Anti Euthanasia Arguments

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Arguments Against Euthanasia

1. Euthanasia would not only be for people who are "terminally ill.

" There are two problems here; the definition of "terminal" and the changes that have already taken place to extend euthanasia to those who aren't "terminally ill." There are many definitions for the word "terminal." Some say terminal illness was "any disease that curtails life even for a day." Others say "terminal old age." Some laws define "terminal" condition as one from which death will occur in a "relatively short time." Others state that "terminal" means that death is expected within six months or less. Even where a specific life expectancy (like six months) is referred to, it is virtually impossible to predict the life expectancy of a particular patient. Some people diagnosed as terminally ill don't die for years, if at all, from the diagnosed condition.  [Return to home page]

2. Euthanasia can become a means of health care cost containment

With health care facilities caused to cut costs, euthanasia certainly could become a means of cost containment. Thousands of people have no medical insurance and the poor and minorities generally are not given access to available pain control. With greater and greater emphasis being placed on managed care, many doctors are at financial risk when they provide treatment for their patients. Legalized euthanasia raises the potential for a profoundly dangerous situation in which doctors could find themselves far better off financially if a seriously ill or disabled person "chooses" to die rather than receive long-term care.

Savings to the government may also become a consideration. This could take place if governments cut back on paying for treatment and care and replace them with the "treatment" of death. Hospital stays are being shortened while, at the same time, funds have not been made available for home care for the sick and elderly. Registered nurses are being replaced with less expensive practical nurses. Patients are forced to endure long waits for many types of needed surgery.

This is another of those arguments that says that euthanasia should not be allowed because it will be abused. The fear is that if euthanasia is allowed, vulnerable people will be put under pressure to end their lives. It would be difficult, and possibly impossible, to stop people using persuasion or coercion to get people to request euthanasia when they don't really want it.

It would fundamentally undermine the basis of trust between doctors and patients that is at the heart of effective medicine. Far from being the 'ultimate expression of patient autonomy' legalized euthanasia becomes the ultimate act of medical paternalism. [Return to home page]

3. Euthanasia will only be voluntary; they say

No system of safeguards could ever be foolproof, so in practice legalizing ‘voluntary euthanasia’ would result in legalizing involuntary euthanasia.

Emotional and psychological pressures could become overpowering for depressed or dependent people. If the choice of euthanasia is considered as good as a decision to receive care, many people will feel guilty for not choosing death. Financial considerations, added to the concern about "being a burden," could serve as powerful forces that would lead a person to "choose" euthanasia or assisted suicide.

For Example an elderly person in a nursing home, who can barely understand a breakfast menu, is asked to sign a form consenting to be killed. Is this voluntary or involuntary? Will they be protected by the law? How? Right now the overall prohibition on killing stands in the way. One signature can sign away a person's life.

Legalized euthanasia would most likely progress to the stage where people, at a certain point, would be expected to volunteer to be killed. Think about this: What if your veterinarian said that your ill dog would be better of "put out of her misery" by being "put to sleep" and you refused to consent. What would the vet and his assistants think? What would your friends think? Ten years from now, if a doctor told you your mother's "quality of life" was not worth living for and asked you, as the closest family member, to approve a "quick, painless ending of her life" and you refused how would doctors, nurses and others, conditioned to accept euthanasia as normal and right, treat you and your mother. Or, what if the approval was sought from your mother, who was depressed by her illness? Would she have the strength to refuse what everyone in the nursing home "expected" from seriously ill elderly people? [Return to home page]

4. Euthanasia is a rejection of the importance and value of human life.

Legalizing the deliberate killing of humans (other than in legitimate self-defence/war or possibly for the most heinous of crimes) fundamentally undermines the basis of law and public morality.

People who support euthanasia often say that it is already considered permissible to take human life under some circumstances such as self defense - but they miss the point that when one kills for self defense they are saving innocent life - either their own or someone else's. With euthanasia no one's life is being saved - life is only taken.

Devalues some lives

Some people fear that allowing euthanasia sends the message, "it's better to be dead than sick or disabled".

The subtext is that some lives are not worth living. Not only does this put the sick or disabled at risk, it also downgrades their status as human beings while they are alive.

The disabled person's perspective

Part of the problem is that able-bodied people look at things from their own perspective and see life with a disability as a disaster, filled with suffering and frustration.

Some societies have regarded people with disabilities as inferior, or as a burden on society. Those in favour of eugenics go further, and say that society should prevent 'defective' people from having children. Others go further still and say that those who are a burden on society should be eliminated.

People with disabilities don't agree.  [Return to home page]

5. Euthanasia can be an irreversible attempt for attention

Even if someone sincerely wants to be euthanasia this may well be due to depression or to a misapprehension of their true prognosis. Palliative specialists report that such requests are often used by patients to assess their worth and value to others. A positive response merely confirms their worst fears and such a decision, once acted upon, is irreversible.

Some patients who have been totally abandoned by their parents, brothers and sisters and by their lovers, find themselves in a state of total isolation, cut off from every source of life and affection, they would see death as the only liberation open to them.

In those circumstances, subtle pressure could bring people to request immediate, rapid, painless death, when what they want is close and powerful support and love. [Return to home page]

6. Euthanasia may become a way of solving issues such as pensions or refugees 

Even without it being explicitly stated, legalizing euthanasia would mean that the state was offering it as an alternative to people who were seeking benefits for sickness or unemployment or to pensioners, to refugees and people with disabilities. If it were legalized, why not then insist that such people have ‘euthanasia counseling’ before they receive care or benefits?

If Euthanasia becomes part of everyday life, it would also undermine funding of medical research into cures and improved health care etc. and people who wanted to extend there life would have no options without any new knowledge. [Return to home page]

7. Euthanasia puts pressures on dependent relatives ‘not to be a burden’

It would fundamentally undermine the relationships between elderly or dependent relatives and their families, with overwhelming pressures being applied on people to ‘take the honorable course’ and ‘not be a burden’.

People who are ill and dependent can often feel worthless and an undue burden on those who love and care for them. They may actually be a burden, but those who love them may be happy to bear that burden.

Nonetheless, if euthanasia is available, the sick person may pressure themselves into asking for euthanasia.

Family or others involved with the sick person may regard them as a burden that they don't wish to carry, and may put pressure (which may be very subtle) on the sick person to ask for euthanasia.

Increasing numbers of examples of the abuse or neglect of elderly people by their families makes this an important issue to consider.

Any form of suicide is devastating for the people left behind who love the person who has decided that his or her life is no longer worth living: it is especially damaging for children. [Return to home page]

­­­8. Euthanasia will lead to assisted suicide

Legislation allowing voluntary euthanasia will lead to increasing numbers of people being eligible for assisted suicide, including those who are not terminally ill.

For Example a woman is suffering from depression and asks to be helped to commit suicide. One doctor sets up a practice to "help" such people. She and anyone who wants to die knows he will approve any such request. How does the law protect people from him? Does it specify that a doctor can only approve 50 requests a year? 100? 150? If you don't think there are such doctors, just look at recent stories of doctors and nurses who are charged with murder for killing dozens or hundreds of patients.  [Return to home page]

9 . Against the will of God

Religious people don't argue that we can't kill ourselves, or get others to do it. They know that we can do it because God has given us free will. Their argument is that it would be wrong for us to do so. They believe that every human being is the creation of God, and that this imposes certain limits on us. Our lives are not only our lives for us to do with as we see fit. To kill oneself, or to get someone else to do it for us, is to deny God, and to deny God's rights over our lives and his right to choose the length of our lives and the way our lives end.

Religious people sometimes argue against euthanasia because they see positive value in suffering. However while the churches acknowledge that some Christians will want to accept some suffering for this reason, most Christians are not so heroic. So there is nothing wrong in trying to relieve someone's suffering. In fact, Christians believe that it is a good to do so, as long as one does not intentionally cause death.

It isn't easy to define suffering - most of us can decide when we are suffering but what is suffering for one person may not be suffering for another.

It's also impossible to measure suffering in any useful way, and it's particularly hard to come up with any objective idea of what constitutes unbearable suffering, since each individual will react to the same physical and mental conditions in a different way.

Some people think that dying is just one of the tests that God sets for human beings, and that the way we react to it shows the sort of person we are, and how deep our faith and trust in God is. Others, while acknowledging that a loving God doesn't set his creations such a horrible test, say that the process of dying is the ultimate opportunity for human beings to develop their souls. When people are dying they may be able, more than at any time in their life, to concentrate on the important things in life, and to set aside the present-day 'consumer culture', and their own ego and desire to control the world.

Curtailing the process of dying would deny them this opportunity.

Some non-religious people also believe that suffering has value. They think it provides an opportunity to grow in wisdom, character, and compassion. Suffering is something, which draws upon all the resources of a human being and enables them to reach the highest and noblest points of what they really are. Suffering allows a person to be a good example to others by showing how to behave when things are bad.


10. Euthanasia will fall down the slippery slope

Many people worry that if voluntary euthanasia were to become legal, it would not be long before involuntary euthanasia would start to happen.

We were also concerned that vulnerable people - the elderly, lonely, sick or distressed - would feel pressure, whether real or imagined, to request early death.

This is called the slippery slope argument. In general form it says that if we allow something relatively harmless today, we may start a trend that results in something currently unthinkable becoming accepted.

If we change the law and accept voluntary euthanasia, we will not be able to keep it under control.

Fears about regulation

Euthanasia opponents don't believe that it is possible to create a regulatory system for euthanasia that will prevent the abuse of euthanasia.

It gives doctors too much power

This argument often appears as 'doctors should not be allowed to play God'. Since God arguments are of no interest to people without faith, it's presented here with the God bit removed.

Doctors should not be allowed to decide when people die:

•     Doctors do this all the time

•     Any medical action that extends life changes the time when a person dies and we don't worry about that

•     This is a different sort of decision, because it involves shortening life

•     Doctors take this sort of decision all the time when they make choices about treatment

•     As long as doctors recognize the seriousness of euthanasia and take decisions about it within a properly regulated structure and with proper safeguards, such decisions should be acceptable

•     In most of these cases the decision will not be taken by the doctor, but by the patient. The doctor will provide information to the patient to help them make their decision

Since doctors give patients the information on which they will base their decisions about euthanasia, any legalization of euthanasia, no matter how strictly regulated, puts doctors in an unacceptable position of power.

Doctors have been shown to take these decisions improperly

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