Over the past two decades, social concerns about the “natural right to die” have outgrown our government’s and judiciary’s willingness to deal with them consistently. One reason for this difficulty has been the absence of legal or judicial principles consistent with American conceptions of liberty, morality, and justice.
This article examines natural law theory to see whether it can provide a consistent standard for answering these difficult questions. Tracing natural law theories through history leads directly to the United States. Here a uniquely American interpretation became one of our constitution’s foundational principles.
A Natural Right To Die
The natural right to die concept is based on the belief that a human being has the right to decide about the end of his or her life. This also includes undergoing voluntary euthanasia. A person with a terminal illness or who lacks the will to live should be allowed to end their own life.
The primary question is whether people should have the natural right to die. And what principle could justify such a right?
We Know Death As The Termination Of Life. Also, We Can Divide Death Into Two Types:
- Natural death
- Unnatural death
A person’s behavior and inaction both can cause it. Causing the unnatural extinction of a life by one’s own conduct over oneself or over someone else is both morally wrong and legally punishable.
Every living being in this world wishes to live a long life. Also, they wish to increase the longevity of their lives by all means possible. And encouraging the end of such a life is not the intended result of this right.
Suppose that life becomes much more painful and unbearable than death. Then it is natural for a common man to wish death. Euthanasia, also known as mercy killing, is the voluntary acceptance of death.
People Raised Several Arguments In Support Of Legalizing Euthanasia, Including:
It is a way of putting an end to an extremely miserable and traumatic life. And the insistence on postponing death against the patient’s wishes is illegal, immoral, and inhumane.
The family members of the dying patient get relief from the physical, emotional, financial, and mental stress. It also gives the patient relaxation and relieves his pain.
Patients have the right to refuse medical care as well. We can charge a doctor who treats a patient against his or her express wishes with assault.
The practice of euthanasia will free up state medical funds to help more poor and needy people. A person is free to exercise his or her natural right to die. The law guarantees fundamental rights and freedoms, and a positive right requires a negative right. For example, freedom of speech requires the freedom not to speak, etc.
Arguments Against Legalizing Euthanasia
Moreover, there are reasons against legalizing euthanasia because our society is driven by religion. Most religions would not support euthanasia because religious scriptures oppose it. There are some other arguments:
- Euthanasia may become commercialized
- The poor may resort to this to avoid the financial difficulties associated with medication
- People often see the elderly and destitute as a burden. And people can take advantage of this to avoid responsibility.
- According to one study, a mental condition such as depression can influence one’s decision to die.
- Allowing euthanasia undermines human dignity and violates the principle of the sanctity of life. It makes sick and disabled people more vulnerable than the rest of the population. Also, it can also serve as a cloak for murder.
Other Countries’ Legal Positions On The Natural Right To Die
Human euthanasia is legal in Ireland, Colombia, and Luxembourg. In Switzerland and Germany, assisted suicide is legal.
The United States of America. Active euthanasia is illegal in the United States. But assisted euthanasia is legal in Oregon, Washington, Vermont, California, and Mexico.
Australia. By legalizing euthanasia in 1995, it became the world’s first law. But assisted suicide was only legal for a short time and is now illegal. Due to the deaths of four patients under the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995, Australia’s federal parliament repealed the actin 1997.
France. The country is embroiled in a not much big controversy due to its “well-developed hospice care program. However, following the case of Vincent Humbert in 2000, new legislation was passed that states that when medicine serves ‘no other function than the official support of life,’ it can be suspended or not undertaken.
As of now, the Australian state of Victoria has been the world’s first to allow euthanasia. The parliament has approved the bill, and it will make euthanasia legal in the state beginning in 2022.
Other nations have passed laws through a referendum or a court process, following in the footsteps of Victorian legislation, which was the world’s first parliament to go through a long process to introduce euthanasia.
Why Not Give The Right?
At first, one might be surprised to hear how many older people in good health are thinking about this choice, as it allows them to end their lives with dignity, with all of their mental faculties intact, and without pain or loss of dignity. We’ve all seen a loved one deteriorate into dementia or someone who has had a stroke becoming so physically affected that they no longer have any quality of life.
It breaks our heart to see some older people lose their dignity and suffer from a total lack of quality treatment in our nursing homes. It seems that after a full, rich, long life, a person has the right to choose when it is time to go. After all, we do so for the sake of our beloved pets so they do not suffer. We allowed them to sleep peacefully and without pain or trauma.
Many older people commit suicide, some in horrifyingly violent or unpleasant ways, simply because the means to do so peacefully is unavailable to them. Should we provide them with the means?
Isn’t this the question that befuddles this dilemma? How do we advocate for a peaceful “death”? We simply cannot! It goes against all of our human values to preserve life at any cost. But do we really think or measure the cost to the person in terms of pain or, worse, loss of dignity?
Euthanasia dates back to ancient Greece and Rome when many people chose to die by their own will rather than live in pain. People will usually consult with a doctor during these periods to discover the course of their illness and then decide whether or not to end their own life.
The Bottom Line
The ultimate outcome of this debate remains uncertain. However, we must remember that an acrobatic argument that acknowledges technological advances but dismisses the evolving ethical issues that pose uncomfortable and disturbing questions is unfair to the community of patients.