Do Patients Have the Right to Die?
Euthanasia is an issue long disputed by advocates of human rights, doctors, and families. The debate revolves around the right of the patient to ask for mercy killing, or if such right exists in the first place. Euthanasia, or the act of killing a person, usually a patient, to relieve him of suffering, has received a lot of flak from advocates of human rights, primarily because the latter contends that no one should get the life of another person. In short, mercy killing is simply murder. In some contexts, it is the patient who asks for euthanasia. Thus, it is also referred to as “assisted suicide”.
Euthanasia is considered illegal in some countries. Depending on the circumstances, the one who performed euthanasia could be imprisoned for up to 14 years. He could even be tried for manslaughter. Thus, it is important that we examine what rights people have to request or conduct mercy killing. Under English law, a patient may refuse to receive treatment and care, especially if he is approaching the end of his life. Some patients prepare letters or contracts that would bind healthcare professionals to an agreement. Such agreement may state that doctors could not perform any unwarranted operation or treatment on the patient. At present, it is only Belgium, Luxembourg, and Holland, who have legalized active euthanasia, or a person intervenes to end the patient’s life. Some cultures find this practice appalling, if not repulsive.
Dozens of articles have been published regarding euthanasia, and one that comes off as strange is the “euthanasia rollercoaster”. Lithuanian designer Julijonas Urbonas designed the killer rollercoaster so that patients who wish to die could end their lives in a thrilling manner. He also posited that euthanasia need not be boring, and it may not be executed in a hospital. The engineering genius of Urbonas has met detractors as well, but the message is clear: a person may choose to die, and if he wishes to, he could die happily. Whether Urbonas is aware of it or not, he is giving people the license to die and to choose the manner of their death – not surrounded by doctors and families, and not in the hospital bed with lots of tubes attached to their body. This also sends the message that for Urbonas, patients have the right to die, and they should be given opportunities to exercise that right.
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There is a lot of ethical debate on this, and people would argue about the concept of “right to die”. It really depends on the person’s beliefs. Analyzing the circumstances, patients can ask for their lives to end, especially if there is no cure. They do this to end the pain. However, it is entirely different from merely asking to be killed because he feels depressed. While patients have the right to ask for their lives to end, they also have the right to live. Hence, their families and doctors should examine what euthanasia is for. Euthanasia becomes legal and accepted only when there are medical records to prove that the patient will not survive anyway. On the other hand, whatever the patient’s decision is must be consulted with his family. Patients may wish to receive palliative care, wherein the families and friends of the victim accept death as a normal process. The patient could also refuse treatment or indicate in his will that he wants to die of euthanasia. Despite euthanasia being a personal decision, the legalities of the matter, especially those that constitute human rights, must be discussed with the family lawyer.
Death is a part of the journey, but sometimes, it is better to continue living and just wait for that appointed time to come. People do not have to put such matter into their hands.