Friday, February 10, 2006

Youth In Asia

...Oh...I mean...Euthanasia.

Recently there was an article written in wwu's newspaper, The Western Front, about Euthanasia. The Article was a fairly shallow view of the issue, and arrived at the wrong conclusion, I felt. So I wrote a letter to the editor. Here it is (minus a few last minute changes):

Oppinion piece fails to address most common reasons for euthanasia

Dear Editor,

I would like to comment on Megan Lum’s opinion piece in the January 27th issue of the Western Front entitled “Terminal Patients Deserve Dignity.” Although I felt Miss Lum displayed remarkable compassion towards the dying, this compassion has led her, and many others at Western, into misguided beliefs relating to end of life issues, resulting in advocacy for euthanasia and physician assisted suicide (PAS).

There were some glaring misconceptions about patients requesting euthanasia and PAS that Miss Lum made crucial to her argument. First, she assumes that pain is a leading reason patients request death. This is not actually the case. I encourage anyone reading this to google “Requests for euthanasia AND pain,” and they will find many articles suggesting that pain is not a widely held motive to request euthanasia or PAS. Rather, the most common motives are hoplessness, depression, and psychological distress. It seems to me that providing better psychological care to dying patients is a better solution to dignify patients, as opposed to the killing of patients.

Miss Lum argues that, ”Assisted suicide merely allows a person the choice to end an already lost battle on their own terms.” This sheds light on another misconception that all euthanasia patients are in a “lost battle,” and very near death. Euthanasia.com, a website cited by Miss Lum, explains that most euthanasia laws around the world, including the ones she mentioned in her article, extend the right to die to those with difficult to manage (yet treatable) illnesses. Again, it is more likely that the psychological state of the ill person is a more likely motive for euthanasia or PAS than the physical condition of the person.

Miss Lum correctly stated that our nation was founded on the principle of liberty. However the other inalienable rights, those of life and the pursuit of happiness, are also present. These principles can’t be compromised as easily as Miss Lum thinks. A person should not be able to take a life for the sake of liberty, even if it is their own. This idea, I realize, is very difficult for many people to grasp. Miss Lum’s attempt to justify euthanasia or PAS, while noble in its intention, unconscionably fails to draw attention to possible unforeseen consequences that will surely stem from protecting the “right to die” through legislation.

Bryan Ochs

Western Alumnus

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