Reason Must Inform Emotion in Western Australian Euthanasia Debate
Members of Parliament have feelings and emotions that guide them into making correct ethical decisions, but they also have a mind and they must use their intellect to harness these gifts when deliberating on euthanasia.
Emergency workers, the legal system, and the medical personnel must not act on emotion alone. If they do, they omit their intellect and forego the rational arguments for and against particular decisions. Inevitably such a decision will be wrong for society and its citizens.
Rational consideration should be given to the consequences of legalising euthanasia, without detaching oneself from feeling compassion for the sick and dying.
Members of Parliament must consider the impact euthanasia legislation has on doctor-patient relationships. If medical professionals are given the power to harm patients, then patients can never be certain that doctors will act in their best interests. This is why 107 of the 109 National Associations that comprise the World Medical Association oppose euthanasia.
Euthanasia distorts relationships between the suffering and their loves ones. Many tabelled euthanasia Bills contain stories of suffering people who claim they no longer want to burden those who love them. I write “suffering” and not “dying because, in some instances, suffering people are not terminally ill. Australian society should not champion an ethic which states that so-called “loved ones” should be considered “burdensome”.
Euthanasia severely impacts the provision of palliative care. Tragically, economic considerations do inform considerations to legalise euthanasia. The suffering human person must never fall under a cost/savings calculation. More can be done to improve the provision of palliative care.
Refusing to legalise euthanasia does not mean that patients can’t refuse medical treatment. Proponents of euthanasia claim that it is not different to a patient refusing treatment. There is a clear moral distinction between refusing or stopping treatment when it is becoming overly burdensome and the direct killing of a human person. This distinction must not become blurred.
Legalising euthanasia promotes suicide. Advocates of euthanasia often refer to suicide-attempts made by suffering people. This should not be overlooked. However, where euthanasia has been legalised it has greatly “opened the doors” for people seeking to commit suicide for psychological traumas they have suffered.
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