In the United States, there exists a preference among doctors to “do no harm.” While this general rule provides the framework for modern medical practice, it also contributes to the country’s feelings on euthanasia. When older people are trying to let go of life, some argue that they should be required to struggle until natural causes take them away. Others argue that people of sound mind should be able to make their own decisions on how to go, especially when end-of-life pain is involved. While euthanasia might go against the country’s ethic, it should be allowed because of principles of freedom that it represents, because people should not have to suffer through terminal pain, and because medical choices are generally in the purview of the patient.
One must recognize that when discussing euthanasia, the discussion centers on concepts of personal freedom. When the government imposes a ban on euthanasia, it is essentially inserting itself into the end-of-life choices of a person. These are some of the most intimate choices that an individual will ever have to make, and they are deeply personal in nature. There are many reasons why one might want to take his or her own life, especially at that late stage, and the government should not have a role in determining whether or not this is the proper course to take.
In addition, euthanasia should be allowed because no person should have to deal with indomitable pain at the end of life. Many people making this particular decision are doing so because they have been afflicted with seriously debilitating conditions. Perhaps they have lost function, and maybe their lives have been reduced to constant suffering. While it may be easy for someone who is not in the position of the hurting to tell that person that they should just struggle through it, this is not the morally responsible means of dealing with the problem. Rather, all people should get the ability to determine what level of pain they can bear. If that level of pain becomes too high, then that person should have options. A proactive policy toward allowable euthanasia would give the dying an opportunity to let go of life before pain wrecks their final days.
Lastly, the United States has a long-standing tradition of allowing people to make their own decisions on the treatment they want to seek. This is the basis for the abortion doctrine, which gives women control over their bodies. It is also why, in the US, patients are always given the final say on their medical choices as long as they are of sound mind to make those decisions. Some might offer a rebuttal that doctors and the government have the ability to step in when people are harming themselves, but this is not really true in the medical context. People have the right to refuse treatment, even when that treatment might save their lives. Along this same line of reasoning, people should be given the opportunity to make this critical medical choice, which is inarguably the most important medical choice they will ever make.
While there is some preference in the United States for disallowing euthanasia, there are legitimate reasons why legalized assistance suicide might be a good idea. The government should not be in the business of dictating this very important choice to people. Likewise, given the pain that often comes with the end of life, people should be able to choose to handle it however they see fit. Lastly, this is a medical choice, and medical choices should be dictated by the people affected by them rather than by a policy set by a legislator.