There is wisdom that says: Life is a blessing only when generally pleasures prevail over suffering. Thus, in modern society the right to death issue is increasingly becoming a matter of debate. According to the Constitution, every person possesses the inalienable right to life, which suggests the possibility of their independent control over their lives and, as many believe, to decide the question of its termination (Pacheco, 2003). In fact, it goes about legalizing suicide.
As Oregon’s experience shows, the first state where since 1997 a physician-assisted suicide is allowed, since legalization the frequency of its use has not increased and even slightly declined. Thus, the incidence of physician-assisted suicide declined from 0.2% of the total number of deaths in 2001 to 0.1% in 2005; also the stabilization of its frequency is noted within a few years after legalization, which is primarily due to the strict reporting and record of each case (Miller, 2004).
Indeed, Oregon has strict requirements for the patients wishing to resort to euthanasia. At least two independent doctors must confirm that these people are terminally ill. Patients who wish to die must in oral and written form and in the presence of witnesses declare their wish. After 15 days, necessary for a person to reconsider this decision, the request must be repeated. Doctors are obliged to inform the patients about all possible alternatives. In addition, patients have the right to communicate with religious leaders (all major religions oppose to the voluntary withdrawal of life) (Gill & Voss, 2005).
Thus, the legalization of active euthanasia is not related to the arbitrariness in medicine, but, on the contrary, controls and regulates the actions of doctors.
Another argument of the advocates of active euthanasia is that the maintenance of life on the stages of dying carried out with the help of advanced technology is too expensive. The funds spent on life support in hopeless situations would be sufficient to treat the dozens and hundreds of people who can still be saved (Miller, 2004).
Supporters of euthanasia also point out that everyone has the right to a decent quality of life and the right not to tolerate pain (Mak, & Elwyn, 2005). Suffice it to recall Miss B., who defended in the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom her right to euthanasia. The woman was completely paralyzed, the only thing she could do without help was thinking. Quality of life became the reason for her insistent three-year struggle for the right of voluntary termination of her life (Longmore, 2005). After consulting with his personal physician and making a will, French President Mitterrand, who had terminal cancer, voluntarily stopped taking medication. And in this case, the mass media pointed out his courage, the desire to be master of his destiny (Mak, & Elwyn, 2005).
Thus, all in all, life can be considered a blessing as long as it has a human form, exists in the field of culture, moral relations. Many believe that a life that degraded to a purely vital, non-human level can be considered as an object, a thing, and therefore the issue of its termination is equal to debates of whether to cut a wizened tree or the weeds in a garden (Pacheco, 2003). However, the legalization of suicide is certainly a very serious step that requires a highly responsible approach. Suffice it to recall that it was the legalizing of euthanasia that started Nazism (Nilstun, 2000).
Thus, the legalization of suicide is only possible in a society that is able to establish an effective monitoring mechanism. It is the state’s duty to carry out a rigorous and coherent legislative regulation of relations related to euthanasia. In particular, on the basis of existing experience a strict procedure should be set, developed by doctors and lawyers, to monitor closely every case (Nilstun, 2000). We should not forget that nowadays in most countries the suicide as such is not a crime, so why shouldn’t we officially recognize the right of a human to death.
Gill, C.J. & Voss, L.A. (2005). Views of Disabled People Regarding Legalized Assisted Suicide Before and After a Balanced Informational Presentation. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 16 (1), 6-15.
Longmore, P.K. (2005). Policy, Prejudice, and Reality: Two Case Studies of Physician-Assisted Suicide. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 16 (1), 38-45.
Mak, Y.Y.W. & Elwyn, G. (2005). Voices of the terminally ill: uncovering the meaning of desire for euthanasia. Palliative Medicine, 19 (4), 343-350.
Miller, L.L., Harvath, T.A., Ganzini, L., Goy, E.R., Delorit M.A. & Jackson A. (2004). Attitudes and experiences of Oregon hospice nurses and social workers regarding assisted suicide. Palliative Medicine, 18 (8), 685-691.
Nilstun, T., Melltorp, G. & Hermerén, G. (2000). Surveys on attitudes to active euthanasia and the difficulty of drawing normative conclusions. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 28 (2), 111-116.
Pacheco, J., Hershberger, P.J., Markert R.J. & Kumar, G. (2003). A longitudinal study of attitudes toward physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia among patients with noncurable malignancy. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, 20 (2), 99-104.