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The Disadvantages of Legalizing Euthanasia

Given the difficulty of diagnosing depression among severely ill patients, it is quite likely that even mandated psychiatric consultation would fail to identify some cases of depression. Thus, we would have a society that would routine kill those who could otherwise live the rest of their lives in a productive and satisfactory manner.

Lemmens (1995) has also argued against euthanasia on the grounds of its negative effects to society, pointing out that one argument proponents of euthanasia advance is that without euthanasia people are forced to live in a society which imposes a way of dying upon them. The assumption here is that euthanasia is a policy that allows choice, but the truth is that legalizing euthanasia sends a different message to society. According to Lemmens, this message is that physical or mental impairment make life no longer worth living and undermine one's dignity; the solution therefore is societal approval of death.

The attitudinal consequences of this message, Lemmens (1995) states, is a negative impact upon society as a whole in terms of how people perceive themselves. Euthanasia is an expression of societal values, and when society lets a physician asks patients whether they wish to terminate their lives, that same society is telling patients that their lives have actually already lost sufficient value that death may be better.

Another societal argument discussed by Lemmens (1995) is the notion that we are living in a society where healthcare costs are skyrocketing. Cuts have to be made and prolonging the life of someone who is inevitably going to die adds substantially to these costs. However, Lemmens notes that once again euthanasia would be a message to others that the disabilities and dependence associated with a terminal

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