Euthanasia

“Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.” This verse was repeatedly sung by my mother throughout my childhood. Just that verse; she never bothered to learn the rest of the song, because that’s what she does with most of the current hit parade. So, I never got to find out the rest of the philosophy that the lyrics divulge, but the basic theory has, nonetheless, rung true all this time.

This verse ties in well with the argument of euthanasia. Hardly anybody relishes the idea of death, but the torturously depleting state of a sick and suffering individual is no heaven either, to put it mildly. Humans are designed to endure, but we can only endure so much, because we are indeed, only human.

The grey shades blanketing the different categories of euthanasia certainly surpass fifty (I apologise profusely). There are two major strands of euthanasia alone – voluntary and non-voluntary, which can be sub-divided according to each individual case, all of which are intertwined with the question of suicide and homicide.

The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Estonia are the only three countries in the European Union where euthanasia has been legalised and there are only three states in America which share this legal acknowledgement. It is also permissible in Switzerland. That miniscule amount alone can tell you that even the most liberal of nations are still trying to get their heads around the pros and cons of this medical option.

The debate is born from man’s desire to play god. Some physicians wish to preserve life as much as they can because that is what their profession asks of them. Other physicians believe that their job is to ultimately alleviate suffering as much as possible, rather than attempt to infinitely postpone death. The utilitarian will argue that holding on to a person in a vegetative state is just a waste of electricity, taxes and space. The conservative Catholic will not consider tampering with any form of life because he believes that it is no one’s place to do so. The writer trying to take a balanced and diplomatic approach whilst trying to stick to the 500-word limit on such a vast subject will present the following argument: “It is inhumane to end a life, but equally cruel to prolong another’s suffering.”

I suppose the countries who have opted out of the legalisation of euthanasia believe in the tiny chance of the patients recovering. They may also have avoided it in order to keep religious peace, or not to get doctors into sticky situations where the line between assisted suicide and murder could get hazy. One thing is, however, for sure and universal to every nation. Someone will witness a loved one painfully and slowly ebb away. Someone will lose a parent. Someone will lose a son or daughter. Someone will be watching over another who’s not quite there, anymore. Someone will be praying for the release of death for another. Someone’s heart will be broken.

Two movie suggestions:

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