Euthanasia - Whose Final Choice?

@1 May 2005

What is an English teacher supposed to instruct the world about anyway? Hmm, I'm not a clinical psychiatrist with a pathological avoidance syndrome when it comes to telling the patient what I think. When a student asks my direct opinion, I try to give an honest answer. It is not always easy. Try this one.

[ Here is a link to a story about a doctor who chose euthanasia for himself]


"Teacher Thor, Do you know something about an American woman whose name is 'Schiavo'? Have you ever heard of her death? I just read an article about euthanasia which was related to Terri Schiavo. I need your opinion about that issue. What do you think? What's your position? Do you agree on euthanasia system?

"Could you give me your opinion about her death? Do you think that removing the feeding tube from her was the best way for her? (She was in coma for about over 10 years because of her severe diet in 1990, finally she got heart-attack and had brain damage) She had been keeping her life by provided feeding tube without consciousness. Her parents tried to keep using feeding tube for a miracle. But her husband tried to remove the tube to save her from painful moment. Are you a pro-choicer? Or Pro-life? Which one do you think you are belong to? I really want to know your thought on that contentious issue......

"I'll be waiting for your opinion........

"P-S. If you don't know about that issue, you don't have to answer to my question........."


Hello Hong-sik,

Euthanasia is something people usually have strong opinions about. They often say that these opinions come from their religion. In fact, I think the opinions come from their private hopes and fears. (Fear of death is maybe the main reason that humans have religions).

Here are arguments against euthanasia:

1. People are personally afraid that someone will put them to death without their permission.

2. They are especially afraid of giving governments or doctors permission to put them to death.

3. They know from daily experience that many people (including doctors and bureaucrats) are bad at their jobs, or even corrupt. Therefore putting the power of life and death into the hands of such people is dangerous.

4. A living creature is a miraculous thing. A human being carries a lifetime of accumulated knowledge, and many social relationships. To destroy all this carelessly is a terrible crime.

5. even if someone says that they want to die, they may be emotionally or chemically disturbed at the moment. Later, they may change their minds.

6. We know that many people commit suicide. We also know that if they are saved from suicide, they are usually grateful to live later.

7. Most religions say that to kill is a very bad thing.

Here are arguments for euthanasia:

1. Nobody chooses to be born, but a person may choose to live or die.

2. Any normal person will usually choose to live, but there are times when dying quickly is better than a cruel and certain death.

3. Sometimes very old or crippled people decide that they are a burden on living relatives or friends. If they feel that life brings no joy anymore, they may choose to die.

4. Sometimes a person is so damaged, especially brain-damaged, that there is no hope that they will ever be more than a living vegetable anymore. Then doctors and relatives must decide if it is kinder to end their life.

5. Very often the people running governments try to convince certain citizens that they should die in defence of the country. That is, they should die in order to preserve the culture of other people in the country. The form such a call to self-sacrifice takes is usually through persuading young men to join an army in time of war. This is never called euthanasia, but it comes to the same thing, on a mass scale.

Here are situations where I might personally choose euthanasia :

1. If I were very badly injured in battle (in a war), my companions had to flee, enemy soldiers were coming and I knew they would kill me in a very cruel way: I might ask a friend to shoot me quickly. I hope I would be brave enough to ask this (one is never sure until the moment of truth).

2. If I were reduced to a human vegetable, like Terri Schiavo, then I hope relatives or doctors would put me out of my misery quickly.

My personal comments on the Terri Schiavo case:

1. I think her husband was brave. I think her parents were cowardly and cruel, or at least deluded.

2. I think it is terrible that nobody had the courage to kill her quickly with a painless injection. Death by starvation is a horrible way to go (ask the North Koreans).

3. I despise George Bush and his brother Jeb (governor of Florida). They tried to pass special laws to keep Terri Schiavo alive. That is their idea of religion. These are the same guys who have sent thousands of people to their deaths in Iraq, and enthusiastically used the death penalty in American jails, even though prisoners are sometimes convicted wrongly. It worries me very much that people like this are in charge of countries.

Regards, Thor
1 May 2005

All opinions expressed in Thor's Unwise Ideas and The Passionate Skeptic are entirely those of the author, who has no aim to influence, proselytize or persuade others to a point of view. He is pleased if his writing generates reflection in readers, either for or against the sentiment of the argument. Personal names are changed where they may embarrass the owners.

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