|« Freethinking Awakenings, Part 8: Revelation and Apocalypse||Is Capital Punishment ever Justified? »|
Is Euthanasia Morally Acceptable?
Is Euthanasia Morally Acceptable?
Probably most of us have had experiences with friends or relatives who suffered greatly towards the end of their lives. Some of you reading this may even have loved ones who are terminally ill and forced to endure significant and unrelenting pain. There are limits to how far modern medicine can go in alleviating this pain.
Anyone who sees and hears the anguish of someone dear to them will to some extent share in this suffering and will desperately wish to end the suffering that the other is experiencing. If it happens that the doctors and the medications are not able to put an end to the constant pain, then there are some terminally ill patients who will wish to end their lives, but are unable or unwilling to do this themselves. In such situations, there are likely close loved ones who want to assist in the suicide of the one who is terminally ill, because this would mean that the suffering would finally end. But is the practice of euthanasia morally acceptable?
Certainly it is natural for us to want to prevent others whom we hold dear from suffering unnecessarily. And it does seem undignified to force people who are terminally ill to live their lives until they die naturally when they are forced to endure constant suffering. Euthanasia means “good death” because it is supposed to be a way for someone to die with dignity.
That being said however, I believe that euthanasia is morally wrong. The problem with this is that it puts happiness vs. suffering ahead of life itself. Arguments in favor of euthanasia seem to imply that life is only worth living if one is happy. The truth is that everyone suffers in life and we have the ability to endure it though positive thinking and focus. Those who want to commit suicide or to assist others in suicide are probably focusing too much on the suffering and not enough on the inherent ability of the mind to endure suffering and find meaning that transcends any negative feelings.
Of course we will all die eventually, and this will come sooner for those who are terminally ill. For anyone in such a condition, even a few more years of endurance is quite doable given the right determination and focus on the meaning of life. Anyone who is forced to endure suffering should be able to find their own dignity regardless of the circumstances and any of their loved ones should be able to do the same. The friends and family of terminally ill should never want them to die in order to end their suffering but should instead celebrate their lives and always keep in mind the inherent value of life that is incomparably more important than happiness or suffering. To say that live has immeasurable value is the same as saying that life is sacred.
If we, as a society, decide that the value of life is entirely based on the level of happiness vs. suffering that one experiences, then it seems to make sense that we should allow poor people to die as well. Of course, very few people will seriously entertain such a notion and this will likely sound abhorrent to most people. The truth is, however, that if we don't ground our morals in a foundation that makes sense, then there will be more creeping immorality that might blindside us. If we don't solidly proclaim that life has inherent value no matter what degree of suffering one might experience, then we are possibly opening ourselves up to actions that currently sound inhumane but might sound normal to majorities of people in the future.
Life is sacred and we should always seek to protect life and allow people to live until they die of natural causes. When we keep in mind the sanctity of life, there should always be personal dignity in life no matter how tough it gets.