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lot of people suffer from an illness that will definitely end their lives: a
terminal illness. Some people who have reached the end stage of that disease
want to end their lives in order to prevent or end suffering. This can be done
through euthanasia. Euthanasia is intentionally bringing an end to someone’s
life in order to stop suffering. There is a difference between active and
passive euthanasia. Passive euthanasia means that the treatment of the illness
of a patient will not be continued, whereas active euthanasia means that a
lethal substance is used to end a person’s life. The latter is rather
controversial. People in the UK who still want to commit active euthanasia have
to travel to another country in order to do so, because it is forbidden right
now in the UK. As a result, people who want to help others commit active
euthanasia can be prosecuted. Therefore, the current laws should be changed. However,
laws are not changing yet and terminally ill people have to suffer for that.
Therefore, in order to minimalize unnecessary suffering, the UK should legalise
active euthanasia of terminally ill people.First of all, active euthanasia does not significantly
shorten people’s lives. The people that would be allowed to commit euthanasia with
new laws are terminally ill and have reached the end stage of their disease.
These people have almost no chance of recovery. This, of course, does not mean
that miracles do not occur at all but it is very unlikely that they will. Most
of these people want to commit euthanasia when their illness has reached a
point where they think it has become unbearable. Therefore, the patient would
probably not have continued to live for a very long time anyway. According to a
Dutch report released in 1991, euthanasia does not significantly shorten a
person’s life. In 86% of the cases, it varies between a couple of hours and a
week (Pijnenborg, Van der Maas, Van Delden, & Looman, 1993). Beside this,
the choice to commit euthanasia also is not some hasty decision. First of all, if
a patient wants to commit active euthanasia, it does not necessarily mean that
it will actually happen. There is a complex system with a lot of rules which
patients are bound by in order to be allowed to undergo active euthanasia
(Morris, 2013). Also, in most cases, the patient has already discussed the
topic with relatives or a friend several times before actually deciding that
they want to end his or her life. Furthermore, the doctor who is treating the
patient has usually known the patient for some years. He or she observed that in
most cases the amount of pain that the patient was in had become insufferable
and that there were no better options regarding palliative care. For this patient’s
situation active euthanasia would then be the best option. Not only do terminally ill people suffer unnecessarily
because of the current laws, the people around them do as well.  The terminally ill people want to end their
lives for a reason. They cannot stand the pain or mental burden anymore. The
people around them want what is best for their loved ones. They do not want to
see them in pain. Unfortunately, with the current laws, there is no way for others
to help. Take the case of Paul Lamb for example. 23 years ago, Paul Lamb was in
a car crash, after which he was almost completely paralysed, and he is now
receiving constant care. There are many days on which he has to take medicine
which include morphine to try to lessen the pain he experiences. At the moment
he still wants to keep on living, but he wants to be able to make the decision
of ending his life when he feels the need. This enables him to die when the
pain becomes unbearable. That way he does not have to be in constant pain anymore
and his family will not have to see him suffer (Brown, 2013). An example for
someone who has already reached the final stage is Martin (his last name is not
known). He suffers from locked-in syndrome. Locked-in syndrome is a syndrome in
which a patient is not able to move or talk to others because he or she is
completely paralysed. Martin’s lawyers stated he would have to depend on the
help of a medical professional to commit euthanasia, since his wife was not
willing to do so. It is not clear if that medical professional would be on
trial for aiding him to go to a suicide clinic in Switzerland. This means that
with the current laws, the people who are actually trying to help, could end up
being convicted for their actions (Brown, 2013). Another example for this is
the case of Diane Pretty. Diane Pretty had motor neuron disease. People who
have this condition sometimes die by suffocation. Mrs Pretty was afraid that
this would happen to her too. That is why she wanted to be able to determine
when and how she died. This is an example for the mental burden terminally ill
people have to suffer. Mrs Pretty was afraid of dying in a horrible way, she
wanted to rid her mind of all of her worries about her death. This is, of
course, also something her family worried about. It is terrible to see your
loved one so terrified of the prospect of dying when it is inevitable. If Mrs
Pretty’s husband decided to do something about the matter and attempted to aid
her in taking her own life, charges could be pressed against him (Laville,
2002). Again, it can be seen that not only the patient, but the people close to
them suffer from the current laws too.A poll from Populus has shown that more than 75
percent is in favour of active euthanasia across the country. The conditions
are that the people who want to commit euthanasia are terminally ill, still
mentally capable of consciously making decisions and have a prognosis of a
maximum of six months. 82 percent of the participants wants active euthanasia
to be legalized, of which 47 percent “strongly support” this. Only 12 percent
of participants is against legalizing active euthanasia, of which 6 percent say
they “strongly oppose” to it. The poll also shows that there are people in
favour regardless of political preference, age and socio-economic background
(Populus, 2015). Regarding the matter of public opinion, the people were asked what
they would want if they were in the position of being terminally ill and having
only a short amount of time to live left. Another study shows that 37 percent
of the people would want to end their lives if they were in a situation in
which they had reached the end stage of their illness and were bed bound. Only
14 percent chose the option that would be equivalent to palliative care and 17
percent wanted their life to be sustained at any cost (Clarke et al., 2017). Of
course, it is difficult to determine what someone would actually choose if they
were to be in such a situation, but this gives a bit of an idea of what people
think of being in it. All in all, when both of these studies are looked at, it
can be seen that the public supports the idea of legal active euthanasia.One of the main problems that will arise while
formulating a new law is that it remains very complicated to determine to what
extent doctors should be able to commit active euthanasia on a terminally ill
patient. One of the reasons why it is so complicated is that a lot of people
believe that euthanasia is not always the best option, given the fact that
there are alternatives such as palliative care as well. On top of that, even if
they were to draw up a new law, it would still be a challenge to pass it, as
many politicians believe it to be too dangerous; they fear that this will be an
easy way out for the doctor (Brown, 2013). This, however, is not the case, according
to Eric Cassell, MD. He claims that “Assisting a patient in dying is not an
easy way out. When terminally ill patients request assistance in dying because
of their suffering, and their request meets commonly endorsed safeguards, their
request should be honored.” (2004).

It appears that the current euthanasia laws cause
unnecessary suffering. There are a few reasons as to why some people think the
current laws should not be changed. They say, for example, that active
euthanasia should not be legal because it shortens people’s lives. However, this
is not the case. Some people claim that palliative care is an alternative to
euthanasia. However, there are also people who feel that they can no longer
keep fighting every day because they are in a lot of pain. These people want
their suffering to come to an end and so do the people close to them. Besides
the terminally ill people and their loved ones that might want these laws to be
changed, the larger part of the public, more than 75 percent, is in favour of
active euthanasia. All these things considered, it is clear that the current
laws should be changed in order to end the unnecessary suffering of terminally
ill people.  

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