‘Euthanasia…. is simply to be able to die with dignity at a moment when life is devoid of it.’ (Marya Mannes, 20th Century American author and critic of American life) Euthanasia is the act of deliberately ending a person’s life to relieve suffering. This could be a doctor not feeding a person on life support the amount of vitamins and water they need to survive. This often gets confused with ‘assisted suicide’: this is aiding a person ,who already has the intention to end their life, to commit suicide.

Both euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal in the UK.

Although many people fail to agree that easing the life of someone who is suffering is morally correct, it is in fact legal in a number of Countries, such as Switzerland and The Netherlands.

However, the choice to end one’s life could be to do with the fact that their choice to live was taken away from them. An example being terminally ill patients who have to endure long-lasting suffering every single day. Many patients would rather not wait for the day that their illness takes them and end their unbearable pain on their account.

The unbearable pain might not be physically visible, but a state of mind. David William Goodall - an Australian botanist and ecologist - chose to, at the age of 104, to die by physician assisted suicide (euthanasia). He took the lethal injection in a Swiss facility during May of 2018. Goodall lived a full and exciting life; being very influential in the early development of statistical methods in plant communities. Urging people to keep fit and active (as he played tennis until he was 90 years old), he admitted the key to living a long life was purely up to us to help ourselves: which showcases how he did indeed want to live. But there came a point before his shortly before his death when he was unhappy - he was no longer permitted to drive and of course along with old age comes the inability to tend to matters yourself.

Goodall advocated for the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia, being a member of assisted dying advocacy group ‘Exit International’. A representative from the group stated, ‘He just didn’t have the same spirit and he was packing up all of his books.’ This was an indication that he felt it was his time to go. Following serious health problems and a fall in his one-bedroom apartment hastened his decision to end his noteworthy life. He died peacefully surrounded by family before his health deteriorated any more. This is believed to be a much more dignified death, rather than an abrupt ending all alone.

Of course certain measures must be taken to ensure that the life lost is not due to selfishness of those who assist it and that the patient is adamant that there’s no other way out.

Other than religious reasons there are many valid arguments that oppose the ruling of legalising euthanasia. There is no certainty that the patient requesting euthanasia has not been pressured or influenced by friends or family who have lost the motivation to help. A lot of difficulties fall upon the carers, naturally, but to steal the patients life as a quick solution to the problem has many ethical issues within itself. Or what’s equally likely to happen is an elderly person may feel sympathy for the family looking after them and choose to carry out assisted suicide for their sake. Legalising voluntary euthanasia would also lead to a rise in cases of involuntary euthanasia, where those who are seen as an inconvenience could be killed: an example being a doctor not supplying the right vitamins and liquids to a person in a coma to prematurely cause their death.

The opposing views have been debated upon for many years, and it is likely to carry on, without ever reaching an undisputed conclusion. As the next generation we must decide for ourselves to what extent we must go to achieve a morally acceptable decision. It is up to you.


Zubaida Choudhury