Imagine someone being involved in a car accident. Imagine the person becomes a quadriplegic as a result of this accident. The victim cannot move any limb from the neck downwards. The doctors insist that with some intensive care, there is a slim chance that he could regain the use of his limbs. Now imagine that the victim is the only child of destitute parents, no financial stability, already living in misery, and now they have to feed, clothe and pay hospital bills for a child that would probably never be able to stand on his own two feet.
Some might argue that the future is not yet determined, and that the child may still amount to something amazing, but the truth is, in this world where men with the full function of their faculties and facilities struggle to make ends meet, the odds for the success of that child/victim are slim, and he knows it. Being perfectly aware that he is probably going to keep his already poor parents in total lack while paying those hospital bills, he decides to end it all, to just go quietly into the night with his pride intact, where he is a burden to no one. Choosing to not waste scarce resources on the slim chance that he might regain the use of his limbs.
Making it a bit more complicated, let’s imagine that the victim was rendered a vegetable as a result of the accident, kept alive on life support machine, and the parents decide to pull the plug, ending the life of the child. Is their decision valid? Have they acted in the best interest of that child?
But the ultimate question is this, should anybody interfere with another’s “right” to want to die?
The term Euthanasia originated from the Greek word for ‘good death’. It is the act or practice of ending the life of a person, either by lethal injection or the suspension of medical treatment. There are
different types of euthanasia,
• voluntary, where the victim requests to be allowed to die,
• involuntary, where the decision is made by the parents,
• active, where a positive act is required, such as lethal injection or use of drugs,
• passive, where the life is ending by not taking the ordinary and necessary action to maintain life.
The religious texts, the Quran and the Bible are totally and irrevocably against murder, suicide, and everything in between barring the usual exceptions of lawful punishment by constituted authority, or in times of war. But the body of laws of most countries are silent on the concept of euthanasia and as such make it a very personal decision. However, countries like Netherlands and Belgium however have legalised euthanasia, giving everybody above 12 years of age the right to die. Laudable? That’s a question for you to answer.
Without a doubt, euthanasia has been a huge source of controversy in the modern world. The debates ranging around about it are just as rampant as that of abortion. The view of the anti-euthanasia groups is that whatever is urging the need for suicide, be it depression or pain can be treated and bypassed, restoring the victim’s will to live. Does this view have merit? Definitely, and it is the view of this writer that it should be a requirement for all patients who are considering euthanasia should first go through mandatory counselling where they can face their demons and determine whether they really want their lives to end or not.
But in the end, the right to die should be a personal decision. It will no doubt be difficult for most people who are in the prime of their physicality to understand the pain and depression that a person who is living on life support can be feeling and as such, the people who are whole are in no position to castigate or ostracise a person who has been pushed to the brink and does not see the point of living anymore.
There is a concept in law of the ‘reasonable man’s test’ or the test of objectivity, where acts are judged as rational, where people in similar situations with similar experiences, status and positions with the person in question would have done the same. This should apply with euthanasia. A rich quadriplegic’s decision cannot be allowed to put pressure on a poor quadriplegic, for alas, they are not on the same level.
So, who determines if a man has a right to die? I say it is no other than the man himself, it is his decision, and his decision should be respected.