Euthanasia. What exactly is this concept? Allowing a doctor to end a patient’s life by painless means, as long as the patient and their family agrees – is this a justified enough reason for one to take away the life of another person? (Brazier, 2018). Only someone who is in extreme pain, or suffering from a terminal illness is allowed to opt for euthanasia (Davis, 2019). Although the patient has the decision in undertaking euthanasia, ultimately, the final act of ending one’s life is committed by someone other than that individual himself. Is this morally right? Can this result in potential harm, be it remote or explicit? Personally, I strongly believe that euthanasia should not be criminalised due to various reasons I will be covering in this essay.
Before jumping into the arguments surrounding euthanasia, how do we determine if something should be criminalised? For this essay, I would like to analyse all arguments by utilising the Harm Principle, proposed by English philosopher John Stuart Mill. This principle says that people should not be restricted in their actions, if they are not causing harm to anybody else (Mill, 1849). Relating this principle into the context of euthanasia, if euthanasia does not cause harm to anybody, then the individual is free to continue opting for euthanasia. Being someone who believed in utilitarianism – greater good for the greater number, Mill believed it is important to have a harm-benefit analysis before deciding on criminalising something. For example, if the harm of criminalising euthanasia is larger than the harm of legalising euthanasia, then euthanasia should not be criminalised.
Be that as it may, some critics believe that euthanasia should be criminalised.
While there is a modicum of truth in the critics’ arguments, I still hold my stand regarding euthanasia not being criminalised. One of the main arguments is that legalising euthanasia is the epitome of upholding the rights of humans (Chand, 2009). “Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more” (United Nations). If someone is terminally ill, the least we can do is to respect their last wish.