Fernando: Euthanasia


IT IS killing out of mercy. In mercy there is death. I have no profound knowledge on euthanasia. The word itself is strange to me. All I know is this is killing out of mercy. Yet it is not as simple as that. There’s a whole lot of things to be considered before it can be called mercy killing or euthanasia. You can’t just kill a person because he’s hungry and you pity him or her. The situation must present a scenario where the person about to be terminated is in a mercy-worthy situation. Other countries allow the practice of mercy killing but in the country, even progressive and liberal minds cannot convince the majority of the Filipinos of its sense.

For others, it is acceptable to end the life of a person if he/she is in this situation. You just do not want him/her to suffer any longer especially when he/she asks for it. But life is a life no matter the situation. The right to end a life is not in the hand of person who is not a life-giver, it is still in the hands of God. Euthanasia is a word coined from Greek in the 17th century meaning “well death”.

Euthanasia, then, is inducing the painless death of a person who is severely debilitated for reasons assumed to be merciful, either through voluntary, non-voluntary, involuntary means (Hendin, 2004). Voluntary euthanasia involves the consent of the patient to perform the treatment. Non-voluntary euthanasia is conducted when the permission of the patient is unavailable maybe because of state of coma, or instances when babies are born with significant birth defects (Emanuel, 1999).

In the country where faith and religion affects our day to day decisions, euthanasia is never a trend. Majority of Filipinos believe in miracles because of their faith in God. Even if a person is given only a few months to live, most of us still believe that with the compassion of God, our beloved might still recover. Due to strong family orientation, it is also unlikely that a family member ends the life of another member even it is for the name of mercy. Old people in their deathbed hardly ask for their families to put an end to their suffering.

There are many essays written calling for the legalization of euthanasia. They argue that it gives terminally-ill patients a medical treatment of choosing between a prolonged life of agonizing pain and a peaceful death. It is not compulsory treatment, in which every patient who has little or no chance of recovering will have to choose euthanasia.

Euthanasia is granted with the will of the patient or the surrogate of the patient and it is only upon their request that physicians perform it. The legalization of euthanasia does not aspire to violate the ethical and moral code, but rather just provide an option to those who need it (Emanuel, 1999). Yet again, if we agree to this view, we may as well say that God cannot intervene. How about stories we hear from people who were healed despite given a few days to live?

We are not judges who decide who lives and when to die. Under the Philippine Constitution of 1987 (Article II, Section 11), the State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights. Therefore, euthanasia contradicts both the Hippocratic Oath and the Philippine Constitution.

Euthanasia has a noble intention but it is never our call to decide who and when to die. Mercy killing is against the dignity or sanctity of human life whether it is a voluntary or non-voluntary.


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