The arguments for euthanasia:
- We need it - ‘the compassion argument’. Supporters of euthanasia believe that allowing people to ‘die with dignity’ is kinder than forcing them to continue their lives with suffering.
- We want it - ‘the autonomy argument’. Some believe that every patient has a right to choose when to die.
- We can control it - ‘the public policy argument’. Proponents believe that euthanasia can be safely regulated by government legislation.
The counter arguments:
- Alternative treatments are available, such as palliative care and hospices. We do not have to kill the patient to kill the symptoms. Nearly all pain can be relieved.
- There is no ‘right’ to be killed and there are real dangers of ‘slippery slopes’. Opening the doors to voluntary euthanasia could lead to non-voluntary and involuntary euthanasia, by giving doctors the power to decide when a patient’s life is not worth living. In the Netherlands in 1990 around 1,000 patients were killed without their request.
- We could never truly control it. Reports from the Netherlands, where euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are legal, reveal that doctors do not always report it.
- The assumption that patients should have a right to die would impose on doctors a duty to kill, thus restricting the autonomy of the doctor. Also, a ‘right to die’ for some people might well become a ‘duty to die’ by others, particularly those who are vulnerable or dependent upon others.
Download our short briefing on Euthanasia by clicking here. (PDF)