According to Williams, euthanasia is a deliberate act of taking away a life of an individual who is presumed to be hopeless (Williams 168). It entails taking away one’s own or another person’s life that is believed to be suffering from an injury or a disease from which recovery is not anticipated. Mr. Bertram Harper helped his wife who was suffering from advanced cancer to commit suicide (Harrison 1). According to Kant’s categorical imperative, an act is considered to be morally upright if it can be applied universally (Johnson 1). On the contrary, the decision made by Mr. Harper to help the wife commit suicide does not meet this threshold and is thereby regarded as morally wrong.
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Generally, human beings have a natural inclination to perpetuation of life. Human body is naturally structured to fight against diseases, and reflexes are engineered to enable an individual escape or react to threats that tend to bring life to extinction. All processes of nature are virtually inclined towards ensuring bodily survival. However, euthanasia does violate this natural goal; it overcomes the body mechanisms aimed at protection and survival. The effect of euthanasia is much worse as compared to that of disease or injury. Our dignities as human beings come from seeking our ends. By taking away life, euthanasia violates this natural dignity. Since taking away life sets human beings against nature, it should be considered immoral in our society (Williams 2). Therefore, it was morally wrong for Mr. Harper to act against nature by assisting his wife in taking away her life.
Modern medicine practice is of high standard and has a record of greater accomplishments. However, it lacks perfect and complete knowledge on life, and a mistaken diagnosis as well as mistaken prognosis is possible. It is also possible to believe that there are no chances of recovery from a disease when the chances are actually very high. On the other hand, medicine is an uncertain science. Thus, it is possible that an unproved procedure can be tried on a particular individual and bear fruit. The option of trying a new technique should be left open rather than cutting hopes through euthanasia. In some cases, spontaneous remission does occur. For instance, some patients do recover mysteriously, when those around them, including physicians and family members, expected them to die. Euthanasia would only guarantee the wish of those people around the patient and leave no room for such unexpected healing which often occurs (Williams 3). The case of Cole’s wife, Jackie, is a perfect proof that medicine is uncertain science. When Jackie had a massive brain hemorrhage due to the rupture of her brain blood vessels, she fell into a coma. The doctor told her husband that most patients suffering from such stroke die within few hours; however, Jackie stabilized into a vegetative state. The doctor said she could last at the vegetative state indefinitely. Consequently, Cole went to court to be allowed to remove his wife from the respirator. While the judge delayed to make his ruling, Jackie woke up after six days (Gibbs 1). In essence, it would have been morally wrong to have taken away Jackie’s life. Similarly, Mr. Harper’s decision to help his wife commit suicide is morally wrong since it is possible that she could have recovered from the advanced cancer.
The will to live is strong in all human beings, but suffering, pain, and feeling of hopelessness can weaken this strong will. Allowing death simply because a challenging moment has come on one’s way denies people the opportunity to reconsider the issues. However, human beings have to be strong in order to overcome serious illnesses. The suggestion that euthanasia is an easy way out of trauma is misplaced and goes against our strong will to live (Williams 3). Despite the pain, one can recover. The case of Dax Cowart who recovered despite the pain and hopelessness is a perfect example. He was severely burnt in a propane gas explosion that occurred near Henderson, Texas. As a result of the pain, he tried to take away his life, but all the attempts he made failed. First, he asked for a gun in order to kill himself. In the second attempt, while on his way to the hospital, he requested the medic to let him die. He later crawled out of bed in an attempt to throw himself out of the window but was intercepted. The notable fact is that several years down the line, Cowart, who lives in Texas, was able to continue with his life. He later became a law school graduate and got married. Nowadays, he is managing his investments (Gibbs 1). Thus, it was not morally right for Harper to assist the wife commit suicide simply because she was feeling pain.
For the most part of their lives, doctors and nurses are committed towards saving lives. Loss of life may appear to them as a personal failure. Permitting euthanasia may soon change this commitment by corrupting the belief. Patients would thereby be treated on the basis of convenience but not the need to save lives. Euthanasia lacks moral standing in the society. If individuals who are sick and have no hope of recovery are allowed to take away their lives, then the matter is headed the wrong way. People will be making decisions on behalf of those who are deemed to be unfit to live. At this point, euthanasia is involuntary and not personal and may be viewed as a voluntary act of denying the patients the right to life (Williams 4). Mr. Harper’s decision to help the wife take away her life is morally wrong and deserves punishment.
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