Should voluntary euthanasia be allowed in Hong Kong?
The issue of euthanasia has been discussed for decades. Euthanasia is a medical practice to end one’s life with the purpose to alleviate pain or suffering while voluntary euthanasia is one of its categories that carried out at the request of the patient. A few years ago, a paralyzed patient had requested for euthanasia to end his life painlessly. This attracted wide attention among the general public in Hong Kong. People started to discuss whether euthanasia should be allowed. This essay argues the possibility to allow voluntary euthanasia in Hong Kong. It will begin with the debate on euthanasia with different perspectives.
It will conclude that voluntary euthanasia should be allowed for the benefits of the suffered patient. One of the main pro-euthanasia arguments is that the patient should have her own right to choose between life and death. Brock (1992) points out that respect for self-determination of the patient is important because self-determination allows people to make decision about their lives with respect to their own values and conceptions of a good life. If the patient got a terminal disease and suffered a lot, euthanasia can give her a chance to die in a more comfortable way.
Everyone wants to die in a peaceful way without pain. What is more, the interests of the patient should be considered as the most preference when discussing euthanasia because it is the most affected and the most suffered party. The patient who wants to terminate her life when they feel unable to sustain living should be free to do so because suicide is not a criminal offence (Pauline, 1999). If suicide is not a criminal offense in Hong Kong, why voluntary euthanasia cannot be allowed as it is one form of suicide?
Healthy people are able to promote better lives for themselves but the patient with terminal/incurable disease has no choice for a better living. As a result, the possible way that the patient can do is to ask for euthanasia. In conclusion, the patient has the autonomy to choose the best way for his life therefore voluntary euthanasia should be allowed for the sake of the patient. However, the opponents of euthanasia are worried about the slippery slope effect. The slippery slope argument on euthanasia claims that any practice to allow voluntary euthanasia may easily lead to involuntary euthanasia (Pappas, 1996).
If voluntary euthanasia is allowed, there will be more chance to misuse or abuse euthanasia. Chambaere et al. (2010) find that over a quarter of life-ending cases is done without explicit requests from the patients in Belgium which is one of the countries that allow voluntary euthanasia. Along with, Thomson (1994) realizes that the interval between the request for euthanasia and its implementation is actually short. That means the patient may not have enough buffering time to rethink the decision. However, the patient may be influenced by depression or pain when at the time of making decision for euthanasia.
The poor decision of the patient may cause misuse of euthanasia that lead to unexpected loss of lives. Moreover, the historical example from the Nazi euthanasia programme in 1930s caused the fear of abuse of euthanasia. Pappas (1996) worried that allowing voluntary euthanasia can lead to horrified abuse of euthanasia which has no difference with murdering. The original purpose of euthanasia will then be blurred. In brief, to allow voluntary euthanasia may cause uncontrolled situation of the slippery slope effect. To avoid this, it should not take the first step to have any legislative action on euthanasia.