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Voluntary Active Euthanasia - Research Paper Example

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Voluntary Active Euthanasia

2). Which elements would proposed legislation need to possess in order to safely permit and suitably regulate VAE? It is clear to observe that the reluctance to legalize VAE is based primarily on fears of abuse (Keown, 2002, p. 74) combined with fears that terminally ill patients would “feel under pressure to agree to an assisted death” (Smartt, 2009, p. 100). However, such apprehensions can be eased and overcome by properly drafted and implemented legislation which would precisely prevent abuse and strike an appropriate balance between the right to life and the right to die. The public perception of VAE is clear: studies suggest that a huge majority of the public stands in favor of legalizing VAE, and those who were against it expressed the very aforementioned fears of abuse (Chapple et al, 2006). The legalization of euthanasia would have a difficult task ahead of it, but such legalization would not be impossible, and would also be beneficial to society as a whole. The law generally protects the autonomy of individuals in several areas of life, yet the ability to choose between autonomy and life when the two conflict is an issue that the law has been rather reluctant to delve into (Callahan and Keown, 1995, p. 208). Some question the point of the assessment of whether some have a more ‘worthy’ life than others, thus rendering them with a greater right to life: the issues rather turns on the fact that “doctors have never been under a duty to preserve life at all costs” (Keown, 2002, p. 58). There is an obvious stigma which is closely linked to allowing others to enact VAE, however. It is arguable that there can safely exist a social duty to end the pain of a person who expressly declares a wish to end their life, and that this duty can override the fears and apprehensions of society as a whole (Hooker, 2002, p. 26). Very little evidence exists to provide foundations for the argument that legalization of VAE would gradually be interpreted as a positive duty to end the life of suffering individuals in all cases; its very restriction to ‘voluntariness’ would overcome such fears. Some argue that the value of human life cannot be overridden by any conflicting theory, thus rendering VAE morally incorrect because the sanctity of life should never be actively legislated against (Keown, 1997, pp. 482-484). Such arguments approach the issue of VAE on simplistic notions of good versus bad, and this is not a realistic approach; it is suggested that ethics should be approached as a science allowing notions of good and bad to be balanced against one another in specific situations. This would enable the argument surrounding VAE to escape irrelevant and frustratingly complex analyses of morality and enable legal drafters to approach the issue on an objective level. The most potent arguments against VAE are based on the assumption that such a law would be applied equally to all individuals, resulting in the requirement that terminally ill individuals have their life prematurely taken. This is described by Laing as a situation in which “disability may be ruthlessly eliminated and some perceived form of perfection imposed’ (1997, p. 4). This argument is however unrealistic. It would be extremely easy to draft the law in a manner that would expressly forbid the extension of VAE to involuntary euthanasia. Careful drafting could safely ensure that it would not be mandatory for every terminally ...Show more

Summary

Voluntary Active Euthanasia – Arguments for Legalization As the subject of euthanasia looms over the law, the debate has become more heated in terms of whether voluntary active euthanasia should be legalized. Problems surrounding the delicate issues touched upon by the debate have raised great concern of the potential for abuse of such legislation…
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