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1. Patient’s preferences:
There are incidences where people have chosen that they would never wish to be kept while they are under vegetative state and would prefer that mercy killing or euthanasia to be done. It is important that the wishes or the preference of the individual is respected. But in most jurisdictions this will be denied as they will argue that this constitutes to murder. Also other will argue that when an individual makes that wish what they are actually doing is that they are contemplating suicide. There is a school of thought that regards suicide as an immoral act as they feel that people have a duty to be alive (Bloyd, 17). As there is a right to life also there is a duty to be alive, it is therefore important as people speak of right to live they also address what is the duties when one is alive.
All of us have a duty to some people such as our close family members like, children, spouse, parents, friends and friends. Despite this, no one can claim that we have any form of moral duty to our self to be alive. The notion of a moral duty to oneself makes no sense to me at all. By arguing one owes it to themselves to live, is an argument that does not make sense and in it, there is no moral sense in the argument as there are a lot of things that we owe to our self. It makes sense for one to be living if there is something that pays off when they are alive. If there all the people were finished through a tragedy would I still owe any duty and moral obligations to certain people?
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The other argument is, if it made sense to say of a duty to live, suppose one's life consists or will soon consist largely of suffering, either physical, mental or both. Does one still have a duty to endure this suffering, and if so, to what end, to what purpose? God? family? friends? government? Who has the right to exact such a duty? (Thomasma, 78)
If you are religious, and even if not, and you think that each of us has a soul, to whom does this alleged entity belong, if to anyone? Does the soul, if there is one, require a particular body to reside in? If the soul is a spiritual, nonphysical entity or force, etc., as is usually claimed, why should it need a material body in which to live? Surely such a soul could survive the death of the body. In fact, that is precisely what many religious people think, namely, that somehow people, or at least people of their religion, manage to survive the death of their body. But if this really happens, then why make such a fuss about the body and insist that it has to live, no matter what?
We are asking whether or not we have the right to die on our own terms. My own view is that if we have the prima facie right to self determination, it follows that we have the prima facie right to terminate our lives at any time we see fit (Torr, 17). Of course, this is not to say that suicide is necessarily a desirable thing in itself. I am not arguing that anyone has the duty to die (other things being equal)%u037E I am arguing that we have the right to die on our own terms. I am talking about competent adults now, as is always understood when discussing human rights, though of course there are children's rights too, and indeed, there are rights that apply to all human beings (Paterson, 41).
Suicide is an ethical issue because a suicide is usually a human tragedy and it often affects many other people. While one may not have a duty to live per se, one may have serious obligations to many other people, particularly family and friends. The person who commits suicide may be abandoning his or her children, for example. If these children are young and dependent on the individual, it is prima facie wrong simply to abandon one's children. However, even though we may deem it morally wrong to leave one's children in the lurch, it may constitute an even greater wrong to stay with them and ignore them, abuse them verbally, physically or sexually, and so on (Tulloch, 16). If a person is bent on committing suicide, then he or she may be a terrible parent tothe children and it might be the case, tragically, that the children would be better off without that parent. Most religions and moral codes explicitly or implicitly condemn suicide and many people still think it's morally wrong to die at one's own hand. In addition, I think that we are all, to some degree, demoralized by the news of a suicide. By this I mean that we are not simply saddened by the news, but we find ourselves somehow deserted or betrayed by the one who commits suicide, especially if she were someone close to us. It is not just that we brought face to face with our own inevitable death, not just that we are reminded of this unhappy fact. There can be an element of being forsaken and let down by a suicide in cases where we were close to the person (Jackson, 14). There is often guilt on our part too.
2. Medical condition:
If there is awful suffering in a life and the only relief can come by being renderedcomatose (unconscious) or dead, why should being comatose, especially if permanently comatose, be considered preferable to a person's being dead (or at least her body being dead)? Moreover, if we are all essentially souls, how could we die in any case?
If one is terminally ill and suffering badly, can it be rational and can it be acceptable morally to want to be able to choose the time and manner of one's death? If not, who or what should determine these things? God? The medical professionals? Family? Court? The disease?
Is a natural death always the best one (i.e., the one with the least trauma and suffering and the most dignity)? For example, if you had to choose between choking or suffocating to death while awake and conscious or receiving a large dose of morphine which would rapidly hasten your death, which would you choose? If you would choose the morphine, why would you deny this to someone else? If you would not choose the morphine, does this mean that you value suffering for its own sake? Which would you choose for someone whom you love? If you would want a choice here, why would you deny others a choice?
Legality aside, do you think it is morally acceptable to help someone to die who is suffering, has a terminal illness, whose request is fully informed and voluntary and who is unable to commit suicide? (Jussim, 14) Would it be fair of us to ask, or even demand, that a physician help someone to die? If murder is the intentional, unlawful killing of another person with malice aforethought, then is a requested mercykilling really murder, as it is considered in law?
The argument is that we should never let someone die or kill anyone else because we cannot and should not try to guess what another person’s life is like. Yet this argument is both empirically suspect and an ethical “cop out”. Surely, there are sometimes certain signs of pain and suffering and surely there are cases of living human beings who are never going to be conscious again. Thus they haven no quality of life whatsoever. They are irreversibly unconscious, they have literally lost their minds (Cavan,73). They are biologically alive but not personally or psychologically or mentally alive and in a sense it is even misleading to call them persons, in my opinion.
In a genuine case of mercykilling, the motive is mercy, not malice, even if the intention is indeed to kill the person. In Canadian law, it is the intention to kill that counts, not one’s reasons (or motive) for killing. Actually, I think the goal is to relieve the suffering of the person and if death is the only means of doing so, then requested euthanasia might be morally permissible (Yount, 17). Yet in almost all cases, physical suffering can be eliminated or at least minimized in other ways (e.g., by heavy medication).
Mental suffering is another issue Dos not dying sometimes consist mainly of excruciating and pointless physical pain and/or mental anguish? Is choking to death a valuable learning experience too? In other words, it depends on the particularr person and the circumstances in each case. In addition, even if one might be able to learn a great deal while dying, surely it should be one’s own choice whether or not to take advantage of this particular learning experience? (Manning, 70) What makes someone's life worth living—for them? Is the mere fact of one's existence enough in itself? Is mere existence or life in itself desirable or must we take into account the quality of a person's life? In general, who is best placed to decide whether a person's life is worth living or not? (Surely the person herself is.)
We do this by observing and listening. Behavior, body language, words, facial expressions, and circumstances are all indicators. Surely we have not only the right, but at times the duty, to judge the quality of another's life. For example, a person may be unable to communicate with us directly, but if she were shrieking in apparent pain, it would be ludicrous to suggest that we should do nothing for her on the grounds that we could never read another person's mind or that we would be invading her privacy if we did this (Keown, 77).
3. Quality of life
In cases where an individual is unable to communicate her wishes to us coherently, I suppose that we should err on the side of caution. Even though she seems to suffer from time to time and may express extreme discomfort or even pain, there may be enough redeeming experiences in her life to compensate to some extent for this suffering (Medina, 28). In the case of my aunt, she apparently still enjoys eating her three meals a day and I suppose she enjoys being given a hot bath and a few other such elementary experiences. She also seems to enjoy music, according to one of my cousins, who bought her a CD player. So, I am suggesting that unless we are absolutely sure what a mentally incompetent person wants or would want in such a situation, we should not play “God”, so to speak, and end his or her life.
4. Socioeconomic factors
The cost of keeping someone in a hospital when in a vegetative state might be a huge cost for the family both financially and psychologically. Yet there is no hope that this person will ever be okay again. In places where medical care is very expensive, family might spend all their saving on the person and get nothing in return as there is no hope at all (Humphry, 65).
Among the many suggestions that have been made, one is that any family should be free to find some medical professional who would be willing to try to provide indefinite "treatment" (if we can call it that), but that the family itself should have to pay for this because society (the rest of us) just cannot afford to pay for such useless "treatments" when there are so many genuine treatments that are actually needed by other people. We must distinguish between needed or medically indicated treatments and optional or even futile treatments. These are tragic choices for any society to make, but unfortunately we must make them. We cannot provide all of the medical services to everyone who wants them. Not at public expense, at any rate.
The taboo against killing has already been broken, in addition, there is no need to go down the slippery slope from voluntary or requested mercy killing to non voluntary mercy killings. Very strict guidelines, as in Holland, would have to be implemented (Dudley, 32).
One last point is that it is very unlikely that euthanasia will be legalized in Canada any time soon, if ever. If this fact makes you unhappy, you can take some solace in the point that I mentioned before, namely, the law or principle of "double effect". Briefly, the physician is faced with a patient who has an incurable disease and who repeatedly requests or even begs to be allowed to die or to be put to death (Huxtable, 61). It is possible to administer a very heavy dose of morphine or a morphine cocktail to someone, and being able to foresee that this will likely hasten their death.
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