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In the article “Offering Euthanasia can be an Act of Love”, Humphrey puts up an argument in support of euthanasia. Euthanasia refers to mercy killing, which is the painless killing of a terminally ill person in order to spare him/her from pain and troubles arising from the illness. Humphrey rightly points out the main controversies brought by euthanasia and attempts to propose a way forward. The author focuses on present and past happenings that have influenced the arguments around the practice. One of the crucial developments cited is the decision by the American Medical Association (AMA) to acknowledge that artificial feeding of patients can be stopped in case the patient is “hopelessly comatose.” This paper will shed more light on the practice of euthanasia by reacting to the various arguments cited by Humphrey.
The American Medical Association's decision to allow stopping of artificial feeding to hopelessly comatose patients is welcome. As Humphrey points out, those against this development rely on fallacies and nothing else. For instance, a critical look at the argument that food comes from God and no one has a right to stop another from feeding reveals shortsightedness. Such arguments fail to acknowledge that the whole process of feeding a terminally ill comatose patient is not natural, but dependent on fabricated technologies. If this patient could have been left to nature, he/she could have died a long time ago. Euthanasia borrows from this idea by suggesting that this person should be peacefully left to die if all other alternatives have been exhausted. Equating euthanasia to Nazism is unfounded.
As Humphrey points out, pro-life lobby groups have compared the decision to stop feeding hopelessly comatose patients to the Nazi practice of exterminating Aryan Germans because they were “useless eaters.” This comparison is faulty for the two practices are guided by completely different convictions. First, the Nazi decision was not based on science, but on malicious prejudices and half-truths. The Nazi terminated more than one hundred Aryan Germans because they were “mentally or physically defective,” and thus against the “purity of the German race.” This was founded on barbaric fascism and was against all religious, moral, and scientific convictions of the world (Cohen-Almagor, 2001). Euthanasia is different from this Nazi practice, as it is rarely carried out without the consent of next of kin (Stolberg, 2007). The Nazis were not killing helplessly comatose patients, but able people who they just did not like. The Nazis were deeply immersed in a ruthless killing spree, which defied logic. With euthanasia, it is a completely different story since the best interests of the patient and his/her family are taken into account.
The proposition that “people have rights, not technologies” is indeed true. Though this phrase is easily used to justify the fight against euthanasia, a critical look reveals the opposite (Stolberg, 2007). The phrase indeed justifies the use of euthanasia after careful thought. Those against euthanasia fail to acknowledge that it is people who come up with technology, thus technology should work for people. Technology exists to serve the best interest of people, and not the opposite. As a result, people decide whether to embrace technology or to avoid it altogether. It is after people decide that technology no longer serves them that they settle for ideas like euthanasia. What is the need to use technology to sustain a helplessly comatose patient using artificial feeding for 20 years without any hope for improvement? People should have a right to choose what is best for such a patient.
Common sense demands that we do not be-devil euthanasia. A careful analysis of the practice reveals that the best interests of the person are at hand. As a result, legislation in favor of euthanasia should be replicated elsewhere.