Euthanasia - not true that only the person knows what's best for him

The writer (Deadly words give euthanasia a bad rap, by Mr Wong Horng Ginn; Aug 6) has made euthanasia seem like just another medical option.

The question is not so much the choice of words that are used to describe it, but the core of what euthanasia is.

Is the content of an act to be valued based on only circumstances and the way the act is carried out, or does the act itself have an intrinsic, indisputable moral quality?

Consider the case of suicide.If a man, in despair, chooses to jump out of the window, while another, also suffering from despair, pays a doctor to administer him a drug that takes away his life, could we say that paying the doctor to help him die is more justifiable? Why?

I think this question is fundamental, because when we empty an act of its intrinsic moral quality, and measure the goodness of it based on subjective experience (of oneself or others) and the techniques used to achieve it, there is no point of reference about right or wrong. It depends on those who have the power to decide or to impose it.

Furthermore, it is a fallacy to assume that only the person himself can know what is best for him.

Consider people who suffer from drug or alcohol addiction, depression, or even just excessive stress, just to name a few examples.

A person who is suffering is precisely the one who needs to be valued, supported and loved, not pushed to the fringes of death.

Can family members and a humane society abstain from the responsibility of helping these people by weighing in on important decisions that can affect their lives, or do we leave them to themselves because personal experience alone justifies the kind of decisions they make?

A person who is suffering is precisely the one who needs to be valued, supported and loved, not pushed to the fringes of death.

The suggestions that the worthiness of human life is to be measured by the level of perceived subjective suffering, and that only the person himself can make the right decision for himself - which are what the writer proposes - is untenable for the betterment of the individual and the building of a compassionate and humane society.

Carmen Tan Kah Min (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 13, 2018, with the headline 'Euthanasia - not true that only the person knows what's best for him'. Print Edition | Subscribe