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Is Euthanasia Ethical or Unethical – Unethical

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The dictionary defines euthanasia as "the painless killing of a patient suffering from a terminal illness". The operative word here is killing. Euthanasia is most definitely unethical.

The Bible says, "Thou shalt not murder". Deut.5:17.

Even if this command were not written down in Scripture, it has been written by God on the human heart. It is part of the natural law. People of all races and creeds recognize instinctively that it is wrong to deliberately take a human life. In North America, this truth is enshrined in law.

People of faith recognize the Creator is the author of life. The Psalmist phrases it this way: "For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made". Ps. 139: 13-14.

God gave us life and He has a definite plan for each of us. He knows exactly how long our bodies will last. For any human to presume to step in and alter God's divine plan is wrong. The time and circumstances of each person's death should rest entirely in the hands of the Almighty.

That is not to say that we must use extraordinary means to prolong life when there is no reasonable hope that the patient will recover. Relatives of a patient are not obliged to continue the use of a heart-lung machine, a respirator, or other extraordinary means to prolong life. When a doctor determines that the person would die without the machines maintaining vital functions, and there is no reasonable hope of recovery, the machines may be unplugged. As my pastor once termed it, "Get out of God's way!".

Nor must relatives and friends sit helplessly by and watch the patient suffer severe and intractable pain. A sufficient amount of medication should be given to keep the patient comfortable and able to spend his final days with loved ones, mending relationships, winding up his affairs and saying his final goodbyes.

It sometimes happens, that as the illness progresses, the amount or the strength of the medication needs to be increased, to keep the patient from suffering. If the side effect of the increased dosage is that the heart stops or the respiratory system ceases to function, the resulting death is not euthanasia.

The all-important difference is in intention. In the case of euthanasia, a substance is administered with the express purpose of killing the patient. In the second example, the express purpose of the medication is to relieve pain. As long as there is any hope of recovery, the attending physician would, of course, be obligated to maintain the strength and amount of medication within a safe range.

There are many reasons to sustain life as long as possible. Medical science is coming up with new treatments and cures every day. If the patient survives until tomorrow, he may be able to try out a new medication which will result in improvement in his health and extension of his life.

If euthanasia ever becomes generally acceptable to society, we embark on a slippery slope. When human life is no longer considered sacred, many groups of people who are considered "less than perfect", will be endangered. What about babies born with deformities? What about people diagnosed with inoperable tumours? How about our elderly, those over 65, who no longer make a significant contribution to society? How about those with chronic diseases who put a strain on the health care system? How about whole families on welfare who drain our social assistance resources?

Euthanasia is not only unethical, it threatens to destroy the very fabric of our existence as a righteous and civilized society. The practice must be opposed by people of good will wherever and whenever it becomes necessary.

"Euthanasia is a long, smooth-sounding word, and it conceals its danger as long, smooth words do, but the danger is there, nevertheless." Pearl S. Buck

More about this author: Carolyn Tytler

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