Euthenasia Essay, Research Paper
THE LEGALIZATION OF EUTHANASIA
Euthanasia is a highly controversial topic in America because of the legal and emotional factors involved in a case like this. Many sides can be taken for or against the legalization of euthanasia and many facts can be shown for support on both sides. People sometimes wonder if there is a moral difference between not doing something to prolong life and doing something deliberately to end it. In either case, the issue of having personal autonomy over one s life is a basic question if not a right. Dying used to be a simple and private affair between patient and physician. Common sense would usually dictate what was best to do when the patient was ill and dying. Because complex technology is now available to nearly everyone in this country, what was once a matter simply of life and death has become a very complicated subject that encompasses a growing variety of issues related to dying.
Physician assisted suicide presents one of the greatest dilemmas to the medical profession. Should someone who is mentally competent, but deemed terminally ill, be allowed to engage in physician-assisted suicide? According to the First Amendment of The Constitution of The United States, “one has the freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” The Fourteenth Amendment states, “The State cannot deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The group believes that a terminally ill patient has the Constitutional right to decide whether or not to end his or her life with the help of a licensed medical doctor. There have been many cases over the years where a terminally ill patient who is mentally competent has made the choice to either partake in physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia. “Physician-assisted suicide occurs when the physician provides the patient with the means and/or knowledge to commit suicide”(Death and Dying, 91). “Euthanasia is when the physician administers the death causing drug or agent”(Death and Dying, 92). The most recent case is that of The State of Florida v. Charles Hall. “Charles Hall is dying of AIDS and challenged the State of Florida to let him die by a self-administered lethal injection without fear of prosecution”(http://www.rights.org/ deathnet/open.html). On January 31, 1997, a Judge ruled that Charles Hall could take his own life with the aid of a doctor. Senior Judge S. Joseph Davis, brought in from Seminole County, “found that Florida s strict privacy law and the equal protection clause in the U.S. Constitution entitled Hall, 35, and Dr. McIver to carry out an assisted death without fear of prosecution” (Sun-Sentinel, 1A). On February 11, 1997, Charles Hall s ruling was overturned by the Florida Supreme Court: he no longer has the right to end his own life. He will have to wait until May 9, 1997 until new arguments will be heard. Hall, who has been deemed mentally competent, contracted the virus in 1981 through a blood transfusion. “Some of the complications he is encountering from the AIDS virus are arthritis, hepatitis, pneumonia and a brain cyst” (http://www.rights.org/deathnet/ open.html). The Oregon Death with Dignity Act allows terminally ill adults who are mentally competent to ask for a prescription for medication” for the purpose of ending his or her life in a humane and dignified manner”(http://www.rights.org/deathnet/ open.html). This act, “Measure 16,” was approved by the voters in 1994. “Renewed efforts at the Legislative level to overturn “Measure 16″ may now be anticipated to prevent the law from being used”(http://www.rights.org/deathnet/open. html). In June, 1990, the Supreme Court decided that the parents of 32 year old Nancy Beth Cruzan, who had been in a car accident and in what Doctor s called a vegetative state for seven years, could not end her treatment. Later that same year, a Missouri Court ruled that the feeding tube could be removed after evidence that Cruzan would wish to terminate the treatment was proven. “Nancy Beth Cruzan died twelve days later”(Death and Dying, 26). The First Amendment gives one the right to demand the correction of an injustice. Many people believe that a terminal illness like the aids virus and other fatal diseases are considered and injustice to the world and its people. Charles Hall contracted this deadly disease from a blood transfusion not from shooting drugs or having unprotected sex. So wouldn t Hall be entitled to have this injustice corrected? The Fourteenth Amendment gives one the right to life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. However, is living with complications from a terminal illness, so severe that one is unable to function dependently, life? Some people believe that if a person is of sound mind that they should be able to decide for themselves whether or not to live or die. The right-to-die is a major ethical argument not just in the U.S. but all around the world. When some say keep faith in doctors and medicine the rescue medicine falls short of its goal to return the patient to a reasonable quality of life. Sometimes all it does is preserve the patients life in a technical, biological sense, with both the current quality of life and the chances of recovering diminished to the vanishing point (Deathright, 212). The government says that it is. Liberty is freedom, but is having complications, which do not allow one to be free and independent, freedom? The government says once again that it is. Freedom is also having the ability to make choices. These choices should include the ability to decide to end one s own life when such complications exist. In conclusion, evidence has shown that the First and Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution entitles citizens of the United States of America the right to die. The government was setup to govern, not to rule with absolute power.
The right to die may be among the most legally complex and culturally sensitive areas of civil rights to emerge in our time. There is no constitutional right to die for an individual to end one s life in any manner one sees fit. The progress and progression of our legal and medical ethos should culminate in the constitutional circumscription and protection, not prohibition, of such a right (Greenhaven Press). As of yet there is no law that specifically states that a person has the right to take there own life, but groups are fighting for just that. As some groups fight for it others fight to make sure it remains illegal. One of the biggest groups against assisted suicide is the Roman Catholic Church. In Catholic religion it is a sin to commit suicide or to kill someone. The right-to-life movement developed in the 1960 s out of the Roman Catholic opposition to abortion. Alarmed by the growing demand of many women to have abortion made legal, the church acted. They stay strong in their opposition against this and hope to keep this illegal.
I believe that assisted suicide should be made legal in this country. I think that every person who proves to be of a sound mind should be able to make the decision if they want to live or die and how they want to take their life is their own choice. Even the people who are not terminally ill, but may be in a severe state of physical pain or malformation may not want to live like that for the rest of their lives. With medical treatment were it is today we can extend a person s life for many years. Why if the treatment to return them to a physical state to which they desire cannot be achieved can these people not so choose to die? It is wrong and immoral to let these people suffer and the legal system should have no authority on to how long these people must suffer. It is that person s right and there’s alone.
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