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European Division of WFRtDS

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Pros and cons

Assisted dying (the option) devaluates the lifes of old or weak people
Arguments in favour:

Assisting a patient’s death means deciding which life is valuable and which is not.

 

 

Arguments against:

Old or dying patients often say they are a burden to society or to those around them; this does not indicate pressure from society but is a common expression of the wish to die after suffering. 

Assisted dying (the option) gives pressure to people to die
Arguments in favour:

Pressure from society on patients to kill themselves in order to spare society the costs and family the burden, will influence vulnerable patients.

 

Patients/family members will socially benefit from the death of their beloved and should therefore not avoid it. Organizations/helpers profit financially from the assisted dying of the patient.

 

 

Arguments against:

Most people have a strong will and intuition to live, to survive. This feeling is too strong to be set away by the opinion of other people, or by the feeling they are a burden to others. People who request for assisted dying normally do this because they are in pain, or fear future pain or other forms of suffering in the future. When patients are vulnerable to pressure from others, this will come up in the process to assisted dying, as the question whether a person really wants to die, will be asked more than once to a patient. 

 

A law legalizing assisted dying would offer patients a choice and it would also provide safeguards, the elderly and the terminally ill would be able to choose between decent palliative care, hospital care, dying at home or medically assisted dying.  

Assisted dying (the option) is an incentive to suicide
Arguments in favour:

When assisted dying is possible, this will seduce people to commit suicide. Assisted dying is only the first step to more (f.i. euthanasia, more lonely suicides). Once it’s allowed, there will be more and more cases (Pandora’s Box argument, voluntary death considered to be contagious) to an intolerably high level (thus costing even more lives).

Arguments against:

Those patients choosing assisted dying do not have a choice between life or death - they are dying anyway, often within days, they only shorten their suffering through medically assisted dying.

 

In the western world there is a rise of patients in assisted dying; that is not due to pressure, slippery slope or «duty to die», it is simply a consequence of demographics (life expectancy rising and therefore problems of high age) and of progress in medicine which keeps patients alive longer.

Assisted dying is against the sanctity of life.
Arguments in favour:

The sanctity of life (only God can take a life) must lead to a ban on assisted dying.

Arguments against:

All religious arguments are only valid for religious believers; these religious rules and restrictions however cannot be put upon all people; most are secular countries and religious beliefs cannot dictate laws.

Assisted dying is against the will and task of doctors
Arguments in favour:

The Hippocratic oath does not allow doctors to help their patients die.

 

Health care professionals are focussed on saving the life of patients. The possibility of assisted dying will force doctors to act against their will.

Arguments against:

An oath is still being taken by physicians, but it has changed in time. The phrase from the original Hippocratic oath, about the prohibition to take someone's life, has been removed. 

 

Some physicians do not feel good about assisted dying, for example because it is against their religion. In no country is which assisted dying is allowed, physicians are obliged to do it. It is always an option, never an obligation.  

Assisted dying is unnecessary
Arguments in favour:

Assisted dying is not needed; if a patient wants to kill himself he is free to do so by many means.

 

Assisted dying is unnecessary because palliative care can remove all pain and suffering. Poor information on palliative care causes patients to want to end their lives. Patients are badly counselled and poorly informed about palliation. That will drive them to medically assisted dying and therefore cost life years.

 

 

 

 

Arguments against:

Dying in dignity is not that easy. Dying might be easy, but these means are not humane: hanging, drowning, throwing yourself for a train or from a bridge are not seen as dignified. A dignified death can be established by lethal medication, but this medical is not or very hard to require.  

 

Countries/states legalizing medically assisted dying see a clear rise in the quality and quantity of their palliative care supply, that is a positive side effect; it by the way also faith of patients in their doctors and their country’s health care system rise, this will be another positive effect. Not all patients want palliative care. Not all patients want to die heavily sedated therefore the possibility of dying fully conscious that assisted dying provides must be allowed.

Assisted dying will lead to a dangerous slippery slope
Arguments in favour:

There is a certain risk of the "slippery slope": that the option of assisted dying will lead to an opportunity to kill people who are not terminal, or who have not expressed their wish to die.

Arguments against:

Slippery-slope arguments have been brought forward in the past against abortion laws, living wills and pre-implantation – it has never been proved right so far.