Too many variables to legalise euthanasia

It is problematic to argue that euthanasia is a logical progression to the Advance Medical Directive and, therefore, mercy killing should be decriminalised (Calls for abolition of euthanasia offence, death penalty, S377A; Oct 25).

The Advance Medical Directive is a written document that contains one's wishes regarding medical end-of-life issues, and it acts like a will.

A person makes this directive when he is mentally sound with no cognitive problems.

The Advance Medical Directive is simply a request to withhold life-sustaining treatment and let nature take its course, while euthanasia intentionally ends a life.

There is evidence that in countries where euthanasia is decriminalised, there is little to no hospice care.

This means that in these countries, there is little effort put in to ease the suffering of patients before they are killed.

Unlike an Advance Medical Directive, euthanasia is also a decision that is made in moments of pain, when a person's decision-making skills are impaired and, hence, it is never a good solution.

Furthermore, if euthanasia were to be legalised, who would decide which cases warrant legal euthanasia and which ones do not?

What if a perfectly healthy and sane person wanted to use euthanasia as a painless method for suicide?

Where do we draw the line?

How do we avoid accusations of murder if a person changes his mind once the deadly dose has been administered?

How do we handle people who cannot make their choice known as they are severely incapacitated?

The problem with euthanasia is that there are too many variables.

There is only one way to avoid abuse and the grey areas of euthanasia - that is to outlaw it completely as it creates inconsistencies both within the law and within the moral framework of our society.

Cheng Choon Fei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2018, with the headline 'Too many variables to legalise euthanasia'. Print Edition | Subscribe