Euthanasia is a relatively quiet topic right now, but it won’t be long before it hits the headlines again. Those who promote euthanasia (so called mercy killing) will be biding their time, waiting for the “right” time to bring the issue to the front of people’s minds.
Both leaders of NZ’s main political parties (John Key and Phil Goff) are sympathetic to the idea of euthanasia. If legislation were to be put forward again, the possibility of it becoming law is more likely than ever before.
This issue often comes up in daily life. No one wants to see another suffer, and death is a natural part of life. We need to be well equipped to speak for life and the dignity of the person when we are faced with this issue in our own personal lives.
The following are some good reasons why euthanasia hurts individuals and society:
- Legalised euthanasia gives too much power to doctors. It creates a dangerous imbalance in the doctor – patient relationship where the doctor now has the ability to end the life of a patient.
- Legalised euthanasia unnecessarily exposes the patient to the seriously increased risk of accidental death. Patients can be misdiagnosed, they can be mistakenly denied rightful treatment, and they can even be subjected to unethical practise or wrong treatments at the hands of medical professionals.
- Legalised euthanasia unnecessarily exposes the patient to a seriously increased risk of deliberate death. Do you remember Terri Shiavo in the US who was said to be in a Persistant Vegitative State? She was denied food and water for almost 14 days after which she passed away. This was against the wishes of her parents who wished to care for her and give her life. This type of scenario could happen even more frequently if euthanasia were legalised.
- Legalised euthanasia places unnecessary and unhealthy psychological pressures upon a patient. In a culture where euthanasia is legal, patients are lumbered with the unnecessary and unhealthy psychological burden of having to consider whether they should go on living or not.
- Legalised euthanasia exposes a patient to lazy medical practitioners. Patients could easily be put in the situation where they mistakenly believe that euthanasia is their only option, when in actual fact, there are other therapies or treatments open to them that they, or their doctor, are not aware of.
- Legalised euthanasia gives an unhealthy power to governments and bureaucracies. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that the government, or a health insurance provider, would choose to stop spending money on certain treatments if they believed that euthanasia was a more cost effective approach to an illness or condition.
- Legalised euthanasia removes the right of patients to change their minds. Choosing euthanasia in advance of a situation would place you in serious risk of losing your ability to change your mind, or to be given a waiting period to see if you actually recover from what at first appears to be a terminal condition.
- Legalised euthanasia denies families and patients the chance to grow together through the experience of human death. The final months, weeks and moments of a loved one’s life are some of the most important and precious that a family will ever have. These moments also allow all the members of the family, no matter what their age is, to share in the journey of death; something that all of us must take at some stage. Legalised euthanasia is almost certain to deny families these most important and precious moments.
- Legalised euthanasia removes the incentive for government spending on palliative care and end of life treatments. Why would a government or medical insurers spend money on palliative care and other forms of end of life treatment when euthanasia is readily available and is much more cost effective?
- Legalised euthanasia removes the incentive for government spending on research into disease cures. Euthanasia is a much more cost effective option for governments when compared to the time and resources that need to be invested in researching cures for terminal illnesses and disabilities.
- Legalised euthanasia always leads to involuntary euthanasia, or to the government sanctioned killing of innocent human beings. Three surveys conducted over a 10-year period by Dutch researchers showed that in Holland, where euthanasia has been legalised, at least 1,000 patients are killed every year through euthanasia without consent or without request. This constitutes homicide.
- Legalised euthanasia promotes the message that suicide is a good thing. Euthanasia promotes the idea that suicide is a good thing when you are in pain, yet this is the exact opposite message to that which governments, educators, therapists and youth workers are trying to reinforce in society today.
- Legalised euthanasia promotes the message that disabled, terminally ill or elderly people do not need to go on living. The idea that some human lives have a “use by” date, or are simply not worthy of life is reinforced.
- Legalised euthanasia would reduce the rights of patients to take legal action against negligent or unethical doctors. It is thought that Dutch doctors report only half of all cases of euthanasia to the authorities. When asked why doctors did not report – even though they were required to do so by law – doctors responded that this requirement was considered burdensome and time consuming.
- Legalised euthanasia is a step backwards for the world of medicine. What does it say about our supposedly “advanced” medical system, if we have got tot he point where patients are being offered death as a solution to their medical and emotional problems?
- Legalised euthanasia has not worked in the Netherlands. Euthanasia proponents always hold up the Netherlands as a shining example of a country where legalised euthanasia is working well. But the facts show a different story.
These are all good reasons to oppose legalised euthanasia. The above points were taken from Family Life International’s White Paper: 16 Good Reasons why Legalised Euthanasia is Not Good for Individuals or Society. Please follow the link for a fuller explaination of each point.