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Reasons For Legalising Euthanasia Sociology Essay

What is euthanasia?

There are a lot of definitions of euthanasia which have the similar meanings with each other, and here are some definitions from different say.

From Medicine Net.com

“The word "euthanasia" comes straight out of the Greek -- "eu", goodly or well + "thanatos", death = the good death -- and for 18th-century writers in England that was what euthanasia meant, a "good" death, a welcome way to depart quietly and well from life.”

(Medical Net.com, Medical dictionary)

From Answer.com

“The act or practice of ending the life of an individual suffering from a terminal illness or an incurable condition, as by lethal injection or the suspension of extraordinary medical treatment.“

(Answer.com, the world’s leading Q&A site)

From wiseGEEK

“Euthanasia is the process of painlessly helping a terminally ill person to die.”

(wiseGEEK)

Legalization of euthanasia

The legalization of euthanasia is not common, it still cause intense debate among people. Up to now, there are two countries accept the legalization of euthanasia, Netherland and Belgium.

Netherland is the first country that legalizes euthanasia, the House of Representatives in Netherland approved the proposed law of euthanasia on the 28th of November in 2000 and, finally the Senate in Netherland allowed the legalization of euthanasia on the 10th April in 2001.

Belgium is the second country that approves the legalization of euthanasia. After two days debate, the lower house of the Belgian parliament approved the bill by 86 votes in favors, 51 against and with 10 abstentions. The Belgian parliament finally passed law partially legalizing euthanasia in 2002.

Though these two countries allow euthanasia and mercy killing that carry out by doctors, they set up strict rules to govern it. For examples, the person who request to euthanize must be conscious and he or she must has suffered from the prolonged physical and mental pains of terminal illness, more than one medical opinion are needed to approve each case of euthanasia.

Moreover, actually there are some places which are allow people to commit some kinds of euthanasia. For instance, physician-assisted suicide is allowed in Swiss, doctor can remove patients ‘respirator in some special cases and, terminal patients are allowed to decide continue the treatment or not by themselves in Denmark.

On the other hand, there are still lots of countries fight against the legalization of euthanasia, including Italy, Vatican, Russia, German and Britain..etc.

Reason for euthanasia

There are a number of reasons for euthanasia, including the pains that the patients suffered, the “dead life” that patients had, the family suffers and the economic burden to the society. More detailed explanations will carry out in the following paragraphs:

The prolonged pain that the patients suffered

People always say life is a divine gift to everyone, gifts should be enjoyable, and people should live enjoyably. However, for those who suffer from terminal illness, they have no hopes and they suffered from the great physical and metal pains in every moment, they are not enjoying their life, but being torturing. For those terminal illness patients, living can be a torture and euthanasia is an ideal way to die, people can die without any pains. So why don’t people choose to die peacefully rather than live with pains?

Prolonged death is not life

Comatose patient or vegetable refer to person who is physically alive but mentally inactive. They can’t move, can’t do anything but just in coma condition all the time, it is not a life real indeed. Though they might recover, the probability is very small. Without own thinking and the ability to move, that means they are not really living.

The pain and pressure that the patients’ family suffered

Although terminal patients and vegetable are always being take care by the nurse and doctors and live in the hospital, it doesn’t mean that their family members no need to take care of them. Since the staffs are not only take care of one terminal patient, so they can provide limited care only. For example, terminal patients and vegetable needs people’s care, it is important to have somebody talk to them even they can’t response, that’s what their family have to do. It is not difficult to imagine how tired they are keeping go to the hospital everyday and sometimes might be have to go there several times per day.

So, euthanasia is not only a way to escape for the patients, but their family as well.

Economic burden to the society

As the report mentioned above, prolonged death is not life, so it is necessary for people to consider continue spending money on those patients or not. Terminal patients and comatose have a very low chance to recover, however, the medical expenses for maintaining their life is quite heavy. Generally, the expense for a comatose is $8000 - $10000 per month, it seems that the cost is not so high. But, there are number of patients, let’s take America as an example, the medical expenses spent on those patients cost 10 – 70 billions US dollars each year because of the large amount of patients. Although it is merciless to include the economic factor in the reasons of euthanasia, we are living in a century which is utilitarianism always comes first, we have to accept this ruthless fact.

Arguments against the legalization of euthanasia

After listing the reasons for euthanasia, it comes to another controversial issue which is related to euthanasia, the legalization of euthanasia. Up to now, there are only two countries legalize euthanasia, it reflects that the legalization of euthanasia still need more discussion and the report is going to point out the arguments against this issue. There are three arguments against the legalization of euthanasia.

Euthanasia can be considered as murder

Law functions as a tool that maintain the peace of the society and delimit the truth and falsehood in the society. Therefore, when considering the legalization of euthanasia, we must ensure it is not conflict with the existing law. Murder means someone kills the others, it is illegal in all countries. Euthanasia ends people’s life, actually it is a kind of murder too, and the legalization of euthanasia indicates the legalization of murder as well. To adhere the principles of law, euthanasia should not be legalized. Also, the concept of euthanasia is conflict with the ethics and violates the humanism, it is a uncivilized behavior that causes the wrong values in the society.

Life must be protected and promoted in all circumferences

life is a divine gift that no one has the right to take it away, except god. Life is precious to everyone, that’s why we have being taught that killing people is definitely wrong when we were children and we also set up law to punish murderer. All these things are used to protect our life. Furthermore, a positive outlook of life should be promoted instead of treat the end of life as a way to escape. This positive attitude is what an improving society should have, look forward to the future and never give up in any situations.

A favor is provided for lawless person

The legalization of euthanasia allows people to end their life, at the same time, it allows people to end the others’ life too. As a result, there are lawless person can make use of this law to achieve their evil wants. For instance, people who don’t want to provide for their aged parents may make use of euthanasia to end their parents’ life and, euthanasia can be a tool that help the lawless person to get the inheritance earlier by ending their parents’ life.

Data from survey

A survey on euthanasia has carried out, there are totally 30 people who come have different nationalities, religions, genders and ages do the survey. The survey consists of 7 questions, which focus on different aspects of euthanasia and some statistics will show below.

To ensure all interviewees know what euthanasia is, the above question is the first question of the survey and the pie chart shows the result. According to the statistics, 70% of the interviewees know the term “euthanasia”, 27% of them are not quite sure what euthanasia is and only 3% of them don’t know what euthanasia is. This result reflects the issue of euthanasia is quite popular among people, but there are still some people not sure what euthanasia is. During the survey, we found that the reason of most people chose the answer “NOT SURE” is they don’t know the difference between euthanasia and suicide. It can be concluded that most people know the term “euthanasia” but there is still misconstruction about euthanasia existing in the society.

According to the statistics, the total number of people who think euthanasia is in conflict with moral values is 13, slightly higher than the number of people who answered “NO”. The distribution of the statistics is that the people in the age group of 18-29 are tending to answer NO while people in the age group of 30-40 and 41 or above are more likely to choose YES. It indicates the different thinking and values between the younger people and middle –agers and old people. In the youth’s values, they mostly think there is no conflict between euthanasia and their moral values, but in middle-agers and old people’s eyes, it is an irreconcilable conflict. Another remarkable point is people aged above 30 are generally having their stand on this question, only 1 of them has no stand on it. Comparing the number of the other age groups, the younger age groups have a total number of 4 people choosing the answer NOT SURE, it is obvious that the younger are not having definite view. This phenomenon occurs can be explained by the age of people, it is a comprehensive fact since people mental is mature with their age.

The general trend is people are not agreeing on the legalization of euthanasia. Referring to the statistics, 9 people agree legalizing euthanasia, 14 people disagree the legalization of euthanasia and the rest of them have no stand.

Among five groups of people from different countries, Chinese’s attitude on the legalization of euthanasia is the most clear and definite. There are 16 Chinese interviewees in total, 4 of them agree the legalization of euthanasia and 10 of them do not, it shows that more than 50% of them oppose the legalization of euthanasia, it is a definite statistics compare with the result of the other countries. On the contrary, Australian is more likely to agree the legalization of euthanasia, there are 4 people out of 8 people in Australia agree to legalize euthanasia, while the other 50% of the people are disagree or have no stand.

Apart from the above two nations, the other nations are having an indefinite attitude, people from Japan, Korea and France are tend to choose “NOT SURE”. Referring to the result, there are 2 Koreans, a Japanese and a French chose “NOT SURE”. It reflects these three nations don’t have an identical attitude on this issue.

In this question, more than one answer can be chose, so the above result has more than 30 votes in total.

According to the result, there are 28 interviewees think that the family members of a person should be authorized to decide the person commit euthanasia or not, nearly all of the interviewees chose this option. The number of people chose the option, himself or herself, is slightly fewer than the option, family members, just 3 more people have chosen family members than himself or herself. It reflects people concern on the patients’ family members decision the most, even more than the patients himself or herself.

Doctor is the choice that falls behind the option, himself or herself, there are 14 people chose this option. It reflects that though doctors are providing professional medical advice, most people don’t consider them to be the one who approve the commitment of euthanasia. It can be explained by the identity of doctors, since the doctor is just the person who cures the patients, the relationship between the family members and the patient is much closer than doctors and the patients. The least popular choice is his or her friends, there are only 2 people chose this choice. It is not difficult to understand this result, it is because friends are outsider in this case.

Conclusion and Recommendation

In this report, a lot of researches and a survey about euthanasia have been carried out. After researching into the issue of euthanasia, euthanasia can be concluded as ending a life without pains and there are both pros and cons on the legalization of euthanasia.

Referring to the result of the survey, there are several discoveries after the analysis. To summarize, most people know the term “euthanasia” but there is still misconstruction about euthanasia existing in the society, older people are more likely to think the euthanasia is in conflict with their moral values while the younger do not, the general trend is people are not agreeing on the legalization of euthanasia and family members of a person is the one that people think they should be authorized to decide the person commit euthanasia or not.

Base on the above conclusion and findings from report, a number of recommendations have raised. Firstly, I recommend people spend more time on knowing the true meaning of euthanasia since it is a popular issue in the society, but there are still some people misunderstand the term “euthanasia”. At the same time, it is the government’s responsibility to ensure their citizens have enough understanding on the public issues, so I suggest the government try to use different ways to teach people a correct meaning of euthanasia. The last thing I would like to suggest is the government has to consider twice before legalizing euthanasia because it is an issue that affect a lot of aspects, like ethics and religion. If the government legalizes euthanasia thoughtlessly, the society may in a state of chaos.


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