Euthanasia Debate: It's about Autonomy

Essay by spoonman419College, UndergraduateA+, May 2004

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Easily one of the most controversial topics of our time, euthanasia tends to arouse emotional debate. However, there should be a very practical approach to this subject that puts the value of individual free will above the will of religion. Even if euthanasia is immoral, it still should not be prohibited by law, since if a patient wants to die, that is strictly a personal affair, regardless of how foolish or immoral the desire might be (Nichols). My position is almost identical, for I do believe there are some instances in which euthanasia is immoral, such as if it is not the person's will and is involuntary, but I also believe it should unquestionably be legal upon request.

Society has its own moral obligation to respect individual autonomy when we can do so without infringing upon the rights of others. In the constitution we are guaranteed life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It would seem a contradiction then to prevent someone's pursuit of happiness that involves liberation from one's own life. Because we believe that life is intrinsically valuable only as a result of its ability for rational decision-making a free will, it should not be acceptable to prolong a with no intrinsic value. Out of respect for one's free will and rationality, a person should have the right to determine their own medical treatment, including euthanasia.

Of course, this brings about the question of determining the actual free will that any person has in making decisions concerning medical treatment. Since our argument rests in the hands of autonomy, it is important that patients are given some sort of psychological test to evaluate their rationality. People who are mentally ill or who are unable to perform such a test should not be given the opportunity for euthanasia, simply because...