Assisted Suicide Essay Research Paper Fortyone yearold

Assisted Suicide Essay, Research Paper

Forty-one year-old Peter Cinque was in the terminal stages of diabetes. He was

blind, had lost both legs, and suffered from ulcers and cardiovascular problems,

as well. He was being kept alive by a kidney dialysis machine. Then one day he

asked his doctors to stop the treatment. As a conscious, rational adult, he had

the legal right to determine what should or should not be done to his body. But

the hospital authorities refused to honor this right until he had been examined

by two psychiatrists to test his mental competence. After this, the hospital

obtained a court order that required him to continue with dialysis treatments. A

few days later, Mr. Cimque stopped breathing. He had suffered from brain damage

and was in a coma. Only after this and two court hearings in the hospital that

he was finally permitted to exercise his constitutional right of

self-determination (Ogg 61). What an unfortunate incident. Mr. Cinque was forced

to prolong his suffering due to a lack of guidelines to ensure the right of

self-determination. For this reason, euthanasia must be legalized in a way that

individuals to decide for themselves what should or should not be done to their

bodies. That is, laws must be strengthened and guidelines must be set to ensure

the right of euthanasia will not be denied to people. The case for euthanasia is

justified on three fundamental moral principles: mercy, autonomy, and justice (Battin

18). First, there is principle of mercy. This means that one ought to relieve

pain of another and that it is a doctor?s duty to relieve pain and suffering

for the patients. Granting mercy sometimes require euthanasia, both by direct

killing and letting die. Moreover, allowing doctors to end the life of

terminally ill patients is more merciful than allowing them to die slowly and

painfully. Second, There is the principle of autonomy. That is, euthanasia is an

individual?s choice. It is the right of those who have a desire to be free

from pain and total dependence on others to end their lives. The degree of pain

experienced by one can never be fully appreciated by another. Thus, no one can

decide for another, and no one can take a choice away from another. Third, there

is the principle of justice. Euthanasia is central to the liberty protected by

the fourteenth amendment (Leo22). Again, every human being of adult years has

the right to decide what should be done with his body. This also applies to

terminally ill patients who are especially in need of choices. They are at a

situation in which they must be allowed to decide for choices. They are at a

situation in which they must be allowed to decide for themselves. Otherwise, it

would be unconstitutional to deny them the freedom of choice in which every body

else has. It would be a crime to deny them this right because they are at the

mercy of other people. A lot of the terminally ill patients who wish to end

their suffering by death are denied by doctors and hospitals and, sometimes, the

law itself. Medical authorities often have to consult courts when it comes to

the issue of euthanasia. They fear of the responsibilities because they lack

concrete guidelines to exercise euthanasia. This only results in prolonging the

suffering of the patients. According to Isaac Asimov, ?If a person is subject

to pain that won?t stop as a result of a disease that can?t be cured, must

he or she suffer that pain as long as possible when there are gentle ways of

putting an end to life?? (62). It is absurd to put terminally ill patients

through painful treatments unless they choose to, when euthanasia is available

as an alternative choice. Too often, because of hospitals and court delays, many

terminally ill patients are forced to prolong their suffering. Opponents of

euthanasia contend that life is too precious for anyone to decide to end it.

Cardinal Bernardin, arguing against euthanasia, states, ?As individuals and as

a society, we have the positive obligation protect life?not to destroy or

injure human life directly, especially the life of the innocent and

vulnerable? (70). Another opponent of euthanasia, Ph. Schepens, wrote, ?A

society in which the individual can exist only if he is wanted by others, and

who therefore ceases to have absolute value? (26). In other words, they claim

that euthanasia would lead to devaluation of human life because it would force

medical professionals and patients? families to judge the worth of other

lives. However, their views are invalid. On the contrary, forcing hopelessly ill

patients to continue their suffering and total dependence on others would be

devaluation of human life. It is demoralizing for many of these patients to be

in such a situation of continuous pain and helplessness. Recall Peter Cinque?s

incidence at the beginning of this paper. If anything, his life was devalued. He

was forced to suffer even more severely because he was denied his wish of dying

to end his pain. Had he been granted his wish in the first place, he would not

have to he through this torture. Terminally ill patients like Mr. Cinque will

eventually die, and most of the time will be a painful death. It would be much

more honorable to human life to respect these patients? wishes and give them a

choice to end their pain by euthanasia. This is not to say that they should be

forced to choose death as a method of pain relief. Those who choose to fight

their illness until the end should be respected in the same way. The opponents

of euthanasia also use the ?slippery slope? argument to speak against

euthanasia (Leo 22). This argument claims that once euthanasia becomes

acceptable for the terminally ill, it would become acceptable for the less

seriously ill, the handicapped, the mentally retarded, and the elderly. The

opponents fear that it would get out of hand, and unjustified deaths would be

uncontrollable. This view, like the previous one, is too blindly exaggerated. It

is for these reasons why laws must be strengthen to ensure the right of

euthanasia, not to omit euthanasia, completely, The laws that protect the

people?s right to euthanasia will, at the same time, protect the people?s

right from euthanasia. It is not about getting rid of the unwanted people of

society, but it is about a necessity of choices for people who need choices,

such as the terminally ill. Thus, it is necessary to have euthanasia legalized.

This would allow competent patients to decide for themselves how they prefer to

be treated. They could decide for themselves whether they prefer to either fight

their illnesses with painful treatments or to end their suffering by euthanasia.

Patients like Peter Cinque would not have to be forced to suffer. They would be

allowed to determine their own destiny and worth. More important so, terminally

ill patients could have an alternative choice available to them when their pain

is becoming unbearable. The point is that they should be allowed to decide for

themselves, when they are conscious or are incapable of deciding for themselves.

Then their families and doctors can decide on their behalf. The opponents of

euthanasia suggest that instead of having to legalize euthanasia, better pain

relief would make euthanasia unnecessary (Peterson 19). However, the fact is

that pain is not the only reason why people seek euthanasia. Many incapable

patients fear the lost of control of their bodily functions. They are

overwhelmed by the feeling of hopelessness and mental anguish. Thus, reducing

the pain alone cannot solve the problem. Other opponents of the legalization of

euthanasia suggest moving all terminally ill patients into a hospice where they

can be cared for (Schofield 28). In a hospice, patients are visited, read to,

and kept in constant contact with loving people. Doctors can care for the

medical need of the patients and attempt to keep pain at a minimum. The

opponents claim that a hospice would also make euthanasia unnecessary. Sure,

this plan will benefit those who do not want to go through euthanasia, but what

about those who do?. Patients will still be totally dependent on others and

forced to prolong their suffering. There are always those who would rather die

than be totally dependant on others. Why not just let them die to end their pain

and suffering, and why not just let them die peacefully with dignity?. When

euthanasia is legalized, terminally ill patients will have the choice to end

their suffering and die with dignity. Those who wish to go through euthanasia

will not have this right denied to them. They are free to judge their wom lives

and free to exercise their right of self-determination. When euthanasia is

legalized, patients will not be forced to have their pain prolonged due to court

hearing or due to hospital bureaucracies. Lpatients do not have to feel that

they are at the mercy of thers. Furthermore, doctors will be free from the

burden of providing medical care to patients who are hopelessly ill, especially

patients who wish to discontinue painfull treatments. Yet, legalizing euthanasia

does not mean that society would force pople to die when they are incapable or

when they get old. People would simply be granted an alternative choice other

than having to go trough prolonged and painful treatment. It is now clear that

euthanasia is a right that cannot be denied to people. But in order to ensure

that this right is not denied to people, our legislatures must take action. They

must provide concrete laws to ensure that terminally ill patients have the ritht

to choose. They must provide concrete guidelines for medical authorties to act

upon. Moreover, we as citizems need to urge our legislatures to strengthen the

laws to support euthanasia. We must stand together and speak out to let them

know that a right cannot be denied to us. We need to have euthanasia legalized

so that we have this choice available to us when needed. And for those who are

hopelessly ill, legalizing euthanasia will allow them to end their suffering and

die with dignity.

Asimov, Isaac. ?No Mercy.? Euthanasia: Opposing Viewpoints. Ed. Neal

Bernards. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1989. 62. Battin, Margaret Pabst.

?Euthanasia Is Ethical.? Euthanasia: Opposing Viewpoints. Ed. Neal Bernards.

San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1989. 17-23. Bernardin, Cardinal Joseph.

?Protecting Life.? Euthanasia: Opposing Viewpoints. Ed. Neal Bernards. San

Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1989. 70. Leo, John. ?Assisted Suicide?s Slippery

Slope.? U.S. News and World Report 16 May 1994: 22. Ogg, Elizabeth.

?Euthanasia Should Be Legalized.? Euthanasia: Opposing Viewpoints. Ed. Neal

Bernards. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1989. 61. Peterson, Lynn. ?Would Better

Pain Relief Make ?Elective Pain? Unthinkable?? Washington Post 12 July

1994: 19. Schepens, Ph. ?Law of the Jungle.? Euthanasia: Opposing

Viewpoints. Ed. Neal Bernards. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1989. 26. Schofield,

Joyce Ann. ?Euthanasia Is Unethical.? Euthanasia: Opposing Viewpoints. Ed.

Neal Bernards. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1898. 28.


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