Euthanasia is deliberate killing of a seriously or terminally ill human being, apparently for his/her benefit. The important word here is “deliberate”, meaning, to act upon a conscious decision. Euthanasia is also referred to as “mercy killing”. Euthanasia can be either voluntary or involuntary. Euthanasia is usually applied for terminal patient cases where there is no or little chance of recovery. Unfortunately, the recent times had seen euthanasia being interpreted in various and confusing ways, not all of which are agreeable to ethical codes of life.
Euthanasia is applicable for “terminally ill” patients, who have no scope of recovery and the rest of their life is bound to be full of suffering. However, in some conditions like comatose where there is a possibility of recovery, the decision to terminate life is not straight forward. So, it is argued, since no one can be sure of the impossibility of recovery, it would be unethical to kill the patient.
Another argument put forward is the misuse of the concept for financial consideration. As the expenses incurred to keep alive a seriously ill person is very high, some may decide to employ euthanasia so as to cut costs. It may sound very base and inhumane, but not everyone can afford the high cost of advanced treatment.
Some say that euthanasia is like acting against the will of the person. Since nobody likes to die and the seriously ill are not in a condition to decide their future, it would be acting against the patients’ will.
Others believe that each and every human life is sacred and has to be preserved no matter what. It may have theological connotations; yet, many people do take their religious beliefs seriously. The sentiments and beliefs of people cannot simply be shrugged aside for scientific and practical reasons.
Equally sound points could be raised in favor of euthanasia. The foremost being its utility in putting an end to the intolerable suffering and pain of the affected patient. It hurts the relatives too, to see their loved one undergoing such agony. It is not unusual for the spouse or parent of a suffering patient to opt for euthanasia, for they believe that is the best they could do, both for themselves as well for the patient.
There is also legal backing for euthanasia. It is legal in most countries to commit suicide and since euthanasia is similar to suicide, why not? This makes sense as every person has absolute right over his/her own mind and body and can choose to do whatever with it as long as it does not interfere with other people’s rights.
In a similar vein, it could be argued that keeping someone alive against their will is an infringement of their fundamental right. If the suffering individual wants his life to be terminated, then the law or moral code should not be a hindrance toward that end. Moral and sentimental coercion is equally bad as the legal one.
Letting a person live in a vegetative state, where the whole body had fallen to paralysis but the breathing and other bodily functions continue to work, is a pitiable sight. There is no doubt that the patient, though alive, is certainly not enjoying his existence and without and movement no vitality is possible, mental or physical. In these circumstances, it would be to respect human dignity, that euthanasia is applied. Weighing the arguments for and against euthanasia, we can see that it is a concept with practical utility as well as ethically convincing.