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Tips on How to Write a Euthanasia Argumentative Essay

How to write an essay on euthanasia

Abortion, birth control, death sentencing, legalization of medical marijuana, and gender reassignment surgery remain the most controversial medical issues in contemporary society.  Euthanasia is also among the controversial topics in the medical field. It draws arguments from philosophy, ethics, and religious points of view.

By definition derives from a Greek term that means good death, and it is the practice where an experienced medical practitioner or a physician intentionally ends an individual's life to end pain and suffering. The names mercy killing or physician-assisted suicide also knows it.

Different countries have different laws as regards euthanasia. In the UK, physician-assisted suicide is illegal and can earn a medical practitioner 14 years imprisonment. All over the world, there is a fierce debate as regards mercy killing.

Like any other controversial topic, there are arguments for and against euthanasia. Thus, there are two sides to the debate. The proponents or those for euthanasia believe it is a personal choice issue, even when death is involved.

On the other hand, those against euthanasia or the opponents believe that physicians must only assist patients when the patients are sound to make such a decision. That is where the debate centers.

This article explores some of the important basics to follow when writing an exposition, argumentative, persuasive, or informative essay on euthanasia.

Steps in Writing a Paper on Euthanasia

When assigned homework on writing a research paper or essay on euthanasia, follow these steps to make it perfect.

1. Read the Prompt

The essay or research paper prompt always have instructions to follow when writing any academic work. Students, therefore, should read it to pick up the mind of the professor or teaching assistant on the assigned academic task. When reading the prompt, be keen to understand what approach the professor prefers. Besides, it should also tell you the type of essay you are required to write and the scope.

2. Choose a Captivating Topic

After reading the prompt, you are required to frame your euthanasia essay title. Make sure that the title you choose is captivating enough as it invites the audience to read your essay. The title of your essay must not divert from the topic, but make it catchy enough to lure and keep readers. An original and well-structured essay title on euthanasia should give an idea of what to expect in the body paragraphs. It simply gives them a reason to read your essay.

3. Decide on the Best Thesis Statement for your Euthanasia Essay

Creating a thesis statement for a euthanasia essay does not deviate from the conventions of essay writing. The same is consistent when writing a thesis statement for a euthanasia research paper. The thesis statement can be a sentence or two at the end of the introduction that sums up your stance on the topic of euthanasia. It should be brief, well crafted, straight to the point, and outstanding. Right from the start, it should flow with the rest of the essay and each preceding paragraph should support the thesis statement.

4. Write an Outline

An outline gives you a roadmap of what to write in each part of the essay, including the essay hook, introduction, thesis statement, body paragraphs, and the conclusion. We have provided a sample euthanasia essay outline in this article, be sure to look at it.

5. Write the First Draft

With all ingredients in place, it is now time to write your euthanasia essay by piecing up all the different parts. Begin with an essay hook, then the background information on the topic, then the thesis statement in the introduction. The body paragraphs should each contain an idea that is well supported with facts from books, journals, articles, and other scholarly sources. Be sure to follow the MLA, APA, Harvard, or Chicago formatting conventions when writing the paper as advised in the essay prompt.

6. Proofread and Edit the Essay

You have succeeded in skinning the elephant, and it is now time to cut the pieces and consume. Failure to proofread and edit an essay can be dangerous for your grade. There is always an illusion that you wrote it well after all. However, if you take some time off and come to it later, you will notice some mistakes. If you want somebody to proofread your euthanasia essay, you can use our essay editing service . All the same, proofreading an essay is necessary before turning the essay in.

Creating a Euthanasia Essay or Research Paper Outline

Like any other academic paper, having a blueprint of the entire essay on euthanasia makes it easy to write. Writing an outline is preceded by choosing a great topic. In your outline or structure of argumentative essay on euthanasia, you should highlight the main ideas such as the thesis statement, essay hook, introduction, topic sentences for the body paragraphs and supporting facts, and the concluding remarks. Here is a sample outline for a euthanasia argumentative essay.

This is a skeleton for your euthanasia essay:

Introduction

  • Hook sentence/ attention grabber
  • Thesis statement
  • Background statement (history of euthanasia and definition)
  • Transition to Main Body
  • The legal landscape of euthanasia globally
  • How euthanasia affects physician-patient relationships
  • Biblical stance on euthanasia
  • Consequences of illegal euthanasia
  • Ethical and moral issues of euthanasia
  • Philosophical stance on euthanasia
  • Transition to Conclusion
  • Restated thesis statement
  • Unexpected twist or a final argument
  • Food for thought

Sample Euthanasia Essay Outline

Title: Euthanasia is not justified

Essay hook - It is there on TV, but did you know that a situation could prompt a doctor to bring to an end suffering and pain to a terminally ill patient? There is more than meets the eye on euthanasia.

Thesis statement : despite the arguments for and against euthanasia, it is legally and morally wrong to kill any person, as it is disregard of the right to life of an individual and the value of human life.

Paragraph 1: Euthanasia should be condemned as it ends the sacred lives of human beings.

  • Only God gives life and has the authority to take it and not humans.
  • The bible says, Thou shalt not kill.
  • The Quran states, "Whoever killed a Mujahid (a person who is granted the pledge of protection by the Muslims) shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise though its fragrance can be smelt at a distance of forty years (of traveling).

Paragraph 2: Euthanasia gives physicians the power to determine who lives and who dies.

  • Doctors end up playing the role of God.
  • It could be worse when doctors make mistakes or advance their self-interests to make money. They can liaise with family members to kill for the execution of a will.

Paragraph 3: it destroys the patient-physician relationship

  • Patients trust the doctors for healing
  • When performed on other patients, the remaining patients lose trust in the same doctor of the facility.
  • Under the Hippocratic Oath, doctors are supposed to alleviate pain, end suffering, and protect life, not eliminate it.

Paragraph 4: euthanasia is a form of murder

  • Life is lost in the end.
  • There are chances that when tried with other therapeutic and non-therapeutic approaches, terminally ill patients can always get better.
  • It is selfish to kill a patient based on a medical report, which in itself could be erratic.
  • Patients respond well to advanced care approaches.

Paragraph 5: ( Counterargument) euthanasia proponents argue based on relieving suffering and pain as well as reducing the escalating cost of healthcare.

  • Euthanasia helps families avoid spending much on treating a patient who might not get well.
  • It is the wish of the patients who have made peace with the fact that they might not recover.

  Conclusion

In sum, advancement in technology in the medical field and the existence of palliative care are evidence enough that there is no need for mercy killing. Even though there are claims that it ends pain and suffering, it involves killing a patient who maybe could respond to novel approaches to treatment.

Abohaimed, S., Matar, B., Al-Shimali, H., Al-Thalji, K., Al-Othman, O., Zurba, Y., & Shah, N. (2019). Attitudes of Physicians towards Different Types of Euthanasia in Kuwait.  Medical Principles and Practice ,  28 (3), 199-207.

Attell, B. K. (2017). Changing attitudes toward euthanasia and suicide for terminally ill persons, 1977 to 2016: an age-period-cohort analysis.  OMEGA-Journal of Death and Dying , 0030222817729612.

Barone, S., & Unguru, Y. (2017). Should Euthanasia Be Considered Iatrogenic? AMA journal of ethics, 19(8), 802-814.

Emanuel, E. (2017). Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide: focus on the data.  The Medical Journal of Australia ,  206 (8), 1-2e1.

Inbadas, H., Zaman, S., Whitelaw, S., & Clark, D. (2017). Declarations on euthanasia and assisted dying.  Death Studies, 41 (9), 574-584.

Jacobs, R. K., & Hendricks, M. (2018). Medical students' perspectives on euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide and their views on legalising these practices in South Africa.  South African Medical Journal ,  108 (6), 484-489.

Math, S. B., & Chaturvedi, S. K. (2012). Euthanasia: the right to life vs right to die.  The Indian journal of medical research, 136 (6), 899.

Reichlin, M. (2001). Euthanasia in the Netherlands.  KOS , (193), 22-29.

Saul, H. (2014, November 5). The Vatican Condemns Brittany Maynard's Decision to end her Life as �Absurd'.

Sulmasy, D. P., Travaline, J. M., & Louise, M. A. (2016). Non-faith-based arguments against physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia.  The Linacre Quarterly, 83 (3), 246-257.

Euthanasia Essay Introduction Ideas

An introduction is a gate into the compound of your well-reasoned thoughts, ideas, and opinions in an essay. As such, the introduction should be well structured in a manner that catches the attention of the readers from the onset.

While it seems the hardest thing to do, writing an introduction should never give you the fear of stress, blank page, or induce a writer's block. Instead, it should flow right from the essay hook to the thesis statement.

Given that you can access statistics, legal variations, and individual stories based on personal experiences with euthanasia online, writing a euthanasia essay introduction should be a walk in the park.

Ensure that the introduction to the essay is catchy, appealing, and informative. Here are some ideas to use:

  • Rights of humans to life
  • How euthanasia is carried out
  • When euthanasia is legally allowed
  • Stories from those with experience in euthanasia
  • The stance of doctors on euthanasia
  • Definition of euthanasia
  • Countries that allow euthanasia
  • Statistics of physicians assisted suicide in a given state, locality, or continent.
  • Perception of the public given the diversity of culture

There are tons of ideas on how to start an essay on euthanasia.  You need to research, immerse yourself in the topic, and scoop the best evidence. Presenting facts in an argumentative essay on euthanasia will help convince the readers to argue for or against euthanasia. Based on your stance, make statements in favor of euthanasia or statements against euthanasia known from the onset through the strong thesis statement.

Essay Topics and Ideas on Euthanasia

  • Should Euthanasia be legal?
  • What are the different types of euthanasia?
  • Is euthanasia morally justified?
  • Cross-cultural comparison of attitudes and beliefs on euthanasia
  • The history of euthanasia
  • Euthanasia from a Patient's Point of View
  • Should euthanasia be considered Iatrogenic?
  • Does euthanasia epitomize failed medical approaches?
  • How does euthanasia work?
  • Should Physician-Assisted Suicide be legal?
  • Sociology of Death and Dying
  • Arguments for and against euthanasia and assisted suicide
  • Euthanasia is a moral dilemma
  • The euthanasia debate
  • It Is Much Better to Die with Dignity Than to Live with Pain Essay
  • Euthanasia Is a Moral, Ethical, and Proper
  • Euthanasia Law of Euthanasia in California and New York
  • Effect of Euthanasia on Special Population
  • Euthanasia is inhuman
  • Role of nurses in Euthanasia
  • Are family and relative decisions considered during the euthanasia
  • The biblical stance on euthanasia

Related Articles:

  • Argumentative essay topics and Ideas
  • Topics and ideas for informative essays

Get Help with Writing Euthanasia Argumentative Essay for School

We have covered the tips of writing an argumentative essay on euthanasia. Besides, we have also presented a sample euthanasia essay outline, which can help you write your essay. However, sometimes you might lack the motivation to write an essay on euthanasia, even when you have access to argumentative essay examples on euthanasia. 

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How To Write A Vivid Euthanasia Argumentative Essay?

Jared Houdi

Table of Contents

Researching the topic

Euthanasia (good death from Greek) is the practice of intentional life ending aiming to relieve patients’ pain and suffering. The topic of its use is fiercely debated all over the world.

People have divided into two camps: some say Euthanasia is the matter of choice, even when it comes to choosing death. Another group claims that doctors mustn’t be empowered to offer death to people who may not even realize the decision they make.

Every country where Euthanasia is legal has its own specific legislative base of its use. Nevertheless, there is one aspect of this topic that unites all the people together: the issue is considered from the moral and ethical perspective.

Euthanasia argumentative essay: the basics

The topics for an argumentative essay writing are usually two-sided: voting for or against the topic, agree or disagree with the statement, choose one option or another.

Writing any argumentative assay requires highlighting both possible points of view, no matter what is your own. Remember, you should explain both sides equally correct and impartial.

So let’s take a closer look into the details…

How to write a Euthanasia thesis statement?

Before writing an essay on Euthanasia you have to think about your own attitude towards the topic. It will help you write a good thesis statement.

…Why you need it?

The thesis is the representation of the essay’s main idea. You’ll have to clarify both sides of the topic, sure. Still, you also need to express your own point of view. And that is made with the thesis statement in the first place.

You may clearly state your opinion in the thesis, like:

“Injecting a medication to a hopeless patient is a murder.”
“Taking life from a person who wants to end up sufferings is mercy.”

Also, you can try to intrigue your readers and present your thesis as a question with no answer provided right away. Like:

“Helping people die: is it murder or mercy?”
“Would you personally use your right for euthanasia if there was no chance to get better?”

Variations are welcomed.

Euthanasia essay introduction: general recommendations

Most professional essay writing services agree that writing an introduction is always the hardest thing. You get the fear of the blank paper, writer’s block, and the stress from remembering all the requirements you should ideally follow.

… Sounds familiar?

There are no reasons to be that stressed, actually. The web is full of info, interesting statistics, law variations, and personal stories.

A combination of those would be both, catchy and informative, that’s all you need for a perfect intro.

Start with some background information to help your reader understand the subject better.

What kind of info would be relevant?

  • A brief definition of Euthanasia.
  • When it might be allowed.
  • Laws of the countries where it is permitted.
  • Personal stories of friends/relatives.
  • Stories of doctors and nurses.

All of that can be easily found online. Your goal here would rewrite it in your style, make it appealing to read and combined logically. End your introduction with the thesis statement. You already know how it’s done.

Specifics of Euthanasia essay main body

The main body for an argumentative essay should consist of two parts, one for each point of view. Once you express your point of view in the introduction, then it would be logical to start the main body from it.

Still, it is far from being obligatory. You may start with whatever you find more comfortable.

Like, f.e., you decide to start by talking about the positive aspects of Euthanasia. List the statements using words “firstly,” “secondly,” “moreover,” etc. Begin with the weakest argument and move up to the most solid one you have.

Provide the reader with some positive examples, including personal stories, if they fit in, try to find shreds of evidence of euthanasia practice in your country.

Here are some ideas for statements in favor of Euthanasia:

  • A patient’s life can be worse than death.
  • It is better to die from Euthanasia than from suicide.
  • Euthanasia can help in saving budget funds. Saved money may help somebody else.
  • Some people don’t want to see how their relatives suffer hopelessly.
  • Death from Euthanasia can be more humane than natural.

Once you finish with the arguments for the first part, go on representing the opposite point of view. A good idea to begin the second paragraph with phrases like “on the other hand,” “the other side of the coin is,” “however,” etc.

List a couple of statements against Euthanasia. You may also search for some scandals including the illegal activity of doctors who made such decision without consulting the patient’s relatives.

Here are several ideas that might be helpful.

  • Life is the primary integral right and can’t be taken away.
  • If there are many organizations and measures to prevent suicides, why should we offer death to someone?
  • Each aspect of Euthanasia can’t be foreseen in the law.
  • It’s impossible to define who may/may not be offered the Euthanasia.
  • What if the person who chose Euthanasia could recover and live the life to its fullest?

What to write in Euthanasia essay conclusion?

In conclusion, you sum up all the ideas highlighted in your essay, without adding new ones. Start with phrases like “to sum up,” “to conclude,” “in conclusion,” “on balance,” “in a nutshell,” etc.

Here you should also express your point of view and paraphrase the thesis you used in the introduction. For uttering your point, use inputs like “my point of view is,” “I strongly believe,” “I am convinced,” “to tell you the truth,” and so on.

How to create a Euthanasia essay outline?

An outline is a brief sketch of your essay. If you need to write it, select the main ideas of your work and write them down in a couple of sentences.

The sketch outline for an essay on Euthanasia may be like:

“Th work is about the problem of Euthanasia. I highlight some statements for and against the use of Euthanasia and support them with top examples. In conclusion, I explain my personal position on this question.”

The full version of an outline would look something like this…

Introduction

  • Hook sentence
  • Thesis statement
  • Transition to Main Body
  • History of Euthanasia
  • Euthanasia statistics in countries where it is legal
  • Impact of legal Euthanasia on people’s life
  • Negative consequences of illegal Euthanasia
  • Transition to Conclusion
  • Unexpected twist or a final argument
  • Food for thought

The use of Euthanasia argumentative essay example

This topic is pretty vast. It can be both good and bad for you. Due to the variety of topics within the issue of Euthanasia, it might be easy to find something you are genuinely interested in.

On the other hand, there are dozens of various materials, thousands of articles, and billions of opinions you should consider before writing. Sometimes it might be difficult for you to get a full picture.

Therefore, a sample of the essay on this topic is presented here. It follows all the standards of an argumentative essay and shows you how this type of work may be completed.

On balance…

I’d say that it’s great to work with such an ambiguous topic. You’ll definitely benefit from training your persuasive and analytical skills while working on this essay.

Hope you’ve found some inspiration here, good luck!

Not excited to write an essay on euthanasia? Buy argumentative essay instead! Luckily, we’ve got dozens of writers, who are 100% fit for the job. Order an essay and save time for yourself!

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Euthanasia - Essay Samples And Topic Ideas For Free

Euthanasia, also known as assisted dying or mercy killing, remains a deeply contested ethical and legal issue. Essays could delve into the various forms of euthanasia, such as voluntary, non-voluntary, and involuntary euthanasia, discussing the moral and legal implications of each. The discourse might extend to the examination of the cultural, religious, and societal attitudes towards euthanasia, exploring how different societies and religious groups perceive the right to die. Discussions could also focus on the experiences of countries and regions that have legalized euthanasia, examining the impact on healthcare practices, legal frameworks, and societal attitudes. Moreover, the broader implications of euthanasia on medical ethics, patient autonomy, and the sanctity of life could be explored to provide a comprehensive understanding of the complexities surrounding euthanasia and the ongoing debates on its legalization and practice. A substantial compilation of free essay instances related to Euthanasia you can find at Papersowl. You can use our samples for inspiration to write your own essay, research paper, or just to explore a new topic for yourself.

Euthanasia: is it Ethical

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Arguments for and against Euthanasia

Euthanasia is also known as physician-assisted suicide or good death. It refers to the method where animals that are suffering or in discomfort are helped to rest in death. Many pet owners consider Euthanasia a more compassionate manner of bidding their beloved animals goodbye. In the case of people, many states have not legalized euthanasia for people with dementia or those suffering from incurable diseases. Euthanasia creates an ethical dilemma on three main lines: legal, medical, and philosophical. There are […]

Ethics Behind Physician-Assisted Suicide

Assisted suicide is the act of intentionally killing yourself with the assistance of someone else. In the United States, physician-assisted suicide is when a physician provides a patient, who meets the criteria of having a terminal illness, with medication in order to terminate their life to relieve pain and/or suffering. Physician-assisted suicide is often confused with euthanasia. Euthanasia is illegal in the US. It requires a doctor, or another individual, to administer the medication to the patient. Other terms for […]

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Why Euthanasia should be Legalised

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The Ban on Euthanasia

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Assisted Suicide the Rights we have

The right to assisted suicide is one of the most controversial topics ever discussed because of the fact that other people control your life when you are unable to. But some people think that they can stop you from dying even though death is inevitable when one is terminally ill. They think that because of religious and moral reasons they could stop someone from ending their own life. Assisted suicide also known as ""Euthanasia"" is used to make a painless […]

Economic Benefits of Euthanasia

Euthanasia is assisted suicide, it is an action taken by a doctor with consent of the patient in order to relieve immense pain and suffering. However, is the overall process of Euthanasia beneficial for the economy? Based on research, euthanasia is beneficial to the economy, and saves a vast amount of money for families for hospital stays, private insurance companies, taxpayers, and medicare each year. For a hospital stay, the average cost per inpatient day is $2,534.00 for a local […]

Euthanasia Debate

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Physician-assisted Suicide: Right to Die

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Religious Perspectives on Euthanasia

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Active and Passive Euthanasia

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Physician Assisted Suicide: Medical Practice

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The Controversy over Euthanasia

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Euthanasia and Death Penalty

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Definition of Euthanasia

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Physician Assisted Suicide

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Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide

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Physician-Assisted Euthanasia/Suicide

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Arguments for Legalizing Euthanasia

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Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide

Sometimes people criticize euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide from what is called "pro-life" perspectives and other times from "pro-death" perspectives; each perspective has a different argument about their position and the side they are on in this debate. This paper will review some of these arguments that have been made to date, as well as some of the more recent developments in this issue (Dieterle 129). To begin with, many people argue that euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are morally acceptable because […]

Hinduism and Buddhist Perspective of Suicide and Euthanasia

The principle of ahimsa, or no violence, is fervently held in Hinduism and is reflective in followers' everyday lives. This concept extends to oneself as well as others. For one, suicide is condemned in this religion because all life is considered sacred. Humans life is perceived as precious because only through one of the three human realms can liberation be achieved. Other living things, such as insects and animals, do not receive the same opportunity, so it is crucial followers […]

Euthanasia – One of the most Debated Topics Today

The topic of euthanasia is one of the most debated topics today. Elderly patients can be pressured into a decision they don't want to make. Citizens can also be unfairly euthanized as well. Euthanasia should stay illegal due to the obligation to elderly patients, non permitted euthanization, of an individual, and which can open hopefully widen perspective on this issue, as well as many others. Euthanasia is a complex topic that can't be described simply and without depth. Euthanasia can […]

Physician-assisted Suicide Debate

Let's say a patient is in incredible pain or has an incurable illness and the patient can only be kept alive by machines or by enduring their pain. Should any patient who is in these circumstances be allowed to choose death over this life? Many people go against assisted suicide because of religion and or whatever they believe in. Another reason why people may disagree is that the patients who are not in the right mind and or are too […]

Ethics and Challenges of Euthanasia

As there are other patients who have a higher chance of living, euthanizing the patient was the more practical option. Euthanasia advocates argue that futile care may harm others. For instance, a young child with an acute respiratory disease, who has a potentially higher chance of getting cured, could not get a bed and ventilator in the ICU because others were using it even though they are not getting any personal benefit from the treatment (Niederman & Berger, 2010). This […]

Euthanasia: Merciful Death or Playing God

A death by suicide. Just hearing the word suicide can send chills down one's spine. How could someone get to the point of self-termination? Why would anybody ever consider such a terrible way to die? The thing is, suicide does not have to be a terrible or scary way to die if one is faced with insurmountable troubles accompanying an untreatable disease. With assistance from licensed professionals, it can give those suffering a painless option if they so choose to […]

What is Euthanasia?

Euthanasia is a easy death, some may say euthanasia is a undeviating act for taking a life through prescription drugs. A patient that has a short expand of life can address such an issue with their healthcare provider. Counseling can be provided before the final decision is made by doctor and the patient. At anytime the patient reserves the right to with draw from the process. The patient however must have good reason for the process before a doctor will […]

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How To Write An Essay On Euthanasia

Introduction to the concept of euthanasia.

When embarking on an essay about euthanasia, it’s crucial to begin with a clear definition of what euthanasia entails. Euthanasia, often referred to as "mercy killing," is the act of intentionally ending a person's life to relieve them of suffering, typically from a terminal illness or an incurable condition. In your introduction, outline the various types of euthanasia, such as voluntary, non-voluntary, and involuntary, and the ethical, legal, and moral questions they raise. This introductory segment sets the stage for an in-depth exploration of the arguments for and against euthanasia and its implications in the realms of medicine, ethics, and law.

Exploring the Arguments For and Against Euthanasia

The body of your essay should delve into the complex arguments surrounding euthanasia. On one hand, proponents argue that euthanasia is a compassionate response to unbearable suffering, respecting an individual's right to choose death over prolonged pain. They may also cite the importance of dignity in death and the reduction of medical costs for terminally ill patients. On the other hand, opponents raise concerns about the sanctity of life, the potential for abuse, and the slippery slope towards non-voluntary or involuntary euthanasia. They may also discuss the moral obligations of medical professionals to preserve life. This section should present a balanced view of the debate, providing a comprehensive understanding of the various perspectives on euthanasia.

Ethical and Legal Considerations

A crucial aspect of your essay should be an examination of the ethical and legal considerations surrounding euthanasia. Discuss the ethical principles involved, such as autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice. Explore how different countries and cultures view and legislate euthanasia, noting the variations in legal frameworks and the criteria required for it to be carried out. This analysis should provide insight into the complexities of legalizing and regulating euthanasia, and the ethical dilemmas faced by healthcare providers, patients, and their families.

Concluding with Personal Reflections and Broader Implications

Conclude your essay by summarizing the key points and offering personal reflections on the topic. Reflect on the implications of euthanasia for society and the field of healthcare. Consider how advances in medical technology and changes in societal attitudes might influence the future of euthanasia. Your conclusion should not only provide closure to your essay but also encourage further thought and dialogue on this sensitive and contentious issue, highlighting the ongoing importance of ethical deliberation in decisions about life and death.

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An Argument Against Euthanasia

There are many approaches to the concept and practice of euthanasia. In one definition, euthanasia is described as a quick death in which pain is almost absent. 1 However, there is one common understanding of euthanasia in the modern society.

Euthanasia is the ending of a person’s life to help the particular individual avoid pain and suffering that would have otherwise been inevitable if he or she had continued living. 2 In many countries, euthanasia is illegal.

However, some countries allow euthanasia to be performed on individuals on their own consent or with the approval of a next of kin. This means that when a person’s life becomes so painful that it is not worth living anymore, euthanasia can be performed to alleviate the immense suffering.

Euthanasia has been a subject of arguments among religious authorities. It has also been a subject of controversy and study in the complex field of philosophy. 3 While several authorities in philosophy support euthanasia through their theories, most oppose it.

Some of the philosophies revolve around the extent to which life may not be worth living, while other theories revolve around the duty of the parties involved in a case of euthanasia. Deontology has been against euthanasia from many perspectives.

Many ethicists and authors who have used deontology against euthanasia have relied on the concept of duty. 4 However, it is important to note that deontology in philosophy revolves around one’s duties and the manner in which they are executed. 5

Generally, it is contrary to the duty of the subject of euthanasia and that of those who intend to perform the mercy killing to take one’s life based on their own assessment of the quality of one’s life.

Philosophical deontology revolves around principles of duty. One is obligated to perform duties even when odds are against success. There are various forms of philosophical deontology.

One of the most popular approaches to deontology is the Kantian philosophy of duty. Kant’s postulations regarding perfect duties can be used to build a solid argument against euthanasia. 6

Other authors such as Brian Kane have indirectly used deontology to present an argument favoring preservation of life. 7 In his analysis of euthanasia, Kane also explores many arguments that people present when advocating for euthanasia.

Thus, when deontology is applied to euthanasia, it revolves around the duty to preserve life. 8 However, in other settings, deontology may go against the duty to preserve life. This arises from contradictions such as those presented by Kant’s interpretation of the duty not to lie and the duty not to kill.

According to Kant, one must not lie to a potential murderer to alleviate an almost certain act of murder. 9 However, Kant’s deontology argues against actions such as suicide and euthanasia since these practices violate an individual’s duties to oneself.

Deontology provides one of the strongest arguments against euthanasia. This theory and its interpretation depend on one’s view of life. However, in the quest to establish an argument against euthanasia, it is necessary to have a positive attitude towards living.

From that point, it is possible to establish a solid argument against euthanasia using deontology. Brian Kane uses Hippocratic philosophy to argue against euthanasia. This philosophy alludes to one’s duty not to kill. When one performs the contrary action of killing, then this is considered murder.

There is an exception of those people who are killed for their transgressions against ethical principles of a society. Thus, killing for any other reason, including mercy, is murder. 10 According to this author, human beings always had the ability to take life.

On the contrary, the ability to extend life and heal diseases and other afflictions has been acquired by humanity through laborious research and enlightenment. Thus, it is our duty to preserve life rather than kill. 11

Kane observes that killing does not change its nature even when technology and modern medicine are used to camouflage the negligence of duty behind euthanasia. He later argues that even Christian doctrines and other religious beliefs consider life it all its different forms, a sanctified gift from God. 12

Furthermore, when one perform euthanasia on a patient that has been for while under the individual’s care, this becomes a contradiction of one’s moral principles. In that case, euthanasia is considered a betrayal of the person under care. 13

Brian Kane’s deduction based on deontology is a reasonable ground for one to reject euthanasia as an immoral action. The decision to perform a mercy killing on a suffering individual is abandonment of a person with whom the medic performing the euthanasia has shown immeasurable solidarity earlier by providing care and support.

Euthanasia also goes against the universal principles of practice of the medical profession.

On the other hand, Kantian deontology has its own special argument against euthanasia. All aspects of Kantian philosophy revolve around duty, goodwill and categorical imperative, the philosophy of pure reason. 14

One should observe duties at all time despite the odds. In one illustration, Kant argues that it is immoral to lie to a murderer in order to alleviate occurrence of the murder. He argues that lying to anyone denies one the freedom to make a rational deduction. 15

In the case of euthanasia, Kantian philosophy can be applied to imply that we must preserve life at all costs. 16 Throughout history, it has been the practice of people to preserve life at all odds. This has led to development of modern medicine, which is a universal practice.

For this reason, it is a universal duty for everybody to work towards extending life in its various forms regardless of the situation. Thus, it would be immoral for one to end another person’s life for any reason. Doing so would go against the duty to preserve life.

I agree with Kant’s philosophy of duty to oneself and duty to not to kill. Consider medics personnel who spend most of their time making decisions aimed at prolonging other people’s lives. These people have been charged with the duty to preserve life through application of technology and modern medicine.

This universally accepted practice is applied in all societies in the world. A medic should thus, not perform euthanasia under any circumstances. If it is the patient’s will that euthanasia be performed, the medic is morally obliged to decline to perform euthanasia.

In addition, the medic must go to the furthest extent in his or her quest to observe the duty to preserve life.

Kantian philosophy can also be applied from another perspective to the same effect. When it is a patient’s wish to die to avoid immense suffering, he or she must not be aided to take his or her life. Kantian deontology directly addresses the issue of duty to oneself.

According to Kant, every person has a duty to preserve one’s life. 17 This is a universal law accepted and applied in every society. This makes it a perfect duty not to take an innocent person’s life for any reason. The same kind of reasoning is applied to suicide.

It is immoral to take one’s life since such an action does not apply universally. In fact, suicide is not acceptable in many societies. Similarly, it is universally unacceptable to take any life since it goes against ones duty as it is universally defined.

If it were universally acceptable that people can take their own lives, then there would be a significant possibility that the human race would not exist. This is a deduction by Immanuel Kant in Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals.

Kant lays a strong foundation for deontology, particularly regarding professional conduct in all disciplines. Fields such as medicine, which require a substantial moral foundation for productive practice, are affected by Kant’s philosophical reasoning.

According to Kant, deontology opposes any action that goes against universally accepted norms. 18 Incidentally, euthanasia falls in this category of actions that are accepted in some instances but are not universally acceptable. Kant’s philosophy is a reasonable ground for the medical society to decline to practice euthanasia.

Deontology explicitly outlines the universal purpose of medicine, technology and medical personnel, which is to preserve life. For this reason, it is immoral for anyone to assist any individual to die for whatever reason.

Another author, Robert Young, considers euthanasia as a rational act by qualified personnel to end suffering of a patient. He says that it is prudent for a qualified medic to induce death or allow a patient to die to alleviate pain and suffering. 19

For such an action to be morally acceptable, the euthanasia should not have a beneficial effect to any other person other than the patient.

Thus, euthanasia is performed for the sake of the suffering individual. 20 While expressing his view, Young seeks to exclude instances where people kill themselves to alleviate suffering without any assistance. He maintains that the decision to perform euthanasia should be a result of an assessment by a qualified person.

Young also excludes cases of people who are such an invalid state that they are not in a position to decide whether to have euthanasia performed or not 21 .

For a case of euthanasia to be of moral value, the patient must request for the procedure, and the medic involved must be in a position to assess the condition of the patient and ascertain that the patient indeed suffering. Young further cites David Hume, who sought to append moral justification to suicide. 22

He says that personal autonomy is paramount and should be respected. For him, it is immoral to keep a suffering person alive against one’s will. Thus, euthanasia should be morally acceptable when it is done within certain defined moral guidelines that involve the authority of the subject to euthanasia.

David Hume dismissed religious authorities as unfair to those people who committed suicide by denying them the freedom to choose not to live when life becomes unbearable. Thus, under certain circumstances, euthanasia is acceptable according to Young.

Robert Young’s position seems to approve some forms of euthanasia. It is impossible for any medic, however competent, to accurately determine the validity and extent of suffering of any individual. Moreover, it is impossible to ascertain the motive of the patient’s will despite the perceived suffering.

For this reason, I disagree with his proposition that some experts are able to determine when life becomes unbearable.

Furthermore, it is the duty of the medic to prolong life regardless of the utterances and expressions of the patient. This is justified by the fact that no one can accurately assess the mental situation of another person.

There are several strengths and weaknesses in the theories pertaining euthanasia as presented by Kant, Kane and Young. Kane’s theory seeks to maintain a disciplined practice in the medical profession. In that case, a medic observes duty without allowing emotional consequences to alter the course of his or her actions.

This way, the medical practitioner is able to give service to the suffering people objectively. However, Kane has postulated that the sole duty and obligation of the medical profession is to prolong life when it s possible to do so. He has not adequately tried to exclude euthanasia as one of the duties the medics have to perform.

In addition, he has not presented facts that adequately support the theory that the duty of medical practitioners is to prolong life. One can still claim that it is the ultimate aim of medical profession to alleviate pain and suffering, consequently including euthanasia as one of the profession’s duties.

On the other hand, Kant defines actions of moral value as those that are universally acceptable. His theory succeeds in excluding actions such as euthanasia among those that are universally acceptable. This is important since it prevents humans from engaging in morally questionable practices.

He simply seeks to avoid approving actions that have moral doubt for universal practice. The only weakness in Kant’s deontology is the concept of universal acceptance. Even vices such as murder are not universally condemned since there are societies where they are accepted.

Primitive societies, even in developed nations, have occasionally accepted murder as an action with moral value. It cannot be preservation of life is not a universal practice acceptable to all societies. Some societies allow people to perform euthanasia based on age or ailment.

Thus, one can argue that preservation of life is not universally acceptable.

Robert young’s theory has little strength. It may be beneficial to those who are living by sparing them the ordeal of seeing a person to whom they are emotionally connected suffer. However, there is a major weakness in the definition of qualified personnel competent enough to perform euthanasia.

It is impossible to assess the effects of death since no one knows what follows once one is pronounced clinically dead. It is only assumed that one’s sensory functionalities cease to exist, alleviating pain. No single experiment has succeeded in establishing the experience after death. 23

Whether the experience is painful or not euthanasia relies on an assumption. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, it is impossible for any person to determine the degree of suffering experienced by another with accuracy. 24

Similarly, it impossible to establish the motive of the subject to euthanasia in requesting for a mercy killing. Thus, while the medic performing the procedure might have goodwill, he or she might be an accessory to achieve other motives other than alleviation of pain.

For these reasons, young’s theory is weaker than Kant’s philosophy and Kane’s deontology.

Brian Kane’s approach to deontology is analogous to Kant’s philosophy. Both authors refer to universal practices. Kant’s validates all universally accepted practices as morally upright. On the other hand, Kane observes that it is the universal duty of medical practitioners to prolong life whenever it is possible.

These two theories come to a consensus that universal pratices have a moral value. Thus if the universal duty of medical practitioners is aimed at prolonging life, it is only morally right to work towards achievement of this objective rather than act otherwise.

Kane’s deontology and Kant’s philosophy do not support euthanasia. It is morally unacceptable to assist anyone to die according to the direct analysis of the issue by Brian Kane. Similarly, Application of Kantian deontology automatically makes euthanasia immoral.

Robert Young postulates that it is the duty of the medics to alleviate pain and suffering through euthanasia, a contradiction of Kant’s theory. However, young’s theory agrees with Kane and Kant’s perspective on suicide and euthanasia without the consent of the subject.

He does not append any moral value to euthanasia without the consent of the subject. Robert young’s theory may need to be refined to be accepted as a universal clinical practice.

This refinement involves creation of standard to assess the level of qualification of a medical practitioner to determine the degree of suffering of a potential subject of euthanasia.

Although such a standard is difficult to establish, it is a necessity for euthanasia of people with the consent of the subject to be universally accepted as a duty of medical practitioners.

Currently, euthanasia is largely an unacceptable practice in many societies. It is bound to remain unacceptable until sufficient grounds for its practice are established. However, such grounds are also not possible in the near future.

Darwall, Stephen L.. Deontology . Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub., 2003.

Kane, Brian. The Blessing of Life: An Introduction to Catholic Bioethics . Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2011.

Kant, Immanuel, Allen W. Wood, and J. B. Schneewind. Groundwork for the metaphysics of morals . New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002.

Lammers, Stephen E., and Allen Verhey. On moral medicine: theological perspectives in medical ethics . Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1987.

Snyder, Carrie L.. Euthanasia . Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2006.

Young, Robert. Medically assisted death . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

1 Snyder, Euthanasia, 33.

2 Ibid., 44.

3 Ibid., 65.

4 Darwall, Deontology, 81.

5 Ibid., 83.

6 Kant et al., Groundwork, 31.

7 Kane, Brian. The Blessing of Life,128.

8 Ibid., 132.

9 Kant et al., Groundwork, 34.

10 Kane, Brian. The Blessing of Life,135.

11 Ibid., 137.

12 Ibid., 138.

13 Ibid., 142.

14 Kant et al., Groundwork, 6.

15 Ibid., 7.

16 Ibid., 9.

18 Ibid., 13.

19 Young, Medically assisted death, 5.

20 Ibid., 6.

21 Ibid., 7.

22 Ibid., 9.

23 Lammers & Verhey, On moral medicine, 52.

24 Ibid., 55

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Euthanasia and assisted dying: the illusion of autonomy—an essay by Ole Hartling

Read our coverage of the assisted dying debate.

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  • Ole Hartling , former chairman
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  • hartling{at}dadlnet.dk

As a medical doctor I have, with some worry, followed the assisted dying debate that regularly hits headlines in many parts of the world. The main arguments for legalisation are respecting self-determination and alleviating suffering. Since those arguments appear self-evident, my book Euthanasia and the Ethics of a Doctor’s Decisions—An Argument Against Assisted Dying 1 aimed to contribute to the international debate on this matter.

I found it worthwhile to look into the arguments for legalisation more closely, with the hope of sowing a little doubt in the minds of those who exhibit absolute certainty in the matter. This essay focuses on one point: the concept of “autonomy.”

(While there are several definitions of voluntary, involuntary, and non-voluntary euthanasia as well as assisted dying, assisted suicide, and physician assisted suicide, for the purposes of brevity in this essay, I use “assisted dying” throughout.)

Currently, in richer countries, arguments for legalising assisted dying frequently refer to the right to self-determination—or autonomy and free will. Our ability to self-determine seems to be unlimited and our right to it inviolable. The public’s response to opinion poll questions on voluntary euthanasia show that people can scarcely imagine not being able to make up their own minds, nor can they imagine not having the choice. Moreover, a healthy person answering a poll may have difficulty imagining being in a predicament where they simply would not wish to be given the choice.

I question whether self-determination is genuinely possible when choosing your own death. In my book, I explain that the choice will always be made in the context of a non-autonomous assessment of your quality of life—that is, an assessment outside your control. 1

All essential decisions that we make are made in relation to other people. Our decisions are affected by other people, and they affect other people. Although healthy people find it difficult to imagine themselves in situations where they do not decide freely, it is also true that all of us are vulnerable and dependent on others.

Yet autonomy in relation to assisted dying is often viewed in the same way as our fundamental right to choose our own course in life. If we are able to control our lives, then surely we can also control our death. Autonomy with respect to your own death, however, is already halved: you can choose to die if you don’t want to live, but you cannot choose to live if you are about to die.

Decisions about your own death are not made in normal day-to-day contexts. The wish to die arises against a backdrop: of desperation, a feeling of hopelessness, possibly a feeling of being superfluous. Otherwise, the wish would not be there. Thus, it is under these circumstances that the right to self-determination is exercised and the decision is made. Such a situation is a fragile basis for autonomy and an even more fragile basis for decision making. The choice regarding your own death is therefore completely different from most other choices usually associated with the concept of autonomy.

Here are just some of the critical matters that would arise if assisted dying were legalised.

A duty to die

The possibility of choosing to die would inhabit everyone’s consciousness—the patient, the doctor, the relatives, and the care staff—even if not formulated as an out-and-out offer. But if a law on assisted dying gives the patient a right to die, that right may turn into a duty to die. How autonomously can the weakest people act when the world around them deems their ill, dependent, and pained quality of life as beyond recovery?

Patients can find themselves directly or indirectly under duress to choose that option if they consider themselves sufficiently pained and their quality of life sufficiently low. Patients must be at liberty to choose assisted dying freely, of course—that is how it is presented—but the point is that the patient cannot get out of having to choose. It has been called the “prison of freedom.”

Internalised external pressure

Pressure on the patient does not have to be direct or articulated. As pointed out by the US professor of biomedical ethics Daniel Sulmasy it may exist as an “internalised external pressure.” 2 Likewise, the French bioethicist Emmanuel Hirsch states that individual autonomy can be an illusion. The theologian Nigel Biggar quotes Hirsch saying that a patient “may truly want to die, but this desire is not the fruit of his freedom alone, it may be—and most often is—the translation of the attitude of those around him, if not of society as a whole which no longer believes in the value of his life and signals this to him in all sorts of ways. Here we have a supreme paradox: someone is cast out of the land of the living and then thinks that he, personally, wants to die.” 3

The end of autonomy

An inherent problem of autonomy in connection with assisted dying is that a person who uses his or her presumed right to self-determination to choose death definitively precludes himself or herself from deciding or choosing anything. Where death is concerned, your right to self- determination can be exerted only by disposing of it for good. By your autonomy, in other words, you opt to no longer have autonomy. And those around must respect the right to self-determination. The respect refers to a person who is respected, but this is precisely the person who disappears.

Danish philosopher Johannes Sløk, who supported legalisation, said, “The actual concept of death has no content, for death is the same as nothing, and one cannot choose between life and nothing. Rather, therefore, one must speak of opting out; one opts out of life, without thereby choosing anything else. Death is not ‘something other’ than life; it is the cessation or annihilation of life.”

Autonomy is a consistent principle running through the care and management of patients and is enshrined in law. However, a patient’s autonomy means that he or she has the right to decline any treatment. It does not entail a right to have any treatment the patient might wish for. Patients do not have the right to demand treatment that signifies another’s duty to fulfil that right. If that were so, autonomy would be the same as “autocracy”—rule of the self over others. Even though patients have the right to reject any intervention, they do not have the right to demand any intervention. Rejecting any claim that the person might make is not a violation of a patient’s self- determination—for example, there may be sound medical reasons for not complying with a demand. The doctor also has autonomy, allowing him or her to say no. Refusing to kill a person or assist in killing cannot be a violation of that person’s autonomy.

The killing ban

Assisted dying requires the doctor’s moral and physical help. It is a binding agreement between two people: the one who is to be killed and the one who is to kill or assist in killing. But our society does not condone killing as a relationship between two legally competent, consenting people. Exemptions from the killing ban involve war or self-defence and are not justified on the grounds that the killing is done for the “benefit” of someone else.

Valuation of a life

If the action is to be decriminalised, as some people wish, it means the doctor will have to enter into deliberations and arguments for and against a request for assisted dying each time. That is, whether he or she is willing to grant it. The alternative would be to refer the patient to another doctor who might be willing to help—that doctor would still have to assess whether the patient’s life was worth preserving.

Thus, autonomy is not the only factor or even always the key factor when deciding whether assisted dying can be granted. It is not only the patient’s own evaluation that is crucial. The value of the patient’s life must also be assessed as sufficiently low. This demonstrates the limitation of the patient’s self-determination.

Relieving suffering

If a competent and legally capable person must have the option of voluntarily choosing assisted dying in the event of unbearable suffering, why does suffering have to be a requirement? The answer is straightforward: our concepts of assisted dying imply that compassion must form a crucial aspect of the decision—mercy killing and compassionate killing are synonyms. But this leads instantly to the question of why we should not also perform assisted dying on people who are not in a position to ask for it themselves but are also suffering.

Some people find the reasoning unproblematic. It stands to reason that relieving suffering is a duty after all. But in this context it is not unproblematic, because it effectively shifts the focus from the autonomy claimed. According to prevailing ideas about autonomy, patients initially evaluate their quality of life themselves, but ultimately it is those around them who end up gauging that quality and the value of their life. That is to say, the justification for assisted dying is borne on the premise that certain lives are not worth living rather than the presence of a request. The whole point is that in the process, respect for the right to self-determination becomes relative.

Autonomy is largely an illusion in the case of assisted dying. 1 A patient overwhelmed by suffering may be more in need of compassion, care, and love than of a kind offer to help end his or her life. It is not a question of whether people have a right to say that they are unworthy. It is a question of whether they have a right to be believed when saying it.

Ole Hartling is a physician of over 30 years standing, doctor of medical sciences at the University of Copenhagen, professor of health promotion at the University of Roskilde, and an author and co-author of several books and scientific articles published mainly in Scandinavia. Between 2000 and 2007 he was a member of the Danish Council of Ethics and its chair for five years. During this time, the council extensively debated the ethics of euthanasia and assisted dying.

Competing interests: I have read and understood BMJ policy on declaration of interests and have no relevant interests to declare.

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Euthanasia: Right to life vs right to die

Suresh bada math.

Department of Psychiatry National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences (Deemed University) Bangalore 560 029, India

Santosh K. Chaturvedi

The word euthanasia, originated in Greece means a good death 1 . Euthanasia encompasses various dimensions, from active (introducing something to cause death) to passive (withholding treatment or supportive measures); voluntary (consent) to involuntary (consent from guardian) and physician assisted (where physician's prescribe the medicine and patient or the third party administers the medication to cause death) 2 , 3 . Request for premature ending of life has contributed to the debate about the role of such practices in contemporary health care. This debate cuts across complex and dynamic aspects such as, legal, ethical, human rights, health, religious, economic, spiritual, social and cultural aspects of the civilised society. Here we argue this complex issue from both the supporters and opponents’ perspectives, and also attempts to present the plight of the sufferers and their caregivers. The objective is to discuss the subject of euthanasia from the medical and human rights perspective given the background of the recent Supreme Court judgement 3 in this context.

In India abetment of suicide and attempt to suicide are both criminal offences. In 1994, constitutional validity of Indian Penal Code Section (IPC Sec) 309 was challenged in the Supreme Court 4 . The Supreme Court declared that IPC Sec 309 is unconstitutional, under Article 21 (Right to Life) of the constitution in a landmark judgement 4 . In 1996, an interesting case of abetment of commission of suicide (IPC Sec 306) came to Supreme Court 5 . The accused were convicted in the trial court and later the conviction was upheld by the High Court. They appealed to the Supreme Court and contended that ‘right to die’ be included in Article 21 of the Constitution and any person abetting the commission of suicide by anyone is merely assisting in the enforcement of the fundamental right under Article 21; hence their punishment is violation of Article 21. This made the Supreme Court to rethink and to reconsider the decision of right to die. Immediately the matter was referred to a Constitution Bench of the Indian Supreme Court. The Court held that the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution does not include the right to die 5 .

Regarding suicide, the Supreme Court reconsidered its decision on suicide. Abetment of suicide (IPC Sec 306) and attempt to suicide (IPC Sec 309) are two distinct offences, hence Section 306 can survive independent of Section 309. It has also clearly stated that a person attempts suicide in a depression, and hence he needs help, rather than punishment. Therefore, the Supreme Court has recommended to Parliament to consider the feasibility of deleting Section 309 from the Indian Penal Code 3 .

Arguments against euthanasia

Eliminating the invalid : Euthanasia opposers argue that if we embrace ‘the right to death with dignity’, people with incurable and debilitating illnesses will be disposed from our civilised society. The practice of palliative care counters this view, as palliative care would provide relief from distressing symptoms and pain, and support to the patient as well as the care giver. Palliative care is an active, compassionate and creative care for the dying 6 .

Constitution of India : ‘Right to life’ is a natural right embodied in Article 21 but suicide is an unnatural termination or extinction of life and, therefore, incompatible and inconsistent with the concept of ‘right to life’. It is the duty of the State to protect life and the physician's duty to provide care and not to harm patients. If euthanasia is legalised, then there is a grave apprehension that the State may refuse to invest in health (working towards Right to life). Legalised euthanasia has led to a severe decline in the quality of care for terminally-ill patients in Holland 7 . Hence, in a welfare state there should not be any role of euthanasia in any form.

Symptom of mental illness : Attempts to suicide or completed suicide are commonly seen in patients suffering from depression 8 , schizophrenia 9 and substance users 10 . It is also documented in patients suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder 11 . Hence, it is essential to assess the mental status of the individual seeking for euthanasia. In classical teaching, attempt to suicide is a psychiatric emergency and it is considered as a desperate call for help or assistance. Several guidelines have been formulated for management of suicidal patients in psychiatry 12 . Hence, attempted suicide is considered as a sign of mental illness 13 .

Malafide intention : In the era of declining morality and justice, there is a possibility of misusing euthanasia by family members or relatives for inheriting the property of the patient. The Supreme Court has also raised this issue in the recent judgement 3 . ‘Mercy killing’ should not lead to ‘killing mercy’ in the hands of the noble medical professionals. Hence, to keep control over the medical professionals, the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations, 2002 discusses euthanasia briefly in Chapter 6, Section 6.7 and it is in accordance with the provisions of the Transplantation of Human Organ Act, 1994 14 . There is an urgent need to protect patients and also medical practitioners caring the terminally ill patients from unnecessary lawsuit. Law commission had submitted a report (no-196) to the government on this issue 15 .

Emphasis on care : Earlier majority of them died before they reached the hospital but now it is converse. Now sciences had advanced to the extent, life can be prolonged but not to that extent of bringing back the dead one. This phenomenon has raised a complex situation. Earlier diseases outcome was discussed in terms of ‘CURE’ but in the contemporary world of diseases such as cancer, Aids, diabetes, hypertension and mental illness are debated in terms best ‘CARE’, since cure is distant. The principle is to add life to years rather than years to life with a good quality palliative care. The intention is to provide care when cure is not possible by low cost methods. The expectation of society is, ‘cure’ from the health professionals, but the role of medical professionals is to provide ‘care’. Hence, euthanasia for no cure illness does not have a logical argument. Whenever, there is no cure, the society and medical professionals become frustrated and the fellow citizen take extreme measures such as suicide, euthanasia or substance use. In such situations, palliative and rehabilitative care comes to the rescue of the patient and the family. At times, doctors do suggest to the family members to have the patient discharged from the hospital wait for death to come, if the family or patient so desires. Various reasons are quoted for such decisions, such as poverty, non-availability of bed, futile intervention, resources can be utilised for other patients where cure is possible and unfortunately majority of our patient's family do accordingly. Many of the terminally ill patients prefer to die at home, with or without any proper terminal health care. The societal perception needs to be altered and also the medical professionals need to focus on care rather in addition to just cure. The motive for many euthanasia requests is unawareness of alternatives. Patients hear from their doctors that ‘nothing can be done anymore’. However, when patients hear that a lot can be done through palliative care, that the symptoms can be controlled, now and in the future, many do not want euthanasia anymore 16 .

Commercialisation of health care : Passive euthanasia occurs in majority of the hospitals across the county, where poor patients and their family members refuse or withdraw treatment because of the huge cost involved in keeping them alive. If euthanasia is legalised, then commercial health sector will serve death sentence to many disabled and elderly citizens of India for meagre amount of money. This has been highlighted in the Supreme Court Judgement 3 , 17 .

Research has revealed that many terminally ill patients requesting euthanasia, have major depression, and that the desire for death in terminal patients is correlated with the depression 18 . In Indian setting also, strong desire for death was reported by 3 of the 191 advanced cancer patients, and these had severe depression 19 . They need palliative and rehabilitative care. They want to be looked after by enthusiastic, compassionate and humanistic team of health professionals and the complete expenses need to be borne by the State so that ‘Right to life’ becomes a reality and succeeds before ‘Right to death with dignity’. Palliative care actually provides death with dignity and a death considered good by the patient and the care givers.

Counterargument of euthanasia supporters

Caregivers burden : ‘Right-to-die’ supporters argue that people who have an incurable, degenerative, disabling or debilitating condition should be allowed to die in dignity. This argument is further defended for those, who have chronic debilitating illness even though it is not terminal such as severe mental illness. Majority of such petitions are filed by the sufferers or family members or their caretakers. The caregiver's burden is huge and cuts across various domains such as financial, emotional, time, physical, mental and social. Hence, it is uncommon to hear requests from the family members of the person with psychiatric illness to give some poison either to patient or else to them. Coupled with the States inefficiency, apathy and no investment on health is mockery of the ‘Right to life’.

Refusing care : Right to refuse medical treatment is well recognised in law, including medical treatment that sustains or prolongs life. For example, a patient suffering from blood cancer can refuse treatment or deny feeds through nasogastric tube. Recognition of right to refuse treatment gives a way for passive euthanasia. Many do argue that allowing medical termination of pregnancy before 16 wk is also a form of active involuntary euthanasia. This issue of mercy killing of deformed babies has already been in discussion in Holland 20 .

Right to die : Many patients in a persistent vegetative state or else in chronic illness, do not want to be a burden on their family members. Euthanasia can be considered as a way to upheld the ‘Right to life’ by honouring ‘Right to die’ with dignity.

Encouraging the organ transplantation : Euthanasia in terminally ill patients provides an opportunity to advocate for organ donation. This in turn will help many patients with organ failure waiting for transplantation. Not only euthanasia gives ‘Right to die’ for the terminally ill, but also ‘Right to life’ for the organ needy patients.

Constitution of India reads ‘right to life’ is in positive direction of protecting life. Hence, there is an urgent need to fulfil this obligation of ‘Right to life’ by providing ‘food, safe drinking water and health care’. On the contrary, the state does not own the responsibility of promoting, protecting and fulfilling the socio-economic rights such as right to food, right to water, right to education and right to health care, which are basic essential ingredients of right to life. Till date, most of the States has not done anything to support the terminally ill people by providing for hospice care.

If the State takes the responsibility of providing reasonable degree of health care, then majority of the euthanasia supporters will definitely reconsider their argument. We do endorse the Supreme Court Judgement that our contemporary society and public health system is not matured enough to handle this sensitive issue, hence it needs to be withheld. However, this issue needs to be re-examined again after few years depending upon the evolution of the society with regard to providing health care to the disabled and public health sector with regard to providing health care to poor people.

The Supreme Court judgement to withhold decision on this sensitive issue is a first step towards a new era of health care in terminally ill patients. The Judgment laid down is to preserve harmony within a society, when faced with a complex medical, social and legal dilemma. There is a need to enact a legislation to protect terminally ill patients and also medical practitioners caring for them as per the recommendation of Law Commission Report-196 15 . There is also an urgent need to invest in our health care system, so that poor people suffering from ill health can access free health care. Investment in health care is not a charity; ‘Right to Health’ is bestowed under ‘Right to Life’ of our constitution.

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Euthanasia (Argumentative Essay Sample)

Euthanasia is one of the subjects that have faced intense debate over time, the legalization of euthanasia have been debated for many years with different views presented in terms of  ethical and legal consideration for both patients and health care providers. Healthcare providers are faced with ethical dilemmas when caring for terminally ill patients. They are forced to make tough decisions by using their moral reasoning to overcome some of the ethical dilemmas related to euthanasia.

Euthanasia is viewed as murder, however, ethically; physician has the moral obligation to comply with patients’ decisions. Making such decision to either withhold or withdraw treatment for any patient is not an easy decision to make based on the cultural, religious and legal factors.  Death resulting to euthanasia is different between countries. Patients who experience extreme pain due to the nature of their illness are permitted to die with dignity in several countries while other countries totally condemn the use of euthanasia. Therefore, such individuals are among the few cases that continue to convince stakeholders to legalize euthanasia.

From a religious perspective; religious leaders see euthanasia to be unnecessary because for them, pain and suffering are not only a medical problem it is more than physical pain.  Pain and suffering are as a result of several factors; these include psychosocial, cultural and spiritual. Such views have changed the perspective of the debate about euthanasia.  The other aspect of euthanasia that has been ignored. It is a fact that the doctor has an obligation to fulfill patient’s request.

By not legalizing euthanasia is viewed as violating patient rights as the doctor refuses to help patients die. Even though many people are against euthanasia because it is viewed as murder, those who advocate for its usage view euthanasia from a different perspective. For them, the issue of cost and violation of human rights are the two most important arguments presented during euthanasia debates.  Even though those who support Euthanasia argue that it helps patients die with and help in containing the overall cost of treatment, others view Euthanasia as an immoral act. Other people view euthanasia as patient’s choice, not a physician; therefore, killing patients even when physicians have signed the code of ethics, is in line with the healthcare standards because the patient has the final say. The physician does not violate human rights.

I believe that there are valid reasons for patients to consider euthanasia because it saves both the patient and their family members from many financial burdens associated with terminal diseases. Euthanasia is the choice, and an alternative for patients who suffer immensely and their decision should be respected to help them alleviate suffering.  In many countries where euthanasia is permitted health care cost have been significantly contained. Patients with chronic illnesses do not have much choice but to die peacefully and with dignity.  Terminally ill patients are permitted to request from euthanasia to stop suffering.

Euthanasia remains one of the hot topics among many interest groups; some people believe that it is the only humane way to end suffering. Christians believe that humans have to undergo suffering because it’s part of God’s plan. In this debate considering the political, religious, legal and personal views all these people want to justify their reasons as to why euthanasia should be legalized or not. Euthanasia remains a debatable subject because of the varied views that might be valid to a certain point.

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Best Ethics Essay Examples

Euthanasia argumentative essay.

1067 words | 4 page(s)

I agree with the concept of euthanasia for multiple reasons. Euthanasia is when an individual decides to end his or her life. This is normally due to severe, debilitating and usually terminal medical conditions. Euthanasia involves the use of medicine as a means to achieve this end. It differs from suicide in that it is more acceptable to many. In addition, many want a medical professional to aid them in their death. The word actually derives from the root words for “good” and “death.” Euthanasia represent a good death for the individual. Unfortunately, many terminal diseases, such as cancer and Lou Gherig’s disease, represent horrific deaths. This is also true for Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and countless others. Individuals suffer horrifically at the end. Their family suffers as they watch the loved one endure physical and emotional pain. It is only humane to allow an individual a good death, rather than to force him or her to endure a brutal death. If we want to be a humane society, we need to recognize the need for humanity until the end of the person’s life.

Euthanasia is a controversial topic for a number of reasons. Many groups, such as the Catholic Church, believe that all life is sacred. Even if the individual is suffering a painful life where even strong pain medications do not offer relief. Others do not believe that a physician and other health care providers should participate in the death of an individual. Physicians and health care providers have sworn oaths to protect life. In some countries, euthanasia is clearly illegal. A physician who participates may be sent to jail or lose his or her medical license. This threat of punishment prevents many physicians from assisting their patients at the most difficult part of life. Other physicians may assist an individual by providing a number of medications; however, they must find a “legitimate” medical reason to prescribe the medication and the sufficient dosage. The death is then ruled an accidental overdose or a suicide. Doctors participate in these secret killings in all cultures. However, it is a secret and not openly discussed by physicians (Traynor).

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Other countries, such as the Netherlands, have a more accepting view of euthanasia. They recognize the need for it and that it allows an individual to decide how and when to end life and the pain of an illness. Euthanasia has been legal in these countries for over ten years. The process, of course, is strictly controlled. This ensures that the use of euthanasia will not be taken lightly by anyone. It requires a justification for the euthanasia. However, it does allow the potential for an individual to escape excruciating pain and suffering (Traynor).

One of the most cherished beliefs in health care focuses on patient autonomy. Autonomy, as a concept, demands respect for the individual. The individual is allowed to decide what occurs to him or her medically. This requires the individual to make an informed decision. An informed decision requires the patient to be aware of both the risks and benefits of all procedures. The individual must be aware of any alternative treatments. The individual cannot be coerced into making a decision. The decision must be made freely by the individual who is fully cognizant of all facts. In philosophy, the concept of autonomy recognizes that an individual should be allowed to live his or her life based upon the individual’s values and beliefs. These decisions must be free of any external motivation or forces. For humanity, autonomy is one of the most crucial concepts. It allows the human to truly be free in the world (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

True respect for autonomy demands that an individual be allowed to choose not only how to live his or her life, but also how to end it. By all means, suicide is something different. Suicide often results due to depression, financial difficulties, divorce and other more emotional aspects of humanity. Individuals may choose suicide as a means to escape a situation that they do not believe they can address. This is not the same as euthanasia. Financial problems are temporary often. Divorce is a stage of life for many individuals. Depression can be treated with medications and therapy. However, terminal cancer or Huntington’s disease do not offer an alternative for the individual. The individual is at a dead end. If the individual chooses to spend more or less time in this dead end, it should be the person’s choice. Some individuals want to live as long as possible, despite pain and serious health issues. They may find other things in life that they believe make the suffering worthwhile. However, others may have come to accept their inevitable death and choose to hasten it, rather than prolong it. It is not for another person to judge this decision or this belief. Unless an individual is in the same pain or physically debilitated state, that person cannot truly understand what initiates this decision for the person. The person should have the right to decide his or her own life.

Overall, approximately eighty percent of Americans agree with the concept of allowing a person to die with dignity. Allowing a physician to prescribe a lethal dose of narcotics to individuals can give this person a dignified death. The person can die, free of pain, when he or she chooses to do so. Part of the reason that euthanasia remains illegal is because of the power of the Catholic Church. They often threaten to excommunicate any politicians who support ideas antithetical to the Church’s beliefs. This is coercion. It is the perfect example of why euthanasia should be legal. The Catholic Church is forcing beliefs on individuals. No one can or should be forced to believe anything (Kingsbury).

By all means, euthanasia remains a controversial topic. Some individuals believe that all life is sacred. These individuals may change their opinions if they find themselves in agonizing pain as they wait to die from terminal cancer. Until a person experiences something, he or she cannot truly judge it. Individuals have a right to their personal autonomy.

  • Kingsbury, Kathleen. “A New Fight to Legalize Euthanasia.” Time. 16 May 2008. 11 December 2013.
  • Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. “Autonomy.” 11 August 2009. 11 December 2013.
  • Traynor, Ian. “Secret Killings of Newborn Babies Trap Dutch Doctors in Moral Maze.” The Guardian. 21 December 2004. 11 December 2013.

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Euthanasia: Examining the Ethics and Personal Views

  • Category: Health , Life
  • Topic: Death , Ethical Dilemma , Euthanasia

Pages: 2 (1059 words)

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