gave you the following practice topic for WAT – “Euthanasia – To do or not.” This topic had appeared in the Xavier
Institute of Management, Bhubaneshwar entrance in 2013. In this article, we
will look at the correct approach for an essay on this topic and will also
cover some important points that may be usedin this essay.
Guidelines – How to Approach this Question
This topic, in its essence, is an
opinion-oriented and subjective question.
You have to present your
opinion and support it with the help of relevant facts.
Try not to take a very strong stand
on the issue. Regardless of how you feel about it, try to take a balanced stand.
Your arguments should be based on practical scenarios.
Sometimes, during PI, the panel
uses your WAT essay to ask you questions. If you have taken a very strong or
extreme stand, it may lead to intensive cross-questioning. An unbiased stand,
on the other hand, gives the impression of maturity and is also easier to
defend and justify.
Since the subject of euthanasia
is often in the news and is a common theme in media, you may very well cite a
movie or a book as an example.
What to Write in the Answer
Here are some
points which you can use in your essay.
· Introduction: The essay can begin with
the definition of euthanasia. The word “euthanasia” is of Greek origin and is
made up of two words – “eu”, which means “well”, and “thanatos”, which means
death. Thus, the literal meaning of the term is “easy death”.
In its broadest definition,
euthanasia is “the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve
pain and suffering”. You can trace the origin of the practice – it was employed
in ancient Greece and Rome where hemlock was used as a medium to hasten death.
This method was supported by great figures like Socrates and Plato. You can
also talk about some countries where it is currently legal, etc.
You could mention how references
to euthanasia have often been made in popular movies, like Clint Eastwood’s
“Million Dollar Baby” (2004).
· Main Body: After the intro, you can start
the main body of the essay wherein you can present your arguments regarding the
suitability of euthanasia. In this part, you may choose to present only those
arguments that support euthanasia or only those that counter it or you may
choose to present some arguments of both types. Generally, on contentious /
debatable topics such as this, it is advisable to present some pros as well as
cons since it helps to give a more balanced perspective (which gives the
impression of a thoughtful and mature analysis). Let us now look at some
relevant points that may be mentioned on this topic.
· In favour: The first thing to keep in
mind is to not be very strong in your stance here (present a balanced view). Explain that sometimes in extreme scenarios, euthanasia
remains the only option. Firstly, the patient is in a lot of suffering and if
he/she has no hope of recovery, then it may be humane to end their pain rather
than prolong their suffering. Secondly, the family and friends of the patient
also undergo immense mental and emotional stress. They cannot stop visiting the
hospital, but they cannot do anything either. So their trauma also keeps on
perpetuating. Lastly, in a country like India where poverty is a major problem,
having a bed occupied for indefinite time leads to deprivation of health
facilities to others who are in dire need.
· Against: Fundamentally, everyone has the
right to life and allowing euthanasia will violate this ethical principle. Questions
like “who can decide whether a person should live or not?” will be asked. If
the responsibility of taking the call falls on the doctor, there will be a
moral dilemma. Should the doctor focus on curing a patient or should he choose
who is treated and who is killed? Similarly, a family member cannot possibly be
asked to decide to pull the plug on the patient.
Another aspect is that medical science is not infallible, and that
miracles also happen. In some cases, patients in coma for 15-20 years have
fully recovered. Some critics say that if euthanasia is legalised, these laws
will be abused and mercy killing will turn into murder.
· Conclusion: Ideally, you should have
covered both sets of views in the body of the essay. In conclusion, firstly, summarise
both the views in 1-2 lines. Then, you may suggest a working system which can
comprise of legal authorities as well as medical experts. This body (committee
or council) can do a thorough research and comprehensive checking of the
chances of recovery of such patients. In case there are no possibilities of
improvement, this special body should examine the various aspects of the case
and then give a verdict on whether passive or complete euthanasia should be
granted. Here, you can cite the example of Pinki Virani’s plea for allowing
euthanasia to Aruna Shanbaug.
In the conclusion, you can summarise
both the viewpoints briefly and reach the solution that follows from the
arguments that you have presented earlier.
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