Human Rights, World

Legal Suicide: The Case of Modern Day Euthanasia

This is a complementary piece of our August 2017 Issue: Death

Euthanasia. If given a chance, people will always choose to live. This is why we have come up with different ways to keep our bodies in shape: various diets, exercise, and supplements. We build and develop technologies to sustain life. But what if suddenly, someone begs to pass out of this world in a way he or she deems dignified? Would the rest of society allow it?

Statistics Say the Majority Would!

Euthanasia. Assisted suicide. Whatever name it changes to, in politics and religious terms, it can be considered either homicide or suicide. Thus, remain illegal in most of the countries in the world.

However, people who have been diagnosed with terminal diseases and are forced to live the remainder of their lives with seizures or extreme pain, believe it is time society reconstructs its ideology of unconsented death.

“Dying with Dignity”

Take the case of Christy O’Donnell for example. She was diagnosed with cancer and told the worst things that could happen to her. She did not want to deteriorate due to the disease, thus, before it would happen, she decided to euthanize herself. Nevertheless, due to the method being unconstitutional, judge after judge denied her appeal. As a result, she had to move to Oregon, the first state in America that legalized euthanasia, for her wish to be granted.

The Most Famous Euthanasia Case: Brittany Maynard

A majority would usually not be interested in this, as their idea of euthanasia is mostly connected to hopeless cases of individuals in a coma or a vegetative state. But Maynard was young and attractive. Hence, it caught everybody’s attention.

Maynard was dying of a brain tumor. Similar to O’Donnell, she did not want to wait until her body would lose the battle to cancer and as time passed, she experienced worsening symptoms.

She then took her sentiments to the media, insisting that people must be given the right to die and be remembered the way they want to. For a few weeks, she would campaign for groups that support ratification of assisted death.

As efforts to push for validation of euthanasia deemed futile, Maynard went to Oregon to die an assisted death. She was 29.

Since then, the discourse on this has created better awareness and consideration that euthanasia may be a humane way to allow people to escape a painful demise. Furthermore, individuals considering assisted suicide find it as a means for them to relieve their loved ones of painful memories.

Euthanasia and the World

Though countries like Netherlands, Switzerland, and Belgium have made this legally operative, they have set standards to avoid its exploitation.

Diverging from the original criterion, which was a person in a paralyzed state, it has included patients suffering from psychological and/or psychiatric conditions, physical deformities, and must be in a proper decisive state of mind upon volunteering, and had attended deep counseling. Moreover, the procedure must be assisted by a physician. This means a doctor has to prescribe the drugs to be taken by the patient or the sedative injection has to be administered by one.

And as more terminally ill came forward, the number of assisted suicide supporters grew, especially among the baby boomer generation. And due to demand, different bills on assisted death have been passed in various American states.

Main Arguments for Euthanasia

Looking at its history, we can see that as soon as people realized that they could control how they die, they have started pressuring the government into considering euthanasia as a legal practice. The only thing that seems to stop the legislation from accepting this as a valid argument is that assisted dying can be regarded as ethical.

One supporter argued that if animals were regularly euthanized to end their pain, humans deserve it even more as they are deemed more important than animals.

The only thing that seems to confuse us is that we cannot define the exact difference between murder or suicide from plain death.

The premise is this: terminally ill patients are going to die anyway. Why would they have to wait until they stuck on tubes if they can exit with grace? That is choosing a date when to die, in a state where they are still self-aware, strong, and surrounded by family and friends.

If they have decided to end their life because death is impending and they no longer want to suffer, then why can’t we allow it?

Ethical Euthanasia?

What ethical society would want a person to die writhing and screaming in pain, on high doses of painkillers, oblivious of surroundings, immobilized from the neck down but still self-aware, then eventually parched of financial resources due to high health insurance costs?

What kind of ethical society would want families hurt as they watch their loved ones beg for death every day?

Wouldn’t it be better if, before this uncontrolled biological state, the ill would be granted their right to die in a healthy, happy, and peaceful manner?

Maybe we do have to move outside the boundaries of our strict and closed minded thinking that death has to come naturally. For this matter, we need to forget the labels we give ourselves to have a voice; we do not need to be politicians, lawyers, religious personalities, but maybe we just have to be humans.

It is time we recognize that euthanasia is that gap between legality and humanitarian consideration.

About Patricia Abrihan

Patricia has always been inspired by the witty yet innocent voice of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird that she believes that writing is able to revolutionize ideas of society. She is a former college instructor from the Philippines and is currently a freelance writer and blogger managing her portfolio. She is open to collaboration and also loves reading and watching movies.

All Articles