Euthanasia is the mercy killing of a person to relieve his or her suffering. It is the act of assisting someone who experiences extreme pain or has an incurable disease. Although euthanasia is becoming increasingly common as more countries legalized it, the Christian community disapproves of it. This argumentative essay aims to explore and discuss both Christian and scientific views on euthanasia. While Christians label euthanasia unethical, many scientists believe that euthanasia is the only compassionate form of relief humanity can provide. Moreover, euthanasia is considered to be morally important because it allows an individual to die with dignity. Thus, it should be morally justified when conducted under strict criteria and control. However, euthanasia remains a very controversial issue that has caused debates between Christians and scientists that are also consist of those who are against and who are for euthanasia.
It is impossible to know the exact number of people suffering from incurable diseases due to the lack of data from developing countries, but this number reaches millions of people. Nowadays, many of them feel isolated from the rest of the society due to different opportunities and possibilities that they cannot take. According to Indian scientist Rao, if human euthanasia policies become adopted in the whole world, those people will feel even more isolated from the rest of the world than they do now[footnoteRef:1]. If assisted suicide becomes a common practice, it will make a life of ill people who do not want to end their life more miserable due to community’s opinion. [1: Jaganadha Rao, “Medical Treatment to Terminally Ill Patients (Protection of Patiens and Medical Practicioners),” Report no. 196. Law Comission of India. April 28, 2006]
The right to life cannot be neglected under any circumstances. Constitution of a state is the supreme law that should be followed by every citizen of any country. The right to life is a primary right of every person according to every democratic constitution. It means that in most countries, euthanasia violates the constitution. This right can be violated not only by direct action but also by the passive act of negligence. According to Caldwell, if euthanasia is legalized, the quality of healthcare can decrease due to the fact that some hospital workers can neglect their responsibilities if they know that a person does not have any chances to survive the disease[footnoteRef:2]. [2: Simon Caldwel,. “Now the Dutch Turn against Legalised Mercy Killing,” MailOnline, December 9, 2009]
Bradvik, Campbell, Griffin, Alonso, Bongar, and many other scientists researched the issue whether the right to die can be misused by permanently or temporary ill people[footnoteRef:3]. In fact, there are people suffering from such mental illnesses as depression (a temporary one), schizophrenia (a permanent one) that could lead to the emergence of suicide intentions. Legalizing euthanasia can give a false image of relief to these patients who can make a prompt decision to die and lose a chance to live a happy life. [3: L. Bradvik, C. Mattisson, M. Bogren and P. Nettelbladt,. “Long Term Suicide Risk of Depression in the Lundby Cohort 1947-1997-Severity and Gender,” Acta Psychiatr Scand. 117, no. 3 (2008): 117-185.]
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Euthanasia is not only a mercy killing but also a real killing or even a murder as Cambell considers[footnoteRef:4]. Unfortunately, euthanasia can also serve people to kill a person in a legislative way. There were the cases when people used euthanasia in the pursuit of receiving the inheritance. This can become common in wealthy families where the relatives disregard the life of their family members in order to acquire valuable possession. According to the Law Commission, there should be a proper control over the procedure since some of the medical workers can even be bribed by the relatives of a person that is going to be killed without consent[footnoteRef:5]. [4: Colin Campbell and Tom Fahy, “Suicide and Schizophrenia,” Psychiatry 4, no. 11 (2005): 4-65.] [5: Jaganadha, “Medical Treatment to Terminally Ill Patients”]
Euthanasia is not the only solution for people having the incurable illness with negative predictions. Undoubtedly, euthanasia can be offered to people that, unfortunately, have an incurable disease. In fact, Law Commission report states that some patients might not have other alternatives except euthanasia[footnoteRef:6]. There are many incurable diseases, including AIDS, mental illness, and cancer. Nevertheless, the patients can live with these illnesses many years with a good healthcare. It means that a person can happily live with the disease under proper medical care. Thus, the act of euthanasia should not become the only possible way to overcome suffering. [6: Ibid.]
Another highly important argument relates to money. Medical care is not affordable for all people. Keeping person alive and in good health condition can cost a fortune, especially in case of incurable diseases. Despite the great desire to prolong the life of their relatives, many people cannot afford it according to Griffin[footnoteRef:7]. Furthermore, according to Chochinov, elderly people seeking from some disease do not have relatives that can pay their medical bills. That is the reason why instead of state financial help or help from a fund, those people agree on euthanasia as an easy way to resolve the problem. However, the lack of money should not affect patients’ decisions. [7: B.A. Griffin, K.M. Harris, D.F. McCaffrey and A.R. Morral, “A Prospective Investigation of Suicide Ideation, Attempts, and Use of Mental Health Service Among Adolescents in Substance Abuse Treatment,” Psychol Addict Behav 22, no.4 (2008): 22-524.]
Each person has the right to live according both to the Bible and to the international law. Opponents of euthanasia claim that this process infringes the major right of every person. Nevertheless, supporters of euthanasia consider another highly important human right – right to die[footnoteRef:8]. Each person is a manager of his/her own life. It means that a person also has the right to decide whether to live or not. The right to die with dignity is important for people, regardless of their age, background, nationality, or social status. People do not want their relatives to remember their agony and pain. Instead, they want to show gratitude and love on the last days of their lives. Therefore, the right to die is as important as the right to life according to the supporters of euthanasia. [8: Suresh Bada Math and K. Chaturvedi Santosh, “Euthanasia: Right to Life vs Right to Die,” Indian Journal of Medical Research 136, no. 6 (December 2012): 899-902.]
Every person has the right to refuse medical treatment. It is the right of every citizen in any country. According to Sheldon, this decision resembles euthanasia[footnoteRef:9]. If people have the right to refuse treatment that is vital for their health, they should be able to have euthanasia according to supporters of this process. Furthermore, the researcher states that the termination of pregnancy is also the form of passive euthanasia since a mother makes a decision[footnoteRef:10]. Therefore, taking into consideration that those two options are similar to euthanasia, it is irrational to think that euthanasia is crueler than two previously mentioned processes. [9: T. Sheldon, “Dutch Legal Protection Scheme for Doctors Involved in Mercy Killing of Babies Receives First Report,” BMJ (2009): 339.] [10: Ibid.]
Since every person should have the right to die in the same way as any person has the right to live, euthanasia should become legal. When a person is gravely ill and suffers severely, he/she often becomes a burden for family and friends in financial, physical, and moral ways. Palliative care often requires money and energy. Unfortunately, it is unaffordable for many people to provide decent treatment for their relative. In addition, a seriously-ill person should be under the permanent assistance of someone. Finally, it is morally difficult for the relatives to see the pain of a person they love. Thus, euthanasia can be the solution for the patients who do not want to suffer and do not want to be a burden for their family.
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Not only should euthanasia be considered as the right to die, but also it is the right to live for other people. Organ transplantation can justify euthanasia according to Math[footnoteRef:11]. Many countries have the poor healthcare system where the process of organ transplantation is very complex. For instance, there are some Slavic countries where organ transplantation occurs only in case of donor’s consent; it is a problem since many young people that died had not thought about it during their life[footnoteRef:12]. In these countries, euthanasia can become the additional source of organs for transplantation. According to Law Commission report, patients with the incurable disease are more willing to make something good and save someone’s life before they die. [11: Math “Euthanasia: Right to Life vs Right to Die,” 899-902. ] [12: Ibid.]
Euthanasia contradicts basic Christian ideas largely because it is incompatible with one of the central tenets of Christianity – life is a gift. It is given by God, and only He can take it away. It is stated in the Bible that people should value their life and protect it[footnoteRef:13]. Both birth and death are the miracles created by God. Thus, a human being cannot disobey the will of God. No one has the right to terminate the life of another person even if he/she wants to stop a painful process of dying. Moreover, Christians believe that God made a human in His own image. It means that assisted suicide is the killing of God. Thus, euthanasia is the most egregious example of human disrespect for God and His biggest present – life. According to Christians, no one has the right to end life unless God wants it. [13: The Holy Bible, New International Version, 1983]
Christians believe in the spirit that after death returns to God. The process of dying is an important form of suffering that can give forgiveness of sins. Otherwise, the spirit will not find the way to God. Moreover, Christians think that only God knows the moment of death; thus, human being does not have the power to end the life of the patient because it can lead to the worse result[footnoteRef:14]. All people are created by God. Even those who are terribly ill have the equal right to live. People should be assiduous in maintaining their lives. Thus, people suffering from terminal diseases should also struggle for their lives even if they want to end their pain. [14: Ibid.]
Nevertheless, even conservative Christians are inconsistent with their arguments regarding euthanasia. In fact, there is a group of those who agree that under certain circumstances, the exceptions might be possible. There is no direct statement that church allows euthanasia under some critical circumstances. However, the analysis of key Christian ideas shows that euthanasia can exist. Every person should respect the choice of another person without infringing his/her material and non-material rights as stated in Sheldon’s article[footnoteRef:15]. It means that if a person suffers much or does not have the money or does not want to be a burden for a family, euthanasia might be acceptable to Christianity. [15: Sheldon,“Dutch Legal Protection,” 339.]
Finally, Christians think that the community should take care of those in need. A patient should not be afraid of being a burden for a family. On the contrary, family and community should aim to prolong the life of an ill person and to ease his/her suffering. The community should be responsible for the life of another person so that he/she does not consider the alternative ways of ending this life. People should support instead of fostering the ideas of assisted suicide which is an unforgivable sin in Christianity.
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Griffin decided to compare general Christian beliefs to the Roman Catholic beliefs since the Roman Church often makes official reports showing their attitude to social problems[footnoteRef:16]. The Church forbids killing other people under any circumstances, including euthanasia. Evidently, all humans are free, but their freedom limits to death. Moreover, Vatican allows refusing treatment since it does not influence the natural order of God. It means that the right to refuse treatment even if it can prolong the life of a person is not considered as suicide. In addition, the Roman Church forbids assistance in a suicide. Since euthanasia is considered to be an assisted suicide according, everyone who participates in this process both relatives and doctors commit a sin. [16: Griffin, “A Prospective Investigation, ” 22-524.]
Life of each person is sacred and inviolable according to a particular cohort of scientists. Others think that life should not become agonizing and meaningless existence. The issue of euthanasia provokes heated discussions among lawyers, doctors, philosophers, and educators. Scientist and people not related to religion cannot reach a consensus regarding the morality of euthanasia. The Russian Doctor of Legal Sciences, O.S. Kapinus, wrote an important paper “Euthanasia as a Social and Legal Phenomenon.” The author states that there were three key stages of community’s view on euthanasia in the history[footnoteRef:17]. The first stage happened in the ancient times when according to the political and legal teachings, euthanasia was considered as a blessing or an inevitable act. The second period started in the Middle Ages when Christian religion in Europe had more power than political structures. Without doubts, the influence of the Church led to a negative public attitude towards euthanasia. The third period continues nowadays. It is characterized with the pluralism of views and thoughts. There is no agreement on the issue because religion still has a profound influence on the opinion. Thus, the issue of legalizing euthanasia remains unsolved. [17: Abdi O. Shuriye, “Ethical and Religious Analysis on Euthanasia,” Special Issue on Science and Ethics in Engineering 12, no. 5 (2011): 209-11.]
The problem of euthanasia legalization is still controversial. In the case of legalization of euthanasia, many people consider that it cannot happen. On the other hand, the fact that euthanasia has already been legalized in some countries cannot be denied. Moreover, the scientists focus on the advantages of euthanasia. For example, those who decide to commit an assisted suicide can give their organs to those who have more chances to survive. Organ transplantation can improve the healthcare system and save the lives of much more people. It is widely considered that losing one life instead of two is better than losing two of them. In this case, organ transplantation is the great solution.
From the legal point of view, the right to live in case of non-legalized euthanasia becomes the obligation. If a person has the right to live which he/she cannot violate, then it cannot be considered as an absolute right[footnoteRef:18]. Nevertheless, still in most countries, euthanasia is forbidden. Definitely, it is difficult to legalize euthanasia due to the fact that it is not accepted in many societies, especially in the Christian communities. There is lack of information in mass media about advantages or disadvantages of euthanasia. While Christians are predominantly unified in their point of view on euthanasia, scientists cannot find the only position. It is due to the fact that the Christians have one source of faith – the Bible. At the same time, scientists rely on different sources that might often contradict. Since scientists believe in pluralism, there are scarce chances that they will unify their opinion. [18: Ibid.]
According to the legal rights, euthanasia should be accepted due to the fact that it provides equal rights and freedoms for every citizen in the world. Euthanasia cannot exist in the minds of loyal Christians with conservative beliefs. Despite their strong opposition, euthanasia does not harm people. It is not obligatory process for all disabled, mentally ill or people with the incurable illness. On the contrary, it is only an option to end their suffering and pain. It has many advantages which could make a difference for many patients. Obviously, euthanasia is a relief for people that do not want to suffer anymore and do not want to be a burden. It is unethically to state whether euthanasia is good or not since the modern world has changed tremendously and every point of view can exist. Nevertheless, taking into consideration all facts provided in the paper, euthanasia has more advantages rather than disadvantages.
There are two main views on the issue of legalizing euthanasia: Christian and scientific. On Christian point of view, euthanasia is strictly forbidden. It might be a solution only under extreme circumstances. The official representatives of Christianity mutually support this opinion. Nevertheless, the scientists do not have a single opinion on euthanasia due to the strong pluralism of thoughts. Some of them support it while others support its total prohibition. Among the advantages of euthanasia, there is the implementation of the human rights: right to die, right to die with dignity, right to decide, right to end suffering, and right to help. Among the disadvantages of euthanasia, there is the violation of the right to live. Christians believe that euthanasia is unacceptable since it is a sin to kill and to commit suicide. Therefore, euthanasia is a controversial process that cannot be either accepted or rejected by the society due to different attitudes. Nevertheless, there are more advantages since one of the main features of the modern world is the freedom of choice.