by Arianna Sarjoo
In current times, the concepts of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are largely controversial topics within society. The main arguments stem from whether the ethical drawbacks outweigh the potential to relieve a person of unceasing suffering.
Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are synonymous terms for the process of intentionally ending the life of a person with a terminal illness. Such patients experience intolerable, unrelenting suffering, of which there is no escape. The action can occur in one of two methods: passive and active euthanasia. Passive euthanasia is not to take the life of a person, but rather to withhold life-sustaining treatments; whereas active euthanasia employs the use of lethal substances to terminate one’s life. The idea of passive euthanasia has brought up slightly less discord than its counterpart due to the absence of pernicious doses of drugs.
As of today, euthanasia is illegal nationwide with the exception of Washington, Oregon, Vermont, Montana and California. Worldwide, only a select handful of countries, including Switzerland. Germany, Japan, and Canada authorize the assistance of a terminally ill patient committing suicide, despite undergoing tenacious pain and agony. Primarily, disagreements arise due to what is considered morally acceptable. Some believe intentionally ending a person’s life is unjustifiable in any situation, no matter how harrowing the ordeal. With the immense gathering or resources, ranging from pain management medications to hospice care, the termination of a life is not even considered an option to some.
Despite the ethical conundrums equated with the concepts of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, the question of legalization should also take into account the desires of the patient being affected. A life filled with immense levels of never-ending pain can take an exhausting toll on the mental and physical health of a person’s well being. At what point does pain become so unbearable that a person stops feeling like a person? Euthanasia should be an accessible method for those who have exercised all other alternatives in their course of treatment, and feel content with the lives they have lived.
Ultimately, the idea of suicide, with the help of a doctor or at the hand of the patient, will always be a topic of controversy. The ending of a life can be seen as both ethically wrong, and justified in the sense that the patient will have been relieved of excruciating suffering. However, if the patient’s only other option is to ride out an agonizing lifetime with an incurable disease, is a painless death via euthanasia really such a terrible thing?