The Right Not To Summer Essay, Research Paper
Taking a person?s life is a serious matter. Some people think that a person who is in great pain should be made to suffer through it. People with serious illnesses, however, should be able to decide if they want to live through the pain of a slow agonizing death or die a quick, painless death. Euthanasia should not be deemed a crime. If a person is in great pain and is going to die soon, that person should have the right to die without enduring pain if he/she chooses to.
We could keep people alive who are immobile, relying on machines to do the functions that their body ceased to do. But that person?s life is not benefiting him/her any longer. If life is no longer considered a benefit to a competent patient, then the life has become a burden to that patient. Most people are very concerned with the last stage of their lives. The fact that they are concerned reflects not just a fear of experiencing substantial suffering when dying, but also a desire to retain dignity and control during this last stage of life. Most patients in the last stage of their life find new ways to deal with their disabilities and find meaning and value in new activities. However, some find their impairments and burdens in the last stage of their lives to make their life no longer a benefit to them. For many patients near death, maintaining the quality of one?s life, avoiding great suffering, maintaining one?s dignity, and insuring that others will remember them the way they would like to be remembered, is of great importance and outweighs merely extending one?s life. (Brock, 70)
In their choices of maintaining dignity and quality of life in death, those who are terminally ill have two basic choices. The two types of physician assisted euthanasia are passive euthanasia, where a patient is taken off any medication or life support systems and allowed to die when the body gives up, all the while the patient is in pain. The second is active euthanasia, where a physician by either a lethal dose of a drug of by some other means, ends the patient?s life right there and then, and at the same time taking that patient out of suffering.
Active euthanasia is better than passive euthanasia because it takes the person out of his/her suffering as opposed as to making it worse for a period of time. In the United States about one out of 600 babies are born with Down?s Syndrome. Most of these babies are otherwise healthy, but some have to go through a lot of very painful operations to go on living. The doctor could stop treatment and allow the baby to die a painful death from infection and dehydration. (Rachels, 62) It would be much less painful for both the infant and the parents if the child were to die a quick death using active euthanasia. Being ?allowed to die? by passive euthanasia can be relatively slow and painful, whereas being given a lethal injection via active euthanasia is relatively quick and painless. Thus, active euthanasia should be the idea method of euthanasia.
The reason that euthanasia is viewed as bad is because death is regarded as a great evil. Euthanasia should not be treated as a crime for several reasons. If euthanasia has been decided as desirable in a case, then death is no greater an evil than the patient?s continued painful existence. If this is true, than the usual reason for not wanting to cause death simply does not exist. (Rachels, 65) Also, to put someone out of the suffering he or she is in via euthanasia is purely a humanitarian motive.
The humanitarian motive is present when handling the euthanasia of the aging population. Due to the aging population and advances in medical science people are dying slower deaths. Today?s older population no longer dies of diseases with rapid, unpredictable onset and sharp fatality curves, rather the majority of the population (70%-80%) dies of degenerative diseases, especially delayed degenerative diseases that are characterized by late, slow onset and extended decline. (Battin, 78) So, with this new long delayed cause of death, euthanasia is a better choice. At least five percent of terminal pain cannot be fully controlled, even with the best care. (VES, http://www.ves.org.uk/factsheets/for.htm) Other distressing symptoms such as sickness, incontinence or breathlessness cannot always be relieved. There also have been several studies done about people dying in pain. In a study that the Journal of the American Medical Association published in 1996 over 9000 patients in five different hospitals were researched. It was revealed that more often than not, patients died in pain, their desires concerning treatment neglected, after spending ten days or more in intensive care. (Horgan, 2) This is just another reason to implement active euthanasia.
There are, however, certain situations in which a patient is deemed incompetent to make the decision for euthanasia, such as clinical depression. The authority to make the choice to implement euthanasia should be transferred to a physician. The physician should then decide if the patient is indeed a candidate for euthanasia, or if the patient is mentally unstable. Euthanasia should only be performed by a competent physician who is familiar with the means to administer euthanasia, and not someone who is not in a physician, or unfamiliar with euthanasia methods.
Patients should have more control over when and how they die. It is that patient?s life, not someone else?s to decide. Suicide is rational when a person is suffering through great pain, or his/her quality of life has become a burden to that person. It is not your life, if you can not decide when to let it go.
Battin, Margaret P. ?Euthenasia: The Way We Do It, The Way They Do It? Social Ethics 5th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1997.
Rachels, James. ?Active and Passive Euthanasia? Social Ethics 5th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1997.
Brock, Dan W. ?Voluntary Active Euthanasia? Social Ethics 5th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1997.
Horgan, John. ?Right to Die? Scientific America: Analysis: Right to Die: May 1996. www.sciam.com/0596issue/0596infocus.html
Voluntary Euthenasia Society Home Page; Loundon, UK: January 1999.