Monday, October 20, 2008

Euthanasia - what price, life?

Minister of Health, Mr Khaw Boon Wan was reported by Salma Khalik of the Straits Times as having raised the controversial issue of euthanasia at a recent speech he gave to a bunch of engineers. I respect the Minister for facing some of these difficult issues head on. It is uncommon for a politician to confront problems like these without preconceived notions as to what a 'government solution' might be. It's certainly a refreshing level of honesty to hear a politician call for more public debate on what was a 'complicated issue'.

This, plus issues of organ trading, are indeed complex and ethically challenging issues. I find myself personally very conflicted about what might be my approriate response to these questions. I will try and marshall my thoughts and try and articulate them in future posts. But for now it seems like there are a number of ethical 'sacred cows' which might need to be slaughtered. I know I may come under attack for raising these ideas, but....what the heck? These cows include the following:

a] What is the meaning of sanctity of human life? To what extent are we obliged to preserve all life at all costs? Which faith/ideology peaches this idea that we should save life at all costs? Seems to me all faiths teach the temporality of our physical life and that the true eternal value of life lie in the spiritual domain.

b] To what extent is the human body, and parts of the body...sanctified, that its 'dignity' should be defended at all costs? What is meant by the dignity of the human body? In today's biological world, these ideas seem somewhat anachronistic.

More on these thoughts later.....when I get a longer coffee break.

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