corrine wrote:I have never understood why it is okay to artificially extend life even though the quality of that life might be gruesome, but it is not okay to help a suffering individual to end his/her existence if that is what they wish.
Your argument is based on several false premises:
- “No one who has not died knows if heaven or hell exist.” According to the Buddhist teaching, all of us have died before, many times, but we cannot remember our previous lives. You can only maintain that you do not know if heaven or hell exist, but you cannot possibly know that no one else knows. The Buddha (and some of his disciples) claimed that he did know. Knowing as he did, he prohibited his monks from practising euthanasia with the highest possible penalty — expulsion from the community. Even providing the means for a sick person to commit suicide or speaking in praise of suicide is the unwholesome kamma of aiding and abetting the killing of a human being, which is an offence of defeat for a monk.
- “Why is it a bad thing to help end that suffering?” This assumes that assisting suicide ends suffering. According to the Buddha's teaching, the only way to end suffering is to remove the causes — which are craving and ignorance. A precious human rebirth is a very rare opportunity to encounter the Buddha's teaching and put an end to the causes of suffering — or at least to reduce them and reduce suffering.
In the UK, the laws are made by parliament, and they should be applied equally to all. The costs of care for the terminally ill are to some extent borne by the state, but those who don't wish to terminate their life must also pay for their care costs, so the cost shouldn't be part of the argument when it comes to deciding what is legal and ethical.
Legalising euthanasia opens a whole can of worms. Anyone who doesn't wish to bear the financial and personal costs of caring for an elderly relative can claim that their relative wishes to end their life, or persuade them that they do wish to end their life because they are a heavy burden on their family. They can at least make sure that they never hear anything that might make them change their mind.