The Right to Life & Euthanasia


Arguments for euthanasia

The Right to a Life 

As part of our lives we have a human right to live, this is also identified by most ethical theories such as Natural Law and Kant’s deontological theory of ethics. Dying is a part of living so the right to life prescribe a right to die. This means that people should be able to chose when to die and hence voluntary euthanasia should be allowed.

Just like we have a right to live, we also have a right not to be killed as it conflicts our right to live. This implies that other forms of euthanasia are perhaps immoral and dangerous. So there is a right not to be killed (taking life) but there is no right which says one must be saved – implying that passive forms of euthanasia are acceptable too.

It is easy to argue that active euthanasia is immoral because it is essentially killing but James Rachels (American philosopher) argues that passive was much worse. He says this is because it is long and drawn out, it brings about more suffering than necessary for the sane result – a dead patient.

Many people are frightened of accepting euthanasia because they believe it is a slippery road towards devaluing people’s lives. However, if we look at places like Netherlands and Switzerland where euthanasia is practiced the value of life is not low, not like Nazi Germany! Helga Kuhse (an Australian utilitarian and bio ethicist) advocates this view.

Patient autonomy 

John Stuart Mill would support voluntary euthanasia as he supports the argument that people should have a right to make their own decisions even about death.

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