Euthanasia: Should humans be given the right to play God?
Euthanasia: Should humans be given the right to play God?
Mahjabeen HassanShould humans be allowed to play the role of God? Legalizing euthanasia would do just that! The power to play with people's lives should not be handed out under a legal and/or medical disguise. Thus euthanasia should not be legalized.
The term 'Euthanasia' comes from the Greek word for 'easy death'. It is the one of the most public policy issues being debated about today. Also called 'mercy killing', euthanasia is the act of purposely making or helping someone die, instead of allowing nature to take its course. Basically euthanasia means killing in the name of compassion. On the contrary, it promotes abuse, gives doctors the right to murder and in addition, is contradictory to religious beliefs.
Whether one agrees or not, past experiences as well as the present continuously point out that euthanasia promotes abuse. Dr. J Forest Witten warned that euthanasia would give a small group of doctors "the power of life and death over individuals who have committed no crime except that of becoming ill or being born, and might lead toward state tyranny and totalitarianism." (1)
An example of this very statement by Dr. J Forest Witten was seen in Pennsylvania, in 1947 when forty seven year old Ellen Haug admitted having killed her ailing seventy-year-old mother with an overdose of sleeping pills. Her excuse was that she couldn't endure her crying and misery. Ellen said that her mother had suffered too long and Ellen, herself was on the verge of collapse. Her excuse was that "if something had happened to her, what would have become of her mother?" (2) Her reason was not only vain; as a matter of fact it was very selfish. Ellen was not putting her mother out of misery but she was getting herself rid of a responsibility. She was merely taking the advantage of calling her cold-blooded murder euthanasia. Likewise, a recent Dutch government investigation of euthanasia came up with some disturbing findings. In 1990, 1,030 Dutch patients were killed without their consent. Twenty-two thousand and five hundred deaths were caused due to withdrawal of support, 63% (14,175 patients) were denied medical treatment without their consent and twelve percent (1,701 patients) were mentally competent but were not consulted. These findings were widely publicized before the November 1991 referendum in Washington State, and contributed to the defeat of the proposition to legalize lethal injections and assisted suicide.(3) Euthanasia, at the moment is illegal in most parts of the world. In the Netherlands it is practiced widely even though it remains illegal. The Dutch incident is an ideal example of how euthanasia has promoted abuse in the past and therefore as the old proverb goes we should "learn from past mistakes to avoid future ones".
Euthanasia gives physicians, who are only humans-the right to murder. Doctors are people who we trust to save and cure us, we regard them as the people who have been trained to save our lives but euthanasia gives doctors the opportunity to play God and most seize this opportunity. A perfect example of an opportunist would be Dr. Jack Kevorkian, better known as "Dr. Death" who took advantage of his patients' sorrows and tragedies and murdered them. In fact, Kevorkian has helped more than 100 people commit suicide and not all of his patients were terminally ill. In addition, in the late 1980s the lunatic created a machine for murder, it was a "suicide machine" that allowed a person by pressing a button, to dispense a lethal dose of medication to himself or herself. Later, Dr. Kevorkian was sentenced to ten to twenty-five years in prison for second-degree murder for providing lethal injection to a seriously ill patient.(4) Dr. Jack Kevorkian, however, is not the only example of a doctor who tried to "play God".
One can also learn a lot from the mass murder that took place in Germany during World War II. Over 100,000 people were killed in the Nazi's euthanasia program. During the War, the doctors were responsible for, selecting those patients who were to be euthanized, carrying out the injections at the killing centers, and generating the paperwork that provided a medically credible cause of death for the surviving family members. Surprisingly, organizations such as the General Ambulance Service, Charitable Sick Transports, and the Charitable Foundation for Institutional Care transported patients to the six killing centers, where euthanasia was accomplished by lethal injections or in children's cases, slow starvation.(5) Throughout the past and the present, euthanasia has given doctors an excuse to get away with their crimes; it has given mere humans the power to play God.
The physician's role is to make a diagnosis, and sound judgments about medical treatment, not whether the patient's life is worth living. They have an obligation to perform sufficient care, not to refrain from giving the patient food and water until that person dies. Medical advances in recent years have made it possible to keep terminally ill people alive for beyond a length of time even if it is without any hope of recovery or improvement. The American Medical Association (AMA) is well known for their pro-abortion campaigns and funding. Ironically, the AMA funds many hospices and other palliative care centers. They have a firm stand on life. The AMA has initiated the Institute for Ethics, designed to educated physicians on alternative medical approaches to euthanasia during the dying process.(6)
Other than promoting abuse and giving doctors the right to murder, Euthanasia also contradicts religious beliefs. Euthanasia manages to contradict more than just one religion and is considered to be gravely sinful. For instance, the Roman Catholic Church has its own opinion on Euthanasia. The Vatican's 1980 Declaration on Euthanasia said in part "No one can make an attempt on the life of an innocent person without opposing God's love for that person, without violating a fundamental right, and therefore without committing a crime of the utmost sin." It also says that "intentionally causing one's own death, or suicide is therefore equally wrong as murder, such an action on the part of a person is to be considered as a rejection of God's sovereignty and loving plan."(7)
In fact, a Jewish Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits warns that a patient must not shrink from spiritual distress by refusing ritually forbidden services or foods if necessary for healing; how much less he may refuse treatment to escape from physical suffering. As there is no possibility of repentance or self-destruction, Judaism considers suicide a sin worse than murder. Therefore, euthanasia, voluntary or involuntary is forbidden.(8)
Islam too finds euthanasia to be immoral and against God's teachings. Actually, the whole concept of a life not worthy of living does not exist in Islam! There is absolutely no justification of taking life to escape suffering in Islam. Patience and endurance are highly regarded and rewarded values in Islam. Some verses from the Holy Quran say- "Those who patiently preserve will truly receive a reward without measure" (Quran 39:10) and "And bear in patience whatever (ill) may befall you: this, behold, is something to set one's heart upon" (Quran 31:17). The Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) taught "When the believer is afflicted with pain, even that of a prick of a thorn or more, God forgives his sins, and his wrong doings are discarded as a tree sheds off its leaves." When means of preventing or alleviating pain fall short, this spiritual dimension can be very effectively called upon to support the patient who believes that accepting and standing unavoidable pain will be to his/her credit in the hereafter, the real and enduring life. (9) This shows that euthanasia is contradictory to most religious beliefs and is certainly baloney to those who believe in God and the sanctity of life.
Euthanasia should not be legalized. It is by no means a solution to human suffering. Though euthanasia is a controversial subject, it is evident that it only disrupts the normal pattern of life and leads toward creating a more violent and abusive society. Life is a gift and not a choice and practices such as euthanasia violate this vital concept of human society.
(1) Humphry, Derek and Wicket, Ann. "The Right to Die:Understanding Euthanasia." End of Life and Euthanasia, the above-mentioned book can be found here.
(2) Humphry, Derek and Wicket, Ann. "The Right to Die:Understanding Euthanasia."
(3) Anti-Euthanasia Homepage
(4)Cavan, Seamus. "Euthanasia: The Debate Over the Right to Die."
(5) Humphry, Derek and Wicket, Ann. "The Right to Die:Understanding Euthanasia."
(6) American Medical Association Homepage
(7) Humphry, Derek and Wicket, Ann. "The Right to Die:Understanding Euthanasia."
(8) Humphry, Derek and Wicket, Ann. "The Right to Die:Understanding Euthanasia."
(9) Euthanasia and Islam.
10/10/2005, from a Reader on the Web
Hi, I read your artical on Euthansia and about humans 'playing god' and I do believe that killing people is worng. In Holland, having all those deaths where people did not give consent was wrong, terrible in fact, but your information is also wrong. Throught the article you were saying that in some hospitals people were being Euthansied without consent and that children were even 'being starved to death.' Thats wrong. Euthanasia is when someone gives consent to being killed, so without consent that isn't euthanasia that's murder. I would also likew to point out (and I am a catholic) that alot of people who need Euthanasia legalised are extreamly sick, and should have the right to end there life, not being able to do that they need the help of a doctor. Alot of people would be swayed by that letter, but people need to see the other side of the story, hear the stories of the people who are dying and need euthansia to put them out of their pain. I don't have much faith in the justice system, but if Euthanasia was legalised anfd a bill was passed stating that you need to have a document signed saying you have permission from the person then less people will die, because it will be more controlled.
This reply is in response to the article by Mahjabeen Hassan: Should humans be allowed to play the role of God? It is quite presumptive of Mr. Hassan to contend that God has anything to do with the daily lives, most especially, the birth and death of human beings. For most people who believe in evolution - including those who do believe in God - or the Christian New Testament (to distinguish from the Christian sects who have augmented or modified Christian doctrine), God is not involved in decisions of birth and death at all. It is an obvious judgement of life and one's perspective in it, to presume that decisions about whether we live or whether and when we die, are god-like decisions. It is also a judgement of life to decide whether one should live with pain and agony, knowing full-well that they have a terminal illness from which there is no known recovery. It is also a by-product of man-made technology's power to keep people alive past historic limits of illness and ailment. This too is a judgement call and it is made by human beings. Because I live in a secular society, that differentiates between values established and accepted by the majority of society and those established by "god" and his religious administrators, I think and believe that it is everyone's right to determine the amount of suffering they must and can endure in their lifetime on the planet earth. It should not up to fellow society members to decide that they must endure and live in pain because of differing viewpoints on who is responsible for their life on earth. If it is part of your "faith" not to choose this course of action, then live according to your "faith", but you should not impose it on others - then you have become the cause of their suffering because now it is your belief system that they are living by. While I agree that it probably should not up to medical doctors to make that sole decision, there should be some kind of governmental process whereby a human being can apply for "mercy" and a physician can, with approval, administer a "mercy" method for an ailing human being. I am sure there are abuses by physicians or family members with the shortening or extending of someone's life, and for that reason I believe that doctors should have to receive approval to administer a "mercy solution" for an ailing patient. However, to require certain people to suffer pain and agony until their expiration is rather god-like in itself. If you couple that with the medical professions ability to extend life past the capabilities of natural means (life support devices), then who is really playing god? Steven Mitchell
a very good, insightful article on euthanasia, it truly helped my understanding of the subject from a different perspective. thanks!
Miss Hassan: I found your article to be thought-provoking and well-written. Keep it up!
in my view, euthanasia should be legalized. that'swhy, everyone has the right to die with dignity and doctors don't have the right to control a life. if people can't stand their terinally ill it's worse to bekept alive. But euthanasia should be legelized in certain circumstances to prevent misuses of "euthanasia tourism", and it need civil society's participation, not only politician. if the person terminally ill its' hard to enjoy life and they really can't give-up. i think euthanasia involves love and compassion ... Miiga, 27 February 2006
hello my name is mariam. i thought your article was the best and helped me alot with my debate in school in karachi. thank you. just one thing. you managed to loook at both sides of the debate ... Mariam, 30 August 2006
I don't see how a woman, who can no longer take hearing the suffering of her own mother, is a murderer. No one wants their loved ones to live on in agony. My dying grandmother begged to be put out of her pancriatic cancer misery. The doctors simply stopped forcing medicine through her vains. The medical intervention was "playing God". I think many would change their tune if they were suffering and going through a living hell. The U.S. says we have a right to a quality of life and a "pursuit of happiness" during our life. If I don't have the motor ability to end the pain myself, I want someone to do it for me and not be charged as a murderer. That will be my pursuit of happiness- death. Church and state are SUPPOSED to be seperate, but they never really are ... Reader on the web, 4 December 2006
I read your article and what not i think some of the things you said is good becuase Some doctors do kill ... Kira, 2 March 2007
You say euthanasia is "playing God" and that we humans should not be able to play with peoples lives. But if someone is terminally ill and has tubes for breathing, they would have died without those so isnt THAT "playing God" also? If euthanasia should be illegal for that reason, then so should keeping people alive when natrually they would be dead ... Reader on the web, 7 March 2007
You accuse people of playing God by practcing euthanasia and prematurely ending life...but I ask, how is using artificial means to extend their life beyond what their body alone can handle NOT playing God?
I am undecided on the issue of euthanasia, and this is not an attack at you...just something to stir the pot a bit. I am interested in hearing your answer ... Zachary Skaggs, 24 March 2007
My Father, Ernest D. Whitehead Sr. was taken to the hospital on April 15, 2007. He had COPD and developed an infection. His temperature was 103. In the emergency room he was asked if he wanted to be resuscitated if his heart stopped beating. He said yes. The emergency room doctor said that legally, this ended the debate between my family, because my father's wishes had to be abided by the law. They went ahead and placed a respirator on my father and that night his heart did stop. He was resuscitated as he wished. My brother and sister had swarmed into the hospital with the wish that my father would die. They have wanted Power of Attorney over my parents for years. My father was very angry about this and I stood by him. Myself, my niece and a close friend were my father's caretakers. My brother and sister never took care of him. Occasional visits were all he received from them. But now, they were in the hospital wanting to make all of the medical decisions for him. Palliative care/Hospice also entered the picture without being invited. My father wanted to live. He wanted the respirator and the doctor had said it would be left in for 2 weeks and all that could be done for my dad would be. My brother and sister started having meetings with Palliative Care/Hospice and conned my mother into signing papers to have the respirator removed after only 4 days. At this time my father's temperature had returned to normal. While they were in the meeting, my dad's cardiologist came into daddy's room and when asked if he wanted the respirator, he shook his head yes. I asked the cardiologist, Dr Archer if he would put this in daddy's chart and he said he would, but he didn't. Daddy was alert and aware of what my brother and sister were doing. They told my mother he would be sent to Palliative Care on the fourth floor of the hospital. I told my mother they would take away his IV fluids, medications and nutrition. When she asked the nurse if this was true, the nurse said no. Daddy would receive his medicine, IV fluids and the ensure he was being given would be continued and that he could even possibly survive. I knew this was a lie. The respirator was removed and my father was drugged with morphine. I left the hospital very upset, knowing they would kill him. I returned to the hospital later that evening. The nurses in Palliative Care did not expect me to show up. When I walked into my father's room, the heat was turned up, he was laying on plastic with no sheet on his bed and was covered with blankets. His body, his gown and his bedding were drenched with sweat. They were dehydrating him to make him die faster. I walked to the nurses station where there was a sign that said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." How odd. I found daddy's nurse and asked why he was drenched in sweat. She said, "Oh Honey, his body fluids are just shifting." This is nonsense and I told her so. They very angrily gave my father a bath, changed his bedding and gown. He did not sweat any more ... Betty Layne, 30 April 2007