Last updated: August 1, 2019
Topic: FamilyChildren
Sample donated:

Euthanasia is defined as ‘The painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma’ in the Oxford dictionary. This definition is often disagreed with since it doesn’t encapsulate all that euthanasia is. Euthanasia is much more complex. In total, there are six types of euthanasia that can be committed, falling into two main categories- active and passive. The table displayed below depicts the six types of euthanasia along with examples in order to provide a clearer understanding of the complexities of this matter. ActivePassiveVoluntaryX consents to Y actively bringing about X’s death. Y can do so with the use of drugs, poisons, gases, an injection of muscle relaxant to stop the flow of oxygen in the heart of the patient or other such methods.X consents to Y withdrawing treatment or nourishment that perpetuates X’s life.InvoluntaryY actively brings about X’s death against X’s communicated will or consent. Y can do so using the methods mentioned above.Y withdraws life-preserving treatment or nourishment that perpetuates X’s life against X’s communicated will or consent.Non-VoluntaryY actively brings about X’s death where X is not in a position to communicate consent. For example, X can be mentally unsound or a child. Once more, methods mentioned above can be applied. Y withdraws life-preserving treatment or nourishment from X where X is not in a position to communicate consent. For example, X can be mentally unsound or a child.Table 1. Classification of types of euthanasiaEuthanasia has always been a very sensitive topic with people all over the world. Quite recently, an incident took place regarding the boycott of “Me Before You” , a book turned movie, that addresses the complexities of euthanasia. Once the movie was released, people started vetoing it, claiming that it was allegedly romanticizing euthanasia and would prompt people in a similar situation as the protagonist to ask for a euthanasia grant themselves. The movie faced a lot of backlash from pro-life supporters who claimed that the movie implements the message that the lives of the disabled and elderly are less worthy than that of the able-bodied. The opposing side, the pro-choice supporters, continue to disagree with the consensus formed by these disability groups since they believe that the book was portraying only one choice- the choice of the protagonist, not a choice that represents the entire community of quadriplegics. In a survey handed out to two hundred people unaware of this issue, the statement, “Granting euthanasia to the disabled advocates the message that their lives are less valued than the lives of the able-bodied” was provided and they were asked whether they agree or not. The results show that the bloops are almost equivalent.Chart 1. Responses gathered when people were asked whether they agree with the statement “Granting euthanasia to the disabled advocates the message that their lives are less valued than the lives of the able-bodied.” Raj Tiwari, an artist and avid reader at the age of 55 commented, “Contrary to the allegations against Me Before You, I think the book brought a usually ignored issue to light and helped me think about euthanasia in more ways than one.”, when asked about her sentiments regarding the boycott against the movie and book.She went on to elaborate saying, “Throughout the course of the book, I oscillated between supporting Will’s decision and disagreeing with his choices. I think that euthanasia should be granted but with great responsibility. If it is ascertained with due diligence, by medical experts that the individual is beyond any medical help or hope of improvement and is suffering greatly, I think that it is only humane to let them decide if they want to die in a dignified manner.” The grounds as to why euthanasia is such a sensitive topic cannot be pinned down to just one reason. The legal, social and ethical reasons altercate and contrast one another which makes it so difficult to ascertain as to whether euthanasia is simply wrong or right. Shilpa Menon, a speech therapist to children, based in California further validates the fact that euthanasia is very convoluted by saying, “I believe that only the patients themselves have the right to decide whether they want to be euthanized, and no one else. I do think the exception to the rule is in the case of minors and those adults who might be physically or mentally unsound while they’re in a vegetative state but who might have made their wishes known prior to their condition. It’s very tough to make a single decision here since there isn’t any black and white answer to this issue, it’s always subjective case by case.” In order to accumulate responses that present the perspectives of not only one group in society, the survey conducted was sent to people of varying social, educational and age related backgrounds. Chart 2. Segregation of respondents based on the generation that they were born in. Gen Z represents people under the age of 23 in 2018, Gen Y represents people under the age of 36 in 2018, Gen X represents people under the age of 52 in 2018, the Baby Boomer Generation represents people under the age of 63 in 2018 and the Greatest Generation and above represent people above the age of 64 in 2018.A legal aspect is objective. It can be verified, established and uncontroverted. On the other hand, social and ethical aspects are subjective. They are beliefs or perspectives that are upheld independently by every person that is susceptible to change. They represent a view that is formed by an individual that is held onto in spite of having the incapability to be proven wrong or right. You can’t prove that a piece of art is beautiful or whether God exists. All of these debates can never have a definite answer but instead provide more clarity on which the more popular belief is in the eyes of the masses. The allure of social and ethical aspects is that for each perspective, there are multiple ways to approach it and apprehend it which can’t be done with a legal aspect- a piece of information whose credibility can be established.The legal aspects revolve around issues concerning the law or its functioning. Law and ethics, while starkly different are connected in a deeper sense. Many prevailing laws originated from ethics while the ethical aspects are related to moral principles and the fundamental reasoning of ascertaining whether something is right or wrong. Therefore, it can be ascertained that while laws stem from ethics and moral grounds, they are not relevant when applying the law in a real-life situation. At the same time, law and ethics are not always attuned to each other. There are times when legal acts may be unethical and also instances where ethical acts can be regarded as illegal. This deduction depends on the presiding laws in a specific country and the discernment of people regarding the case. Amit Gupta, an entrepreneur commented on the complexities of ethics, saying, “Ethics can be an anathema for some and a benediction for some. In that sense the idea of euthanasia will always remain controversial until such a time when mental telemetry can become a reality where an interpretation of the mind in a somnolent condition is possible. Otherwise not or rather never. The medical condition which evokes the idea of euthanasia should be financially insulated by the Federal Authorities – morality and the issue of ethics should be inclusively extended to the state and not limited to the patient and the family only. Everyone needs to be an equal shareholder in this mission.”Additionally, there is a difference in how legal and ethical aspects are interpreted. A law is relevant to all people in society that fall under the rule of that particular set of laws. An ethical outlook is voluntary and a personal act befitting an individual. Every society has established its own ethical conduct and abides by it. This is where the social issues/aspects enter.hart 3. Responses gathered when 200 people were asked through an online survey, whether they think that it is okay for someone other than the patient to make a decision regarding euthanasia, on their behalf if the patient in question is unable to do so for themselves.Social issues are relevant to a more substantial number of people as compared to ethical issues,  therefore they are much like legal issues. The stark difference between ethical and social issues is that while ethical issues can be avoided or deciphered by an individual, the same cannot be done with an ethical issue. When it comes to social issues, it is not always possible for individuals to exert control over or manipulate them. As a matter of fact, social issues differ in each society. They can be caused because of economic turmoil, political unrest, educational qualms, etc. The reason that social and ethical aspects are closely linked despite being different is that both issues have an impact on society as well as the individuals in said society.  “The issue of granting a patient the choice is a difficult one since in some cases it would be impossible for society to know the affected person’s choice. This will continue to be a moral dilemma but at the same time, over centuries, the concept of living has been over-glorified in many ways, which is why there is so much difficulty for our society to process the concept of death, especially a desired one. If life and death are two sides of the same coin, why can’t one desire one and not another?”, says an anonymous source on the impact of euthanasia on society.The opinion presented above probes a new question. Would the application of euthanasia work both philosophically(and in theory) as well as pragmatically? This is a case in which social and ethical aspects intertwine.