Euthanasia - Response to Anti Euthanasia Essay

Euthanasia is a topic that provokes as much controversy as capital punishment, primarily because it is irreversible. The question of euthanasia being right or wrong is one that most would prefer left alone. However, recent publicity on changes to existing laws has ignited considerable discussion and has forced open the door to a much wider audience. The issues related to direct euthanasia have raised many questions in my mind, to which I am still searching for answers. I believe it is necessary to consider arguments, both, for and against, in order to come to any conclusion. In this paper I will address Brian Clowes' article in the "Pro-Life Activist's Encyclopedia", located on the World Wide Web, that attempts to provoke a response from the reader and clearly establishes six reasons on which he concludes euthanasia is wrong. I will deal with each reason in turn. In developing countries death remains very much a part of life. From a young age these people are well acquainted with the certainty of death. However, for members of western society, death is an issue that most prefer be left behind the closed doors of a hospital. To a large proportion of our society the topic of death and dying is best left unspoken, many find it uncomfortable and disturbing. This fear of a 'thing' we have little control over is very much apart of our society, and is manifest in the writings of the article "Why is Euthanasia Wrong". The writer of "Why is Euthanasia Wrong", a self confessed pro life activist, has entered the public arena in an attempt to persuade his readers to a point of view that not only shows little understanding of the topic but indicates an obvious malice towards health professionals and the difficult job they face. For Clowes to imply that a health professional's primary concern is the conservation of medical resources and cost containment, as opposed to the betterment of human life, is a gross inaccuracy and insulting to those dedicated to the ethos "the betterment of human life" upon which health care was built. EUTHANASIA IS IRREVERSIBLE The writer starts by clearly defining the differences between direct and passive euthanasia and natural death, terminology that is essential to understanding the issue at hand. However, once established by the writer, these concepts seem to have little relevance to the rest of the argument. He then continues his debate by clearly establishing that euthanasia is permanent and irreversible, a point that is difficult to dispute and does emphasize the importance of the issue to the reader. Yet, his persistent use of medical cases where patients were classified as irreversibly comatose and where all decisions regarding their continual treatment were made by others, neglects to recognize the numerous cases of terminally ill patients, who simply ask for the right to control their own destiny and to die with dignity. His use of extreme cases, all of which were found in 'National Right to Life News', gives the reader a distorted picture and neglects the many types of cases where the prolonging of life would be cruel, inhumane and immoral. (Johnstone, 1994:353) EUTHANASIA SETS A BAD EXAMPLE? I would ask what kind of example are we giving our young by prolonging life at whatever cost to the person? Is quantity of life always the best option? Is the taking of human life always wrong? In the 18th century William Mitford, an English historian stated "Men fear death, as if unquestionably the greatess evil, and yet no man knows that it may not be the greatest good." (Bradley, Daniels & Jones, 1969:194) Here the author compares the act of suicide among the young with the act of euthanasia with the terminally ill. He believes, in making euthanasia an acceptable social practice, it will inevitably have negative repercussions on the rest of society. The writer argues that by condoning euthanasia, we condone acts of suicide as a means to cope with life. In my opinion, there are obvious differences between the act of euthanasia and suicide. In my understanding, both acts are seeking an end to suffering however in most cases of euthanasia, one only wants to end the physical pain