The circumstances surrounding euthanasia are particularly difficult for some people to comprehend, and that fact is reflected in the many different laws regarding medically assisted induced death (MAID) from various countries around the world. While we don’t seem to have any moral issues with putting beloved pets to death when they are suffering, the question becomes entirely different when it involves a human being.
No doubt, many will say that a pet can’t choose just because it doesn’t understand the basic facts – whereas a person does understand the situation in most cases. However, surely if you apply that logic, then a human being should have the ability to choose their destiny, just through the fact that they are aware and conscious of what’s happening.
In many places around the world, medically assisted dying is illegal, and there are no two ways about it. If a doctor or nurse facilitates a patient’s assisted death, then they are guilty of murder. In fact, there have been many cases where someone has helped a loved one die, fully aware they will spend the rest of their lives in jail. Is this right, when all they were doing was the kind thing? Let’s look at the legislation from a country that does allow medically assisted dying, such as Canada.
In Canada, while the legislation has, in fact, become tighter in the past year, it is still possible for someone to request the medically assisted dying option. It remains one of the few countries around the world where it is still legal in certain circumstances.
What circumstances are we talking about, though? In what stage of life do you need to be to qualify? Well, first and foremost, you have to be in a right state of mind, with the ability to provide “informed consent.” In simple terms, it means there must be no doubt whatsoever that you are aware of the request you’re making, and that you want to end your life.
That, on its own, isn’t enough, though. To qualify, you must also satisfy certain other facts. You must have an incurable condition. You must also be experiencing the advanced stages of that disease or illness. Also, there must be evidence to prove the situation is intolerable to you, either due to physical pain, or the psychological effects. Lastly, the ultimate natural consequences of your suffering (i.e. death) must be in the very near future.
Many people have said that all these rules are too restrictive, and that effectively it means that a person must have already been suffering for many years before they qualify. What’s the point in agreeing to assist in their suicide if the end is near anyway? Also, how does this cater to a great many people who suffer from a mental issue such as Alzheimer’s disease? The very fact that they can’t give proper consent means they are automatically excluded. One cannot give permission ahead of time, or give permission to a family member to make the call.
In other countries, even those who are in desperate pain are not allowed to end their lives with the help of a medical practitioner. They must live out the rest of their days in agony. Is this fair today? Is it fair to force someone who is chronically ill or in pain to seek travel to another country to end their lives? Is it fair for a person to be compelled to ask a loved one to help them, knowing it’s illegal and they could get into serious legal difficulties?
Many people believe that an advanced and enlightened society should understand when a person is suffering and allow them to make the ultimate choice about their own lives.