Should Euthanasia Be Legalized In The Uk.

1361 words - 6 pages

Should euthanasia be legalised in the UK?

The matter of euthanasia and assisted suicide is one of the most widely debated public policies in the UK today. Its legalisation will undoubtedly affect family and patient-doctor relationships and also challenge the concepts of what is considered to be ethical behaviour (Marker and Hamlon, 2005). But with overwhelming public support for its legalisation and unregulated assisted dying already common place in the medical profession (Doward 2004), surely a regulated system with the strictest safeguards in the world would be a preferable solution (Voluntary euthanasia society, 2004). The problems outlined by the 'slippery slope' theory and anti ...view middle of the document...

The first is clearly in extreme agony, whilst the latter is not. Therefore, there is no question as to where the line should be drawn and so is not a logical reason to prevent the legalisation of euthanasia (Rachels, 1993).

The anti euthanasia groups such as 'Care Not Killing', believe that the legalisation of euthanasia will put pressure on the elderly and disabled to ask to be euthanised in order to avoid becoming a burden to their families or care givers. They say that in the current financial climate, with family and health budgets under pressure, elder abuse and neglect by families, carers and institutions is likely to become an issue and that strong laws are necessary to prevent this (www.carenotkilling.org.uk). However, there is no factual evidence to support this fear; In 2007, the Journal of medical ethics analysed every case of euthanasia in the state of Oregon since it was legalised in 1998. They found that in 10 years, only 341 people had opted for assisted dying and that the amount of people from vulnerable groups, such as the elderly or disabled were proportionate to any other, with the exception of young white men, whom it seems were the primary users of the service (www.listverse.com).

Religious groups also oppose the idea of legalising euthanasia as they believe that 'the life of man is solely under the dominion of God' and therefore only God should decide when people live or die. However, this argument was refuted over 200 years ago by philosopher David Hume who made the point that “if it is for God alone to decide when we shall live and when we shall die, then we 'play God' just as much when we cure people as we do when we kill people”. Another religious argument is that 'suffering is part of life' and killing people just to put them out of their misery would be interfering with Gods plan. This again would mean that in providing palliative care to the dying, or even pain killers to a child who has broken its arm would be obstructing Gods plan so again, is refuted by Hume (Rachels 1993). For a non religious person these arguments are unconvincing and so the law should not be based on reasoning that requires religious faith (British Humanist Assosiation, 2004).

Despite the arguments presented by anti euthanasia groups, public opinion has been shown to be strongly in favour of legalising euthanasia. A poll conducted by the Daily telegraph in 2010 found that 75% of the British public think the law should be amended to allow assisted suicide in certain cases and 67% of people think that doctors in particular, should have the legal power to end the life of a terminally ill patient if they request it (www.yougov.co.uk). The law currently holds a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment for assisting someone to commit suicide and up to life imprisonment for euthanasia itself. Despite this, at least 18000 people a year are helped to die by...

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