Whether Euthanasia Should Be Legalized For Terminally Ill Patients In China

1140 words - 5 pages

With progressive maturity of the technology of euthanasia, whether euthanasia should be legalized for terminally ill patients has provoked widespread interest, especially after the exposure of such cases to the public [1]. Euthanasia, according to the definition given by Yun et al. [2], refers to the medical practice of injecting mortal dose of medication with the initial motive of ending a patient’s life. Opinions vary from person to person with regard to religious belief, age and sex [2]. While some people argue that euthanasia can reduce the misery of patients and relieve the burden of his or her family, others maintain that euthanasia is not ethical and may trigger quite a few problems. ...view middle of the document...

The knowledge and experience of a doctor are elements that affect his judgment to the status of patients as well. Therefore, it may sometimes be hard to precisely draw a line whether a patient can be considered terminally ill and is applicable to legal euthanasia if euthanasia is legalized for terminally ill patients. If the line is not clear enough, some doctors may take advantage of it and choose the easiest way to treat patients instead of the best way, leading to difficulty in enforcement of the law.
In addition to the difficulty in execution, legalization of euthanasia is not ethical as well for medical workers, the patient’s family and patients themselves. Since it is medical workers’ bounden duty to prolong patients’ life, executing euthanasia can be considered as betraying the Hippocratic oath for medical workers [2]. Moreover, as for the patients’ family, it is also not easy for them to make such a decision to “kill” their own family members, especially in Chinese families. Deeply influenced by Confucianism, Chinese people’s value is basically based on filial piety. According to a survey, 56.3% of the participators agree that family members should try their best to rescue their relatives to exhibit their filial piety no matter there exists any hope [7]. Traditional Chinese ethics holds that junior generation should keep their parents’ company until their death. Any behavior intending to accelerate one’s parents’ death would be regarded as worst offense of rebellion and condemned by the public. In addition, as an old Chinese saying states that “anyone do not have the right to hurt ourselves since everything on our body come from our parents, and this is the origin of filial piety”, accepting euthanasia also goes against filial piety even for terminally ill patients. In brief, euthanasia cannot be considered as an ethical practice for medical workers, patients’ family and patients themselves in Chinese context.
Apart from ethical problems, legalization of euthanasia also tramples on the sanctity of life. It is widely accepted that life is the most precious property of us. Albert Schweitzer [8], a German philosophy, who first put forward the concept of reverence of life, describes different levels of people’s reverence of life as a criteria of judging the civilization of human society. A typical example of that is the child policy in Nazi German where all babies with congenital deficiency would be put to death. In this case,...

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