What do we mean when we speak about euthanasia? What kind of constraints separate both sides of this issue? Pain and suffering are the answer. It is the mental image that frightens anyone imagining her or himself one day lying in a hospital bed or perhaps a relative, in extreme suffering, without a chance of getting better, with no solution leading towards a recovery or a possible way out.
Facing a situation of this gravity and despair it is legitimate and understandable that many beg the doctors to put an end to our life or the life of our loved ones. It is dreadful to imagine a circumstance like that, however, this mental and dire image we easily build – of unending traumatic pain, can also be easily softened and removed.
Modern medicine is already capable of responding efficiently with pain relief. Nowadays, staying in a hospital bed feeling unavoidable pain is a sign of poor medical practice. Palliative medicine has made huge progress in recent years, a fact that almost everyone knows, and it is already medically possible to ensure physical comfort till the end of the patient’s life, except in the most extreme cases or most unlikely scenarios.
Health professionals often underline an important fact, that they can observe in their daily medical practice, that the deepest desire of the overwhelming majority of patients is to keep on living. Doctors will also add that their duty is to guarantee all that their patients are offered the suitable and available therapies, in order to respect the patient’s autonomy and will do so, avoiding therapeutic treatments that artificially extend the patient’s life for no medical reason.
Many doctors will tell you that inducing death in a patient, even if it appears to be supported by the best of intentions, is an act that unquestionably hurts the exercise of medicine and it is ethically and morally objectionable. They reinforce the idea that it is perfectly avoidable and unnecessary to choose death, as there are currently plenty of alternatives to avoid pain and suffering.
In 1937, when in most European countries euthanasia started to be pointed out as a sign of progress, an English writer noticed, “At this moment euthanasia is only a proposal to kill those who are a burden to themselves, although, very soon it will be applied to those who are a burden to the others”.
Freedom has got limits, and the red line is clearly noticeable in the human rights clauses of those countries’ constitutions that protect life. Human life is inviolable, and there is no religion, politics or ideology that would change this. The right way to go is to reinforce and to improve the support structures for those where living is no longer an easy task.