Euthenasia

Euthanasia is one of society's more widely, and hotly debated moral issues of our time. More directly, active euthanasia, which by definition, is; "Doing something, such as administering a lethal drug, or using other means that cause a person's death."1 Passive euthanasia, defined as; "Stopping (or not starting) some treatment, which allows a person to die, the person's condition causes his or her death,"2 seems not to be as debated, perhaps not as recognized, as it's counterpart. I have chosen to look more closely at the issue of active euthanasia, and whether or not it would be considered ethical, by Kantian standards.

Those who support the practice of active euthanasia might argue that helping the terminally ill to bring about their own deaths, allowing them to determine the how and when, is not only humane, but also allows the person, who is simply "living to die," to maintain dignity by orchestrating their own end, thus letting them die at peace, rather than suffer to the end, preceiving themselves to be a burden and/or disgrace, to those they love. According to recent polls, many Canadians would agree,3 but the question is, have they taken a close look at the ethical debate? Those who are against active euthanasia would say not, and would argue that by participating in the practice of active euthanasia, one is "playing God," or perhaps, even worse, that they are not acting out of mercy, but rather out of selfishness, attempting to lessen their own burden, and that therefore, the act is nothing less than cold-blooded murder. Murder is defined as; "The unlawful, premeditated killing of one human being by another."4 Euthanasia, in Canada, remains unlawful as of today, and the act of euthanasia is premeditated, thus whether for the purpose of mercy or not, euthanasia is, by definition, murder. According to Kantian perspective and the Holy Bible, murder is both a sin and a crime, therefore we ought not participate in the practice of euthanasia, because it is murder, and it is the wrong thing to do.

The euthanasia debate raises many questions. Questions such as; For whose benefit is the murder actually taking place? Ought we allow family members to make a life-or-death decision on behalf of a loved one who may never have expressed a desire to die, simply because they could not vocalize a will to live? (As was the case of Robert Latimer). If a person should be suffering with an illness of which there seems no hope of recovery, yet they are unable to make a choice for themselves how do we know what that person would voluntarily choose? Is it our right to decide whether or not they have a desire to live? If we ourselves are not in the position of the individual whose life and/or death is being decided, we cannot possibly know or understand what their will is, what they would opt for personally, or even whether or not they can comprehend what is happening, thus the decisions we are making find us "playing God," and assuming that our decisions are always in the best intrests of another. Without knowing for sure what the individual would have chosen, we may well have gone against their will, and thus have committed murder.

Some would argue that the practice of euthanasia is used as a last resort, when the individual can no longer manage the pain of their illness. However, that arguement can be rebutted by an observation made by a proponent of a movement similar to Right to Die. Dr Pieter Admiraal, a leader of a movement to legalize assisted suicide in the Netherlands, stated pubicly that pain is never justification for euthanasia considering the advanced medical techniques currently available to manage pain in almost every circumstance.5 Thus the pain does not justify death, but rather it justifies the need for more money to educate health care professionals on better pain management techniques.

Ought we not look into a suicidal persons emotional and psychological background before we conclude that his or her suicide is acceptable because they are going to die anyway? We ought to take into consideration, the statistics which tell us that fewer than one in four people with terminal illness have a desire to die, and that all of those who did wish to die had previously suffered with clinically diagnosable depression.6 If we choose to overlook these