Before proposing my opinion on the challenging question of righteous or wrongfulness of euthanasia, I have to clarify what I meant by this term by declaring the definition I do agree with that. Like many other terms, euthanasia has various meanings depending on the context and usage. The Oxford Dictionaries defines euthanasia as “The painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma” and counts mercy killing, assisted suicide, and physician-assisted suicide as its synonyms. More specifically in medical terms, it means the practice of ending a life intentionally to relieve patient's suffering and pain.
However, these lexical definitions fail to determine adequately euthanasia, as they leave some possible actions open that although they may meet the definition, they cannot be seen as euthanasia. For example, some definitions may include the act of killing a person who suffers from untreatable disease but primarily to claim an inheritance, while this misinterpreted killing is ‘murder simpliciter’ rather that euthanasia. Therefore, I lean toward a functional and stipulative definition to express what kind of euthanasia I assume ethical and acceptable and will argue in its favour. So, the other types of actions that the ambiguous term ‘euthanasia’ may overarch are ethically wrong doings in my opinion.
My claim is that under some conditions and circumstances, euthanasia is a morally right action to commit. To argue in favour of my claim, I will elaborate some common-sense premises. There are persons in some physical and psychological situations -like who is in the terminal stage of cancer- that there is no hope for them on any improvement in near future. In such cases, based on medical and/or psychological evidences, surveys, examinations and reports, patients continuously experience and suffer severe, intolerable pains in their extreme forms -either bodily or mentally. Also, there are some patients that they experience no pain (as they are entirely unconscious e.g. who is in a coma). However, because of permanent damages to their vital organs (e.g. brain) and/or body (e.g. spinal cord), there is no any known practical way to recover them from normal life or even consciousness in near future. Similar situations can be found with some psychologically affected people.
Living under these circumstances neither is beneficial for patients nor is the kind of the life they like to continue while there is no light at the end of the tunnel. In some cases, patients beg to die to become free from intolerable pains and sufferings they experience every moment, which is like an endless torture. Under these circumstances considering terminating own or one’s life painlessly, as a mercy killing, is what may come to the mind of patients, caretakers, relatives, and friends. Knowing that there are painless ways of death, give them the option of thinking about exploiting their right to end their life painlessly or with fewer pains from what they experience every moment, although with the help of some other persons. In this way, an individual may voluntarily (i.e. without any force obliged from the patient or any other persons) facilitate death for the patient. First of all, this person should believe that death is in favour of the patient and should make sure that there are painless ways of death for the patient, or, at least, less painful that what the patient experience now. Also, the primary reason for the person who facilitates the patient’s death must be the cessation of patient’s sufferings although she/he can have other relevant benefits (e.g. benefits to compensate medical expenses and reasonable agency fees). Furthermore, the person who kills the patient must have acquired the patient’s consent, either explicitly in cases that the patient is conscious enough to provide her/his consent, or implicitly in cases that the patient is unconscious or is not conscious enough for an explicit permission. Once all of the conditions mentioned above are met, the act of a person in killing another person can be interpreted as euthanasia and is ethically righteous and allowed.
There are various ethical, philosophical, and religious accounts of humans’ right to their life and death, which some are in contrary to each other. However, this essay is based on an ethical viewpoint and only used premises that bring out premises that are intuitive with a common-sense approach. This article intentionally has neglected sophisticated and scientific medical, legal, psychological and social experiments and facts. However, my argument can be improved by considering other perspectives such as legal, psychological, philosophical and religious viewpoints and accounts.
Oxford Dictionaries, s.v. “euthanasia,” accessed December 27, 2015, http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/euthanasia.