(Image by Emmy Woo)

Opinion

The complex reality of the E-word

When you google synonyms for “euthanasia”, the words “putting out of misery” pop up on Thesaurus.com. Should one be allowed to free another from the miseries that corrupt their world? 
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/emmymwoo/" target="_self">Emmy Woo</a>

Emmy Woo

July 18, 2022
When you google synonyms for euthanasia, the words “putting out of misery” pop up on Thesaurus.com. Should one be allowed to free another from the miseries that corrupt their world? 

For some, the solution to escape from life’s ugliness is none other than the E-word: Euthanasia. 

Also known as “mercy killing,” euthanasia is the practice of intentionally and painlessly killing a patient suffering from an incurable disease or pain with their consent. The word “euthanasia” itself is derived from the Greek word euthanatos which means “easy death.”

While the practice is illegal in almost every corner of the world, there are a few exceptions. According to NBC News, euthanasia is permissible in seven countries: Belgium, Luxembourg, Canada, New Zealand, Spain, Netherlands and Colombia. For citizens who don’t reside in those regions, however, this practice could possibly send someone to jail with a murder sentence. 

When I made a presentation on this topic in my Information and Communications Technology class around two years ago, my peers were met with distraught and confusion. 

“Are you suicidal?” 

Gladly, the answer for me was no. 

Although my answer remains “no” to this day, there’s a high chance my grandpa probably would’ve responded “yes” during the last moments of his life. 

After tumbling down a flight of stairs of a high-rise building, my grandpa’s brain was damaged for life. He became paralyzed — unable to talk and left to suffer until his last breath. But at the same time, our family at the time couldn’t let him go. Days of staring at the drywall hospital ceiling turned into months. Eventually, three and a half years later, he died from more complications and severe pneumonia.

Back then, I pondered how wonderful our world would become if people could consent to their own legal and painless deaths. What if we had suicide machine pods that allowed users to painlessly control their deaths at the click of a button? 

Little did I know, the reality of euthanasia carried countless controversial burdens that my innocence was yet to understand.

Legalizing euthanasia means that some deaths are allowed and okay. Countries like Canada only allow eligible adults to request medical assistance in dying. Does this send a hypocritical message to Generation Z encouraging youth suicide?

Moreover, is this a setback for our healthcare system? In countries where euthanasia is illegal, medical teams try their very best to heal the patient and reduce suffering. If people have access to euthanasia, does this mean that we’d start choosing death as the easy way out?

And even if euthanasia does become legal, who makes the final decision of pulling the plug? Will healthcare professionals begin assisting suicides of people who don’t want to die? Who will draw the line when abuse of the elderly and disabled begins to occur? 

In an unpredictable world where life is always on the line — whether it’s living in constant fear of another mass shooting in America, texting on the road when you’re not supposed to or waiting for death day with a terminal disease — is it really easier to simply end it all?

Ultimately, the right to die is not as simple as it sounds. Debatable topics arise in this discussion, including the power of ethics, beneficiaries and inheritance, the meaning of life and more.

What are your thoughts? Do you think euthanasia should be legalized in your country?

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