Medical Ethics: Euthanasia

Is it ethical difference between ending a terminally ill patient’s life and letting nature take its course? This form of “assistance” is also known as Euthanasia and has been the center of controversy for the longest time. It has been surrounded by ethical as well as religious deliberation, especially in the western world. The word has its originality from Greece and means “good death”. The main aim of undertaking this process is to relieve the individual from excruciating pain caused by untreatable diseases. The various forms through which euthanasia takes place include active and passive euthanasia, voluntary and involuntary euthanasia, and finally indirect and assisted euthanasia.

The disturbing question is, why do people want to undertake euthanasia? Shockingly, a good majority do not take this option due to the excruciating pain that they may be going through. According to a study done (BBC par 12), in the United States and the Netherlands, not more than a third percent request euthanasia as a result of severe pain. Well, this clearly shows that there are various reasons why people go ahead and practice mercy killing as it is commonly known. One of them is that some terminally ill people may end up having a low-quality life, which could be prompted by nausea, excessive vomiting, or worse paralysis. The physical ailing leads to psychological interference where the patient gets to experience a lot of depression and in addition, they may dread losing control and dignity

There have been a lot of arguments against euthanasia. Some individuals have argued that ethically, this is not right at all because, in the long run, society ends up disrespecting the sanctity of life. Others argue that in accepting euthanasia, there is a strong implication that the lives of the disabled and sick are worthless compared to those of the healthy. The practical reasons against euthanasia are that palliative care should be provided which will of course make euthanasia unnecessary. More so, if euthanasia is allowed under any circumstance, this leads to a decline in the quality of care given to terminally ill patients.

All the religions of the world do not defend the principles that euthanasia upholds. Most of these religions argue that it is completely against the will of God. Since he is the one who gives life, he is the only one that has a right to take it away not even the suffering individual has the right to do so. They also argue that the killing of the sick and suffering, somehow allows society to kill people who are thought of to be undesirable leading to massive disrespect for the sanctity of life.

On the other hand, there have been various rights activist who has argued for the practice of euthanasia the world over. They have gone ahead maintain that everyone has an explicit right to die. In addition to this, they say that death is a private individual issue. Therefore in the event of an incurable disease, one has a right to ask for euthanasia and the outside world should not interfere with this decision especially if no one else gets harmed. Some economists and health officials have offered some practical arguments that this act will get to free up some very scarce health resources.

All in all, euthanasia does more harm than good. However, I propose that it should be applied only in the most crucial situations.


BBC. “Ethics Guide.” Euthanasia and Physician assisted suicide. (2011). Web.

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