My impression is that the idea of euthanasia, if not the practice, is gradually gaining acceptance within our society. People like Jack Kevorkian attribute this to an increasing inclination to devalue human life, but I do not believe that this is the major factor. The acceptance of euthanasia is much more likely to be the result of unthinking sympathy and benevolence. It is an easy step from this very human response to the view that if someone would be better off dead, then it must be right to kill that person. Although I respect the compassion that leads to this conclusion, I believe that this conclusion is wrong. I want to show that euthanasia is wrong. It is inherently wrong, but it is also wrongly judged from the standpoints of self-interest and of practical effects.
Before presenting my arguments, it would be well to define "euthanasia". An essential aspect of euthanasia is that it involve taking a human life. Also, the person whose life is taken must be someone who is believed to be suffering from an incurable disease or injury from which recovery cannot reasonably be expected. Finally the action must be deliberate and intentional. Therefore euthanasia is intentionally taking the life of a presumably hopeless person.
It is important to be clear about the deliberate and intentional aspect of the killing. If a hopeless person is given an injection of the wrong drug by mistake and this causes his/her death, this is wrongful killing but not euthanasia. The killing cannot be the result of an accident. In addition, if the person is given an injection of a drug that is believed to be necessary to treat their disease or better their condition and the person dies as a result, then this is...