotes patient privacy (Kantarjian). When the Hippocratic Oath states not to offer deadly drugs to patients and to keep them from harm, it is practically saying euthanasia is wrong, because that is the process of euthanasia (Tyson). When physicians take the Hippocratic Oath, they agree they have a duty to keep their patient safe. Continuing the topic of the duty of doctors to patients, this is an issue that needs to be enforced. If euthanasia was legal, the process would have to be heavily monitored. There would be several cases and circumstances that could go wrong easily. It is better to have no option for doctors to misuse the power of ending a life. The British Medical Association decided to turn down the legalization of euthanasia because they found that it was almost impossible to keep track of all the cases of euthanasia and making sure that all the cases would be with complete consent and that there would be no exploitation of power.
According to a BBC article, euthanasia can be defended by what’s called the slippery slope argument. This argument states that whatever we allow to happen currently that may seem safe may lead to events that seem unthinkable now to become normal later on (Ethics – Euthanasia). If euthanasia is legal, doctors will start getting several cases of euthanasia, leading them to think it is a normal occurrence, which may decrease the importance of respecting life in their minds. This will cause doctors to be more likely to end patients lives to save their own hospital’s money and the doctors will eventually abuse their given power. Therefore, euthanasia should be illegal because the legalization of euthanasia contravenes the Hippocratic Oath and leads to the spread of dishonest doctors and patients who are taken advantage of.
Some people might believe that euthanasia is a fundamental right. They think that euthanasia should be legal because it is a right protected by the Fourth Amendment and they can end their own life the way they choose. In an article by CNN, a woman whose family member was euthanized says without euthanasia our society would be quote unable to exercise our own opinion about the way we want our lives to end end quote (Ziegler). Other people, like this woman, might think euthanasia is their right and want to die on their own terms. Although the opposition may believe that euthanasia is a fundamental liberty interest protected by the Fourth Amendment, this is actually not a right the Constitution supports. According to an investigation done by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Court decided that the right to euthanasia quote had no place in the country’s tradition or history, given the fact that assisted suicide had been consistently rejected in the past and was banned in a large number of states end quote (Waimberg).
The Supreme Court found that euthanasia was not technically considered a fundamental right of the people because the practice has long been banned, and is not remotely close to the traditions the United States of America practices. In fact, after an extensive analysis, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that legalizing euthanasia would quote reverse centuries of legal doctrine and practice, and strike down the considered policy choice of almost every state end quote (Waimberg). The opposition may also believe that euthanasia is a way to escape the pain. Some people believe that an alternative to their suffering is euthanasia. According to The Economist, a news magazine, without euthanasia, people’s lives are subjected quote to unbearable pain, misery and suffering end quote (The Right to Die). They believe that instead of enduring pain until their death, some patients want to choose euthanasia to escape pain. On the contrary, the argument of pain avoidance does not work in all cases of euthanasia.
According to John Green, in the cases of non-voluntary euthanasia, the quote cases involve a decision about removing life support from a patient in a persistent vegetative state end quote (Jenkins). In these cases, the patients feel no pain, so justifications for euthanasia based on the arguments of saving the patient from pain are inapplicable here. Also, not just in cases of non-voluntary euthanasia, in cases of voluntary euthanasia, the argument can be made that some cases do not even include patient symptoms of pain. As per the National Center of Biotechnology Information, two of the most frequent issues of worry for these patients are fear of future pain and fear of a loss of control over one’s life (Erdek). This means that most cases of euthanasia can be easily solved with better mental health care. According to an article by the National Post, quote vulnerable people may come to desire death due to a lack of any reasonable alternative to their suffering (Chandler). Clearly, many cases of euthanasia can be solved with an increase in mental health services. A lot of the time, patients are not in the right state-of-mind to be asking to end their lives. Euthanasia should not be legal because a lot of times pain is not an issue when some patients desire euthanasia and, in many cases, patients who want to end their lives are being underserviced in terms of mental health care and seek euthanasia as a forced alternative.
Euthanasia should not be legal because it infringes the Hippocratic Oath, gives physicians too much power, sometimes is not even necessary to avoid pain, and the decision to be euthanized is sometimes taken under pressure. Why do we want to comply with the Hippocratic Oath? It is a time-honored and still relevant document that is still a principal part of our health care systems today. Legalizing euthanasia would completely disregard this established document. Legalizing euthanasia would result in physicians abusing their power. Legalizing euthanasia could lead to people dying unwillingly. Legalizing euthanasia can result in people feeling forced to choose the option of euthanasia because of a lack of mental health care. American society benefits if euthanasia is illegal. This way, a system of close scrutiny will persist, which is beneficial for our society. Sometimes, the American society is persuaded into accepting an issue that previously seemed aberrant over time. At least with the ban on euthanasia, one of these issues we can always trust is not the right thing to do.