The Legalization of Voluntary Euthanasia

(An argumentative essay; a student’s work; written by Brigitta Ratih Esthi Aryanti)

Euthanasia, also called mercy killing, is an act or practice of painlessly putting to death, persons suffering from painful and incurable disease or incapacitating physical disorder. There are three kinds of euthanasia according to the request: voluntary, non voluntary, and involuntary. This essay will elaborate more about voluntary euthanasia. Voluntary euthanasia is the type of euthanasia when the request comes from the person who will be killed. The practice of voluntary euthanasia has been debated all around the world, some are demanding the government to ban it, and others are demanding the government to legalize it. Because most of the governments in the world, including the government of Indonesia, have not done any distinct act towards this practice, euthanasia is still accounted either suicide, if performed by the patient himself, or murder, if performed by another. This condition becomes a dilemma for the physicians and the patient’s family because most times they perform this act for the sake of the patient, while in the other hand they are threatened to be accused for murder. The rest of the society mostly is against euthanasia, considering that euthanasia has serious risks to the society as a whole. The practice of euthanasia can change the society conscience and legalizing it may lead to euthanasia tourism. Euthanasia is also risky for the paramedics since it will undermine modern medical research and violate the history of accepted medical ethics. Another important thing is that euthanasia is against many religious values. Since voluntary euthanasia has serious risks to the society, paramedics, and religious life, the government should never legalize it.

A new legalization will directly influence the society. The legalization of voluntary euthanasia will also give impacts to the society’s life. First, this legalization will change the society’s conscience, mainly the performers of this act. If euthanasia becomes legal, physicians will think that their act of killing is no longer a sin but a service. This simply shows that their consciences, and that of the society which allowed them to do what they did, became insensitive. Secondly, the voluntary euthanasia legalization in a certain country can cause euthanasia tourism in the neighboring countries. If such country allows this act, while its neighbors do not, the people of the neighbor countries will come to this country to perform euthanasia, this explains why it is called euthanasia tourism. What I want to say here is that any state considering a change in its laws in this regard has a responsibility not just to its own citizens but also to the whole international community.

Legalization of voluntary euthanasia also has risks to the paramedics. These risks come in two parts: in the medical researches and in the accepted medical ethics. As we know, modern technology has given many innovations in medical research. These innovations were focused to cure serious illnesses. Legalization of voluntary euthanasia will directly change this focus from curing the illness into killing the individual because of the illness. In other words, legalizing voluntary euthanasia will undermine medical researches. As mentioned before, the second risk is towards the medical ethics. The Hippocratic oath states ‘I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest such counsel….’ The International Code of Medical Ethics was adopted by third World Medical Assembly, London, England, October 1949. If the government legalizes euthanasia, physicians will be permitted to do such murder, an act that is extremely against the Medical Ethics. This makes the physicians together with the government violate the history of accepted medical ethics.

The last risk of legalizing voluntary euthanasia is risks to the religious life. Universally, all of the religions in the world are against this act, especially in legalizing it. Religious people have a belief that voluntary euthanasia is against God’s will. A person that has requested to be killed is performing suicide, which is considered a great sin since it is a rejection of God’s sovereignty and loving plan. That is why religious people will not choose any type of euthanasia. Besides that, religious people also believe that suffering pain is a good opportunity of learning lessons of life or repentance. Therefore, a religious man will accept this suffering not as a burden but as a gift. A person who is dying will be most grateful for his life, so he will learn to dedicate his life only for God’s sovereignty. This conscience will make him do many good deeds and become more caring as an act of repentance.

Although those risks are serious, some people still prefer legalizing voluntary euthanasia to banning it. This counter group usually consists of the physicians and the patient’s family. There is a tendency for the physician, the patient himself, and the family to choose to perform euthanasia considering the suffering of the patients, particularly patients with incurable illnesses, who experience uncontrollable pain. Dying seems to be the best way to lessen their pain. This reason is definitely wrong. There is a better way to choose which is making appropriate and effective care more widely available (This part will be elaborated more in the next paragraph.). Some physicians support the legalization of voluntary euthanasia to defend themselves. If euthanasia is legalized, physicians cannot be accused for murder after performing euthanasia. This will also make it easier for them to get out of the dilemma they face in most euthanasia cases. This opinion is absolutely not true. On the contrary, the legalization will give these physicians more power, which can be easily abused, and a level of responsibility he should not be rightly entitled to have. Besides that, they will also easily give up in their efforts in curing their patient’s and suggest performing euthanasia.

After looking through some pro and counter arguments, we can propose some solutions for this problem. The first and most important solution is that the government ban voluntary euthanasia practices. Banning means making the legislation not allowing any kind of euthanasia practice done in the country. The government must be strict, because without this legislation, some patients, and physicians can still perform euthanasia. The second solution is by giving alternative treatments. Many patients with incurable illnesses seem to only have two options: die slowly in unrelieved suffering or receive euthanasia. Actually, there is a middle way, that is making appropriate and effective care more widely available, not to give doctors and patients the easy option of euthanasia. A good treatment full of affection given by the family and the physician has a great ability to ease the patient’s pain. This effective care will not give the patient any chance to think about performing euthanasia because the feeling to be loved and needed by their family will raise their spirit of life. Hopefully, these solutions can solve the problems in the society regarding the legalization of voluntary euthanasia.

In summary, legalization of voluntary euthanasia will only cause serious risks to the society life as a whole. That is why the government of Indonesia should ban any kind of euthanasia practices, and the paramedics should improve the standards of care. Remember, The Most Precious Gift from God is Life, so we must cooperate if we want to stop this act of killing from happening in our beloved country.

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