Euthanasia – The Argument


With all the talk of Terry Pratchett’s BBC program in which he travels to, Euthanasia clinic, Dignitas  in Switzerland, I thought I’d discuss the ethical argument surrounding the controversial subject.

Pratchett is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, where not only do you begin losing short and long-term memory but eventually you lose the capability of your bodily functions. Your body forgets how to live. Alzheimer’s is a terminal illness that has symptoms of severe depression (quite understandably considering the prognosis), so euthanasia or  assisted suicide is an option that some may consider in order to escape before they lose themselves completely. Illegal in this country, euthanasia can be carried out in the Dignitas clinic Pratchett visited in Switzerland, but should there be this option? Is it an acceptable solution?

The Religious Argument

According to the devout Christians among us, it is against God’s plan to commit suicide. Despite his granting of freewill to us, they don’t want it used as it denies God’s right to our lives. Some even believe that the suffering process is good as it allows a Christian to better understand the sacrifice Jesus made;  Pope John Paul II wrote that “It is suffering, more than anything else, which clears the way for the grace which transforms human souls.” But Jesus didn’t have a terminal illness that caused suffering and degradation over a period of years, did he?

The Medical Argument

Some worry that if euthanasia is legalized it may become a more commonly used procedure on the elderly and sick to save on expensive medical bills. It is widely believed that if Palliative care is working to its purpose than euthanasia is unnecessary as pain should be relieved in more “ethical” ways. How true this is, I cannot say. Does it undermine a doctor and nurses duty to care? Well in my opinion no, if it is truly what a patient – who is still in sound mind – wants then it is  within their right to end their suffering that way, and doctors and nurses will have a duty to oblige to the patients needs.

The “Slippery Slope” Argument

Aktion T-4 was the name of the Nazis’ program that authorised the mass killing of the disabled and mentally ill, starting with children that were seen as “life unworthy of life”. Seen as a drain on the economy and an obstacle to Nazi ideology regarding the superiority of the Aryan race, the Nazis were ruthless enough to order their deaths without their consent. It is this disregard for life, that is argued by many to have led to policies such as. ‘The Final Solution’; the genocide of 6 million Jews. It is this sort of escalation that many are afraid of, at first it would be euthanasia of the consenting patient, but before long the patient may have no say in the decision process what so ever.

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I personally believe that euthanasia is acceptable if the patient is still deemed able of making his/her own decisions. It should not however be down to relatives who could have ulterior motives such as an earlier inheritance; disgusting as it may sound, there are people like that out there. When the choice is taken away from the patient and made by someone else it is no longer euthanasia that is a sanctioning of murder by an outside party. Understandably it must be difficult for a spouse, sibling, parent, child to sit and allow their loved ones to suffer, however they ultimately cannot decide when their loved one can die; the law would be simply too difficult to police. The medical and slippery-slope argument have merit, and these are certainly dangers regarding the legalisation of the euthanasia process, however if sufficient regulations are installed and it is strictly a decision by the patient then I can see little room for escalation in a 21st century liberalised world; relatively fresh from the horrors of the Nazis’ genocidal policies.

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Super-Size Your Mind


Jamie Oliver is yet again campaigning to improve our knowledge of the convenient food we consume on a daily basis. Not content enough on ruining school menus in the United Kingdom his latest target are kids in Los Angeles who are exposed to high fat, high calorie school meals and the proliferation of fast-food chain restaurants. Jamie’s mission to alter the menus in schools and restaurants however undermines the patrons and students freedom of choice and is completely unfair to those who can eat the so called ‘fast’ food sensibly and in moderation.

Oliver, on this occasion, particularly focused on one independent restaurant owner who served food that Oliver did not approve of.  In an effort to persuade him to try and adopt a healthier, yet more expensive menu, Oliver deployed a young overweight teen to tell the story of how her parents had died of diabetes as a result of eating this unhealthy food; her ten year old sister was also suffering from the condition. Tears streaming, she begged and pleaded to the restaurant owner to change his menu. Diabetes is a terrible disease and one cannot help but feel sorry for this young girl whose family has been so affected by it, but ultimately, eating too much of the wrong types of food and subsequent obesity is not the fault of the companies that sell and market the food. Obesity comes as a result of an insatiable appetite not because there are restaurants that serve “fatty” food. What has happened to choice and freewill? Are people so enticed by the colourful menus and clever marketing of these fast-food chains that they cannot resist the pull and temptation of  another “cheese-covered” product of some variety? Business is business, if a restaurant owner creates money by selling high calorie food at a good return then you cannot expect them to change their menu because someone has not controlled their diet and become ill. Restaurant owners are not responsible for ramming food down your gullet or preventing you from exercising. Irresponsible parents should be lectured and educated, not the business owners, who are able to make a  fat profit out of their fat customers.

With talks about duty on alcohol being raised in an attempt to combat binge drinking, under-age drinking and alcohol abuse, how long is it before they are being raised on food that is over a certain calorie limit? Those that enjoy food sensibly could potentially be punished for those that cannot cope with the complex ritual that is undertaking regular exercise and putting down the pie. Raising duties in this manner is fundamentally wrong and punishes many who aren’t responsible for problems such as alcoholism and obesity.

The fast-food world was recently rocked by the news that Ronald McDonald could go the way of Cheryl Cole and receive the axe as he symbolises the consumption of McDonalds’ fast-food products. Again, why should the company have to part with the world-famous clown because irresponsible parents cannot prevent their kids from becoming obese and suffering from related health issues? Concerns about the clown are completely misplaced; he is certainly a creepy symbol, yet he remains somewhat of an institution in the industry. Priorities are quite obviously distorted in this modern age anyway; as Ronald the clown is tossed off the McDonalds’ bandwagon, the Hamburgler still remains at large.

People become obese because they overeat, this is not the fault of the restaurant owners. Symbols and marketing don’t equate to widening waistlines. People, regardless of their size, as far as I am aware, operate under a certain level of freewill; if they wish to prevent conditions such as Diabetes, they don’t have to visit McDonalds. It needs to be understood that eating at these establishments is a matter of choice, menu’s shouldn’t have to change because some people cannot control their appetite. A super-sizing of minds is most definitely needed in the space of removing the super-size meals.

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