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[YRP Students' Essays] Euthanasia

What do you think about your death? If you become a mere "vegetable" or you are brain-dead, do you want to live without your consciousness? Or do you want to be killed? Of course, it is impossible that everyone selects the same answer. Some people may feel that they want to live even though they do not have their feeling, and other people may think that the people who do not have their consciousness should not continue living. And some people may have different opinions. So this problem is difficult to solve.

First of all, I researched the clear definition of "euthanasia". According to a Web site, "Death with Dignity" means to die while keeping your dignity as a human. That is to say, he/she should be treated as a "human" not as a "living thing". To this notion, the problem is how to realize "Death with Dignity". Then when people (doctors, parents, children, and so on) judge that there is no way to keep the human nature except to die and they bring him/her to the death intentionally, it is called "euthanasia".

Next, I would like to write about "active euthanasia" and "passive euthanasia". "Active euthanasia" means to kill him/her and "passive euthanasia" means to allow dying. General people feel that the former is difficult to admit, but they can admit the latter. There is also "voluntary euthanasia", "non-voluntary euthanasia" and "involuntary euthanasia". "Voluntary euthanasia" means to kill by the will of the patient, and "non-voluntary euthanasia" means to kill the patient who is not able to show his/her intention. For example, newborn babies who have tertiary handicaps apply to this case. And the last one, "involuntary euthanasia" is to kill the patient without ask his/her wish, though he/she is able to speak, or contrary to the patient's wish. Of course this cannot be allowed. Obviously this is homicide. Thus, "euthanasia" has six classes. "Voluntary active euthanasia", "voluntary passive euthanasia", "non-voluntary active euthanasia", "non-voluntary passive euthanasia", "involuntary active euthanasia" and "involuntary passive euthanasia". The mass media call "voluntary passive euthanasia" "Death with Dignity" and, "involuntary active euthanasia" and "non-voluntary active euthanasia" correspond to the "mercy killing". By way of parenthesis, "mercy killing" means to kill the patients by doctor's or family's leniency.

In Japan, "euthanasia" is not allowed as medical conduct. For acceptance of "euthanasia", it must fulfill the following four requirements. (1)The patient has an intolerable pain. (2)The patient's time is drawing near. (3)There is no way to ease the patient's pain. (4)The patient's will is visible. In the Netherlands "euthanasia" is legal, but they set down strict conditions. The most important point is to consult with another doctor. An arbitrary decision by the physician in charge is not allowed.

Just to finish the definition of words, I think about my case. In my case, I should be allowed to continue living even if I become a mere "vegetable" or am brain-dead. I think that humans' most important instinct is to live. Basically, everybody should complete their lives until the end of their natural lives. But maybe there is someone who is feeling such intolerable pain that they want to die. I cannot imagine this pain. To be honest, I do not know if it is bad to wish to die and I could not order that someone must not wish to die because I have not had such serious pains that patients who want to die have had.

Moreover, for my part, I do not want to die until the end of my natural life even if I am afflicted with a disease, but I do not want my grandparents or my uncles and aunts, and my parents to be afflicted with the disease. And if they wanted to die because of their pain, I might agree to the euthanasia. I cannot say to them that they should continue living. Nevertheless, I think that people should continue living.

If he/she wants to die in serious pain, I think that other people just have to accept his/her decision. But if he/she cannot show other people their will, other people must not end their life if they think it's from kindness. Perhaps a miracle may happen. There have been some people who have miraculously recovered from a crucial disease or being a "vegetable". If other people had killed the patient, he/she would never have recovered.

And there is a problem about this. It is difficult to discern whether it is really euthanasia. The person who kills the patient (generally his/her doctor) will urge that the killing is a kind of "mercy killing". However, who justifies the doctor's justice? Nobody except the doctor knows the truth. If the doctor was a bad person, people would not believe his/her words even though he/she was telling the truth. In reverse, if the doctor was good, no one would doubt his/her words, even though what he/she said was not true. So it is very difficult to judge about "mercy killing".

We should consult about this problem and make certain rules.


Child Research Net would like to thank the Doshisha International Junior/Senior High School and Satoko Kawai, student and author, for permitting reproduction of this article on the CRN web site.
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