by ChrisChevrier on September 12, 2016 - 6:18pm
In the article “A Comparison of Attitudes Toward Euthanasia Among Medical Students at Two Polish Universities”, written by Leppert, Wojciech, et al. in 2013, the researchers tried to demonstrate how young adults viewed the ethical issue surrounding euthanasia and assisted suicide. They surveyed over 500 students from two universities in Poland to see if the younger generation was more in favor or against the practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide for incurable diseases. The results diverged slightly due to the environment of each university, however, the arguments in favor or against the practice of euthanasia were similar in both studies.
The arguments in favor or the euthanasia practice on patients were either respect for the patient’s will or compassion for the patient’s suffering. As for the arguments against the practice of euthanasia or assisted suicide, the researchers found out that most students were simply afraid of the abuse that could happen if euthanasia were to be legalized in Poland (which it is not, at the current time). It is also interesting to notice that they have observed a gradual decrease of students in favor of euthanasia following their ascension of university. Furthermore, the researchers have presumed that, even though the survey was supposed to be as neutral as possible, it is very likely that the results were influenced by the Catholic Church, since 85% of the students surveyed were Catholic by faith. It was also mentioned that the results of this polish study concur with other similar studies in Germany and Sweden.
In the ethical conflict of whether or not euthanasia should be legalized or not, there are different arguments supporting or contradicting it. As in any ethical issue, it is ambiguous and the “right” thing to do is almost always subjective since one bases one’s opinion on one’s values, which obviously differ from one another. Thus, I will not expose my opinion and simply state the values and arguments on both sides.
The people that favor euthanasia and its legalization are the autonomy of any human being, the compassion for the suffering the person must endure, and, often so, the person afflicted by the incurable disease will feel guilty of being a burden for society and especially for those around them (relatives). Also, people with incurable diseases are sometimes motivated to end their life due to the loneliness and depression they fall and eventually lose hope.
On the other side, people against euthanasia and assisted suicide declare that if legalized, it has an irrefutable potential of being abused for cases of people suffering disabilities, and the legal practice of euthanasia will become more and more a routine and “permissive” for more cases. Furthermore, euthanasia goes against some religious and moral principles, and is considered a prohibition with delicate consequences. One must also note that, even though it is not part of this ethics class, there is a legal difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide, thus encouraging people to be in more in favor of assisted suicide rather than euthanasia. To conclude, I would like to end off with perhaps a peculiar question not often raised in the issue surrounding euthanasia; could a person request to be euthanized due to atrocious psychological suffering?