Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Is euthanasia - medically assisted suicide - ethical? It is a tough moral question. Countries like Switzerland which have legalized euthanasia have been receiving "suicide tourists" from their neighbours. Supporters of euthanasia claim that there are people who are suffering so much from their chronic illnesses, often reduced to physically degenerated human vegetables, that it is a humane act to end their suffering through assisted suicide. These people endure so much pain that their lives have been reduced to a living death. If we can act humanely towards fatally injured animals by putting them to sleep, why can't we also act humanely towards human beings in the same situation?

Those on the opposite side would argue that all human lives are sacred and no one should play God in determining death. A sick patient, no matter how hopeless, still has a chance to be saved as long as he is not dead. Suicide, assisted or not, is a crime. There is also the danger for a person to make a rash irreversible judgement in deciding to die prematurely. Can a person who is ill be able to make a sensible decision as to whether to die or not?

Euthanasia like human cloning is a modern ethical dilemma. Human civilization has come to a point where it has gained the technology to accomplish marvels that used to be attributed to God. But can we, even in our most rational moments, claim to possess even a fraction of His infinite wisdom? I fear not.

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