We take a look at the arguments for and against Euthanasia

My point of view is that I have the right to end my life, not a doctor, not my husband not anyone else. I don’t think the power to end my life should be handed over to anyone but myself. It is my responsibility. If I was dying I would make arrangements before I became too incapacitated so that I could end my life without involving anyone else when I was ready. I feel that once we hand over responsibility to others we open up a nasty can of worms that will lead to people being pressured to kill themselves and killed because they are a burden. I also do not think it is fair to ask someone you love to kill you as they have to live with that for the rest of their life.

I also object to asking doctors to do it as they are sworn to save lives not end them. The glaring exception of course to their hippocratic oath is abortion.I would hate to add euthanasia as well as it would make a mockery of the line in the oath which reads ‘ Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. Above all, I must not play at God.’

Arguments FOR:

A separate right to die is not necessary, because our other human rights imply the right to die

Death is a private matter and if there is no harm to others, the state and other people have no right to interfere (a libertarian argument)

It is possible to regulate euthanasia

Euthanasia happens anyway (a utilitarian or consequentialist argument)

The right to life includes the right to die

The right to life is not a right simply to exist

The right to life is a right to life with a minimum quality and value

Death is the opposite of life, but the process of dying is part of life

Dying is one of the most important events in human life

Dying can be good or bad

People have the right to try and make the events in their lives as good as possible

So they have the right to try to make their dying as good as possible

If the dying process is unpleasant, people should have the right to shorten it, and thus reduce the unpleasantness

The right to life gives a person the right not to be killed if they don’t want to be.Those in favour of euthanasia will argue that respect for this right not to be killed is sufficient to protect against misuse of euthanasia, as any doctor who kills a patient who doesn’t want to die has violated that person’s rights.English law already acknowledges that people have the right to die. This argument is based on the fact that the Suicide Act (1961) made it legal for people to take their own lives.

In some cases, euthanasia promotes the best interests of everyone involved and violates no one’s rights

It is therefore morally acceptable

Euthanasia happens – better to make it legal and regulate it properly. Sounds a bit like “murder happens – better to make it legal and regulate it properly”.When you put it like that, the argument sounds very feeble indeed.

Arguments AGAINST:

Those in favour of euthanasia think that there is no reason why euthanasia can’t be controlled by proper regulation, but they acknowledge that some problems will remain. For example, it will be difficult to deal with people who want to implement euthanasia for selfish reasons or pressurise vulnerable patients into dying.

Religious opponents disagree because they believe that the right to decide when a person dies belongs to God.

Secular opponents argue that whatever rights we have are limited by our obligations. The decision to die by euthanasia will affect other people – our family and friends, and healthcare professionals – and we must balance the consequences for them (guilt, grief, anger) against our rights.

We should also take account of our obligations to society, and balance our individual right to die against any bad consequences that it might have for the community in general.

These bad consequences might be practical – such as making involuntary euthanasia easier and so putting vulnerable people at risk.

There is also a political and philosophical objection that says that our individual right to autonomy against the state must be balanced against the need to make the sanctity of life an important, intrinsic, abstract value of the state.

People also have obligations – to their friends and family, to their doctors and nurses, to society in general

These obligations limit their rights

These obligations do not outweigh a person’s right to refuse medical treatment that they do not want

But they do prevent a patient having any right to be killed

But even if there is a right to die, that doesn’t mean that doctors have a duty to kill, so no doctor can be forced to help the patient who wants euthanasia.

Allowing euthanasia will greatly increase the risk of people who want to live being killed. The danger of violating the right to life is so great that we should ban euthanasia even if it means violating the right to die.

The Suicide Act doesn’t necessarily acknowledge a right to die;

It could simply acknowledge that you can’t punish someone for succeeding at suicide
and that it’s inappropriate to punish someone so distressed that they want to take their own life.
The purpose of the Suicide Act is not to allow euthanasia as the Act makes it a crime to help someone commit suicide.
There is a moral difference between decriminalising something and encouraging it.

People are sometimes wrong about what’s in their best interests
People may not realise that committing euthanasia may harm other people
Euthanasia may deprive both the person who dies and others of benefits
Euthanasia is not a private act – we cannot ignore any bad effects it may have on society in general



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  • SaggyNaggy

    There is an argument that human rights themselves are predicated on the will to live. There should not be an inherent assumption that people and their rights have an existence beyond their deaths. To choose to die is to choose to give up your human rights and put them to an end. So not only is there is no obligation of anyone else to actively or passively assist in ending your life, but the very right of those people to do so does not exist either.

    Then we start asking questions like “what if the person changes their mind in between, say, a lethal dose of morphine, and the moment of death?” Does it then become murder, or not? Is the definition of murder based merely on how the victim feels about dying, or is it a little more objective than that? If it’s just about how the victim feels, then there is no question that changing your mind in between the deadly act and the death itself makes it murder. Otherwise, you’re saying it’s okay to kill people against their will if you have a pre-existing contract! Which is ludicrous. And if it’s ludicrous, then euthanasia in any circumstance is ludicrous.

    • Goldie

      If someone makes a conscious decision to end their life and then changes their mind when it’s too late to stop, then that’s their own problem, no one else’s. I mean if someone jumps off a building and then changes his mind in that split second before he hits the ground (which I dare say probably happens), does that then make it an accident?

      • SaggyNaggy

        Yeah, it does! We’re not talking about getting a tattoo here, we’re talking about ending one’s existence as a human being. The stakes are too high to be saying “tough nuts”.

        • metalnwood

          When you sit down at the roulette table, don’t blame the banker when you lose. Like Goldie, in that hypothetical situation, no one can be blamed other than the person that took the risk.

        • Goldie

          Yes, the stakes are high, and one would hope they thought long and hard before making that decision. But to not allow euthanasia based on the rare off chance that they might then change their mind when it is too late, is a bit… (to use your own word) ludicrous?

  • rustyjohn58

    It is a vexing issue. While agreeing with arguments from both sides I still have this feeling deep down that killing people (whether they agree or not) is wrong. Its the same with marriage, I have no issue with gay rights but think marriage is something between a man and women. I’m not religious but think abortion (other than for health reasons) is wrong. I guess its my moral compass so I stick to it, or just call me old fashioned I guess.

    • Keyser Soze

      I share your position on the issues you raise however I don’t believe it is my place to force that upon someone who doesn’t. An individual who makes any of those life choices does not effect me so why should I have any say in whether they do or not?

      • rustyjohn58

        But it does effect you, it influences the way our society thinks and acts. I may be quite happy to see adulterers stoned so as long as it doesn’t effect you then you are happy with that?

  • Good palliative care is expensive. Euthanasia is relatively cheap. Do we really want to trust the government with the regulation of euthanasia with an incentive like that? Popping off granny quickly rather than propping up granny in her last year of life (the most expensive health-wise) would save tens of millions of health dollars. Do we really want to go there?

    • Keyser Soze

      Yes, if granny has her wits about her, considers her quality of life to be substandard and wants to go. Government’s role should be similar to abortion – enable people to make decisions for themselves then butt out and leave it to the individuals and their doctors.

      • KatB

        That’s the problem if it goes the abortion way. Abortions are granted, most of the time, against what the legislation says. Abortion on demand is illegal in NZ but abortion on demand is exactly what we have.

      • My point is that the Government has an incentive to promote euthanasia that it does NOT have with abortion. Mainly that it saves a packet of money if granny offs herself. Cue the introduction of subtle hidden persuasion promoting grannycide – you don’t want to be a burden do you? You don’t want your grandkids to see you die unpleasantly, do you? Hospitals are so cold and unfriendly- best to end it quickly rather than suffer indignities. You can’t contribute to society any more – best you don’t linger. You don’t want to be a nuisance…

        This underground mantra goes on even now. Imagine the pressure on the frail elderly if active euthanasia is practiced rather than the current passive euthanasia of indifferent doctors and nurses withdrawing treatment and proper care.

        • KatB

          In countries were Euthanasia has been legal for a while now, they’re seeing people’s thinking changing towards Euthanasia. It’s becoming a go to solution when it’s not even required. People are being given treatable cancer diagnoses and their go to response is to be euthanised. A severely depressed girl was granted the right to die. Seems extreme, but it’s crept in to normality. It would be really odd to be raising money to help people battle depression and suicide on one hand, and on the other funding Euthanasia clinics.

  • digby

    The right to die is surely a personal decision. If you were in a situation where your quality of life is unbearable, ie suffering extreme pain due to cancer, surely your personal right to choose an end to that should outweigh another persons opinion which would condemn you to that pain until you die naturally. Of course there is a need to legislate certain situations surrounding that choice. For example – the person is not making that decision rationally through mental compromise or is making that decision under duress. It is the same situation for consensual sex, marriage, buying a house, etc.

    People who are not affected by your decision should not have any right to determine your choice. That should be a basic principle of law. Currently we have a portion of the population who effectively determine the outcome of many of the decisions we could make when they are not affected in any way by the result of that decision. This is a prime example. People are condemned to a period of certain intense pain and misery solely because a segment of the population may have of a religious belief or a fear that a particular law may be abused somehow. These people may call it democracy but I would call it something else. No one should have the ability to condemn another person to the certainty of such an experience.

  • Eiselmann

    If I had to pick a side , I’d go for not legalising euthanasia because I have two concerns. One is the issue around others deciding I should die thinking that I would wish to do so , even thou I’ve already told others that I wouldn’t wish to have the plug pulled if it came to it, if I was suddenly incapacitated then I could still be subject to someone else’s view on euthanasia as opposed to my own.

    The other reason why I couldn’t make the decision for myself is that I’m a fighter , I value each second of life, having come close to not even being born had abortions been easier to get, having starred down the desire to end it all as a child and a teen and having experienced several near death events I can tell you I want to delay the last breath for as long as possible and my biggest fear around death particularly for medical reason’s isn’t death itself….its ending it a day before a cure is found.

    • Keyser Soze

      Others choosing to have you offed when that goes against your express wishes could be mitigated through regulation. Your second reason is a pretty good expression of why YOU won’t choose to go but doesn’t sound such a great argument against why someone else in a similar position should be able to make their own choice.

      • Eiselmann

        As a rule I believe people should have choice and saying they shouldn’t does go against the grain for me , however the possibly, under the legalisation of eithanasia, that my choice might be removed from me by a judge is concerning …once the plug is pulled theres no possiblility to reconsider and change your mind or appeal

    • Goldie

      Agree, no one else should have the decision to end your life, unless it has been previously specified by yourself (in a legal document), that they may turn the switch off if you are incapacitated in any way, with no hope of recovery.If you want to be around for as long as possible, that’s fine. But that shouldn’t preclude others from being allowed to make the decision to end it all with dignity.

      • Eiselmann

        Oh I totally understand , there are people out there who want the right to die in a manner and time of their own choosing , while I disagree with it for the reasons stated I’m fully aware that people have very valid reasons to support legalising euthanasia.

        I’m not a big fan of imposing my will on others so I’m unlikely to protest in the streets if euthanasia was legalised ,

        However the fact that I have concerns means I have to hold a veiw that echo’s my concerns…once this door is open it is unlikely it will ever close and once open it becomes easier to open it wider….if it became law , my alarm bells would ring when one half of a family took another half of the family to court to euthanise a relative and the judge ruled in favour of those wanting to pull the plug …it will happen at some point and thats scares me.

        • Goldie

          I think we all have concerns, but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss it outright. And yes, the legislation would need to be rock solid and water tight, with perhaps the underlying principle that the decision can only ever be made by the one wanting to end their life (while of sound mind).

          • KatB

            Unfortunately the legislation could never be rock solid enough. Imagine having two people in the same hospital room. Both are suffering in a similar way, one wants to end his life. Fair enough, he’s of sound mind, he’s suffering, so we kill him. The other guy is really suffering too, but he’s not of sound mind, so we leave him to suffer on. Fair? Hardly is, as the argument is always, “we want to make Euthanasia legal because people shouldn’t have to suffer”. So this other guy should be put out of his misery too, but oh no, we need his consent. So then there would be calls to rethink the laws, the rock solid legislation would start to show the chinks in the armour. It would be a very slippery slope.

          • Goldie

            With any new legislation, there will always be amendments down the line to refine the procedure, but that mean it has to be a ‘slippery slope’. In the example you provide, then yes the person who wasn’t able, or didn’t previously agree, to a procedure to end their life, would be treated as they currently are. Just because someone was able to make that decision doesn’t mean it has to be applied to everyone else?

  • Ravan

    It is important to look at the incremental changes that could creep in at night to any ‘euthanasia’ legislation passed overseas. Mailonline: ‘Assisted suicide is “out of control” in Holland’. Unbearable ‘suffering’ is not just interpreted as physical pain only but is now interpreted as ‘mental anguish’ and that includes depression. There was the case of a very depressed 24 year old (called Laura) who was granted the ‘right’ to die —no parental consent necessary. A 64 year old –estranged from her son opted ‘to die’ and he was not consulted about it and simply was contacted and asked to ‘make arrangements’ to pick her body up from the morgue. See http://www.lifenews-jan 2 /2015; ‘650 babies assisted to die’ in Holland—no consent there, no old, physically suffering patients in those cases!! Anyone can look these facts up on the net. l’m sick of ignorant, dumb, lazy, over -emotional, dangerous cretins advocating serious legislation and not researching Holland and Belgium’s statistics (4829 killed in 2012 alone in Holland) and espousing emotional twaddle like: ‘Dying- like- a- dog.’ For a kickoff—Western doctors and palliative care staff do NOT let patients suffer. There is mercy shown. Another point: For many personal reasons, a lot of doctors adamantly refuse to give lethal injections or deadly medical potions to their patients. Will they be ‘forced’ to? Who will do it otherwise? How does the law stand if a person panics and changes their mind immediately after the lethal injection is administered? Could the doctor be arrested for murder or manslaughter? Will there be security protection for medical staff when shocked and enraged family members find out that their son, daughter, sibling or parent has been ‘assisted to die’ without the knowledge and consent of other family members? It is cheaper financially to kill than care–the real price though is incalculable!

  • Aylene Price

    I have two pain-free suicide methods ready to go, and hope like crazy that I can implement one of them myself before having to involve – and mentally scar – someone else in assisting.