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There has been situations in life where people assist others commit suicide or rather terminate their lives. It happens in many cases where an individual is suffering from a terminal illness and as such would want the process of pain to be put to an end and die quickly. Therefore since an individual may not be in a position to take out his or her life, then they may request to be assisted to do so. This research will discuss the moral issue concerning assisted suicide, also known as euthanasia. In this research we shall answer two fundamental questions on morality issues related to assisted suicide; is euthanasia morally right? Or is euthanasia morally wrong? Finally it draws a conclusion on the issue of morality.
Assisted suicide also known as euthanasia is a process where a person is killed through a painless process to stop their suffering from a painful terminal disease. This is where a sick person requests a physician or any other person responsible for their treatment to hold back medication, carry out an act of omission or assist in any other possible way in order to terminate their lives. In this case such an individual will be acting as per the wishes of the sick individual who wants to terminate his or her life. The fact about assisted suicide is that it occurs only where the patient have expressed desire to have his or her life terminated and willingly requests another individual to assist them carry out the process (Weir, 1997). According to Weir (1997), a patient has a right to change his decision to the point where the actual euthanasia is administered.
Moral Issue of Assisted Suicide
The process of assisted suicide is morally justified in the sense that the patient is the one who decide on the fate of their life. This gives them the desired respect on determination of their way of living even at the situations involving their dead. This process upholds the fact that all persons have the right to decide on the ways they choose to have their life and as such should not be judged to mean bad when they request their lives to be terminated. Since it is emphasized that the patient should be the one desiring and not any other person, it is argued that it supports self-determination and power of choice for individuals (Weir, 1997).
Taking a situation that a person is in a lot of pain and that the disease involved is well known to be terminal, it would be justified for one to stop the suffering and die earlier than expected. This is because in one way or the other, the patient will finally die a slow painful death. So why not make it quick and painless? It is important to know that pain is a very difficult situation for one to be found especially relating to terminal illness where no consolation can be advanced to the patient who knows exactly their fate. Weir (1997) argued that that it brings to an end a long suffering and agony. It is a strong support of assisted suicide because it looks like an act of mercy to the patient to bring their struggles to an end.
Another reason that it is morally justified is from the argument that it involves killing which is ethically wrong. From this argument, the process of assisted suicide involves basically a desire for one to terminate his or her life and as such there would be no deliberate killing. This means that the death occurred in a voluntary way and as such it is justifiable to state that they were not killed. For instance, a situation where a doctor withholds medicine for a patient and he dies, then we can imply that the patient was allowed to die but not killed. Thus we can argue that since the intention was not to kill but rather terminate a painful process then it is morally justified (Weir, 1997).
Furthermore, assisted suicide is appropriate when death has been accepted. This is the situation where the patient has accepted to die and there is no more reason for living a hopeless life. Many people would prefer a quick painless death compared to a long suffering process. This is because there are cases where people consider those people who die quickly as being gone through a better dying process than those who have died a slow and painful death. Weir (1997) argued further that people care about the way they die in that they want to be remembered in their good and happy times rather than their painful suffering. It is normal for many people to be remembered from most conspicuous events in their lives. Therefore assisted suicide would be justified course of action for those who mind about what will be remembered of them when they die.
Another reason as to why assisted suicide is morally good is the fact that it saves the family a lot of medical expenses. There are cases where patients are on life machines which are very expensive to maintain. A patient may voluntarily decide to have their lives terminated for the sake of comfortable continuity of their beloved ones. This is important especially where the patient was a bread winner and the fortune may be useful to the family up to the point where they have developed other sources of income for their survival. Although this is not a major reason for the suicide, it slightly makes it to be right in terms of morality.
On the other hand, assisted suicide is morally wrong. From ethical point of view, it remains to be wrong act as it violates an individual right to living (Demy & Stewart, 1998). They argued that that no explanation would justify the act of killing or rather make it morally right. They went on to compare the act of assisted suicide as that of a theft. They said that a theft committed whether being seen or not seen remains to be a theft. Therefore, the murder of a person remains to be a wrong act despite that there was a need by the concerned patient. They went on to state that murder is the act of taking away an innocent life in the eyes of God and it remains to be so even if the dying person had consented to the euthanasia.
Secondly, there are cases where it is difficult if not impossible to predict whether a patient will survive or die from an illness (Demy & Stewart, 1998). In this case it will be very wrong to have conducted assisted suicide where a patient could have recovered from the illness. It remains to be morally wrong to carry out an act of murder and no one is sure of the course the illness would take. Imagine a scenario where a disease is wrongly diagnosed by a doctor and prescribes that one is suffering from a terminal illness. Thereafter, a patient decides that suicide was the only way out and the process is done. The resulting effect would be a death caused by suicide and it could have been avoided if the assisted suicide would have been avoided.
In addition, for the people who believe in God, it is the breaking of a commandment of not to kill. The commandment is clear that one should not commit murder and there is no qualification to that fact. Therefore, even if there is too much pain on the part of the patient, no one has the right to take out their life except for the creator of life who is God. This fact maintains that any act of assisted suicide is morally wrong and no justification at all (Demy & Stewart, 1998).
Furthermore, the issue of death with dignity cannot be considered to be the reason as to one takes out their life. This is because for one reason or another, the fact remains that individuals will die one way or another. These different ways will include instant deaths and prolonged illness which leads to death finally. Since it is universally accepted that death occurs in any manner then there is no reason to worry about how one will die. People should just live life and wait to die a natural death which happens anyway. Thus the assisted death adds no dignity to the death which will occur either way.
According to Demy & Stewart (1998), life preservation should take the highest preference to all human beings. They claim that as long as there is still an opportunity and hope for a patient to live for additional hours or days then there should be no reason at all to take out their lives. It emphasizes that nothing is important than human life which should be taken care with utmost respect and dignity. Thus it remains fundamentally wrong morally to carry out assisted suicide.
Another reason why assisted suicide is morally wrong is because it can be done for mean reasons other than the welfare of the patient. For instance, a son who may have a parent who is sick and on knowing that the disease is terminal they may opt for assisted suicide to save them the inheritance they want (Weir, 1997). They could not be willing to spend money on their dying parent but rather allow them to die so that their fortune will automatically belong to them. This negates the positive impact that assisted suicide could have actually meant. Therefore it encourages an attitude of not taking care of those who are terminally ill on the ground that the family wealth will be depleted. Due to this fact, it remains to be morally wrong to carry out mercy killing in the pretext of saving the agony of the patient but on the other hand targeting their fortune (Donnelly, 1999).
When it comes to assisted suicide I will say that it is morally right to carry out the process. This should only happen in the case where the life of concerned individual cannot be sustained in the near future. That is from the point that no medication or procedure would stop an individual from dying. This is basically to save the patient an agony of long pain which will finally culminate to death. The easier the death will happen to them the more comfortable they will be at the time of their death. This is because assisted suicide is always painless and depending on the method used, the patient may at times feel no pain at all. There are situations where one can die in sleep and so on. According to Demy & Stewart (1998), before assisted suicide is done, the best physician should be consulted to advice on any options until they confirm that there would be no other option except the death.