Three Essays by Philospher Peter Singer: Choosing Death

In his essay which talks about euthanasia, Singer argues that euthanasia should be legal and people battling with medical conditions that they cannot overcome, should be allowed to consent to end their life with euthanasia. Euthanasia is a practice of intentionally ending life in order to relieve from pain and suffering mostly from incurable medical conditions that causes discomfort and unimaginable pain and frustration. Singer presents his argument through the story of an 85-year-old New Zealander, Gillian Bennett who was suffering from dementia as of 2014 and someone who wanted to be euthanised because of her condition.

To support his argument, he talks about the statements given by Gillian Bennett about her condition and why she has chosen to be euthanised. These statements portray the thought process of the victim of an untreatable medication thus shedding light on the emotional trauma patients such as Bennett have to go through without gaining anything. By practicing Euthanasia, she says that, “All I lose is an indefinite number of years of being a vegetable in a hospital setting, eating up the country’s money but having not the faintest idea of who I am.” This statement indicates how euthanasia could help many people, free themselves from a condition they can never recover from. Singer also mentions Janet Adkins, an Alzheimer’s patient who traveled to Michigan to end her life in the 1990s. While opposers claimed that it was an irrational decision since her condition had not worsened yet and she could do things like play tennis, she believed that it was better to make the decision as soon as possible before she lost herself to the illness which is something Gillian Bennett believed in too.

According to NBC News, seven countries around the world, have legalised euthanasia as of 2021 with countries like the Netherlands that have also legalised the practice for children older than twelve years. In a response to Peter Singer’s other article “Extending the right to die,” that discussed the same topic of euthanasia, James Mildred, the Chief Communications Officer for CARE, wrote in his article that like Singer, many people will argue that a person’s circumstances and more importantly their decision of being euthanised is more important and should be the first thing you consider when talking about the legalisation of Euthanasia. However, legalising euthanasia would result in a rise in numbers of people opting for euthanasia in order to end their sufferings. Mildred further adds that by legalising euthanasia by only considering the feelings of patients and the trauma they go through, the practice should also be legalised for children who are going through a similar traumatic experience and if that is the case, people with Mental illnesses and a poor mental health who wish to end their lives should also be permitted to be euthanised. To support his argument, he states that the decision to be euthanised shouldn’t be based on the fact that the person is suffering or is vulnerable since life has a meaning much greater than that.

Having read arguments from both, the proposers and opposers of euthanasia, I believe that euthanasia should be legalised and patients from all over the world who are going through an illness that they cannot escape, should have the right to choose whether they want to continue their lives or not. The arguments made by James Mildred are rational and present a good point for example, when he says that it would increase the number of people applying for euthanasia. Legalising euthanasia would mean that a lot of patients would apply for euthanasia but that doesn’t mean that it will result in a lot of people being euthanised since patients wanting to be euthanised would have to be approved by their doctors regarding their status and whether there is a chance of them getting better, before starting the procedures. He also says that a decision to be euthanised cannot be based merely on the person’s feelings or the fact that they are suffering or are vulnerable. Even though I believe that people must not be approved of practicing euthanasia solely based on their experience, I do believe that their experiences and feelings should be the major deciding factor since it is them going through the trauma nd pain without any sign of improvement. Although it sounds impractical and irrational, a person should be allowed to free themselves from an incurable illness that is traumatic and frustrating and something that restricts them from living a happy and healthy life.

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