Monday, April 27, 2015


Everyone wishes to lead a completely healthy life free of disease but this is a pipe dream. There will be periods of ill health in everyone’s life, some short and some long. Treatment options are available for many more diseases nowadays but there are still some which lead to a slow and painful death. When faced with such a prospect, one way out is euthanasia, the ending of the life of  terminally ill patients thus allowing them the opportunity to die in a dignified manner, in their own time. Although there is continued opposition to the legalization of euthanasia, it should undoubtedly be allowed mainly for humanitarian reasons but also for practical reasons.
Opponents of euthanasia seem to believe in continued suffering because they claim that human beings do not have the right to take a life. It is hard to see the point of prolonging the pain of a fellow creature and even harder to see why we should continue to torture them. Horses which break their legs or suffer a fall are immediately shot not to prolong their pain. Similarly, dogs and cats which have terminal diseases are put down; this being considered the humane thing to do. Why should mankind be subjected to the torture of a slow and painful death? Why can they not be treated as kindly as animals are?
Those who are against euthanasia also point to possible abuse of the system claiming that bribery, blackmailing and similar methods may be resorted to in order to kill off sick individuals before their time and against their will. In short, they claim that the legalization of euthanasia could pave the way to an increase in murder rates. Murder, however, is a crime and can be prevented by means of certain safeguards: a panel of doctors could be required to certify that the patient is in fact terminally ill and of sound mind. The same panel could also make sure that the patient does in fact wish to die. Provided this is done, there should be no problem in allowing euthanasia.
The last argument opponents of euthanasia put forward is the fact that there is always hope. It is sensible to be realistic though; how much hope does a patient suffering from stage four bone cancer really have? Alternatively, a patient who has neglected to get vaccinated after an attack by a dog and has developed full blown rabies has no realistic chance of recovery so it is best to bite the bullet and accept that death is inevitable. In this case, it is surely kinder and more humane to put the individual out of his misery provided that is what he wants.

In short, we should afford humans the same compassion that we afford animals and not give them false hope. Allowing people who have been suffering and will continue to do so to opt out is without doubt the only viable option; the reverse amounts to torture.

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