Euthanasia: Can it be Ethical?

by pinkarizona on Avril 8, 2015 - 7:35pm


Euthanasia is a polarizing subject that causes many people to debate whether or not it is an ethical procedure to preform. However, in this text we will be exploring if the euthanasia debate itself is represented in an ethical way in the media. The main article that will be used as a reference is from the New York Times and it discusses how the euthanasia has been legalized within Canada after a twenty-two year ban.


The article, “Canada Court Strikes Down Ban on Aiding Patient Suicide,” by Ian Austin, outlines how the court decided to legalize euthanasia. The court commented that taking away a person’s decision to be euthanized when they have a terminal illness infringes upon their right to “life, liberty, and security” (Austin, Ian). The court does not believe that a full ban is necessary to avoid suicides (Austin, Ian).  Furthermore, the Canadian Medical Association has officially changed its views from being opposed to assisted suicide to allowing the physician to have the ability to decide whether or not a patient should have medical aid in dying (Austin, Ian).  According to the article, there has been opposition to this legalization (Austin, Ian).  Churches and some groups that advocate for the rights of disabled people urged the court to not pass this law (Austin, Ian).  Peter Mackay, the minister of justice, stated that he understood that there are two sides to this debate and that they will be closely examining each side to ensure they arrive at an appropriate decision (Austin, Ian).  One member of the parliament brings up the pro-euthanasia argument that the legalization of euthanasia will actually result in less patient suicides (Austin, Ian).  Many times, the patient has a chance to commit suicide and they take it because they realize they do not have the right to choose assisted suicide later on (Austin, Ian).  There were two women whose cases led to the legalization of euthanasia to be brought to court (Austin, Ian).  One of these two women was brought to Switzerland, where assisted suicide is legal, and she passed away before the law was passed (Austin, Ian).  The fact that people travel outside of the country to gain the ability to practice euthanasia shows that there are still ways people can get around the ban (Austin, Ian).  The court still holds some of the fear from when the initial ban was made which is that some physicians may take advantage of their power to aid in assisted suicide and abuse some weak and vulnerable people (Austin, Ian).

Although the article was very thorough in describing the law and why it was felt necessary to legalize euthanasia, I believe that Austin could have added some more insight on the con side of the situation. They mentioned how the doctors could end up abusing weak and vulnerable people but they could have elaborated. It is quite difficult to ensure that these doctors will not misinterpret when the right time to apply the practice of euthanasia is (“Top Ten Pros and Cons”). Perhaps some doctors will not feel it necessary to even have the patients consent and make the decision entirely independently, believing it to be the best option (“Top Ten Pros and Cons”). The article could have emphasized on the fact that many people may take the opportunity to use this power to euthanize mentally disabled people instead of helping them integrate into society (“Top Ten Pros and Cons”). Other groups of people are at a high risk of being abused as well such as minorities and the poor (“Top Ten Pros and Cons”). Those who are less educated or just deemed to be less important members of society may be euthanized in order to concentrate on other patients (“Top Ten Pros and Cons”). The article could have also elaborated on what the churches’ argument is. Their argument is that life is a God-given gift and the only person or entity that has the right to take it away is God himself (“Top Ten Pros and Cons”). As humans, according to Catholicism, we have a responsibility to not cause the death of anyone, not even ourselves (“Top Ten Pros and Cons”). The article also fails to address “living wills,” which is a written consent that states how they wish their medical treatment progresses when they can no longer express consent (“Top Ten Pros and Cons”). This is where patients can write if they would like to be euthanized (“Top Ten Pros and Cons”). There are several problems with this, including the fact that they are often not detailed enough and the patient may change their mind later on and not be able to change their living will (“Top Ten Pros and Cons”).

            In conclusion, I believe this article was written ethically. As mentioned before, there were some points in the article that could have been elaborated to show the other side. However, the article did show evidence as to why the ban against euthanasia was not successful in the past. Overall, I believe that the news media, at least in the New York Times, ethically represents euthanasia.

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