Euthanasia also known as mercy killing, is the act of deliberately ending a person's life to relieve suffering.
Methods of Euthanasia
Involves an actual act of mercy killing
For example if a doctor believes it is in the best interests that the patient die therefore the kill them for that reason.
For example- Use of a lethal injection
It is illegal in the UK and many other countries
Where a person causes death by withholding or withdrawing treatment that is necessary to maintain life, often described as “allowing nature to take its course”
For example switching off a life support machine
For example withdrawing a feeding tube (Widely practiced in the UK)
Different types of euthanasia:
Carried out at the request of the person
Illegal in the UK legal in the Netherlands
Do Not Resuscitate orders can be seen as a passive form of euthanasia
For example asking for medical treatment to be stopped
Carried out against the wishes of the patient
For example DNR order applied regardless of patient wishes
Helping a person to die when it is impossible gain their consent
For example they have lost the ability to make the decision/they are an infant
For example turning off a life support
Law in Britain
Euthanasia is illegal in Britain. To kill another person deliberately is murder or manslaughter, even if the other person asks you to kill them. Anyone doing so could potentially face 14 years in prison.
Under the 1961 Suicide Act, it is also a criminal offence in Britain, punishable by 14 years' imprisonment, to assist, aid or counsel somebody in relation to taking their own life. A.K.A assisted suicide
Ethical issues involved in legalisation of euthanasia
Attitudes of doctors’ "Hippocratic oath" promises to save all lives if possible and not to intentionally end lives.
Life is sacred and a gift from God that "we are called upon to preserve and make fruitful” To take life opposes God's love for that person and rejects the duty of that person to live life according to God's plan.
Euthanasia is not considered to be a criminal offence in Holland- It is meant to be used as a last resort for those suffering from intolerable pain and for whom there is no hope for improvement but the request must be made freely by the patient.
Following practices have taken place in Holland which show the effect of the slippery slope effect:
Over 1000 deaths without patients request
New babies whose lives were predicted to be of poor quality were terminated
Can Euthanasia ever be good?
Define good never good but can be lesser of two evils
Allows control over decisions only you can know how much pain you’re in
Singer states “respect for autonomy will lead us to assist them”
The slippery slope argument comes into play-“it can be seen to be bad” because of possible abuse. Legalizing voluntary euthanasia is the start of a slippery slope that leads to involuntary euthanasia and the killing of people who are thought undesirable- Pressure to die (burden to family)
The right to die with dignity- human situation can be contrasted with the situation of animals who are not made to suffer- Horses are put down immediately- why should humans be made to suffer
“You shall not murder”
Mercy killing’ is said to go against both biblical teaching and the law against murder
A libertarian argument would be that Death is a private matter and if there is no harm to others or the state, then no one has the right to interfere
Euthanasia provides freedom from pain to those who are terminally ill- some would see this as a denial of a human right- Article 5 states “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel inhuman or degrading treatment”
The right to take life belongs to God alone- Allowing people to choose when they want to die is playing God as the Christian teaching is that only he has the right to decide when a person may die