Healthy to discuss euthanasia openly

I do not agree with Ms Rachel Tan Poh Yin's conclusion in her letter (Euthanasia is just glorified suicide; Aug 15).

The goal of euthanasia - like that of palliative care - is to ensure the dignified death of terminally ill patients with unbearable and untreatable pain.

Euthanasia is proactive - including giving a lethal injection - in that it takes the lives of terminally ill patients in their "last miles".

On the other hand, palliative care is not doing what is necessary - including keeping the feeding tubes and medications going - to keep these patients alive.

In short, for all intents and purposes, euthanasia amounts to death by legal injection whereas palliative care amounts to death by starvation and/or dehydration.

It is unfortunate that, although palliative care and euthanasia share the goal of a dignified death, euthanasia is against the law in Singapore.

Singaporeans, by and large, are reasonable people. Hence, we need to be able to question and discuss the pros and cons of legalising euthanasia and form a consensus so to persuade the Government to consider legalising euthanasia.

Retired professor of philosophy Jurgen Habermas once said: "Society's progress is dependent upon a criticism of its own traditions." Needless to say, this rings true.

S. Ratnakumar

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