IS EUTHANASIA JUSTIFIED?
ARGUMENTS FOR AND AGAINST EUTHANASIA
Euthanasia stems from an ancient Greek word meaning “good death”. One definition given for euthanasia in the readings is ‘the intentional putting to death of a person with an incurable of painful disease.’ Euthanasia is currently illegal in New Zealand, but due to contemporary concerns, legislation involving euthanasia has become the topic of heated debate. The debate surrounding Euthanasia is emotive and controversial, with some labelling it murderous and others, merciful. There are strong arguments both for and against the practice and principles of euthanasia, and I will endeavour to impartially examine both sides of this ongoing debate, concentrating on the material provided in the course reader.
Religious and cultural perspectives are generally at the forefront of arguments involving this controversial subject. In the first reading, Euthanasia and Moral Reasoning, Leigh Turner explores the contemporary presence of multiple accounts of the meaning of human life, of suffering and of autonomy, and acknowledges that with regard to the topic of euthanasia, differing social worlds collide. Religious rhetoric in particular has been used to front arguments for both the justification and condemnation of euthanasia. Religious communities in opposition of euthanasia stress the sanctity of the soul, where life is interpreted as a God-given gift that should never be renounced, presenting the argument that our lives are not our own, they belong to God. Within these religious traditions, the self has no claim to make decisions concerning life and death. In this context the Sixth Commandment is interpreted as “Thou shalt not murder”. In Death with Dignity? Michael Bott defines murder as ‘the intentional act of taking innocent human life’, and he goes on to argue that in regards to biblical principles, euthanasia is an intentional act of taking innocent human life, and is therefore...