euthanasia means the intentional termination of life by another
person at the implicit or explicit request of the person who dies. In
moral, ethical or religious terms euthanasia has many meanings and
forms. The term Passive Euthanasia is hastening the death of a person
by withdrawing some form of support or not putting the patient on
respirator (act of omission), and letting nature to take its course.
Another type of euthanasia that is Active Euthanasia involves causing
the death of a person through a direct action (act of omission,
patient intentionally killed). There are also division in active
euthanasia one is Assisted Suicide in which somebody else help the
patient actively to terminates his life and another one is Physician-
Assisted Suicide in which physician provides the means and patient
killed himself. Active Euthanasia has also been divided in another
three categories: (a) Voluntary – in which patients will it and
request the termination of his or her life, (b) Involuntary- in which
patient does not will it; patient refuses the termination of his or
her life, (c) Non-voluntary- in which patients will is not known,
because of his or her incompetence. I think the distinction that has
been shown in different kind of euthanasia is irrelevant because in
any of these cases consequences is killing oneself and another
person, and according to divine command theory killing is morally
impermissible or wrong.
suicide physician or somebody else kills the patient where as in
physician-assisted suicide the physician and the patient together
kill the patient. Some people might say in physician-assisted suicide
physician does not kill the patient he only serves the means. Now
what if a person gives a loaded gun to a child by knowing that it
might become the reason of his death. Unfortunately the child pulled
the trigger and causes his (child) death. Now can we say that the man
is not responsible for the death of the child because he did not kill
the child, he just only serve the mean of his death! From this
analogy we can say that in physician- assisted suicide, the physician
also responsible for the patient s death, in other words the death of
the patient fulfilled by the both patient and physician. So to make
it simpler we will say that there is no difference between any kinds
of active euthanasia. All term we have used to different kind of
euthanasia has only one consequence that is killing , and according
to divine command theory killing is impermissible. For example, in
Islam holy Qur an states:
Take no life
which Allah made sacred otherwise than in the course of justice.
Qur an also
Do not kill ( or
destroy) yourselves, for verily Allah has been to you most merciful.
(Qur an 4:29)
The concept of a
life not worthy of living does not exist in Islam. Since we did not
create ourselves, we do not own our bodies, and attempting to kill
oneself is crime in Islam as well as grave sin. Also there is
argument offered by Christians that advise against and individual
seeking suicide, for what so ever reason:
Life is a gift
from God and each individual [is] it s Stewart.
That only God
can start a life, and only God should be allowed to end one. An
individual who commits any form of euthanasia is committing sin. For
it belongs to God alone to pronounce sentence of death and life,
I will kill and
I will make to live (Deut. 32:39)
Also God does
not send us any experience that we cannot handle. God supports people
in suffering, and to actively seek an end to one s life would
represent a lack of trust in God.
Theologica, St. Thomas Aquinas gives four arguments against the
permissibility of killing oneself or other. The first argument is
based on divine command theory- it cites the st. Augustine s argument
from The City of God, that killing violates the 6th commandment, Thou
shalt not kill . The second argument is based on natural law or the
natural purpose of a thing: active euthanasia is wrong since it is
contrary to the natural life asserting purpose of humans. We have a
natural tendency to love ourselves and any kind of suicide goes
against that tendency. Aquinas third argument against suicide is
Utilitarian type argument: assisted suicide or physician- assisted
suicide is not justified because of the greater social harm that is
done. Like Aristotle staes:
contrary to the rule of life. ( Nicomachean Ethics, bk.5 ch.11)
argument is based on divine command theory: any kind of suicide is
wrong since it is a gift from God. Our lives are property that is
owned by God, and we are merely the trustees of that property. Hence
whoever takes his own life, commit a great sin since it opposes God s
I will kill and
I will make to live ( Deut: xxxii. 39)
From the above
discussion we can concede that active Euthanasia is wrong or
impermissible according to divine command theory. Now some people
are many reasons why any form of euthanasia should be morally
impermissible because it might go from a right to die to a duty to
die . Governor Richard Lamm of Colorado said that,
ill elderly have a duty to die and get out of the way.
We definitely do
not want elder people to feel this way. Euthanasia and Assisted
Suicide are unethical because we do not want elder people to feel
that they will not received medical care because they are
unproductive or surplus . Also the moral permission and legalization
of assisted suicide would itself send a message that suicide is
socially acceptable response to terminal or incurable disease. Some
patients will feel pressured and obligated to this option and feel
pressured to relief their loved ones of the burden of care. Those
patients who do not want to commit suicide may feel obligated to
justify their decision to continue living. If euthanasia was morally
permissible and legal there are a lot of people who would think that
when a person is definitely going to die, why waste money on a dead
person when we could use the same money to help a live person. Would
you want to be the one to give up the last moment with your loved one
to help the health care budget? Definitely not! Also today there are
so many pills to relieve pain, so why should anyone miss a special
moment with loved one due to pain. In the words of Mother Teresa,
dignity is to die with grace, in the knowledge that [you] are loved.
At last I want
to say that when people sit back and say active euthanasia should be
legalized, what they are imagining is a patient in unremitting pain.
Eventually when they get to the point, that s not what they are
interested in; what they want is pain relief not death. Today medical
science has technologically improved and pain can be relieved by
medicine. So, we do not see any point to give moral permission to any
kind of euthanasia.
+ Pence, Gregory
E., Classic works in Medical Ethic: Core Philosophical Reading,
U.S.A: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 1998.
+ Charles L.
Reid, Choice and Action: An Introduction to Ethics, New York:
Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1981.
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