Euthanasia Essay Research Paper Euthanasia The word

Euthanasia Essay, Research Paper


The word euthanasia is derived from the Greek word “eu” for good and “thantos” which

means death and originally referred to intentional mercy killing. But the word it

euthanasia has acquired a more complex meaning in modern times. Proponents of

euthanasia believe that a dying patient has the right to end their suffering and leave the

world in a dignified manner. Those who contest euthanasia believe that man does not

have the right to end another person’s life no matter what pain they endure. Euthanasia is

one of the most important public policy issues being debated today. The outcome of

debate will profoundly affect family relationships, interaction between doctors and

patients, and concepts of basic morality. The word euthanasia has acquired a complex

meaning in modern times. There are several types of euthanasia and one must define

them in order to avoid confusion. Passive euthanasia is the process of hastening the death

of a person by withdrawing some form of support and letting nature take its course. Such

a act would include removing life-support equipment, stopping medical procedures,

stopping food and water and allowing the person to die. Active euthanasia involves

causing the death of a person through a direct action in response to request from that

person. This is also called mercy killing. Physician assisted suicide is the process of a

physician supplying information and or the means of committing suicide to a patient.

This would include writing a prescription for a lethal dose of sleeping pills or providing

the patient with carbon monoxide gas. Euthanasia has been practiced in some form or

another by many societies in our history. In ancient Greece and Rome helping others to

die our putting them to death was considered permissible in some situations. In the Greek

city of Sparta all newborns with severe birth defects were left to die. Voluntary

euthanasia for the elderly was approved custom in several ancient societies. Although

euthanasia is widely practiced in the Netherlands it remains technically illegal. In 1995

Australia’s Northern Territory approved a euthanasia bill. It went into effect in 1996 and

was overturned by the Australian parliament in 1997. One may ask, what is the difference

between euthanasia and assisted suicide? In euthanasia one person does something that

directly kills another. For example a doctor gives a lethal injection to a patient. It assisted

suicide, a person knowingly and intentionally provides the means or in some way helps a

suicidal person killed himself or herself. For example, a doctor writes a prescription for

poison, or someone who hooks up a face mask to a canister of carbon monoxide and then

instructs the suicidal person on how to push a lever so that they will be gassed to death.

For all practical purposes, any distinction between euthanasia and assisted suicide has

been abandoned today. However passive euthanasia is different than other types of

euthanasia. Passive euthanasia is the process of hastening the death of a person by

withdrawing some sort of treatment. This includes removing life-support, stopping

medical procedures and medications, stopping food and water to the patient and thus

allowing him to die. Or not delivering C P R or other resuscitating treatment and

allowing the person whose heart has stopped to die. Perhaps the most common form of

passive euthanasia is to give a patient at large doses of morphine to control pain, in spite

of the likelihood of the painkiller suppressing respiration and causing death earlier that it

would otherwise have. Many states in the United States and other countries engage in this

type of passive euthanasia to what is known as a health-care proxy or do not resuscitate

order. These procedures are usually performed on the terminally ill, suffering patients, so

that natural death will occur sooner. It is also opted for persons in a persistent vegetative

state, individuals with massive brain damage or in a coma from which they cannot

possibly regain conscious. During the 20th century, major scientific and medical

advances have greatly enhance the life expectancy of the average person. There are

however many diseases that cannot be cured by modern medicine. Such diseases like

AIDS, terminal cancer, multiples scalrosis. These conditions remain a certain death

sentence. These diseases leave the patient in a constant state of pain sometimes lasting

many weeks or months. There are however other reasons why a person may feel

euthanasia is appropriate. These reasons include the patient feels that the their quality of

life has shrunk to zero, they feel the indignities of being cared for as if they were and

infant, including being diapered and fed by nurses. Others simply want to die with the

dignity before they become sick. Such an example would be a person was diagnosed with

Alzheimer’s disease and would like to end their life before serious dementia overtakes

their living. These people feel that they would rather die in full mind and body rather to

let themselves live a few more years in a vegetative state or with debilitating dementia

that does not allow them to recognize their closest family. Proponents of euthanasia

believe that the patient has the right to end their life when it is known that there will not

be any recovery and death is imminent. They believe that a human being has the right to

die in dignity and a painless death rather than suffer endlessly knowing full well that they

will not recover. Those are anti-euthanasia state many reasons for their position. One

reason is because euthanasia is contrary to Judeo-Christian ethics. Many religious groups

within Christian, Muslim, Jewish and other religions believe that God gave life and

therefore only God should take away Suicide would then be considered as a

rejection of God’s sovereignty and loving plan. They feel that we are all masters of our

own lives, but that’s suicide should never be an option. Many other faith groups believe

that human suffering can have a positive value for the terminally ill person and for their

direct family. A Roman Catholic document mentions that some people prefer to

moderate their use of painkillers, in order to accept voluntary at least a part of their

sufferings and thus associate themselves in a conscious way with the sufferings of Christ

at the time of crucifixition. Some Jews feel that pain and suffering in this world acts as

atonement for sinss and transgressions and may benefit them in entering the world to

come. The two main arguments offered by Christians and other religious groups are the

following: life is a gift from God and that each individual is a gift. Thus only God can

start a life and only God should be allowed to end it. Also, God does not send us any

experience that we cannot handle. God supports people and suffering. To actively seek an

end to one’s life would represent a lack of trust in God. Those who are pro euthanasia

offer the following arguments: each person has autonomy over their own life. If a

person s quality of life is nonexistent, they should have the right to decide to commit

suicide, and to seek assistance if necessary. Sometimes a terminal patient s pain can

cause an unbearable burden, death can represent a relief of intolerable pain. When one

discusses euthanasia we must understand that this is a legal view. By passing legislation

that allows euthanasia we’re getting the right to doctors and patients to end their lives.

We will be allowing euthanasia to become a procedure practiced in the hospital or

hospice. In the end it will just be a matter of procedure such as a blood transfusion or

operation. One must ask, by denying the legislation of euthanasia are we in fact denying a

person to end their life? The answer to this is no. People do have the power to commit

suicide. Suicide and attempted suicide are not criminalized. Each and every year, and the

United States alone, there are more suicides than homicides. Suicide is a tragic,

individual act. There are several books on the subject of suicide such as Derek

Humphrey s Final Exit . Organizations such as the Hemlock Society have been

established to give information on patients interested in ending their own lives.

Euthanasia is not about a private act. It’s about letting one-person facilitate the death of

another. Euthanasia is not about giving rights to the person who dies, it is about changing

law and public policy so that doctors, relatives and others can directly and intesinaly end

another person’s life. This change would not give rights to the person who is killed, but to

the person who does the killing. In other words, euthanasia is not about the right to die.

It’s about the right to kill.


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