Honour patients' wishes in matters of life or death

The fact that the state of Victoria in Australia has legalised euthanasia shows that, increasingly, people want a choice in how they spend their remaining days - be it in palliative care, refusing life-sustaining treatment or euthanasia - if they have been stricken with a terminal illness (A good life to the end, or a quick death; Dec 16).

Euthanasia tends to be frowned upon by those who are healthy. Families tend to cling to any life-prolonging alternative, regardless of the patient's wish for a quick end to all the suffering.

For those with a terminal illness, euthanasia may be seen as a panacea.

In the Singapore context, given the exorbitant healthcare costs, such an option could possibly be embraced by those who do not want to be a financial or emotional burden to their loved ones.

It could also provide the elderly sick with a more humane alternative to a dramatic or horrible end by suicide.

The fact remains that the healthy see things differently from those who are terminally ill.

But at the end of the day, we should respect and honour the wishes of the individual when it comes to matters of life or death.

In this respect, euthanasia should not be seen as something negative.

Seah Yam Meng