Euthanasia Essay, Research Paper
Euthanasia should be legal in the United States. Euthanasia is the practice of painlessly putting to death people who have incurable, painful, or distressing diseases or handicaps. Although most religious groups believe that it is suicide or murder and immoral, people should still have the right to tell the nurse or whomever to pull the plug. People who have supported euthanasia in the past believe that it allows a person to die with dignity instead of being kept barely alive by artificial means (Abernethy, 430).
Everyday people are kept alive by life supporting machines. A person should be allowed a “natural death” instead of a prolonged death with medical equipment (Battin, p. 19). Doctors are supposed to ease the pain of people not prolong it (Battin, p. 19). Death is one of the few things that all people have in common. Basically, this means that there is a chance for everyone to face the decision of letting someone pass on in life. Euthanasia should be legalized so people will only have to think about the difficult decision of the present and not about the consequences of the future. People should be allowed to control their own death and make the decision themselves without having someone make it for them. I don’t know anybody that wants there loved one suffering to stay a live when they know that he or she would be well off if they just pulled the plug.
If the person who is ill is not able to make the decision then there should be a few options: a living will, the family’s choice, and the doctor’s choice. A living will should be allowed to control of the person’s life if the person is unable to make the decision for him or herself. If there is no living will, the family, consulting with a qualified physician, should be allowed to decide for the patient. The one situation that is most controversial is a patient with no family or no family member qualified to make the decision. Some think the doctor should be able to make the decision for the patient. I believe that the doctor should be allowed to decide if the patient has reached the point of only getting worse and in considerable pain. In any of these situations a doctor should be at least an advisor, they are the ones with the medical knowledge, and know the present condition of the patient and the alternatives. “In any humane or humanistic view of what is good, it is morally wrong to compel hopelessly suffering or irreversible debilitated patients to stay alive when death is freely elected” (Larue, p. 61). In some cases, like terminal illness, “death is often better than dyeing”, mainly due to the way that the person will die. They may have to go thorough a long period of pain and suffering. Ask yourself which you would rather choose, early or prolonged death (Larue, p. 62).
The advances of technology have disturbed the natural balance of life and death. When people are on life supporting machines, most the time the machine is used to keep the breathing and their heart pumping. A person no longer dies when they are supposed to. Opponents say doctors should not play God by killing patients, but do they realize that by prolonging death the medical profession is doing exactly that? Christian Barnard, at the World Euthanasia Conference, was quoted as saying, “I believe often that death is good medical treatment because it can achieve what all the medical advances and technology cannot achieve today and stops the suffering of the patient” (Battin, p. 21). A different version of the same argument is doctors are not always responsible to do everything they can to save somebody. If a doctor’s duty is to ease the pain of his patients, then why should this exclude the possibility of letting them die? What about a person who is in a vegetative state for a prolonged period of time with no hope of recovery, should the doctor do everything? I believe that a doctor should do what he can up to a point. If a person is at the point where death is a blessing then the doctor should not be forced to save a person if they go into cardiac arrest or stop breathing. Also it might be the patients decision for nothing to be done, in this case the doctor should do as instructed.
Is euthanasia unethical? This is what the opposition argues. They preach that doctors often play God on the operating tables and in the recovery rooms and doctors must always be on the side of life (Battin, p. 24). They say, “Life is to be preserved and suffering was to be alleviated”, but in fact the American Medical Association said, “Physicians dedicate their lives to the alleviation of suffering, to the enhancement and prolongation of life, and the destinies of humanity”. They clearly state the “alleviation of suffering” before “the enhancement and prolongation of life”. So if the reduction of pain would mean letting the person pass on, why would that be wrong and unethical? They also claim euthanasia is a “breach of the laws of humanity”; what about the laws of nature? These laws were established long before mankind. Humanity breached the laws of nature, long before the “laws of humanity” were broken, with advances like respirators. People are the ones upsetting the balance of nature when they try to keep persons alive who are supposed to die. The planet has survived for a long time without the laws of humanity, so what makes them right (Schofield, p. 26)? Opponents also claim that euthanasia is against God, therefore it is unethical. People think of euthanasia as being suicide.
I believe that euthanasia should be legal in the United States because it lets people die when there time has properly come and with dignity. Although people who are opposed to this, you have to look at the dying person’s needs. For instance my grandmother past away a couple of years ago. She was a vegetable. I went and visited her, and she didn’t even know that I was there. She didn’t even look like my grandmother anymore. She was totally helpless. She needed help eating and breathing. I didn’t like to see her like this and I know she wasn’t aware of what was going on around her. It’s cases like these where I believe that there would be the option to let her be peaceful (pull the plug) instead of in pain.
Abernethey, Virginia. “Euthanasia.” World Book Encyclopedia. 1988 ed.
Battin, Michael. Euthanasia: the time is now. New York: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1987.
Kalafat, John.“Sham and Suicide: A Case Study.” Death Studies. Vol. 4 (2000): 157-162.
Larue, Gregory. “The right-to-die controversy”. USA Today. 17 Nov. 1988: pp. 61-62.
Robinson, B.A. “Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide.” 18 Apr. 2000. 25 July
Schofield, Joan. Euthanasia: opposing viewpoints. London: Macmillan, 1988.