Mapping the world's opinions

About us Style guide Log in  |  Sign up

Opinion map

Ethics
Health
Philosophy
Ethical aspects of euthanasia (Greek for "good death"), a physician-assisted suicide of a patient with a goal of ending the suffering from a terminal or incurable illness, were debated since the times of Hippocrates. Since then, although modern medicine made a great deal of progress, euthanasia and its validity as a medical practice still leads to controversies. Should a patient in great suffering be able to end his life with the help of a doctor?

Positions

Arguments supporting this position

Details

Context

One of the major arguments against the legalization of euthanasia are fears of abuse of said practice against the most vulnerable in society. The most commonly cited example in that context are policies of Nazi Germany, where under the policy of "Kinder Euthanasia" (Child euthanasia) totalitarian state killed severely mentally and physically handicapped children.

The Argument

Voluntary euthanasia concerns only patients in full mental capacity, capable of making decisions for themselves; it does not concern mentally impaired, children or people deemed unwanted by society or government, like criminals and minorities. As such, it cannot be argued that the legalization of euthanasia, which could be only requested by a patient in question, would lead to similar results as Nazi Germany policies - in fact, the reality of legal euthanasia in places like the Netherlands and Belgium does not give credence to such fears. Strict procedures and mental reevaluation of a patient can limit such risk to the minimum or even prevent it altogether.

Counter arguments

The body of research concerning legal euthanasia in places like the Netherlands is not as clear-cut as proponents of said practice claim it is. According to John Keown, a renowned professor of ethics and leading voice against the legalization, there are reasons to believe, based on surveys conducted by the Dutch government, that the legal euthanasia is abused by physicians. Furthermore, proponents of the legalization cannot guarantee, that in the future some government wouldn't be tempted to abuse the practice for its own goals.

Premises

Voluntary euthanasia means a physician-assisted suicide on a wish of a patient. A patient to make a such a wish must have full mental faculties, confirmed by a trained psychologist, to make such wish legitimate. Therefore, voluntary euthanasia doesn't entail the risk of abuse and concerns only interested parties.

Rejecting the premises

The question, who should be able to request the legal euthanasia is hard to pinpoint from a legal point of view and as such are open to different interpretations.

References

Content references here ...

Proponents

Your take

Do you agree?

Sign up or log in to record your thoughts on this argument

Next step

Explore the next argument

This page was last edited on Saturday, 15 Sep 2018 at 16:36 UTC