Euthanasia opponents don't believe that it is possible to create aregulatory system for euthanasia that will prevent the abuse of euthanasia.
It gives doctors too much power
This argument often appears as 'doctors should not be allowed to play God'. Since God arguments are of no interest to people without faith, it's presented here with the God bit removed.
Doctors should not be allowed to decide when people die:
· Doctors do this all the time
· Any medical action that extends life changes the time when a person dies and we don't worry about that
· This is a different sort of decision, because it involves shortening life
· Doctors take this sort of decision all the time when they make choices about treatment
· As long as doctors recognise the seriousness of euthanasia and take decisions about it within a properly regulatedstructure and with proper safeguards, such decisions should be acceptable
· In most of these cases the decision will not be taken by the doctor, but by the patient. The doctor will provide information to the patient to help them make their decision
Since doctors give patients the information on which they will base their decisions about euthanasia, any legalisation of euthanasia, no matter how strictly regulated, puts doctors in an unacceptable position of power.
Doctors have been shown to take these decisions improperly, defying the guidelines of the British Medical Association, the Resuscitation Council (UK), and the Royal College of Nursing:
· An Age Concern dossier in 2000 showed that doctors put Do Not Resuscitate orders in place on elderly patients without consulting them or their families
· Do Not Resuscitate orders are more commonly used for older people and, in the United States, for black people, alcohol misusers, non-English speakers, and people infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This suggests that doctors have stereotypes of who is not worth saving
Pressure on the vulnerable
This is another of those arguments that says that euthanasia should not be allowed because it will be abused.
The fear is that if euthanasia is allowed, vulnerable people will be put under pressure to end their lives. It would be difficult, and possibly impossible, to stop people using persuasion or coercion to get people to request euthanasia when they don't really want it.
I have seen . . . AIDS patients who have been totally abandoned by their parents, brothers and sisters and by their lovers.
In a state of total isolation, cut off from every source of life and affection, they would see death as the only liberation open to them.
In those circumstances, subtle pressure could bring people to request immediate, rapid, painless death, when what they want is close and powerful support and love.
evidence to the Canadian Senate Committee on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide
The pressure of feeling a burden
People who are ill and dependent can often feel worthless and an undue burden on those who love and care for them. They may actually be a burden, but those who love them may be happy to bear that burden.
Nonetheless, if euthanasia is available, the sick person may pressure themselves into asking for euthanasia.
Pressure from family and others
Family or others involved with the sick person may regard them as a burden that they don't wish to carry, and may put pressure (which may be very subtle) on the sick person to ask for euthanasia.
Increasing numbers of examples of the abuse or neglect of elderly people by their families makes this an important issue to consider.
The last few months of a patient's life are often the most expensive in terms of medical and other care. Shortening this period through euthanasia could be seen as a way of relieving pressure on scarce medical resources, or family finances.
It's worth noting that cost of the lethal medication required for euthanasia is less than £50, which is much cheaper than continuing treatment for many medical conditions.
Some people argue that refusing patients drugs because they are too expensive is a form of euthanasia, and that while this produces public anger at present, legal euthanasia provides a less obvious solution to drug costs.
If there was 'ageism' in health services, and certain types of care were denied to those over a certain age, euthanasia could be seen as a logical extension of this practice.