Many people of this country are in pain and suffering from incurable diseases. Most medicines cannot greatly prolong their lives or even lessen their pain. Patients are unable to tolerate this pain, and have no quality of life. This is where euthanasia, “the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy,” should be an option (Euthanasia). There are a few key reasons why I believe euthanasia should be legalized. Euthanasia should be legal because it allows death with dignity, it allows patients to choose what is best for themselves, and it is a safe option.
Euthanasia is made up of the Greek words “Eu” and “Thanatosis” which together means “good death.” It can also be referred to as “mercy killing.” The first known case of euthanasia was that of Augustus Caesar, who passed away while he was ill and was relieved of his pain. His death was not the result of another person as is usually the case, but during his time it was still labeled as euthanasia. Mercy killing is something that has been around since ancient times. Some places forbid it as they saw it as murder, while in other places it was easy to get poison from physicians. Efforts to legalize it in the United States began in the 20th century. Today, most proposals to legalize euthanasia are rejected. The German Nazi Party claimed their killings were of “euthanasia,” saying that the people they murdered were useless, sick patients. Euthanasia is now legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland, with other forms such as physician-assisted suicide legal in California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington (A General History of Euthanasia).
The first reason I believe mercy killing should be legal is because I support death with dignity. Patients who choose euthanasia are usually terminally ill and are going to have a long, painful end of life. There is unbearable physical and psychological pain that they have to endure (Farr, Sarah et al.). Most of the time, treatments destroy what time they have left and reduce their quality of life (Brittany Maynard). In choosing euthanasia, patients have a chance to pass away peacefully, comforted by loved ones (Farr, Sarah et al.).
Another reason I believe mercy killing should be legal is because it allows a patient to choose what is best for them. I understand that euthanasia is not the best choice in every situation, but I believe it should be an option that a patient, their family, and their doctors can consider. We should not be ignoring those in pain by forcing them to stay alive (Thomas Adamson). In the end It is not anyone’s choice but their own- a person should be in charge of his or hers’ own life (Brittany Maynard).
Lastly, I am in favor of euthanasia because it is a safe choice. When someone decides to end their life with euthanasia, drugs or injections are administered by a professional. If euthanasia cannot be offered as an option to someone really wanting to end their suffering, they may be forced to find a less humane way. Instead of them attempting to do this themselves, it is more compassionate to provide euthanasia as a medical procedure. Patients also will not have to be worried about breaking the law and affecting others by it (Thomas Adamson). An example of this was in the case of Walter Flick. He killed his wife who had brain cancer with a hammer as “an act of mercy” after she begged for him to commit this act (Jon Hilkevitch). In this case and many others like it, legalized euthanasia would have been much safer and more civilized.
While I believe euthanasia should be legal, there are many who don’t agree. One of the reasons people are against euthanasia is because of the belief that we should die when we are meant to and we shouldn’t “play God” (Mahjabeen Hassan). While this is a respectable point, I still believe it is an individual’s own choice of what path they take. Why should the end of their life be based on everyone else’s beliefs? Many people also disagree with euthanasia claiming that once mercy killing is legal, some may take advantage of it. For example, those who do not want to live with their psychological pain (such as depression) could turn to mercy killing (Alex Schadenberg). For this reason, the process of legalizing euthanasia would need to include the creation of strict regulations. For example, euthanasia might only be considered if the patient is terminally ill, in severe pain, mentally competent, and had a doctor’s support (Thomas Adamson).
In conclusion, I believe the legalization of euthanasia to be beneficial. Those who are terminally ill should have this option among other possible treatments. It can help patients die with dignity, surrounded by loved ones. It gives patients an option they should rightly have since they are the only ones in control of their own life. Finally, it is the safest option for those who really wish to pass. We must take action to reach legalization if we want to change our country’s means of being “free to live, but not free to die.”