Shouldn’t it be a person’s own choice? Many argue that a decision to kill one self is a private choice about which society has no right to be concerned. This position assumes that suicide results from competent people making autonomous, rational decisions to die, and then claims that society has no business “interfering” with a freely chosen life or death decision that harms no one other than the suicidal individual, while there is a class of people worldwide who oppose this thought because there is a great body of psychological evidence that those who attempt suicide are normally ambivalent or are attempting suicide for reasons other than a settled desire to die and that they are predominantly the victims of mental disorder.
The second question is ‘those who are terminally ill should they be allowed to die?’ Contrary to the assumptions of many people, a scientific study of people with terminal illness found that fewer than one in four expressed a wish to die, and all of those who did had clinically diagnosable depression. Compassionate counseling and assistance, such as that provided in many hospices, together with medical and psychological care, provide a positive alternative to euthanasia among those who have terminal illness.
And that about those in uncontrollable pain? Shouldn’t they have a right to euthanasia? The answer is such people are not getting adequate medical care and should be provided up-to-date means of pain control, not killed. Unbearable pain should not be a reason to die, when science and medicine can help you.
Why, then, are there so many personal stories of people in hospitals and nursing homes having to cope with unbearable pain? Tragically, pain control techniques that have been perfected at the frontiers of medicine have not become universally known at the clinical and better training in those techniques for healthcare personnel is required but not the legalization of physician-aided death.
Surely, severe disabilities require euthanasia or assisted suicide. Now, what would it say about our attitude as a society were we to tell those who have neither terminal illness nor a disability, “You say you want to be killed, but what you really need is counseling and assistance,” but, at the same time, we were to tell those with disabilities, “We understand why you want to be killed, and we’ll let a doctor kill you”?
It would certainly not mean that we were respecting the “choice” of the person with the disability. Instead, we would be discriminatorily denying suicide counseling on the basis of disability. We’d be saying to the non disabled person, “We care too much about you to let you throw your life away,” but to the person with the disability, “We agree that life with a disability is not worth living.”
True respect for the rights of people with disabilities would dictate action to remove those obstacles not “help” in committing suicide. Most people with disabilities will tell you that it is not so much their physical or mental impairment itself that makes their lives difficult as it is the conduct of the non disabled majority toward them.
Discrimination in employment and an attitude of aversion or pity instead of respect are what make life intolerable. Is not that enough to justify that euthanasia should not be made a personal right?
Thus, if direct killing is legalized on request of a competent person, under court precedents that have already been set, someone who is not competent could be killed at the direction of that person’s guardian or that Person themselves, even though the incompetent patient had never expressed a desire to be killed, but the social discrimination giving them no other choice. It is time that we wake up and fight this new social evil before it consumes millions of precious lives.