Euthanasia Essay, Research Paper
In the United States, by current individual state laws, any form of euthanasia
is murder and considered a criminal offense (ACT). At this time there are still
no federal laws prohibiting the practice of euthanasia as a country. Euthanasia,
by definition, is the intentional killing of a person, for compassionate
motives, whether the killing is by a direct action such as a lethal injection,
or by failing to perform an action necessary to maintain life. When discussing
euthanasia there are many questions to consider before passing judgements for
either side. First we should decide ? Is there a need for euthanasia?? Next, we
must determine ? Who euthanasia is proposed for? and ? What practices are
involved?? Then, we need to view the public opinion and the current view the law
holds to completely weigh all the aspects of euthanasia to make an informed
decision of whether or not euthanasia should be legal.
The first aspect of euthanasia we must look at is ? Is there a need for
euthanasia?? Terminally ill patients are the ones who actively seek euthanasia.
Terminally ill patients are the major stakeholders in this debate (Kelliher).
Terminally ill cancer patients are the majority who support physician-assisted
suicide. Patients seek euthanasia when symptoms become too painful to endure.
Some of these patients are in such pain even under massive amounts of pain
medication they would rather terminate their life then continue to suffer until
the inescapable ending of death when their body finally gives up (Religious
Tolerance). Pain is pain and is unavoidable in terminally ill patients, who
without the choice will suffer a great deal of pain even longer.
Euthanasia, for the most part has been proposed for those who are stricken by a
terminal disease, from which they suffer severe pain (ACT). Euthanasia is a very
unique decision in which terminally ill patients would have the choice to hasten
the amount of pain in which they suffer by choosing to pass away. Though more
recently euthanasia has been being used as an alternative method for persons who
wish to die for some apparent reason such as being just plain tired of life. In
such a case the projected intentions of euthanasia would be abused (ACT).
Even though many of us are not aware of all the terms and definitions associated
with euthanasia there are two things that, regardless of education and location,
everyone questions; ?What practices are involved in the act of Euthanasia? and
?Who is responsible for these acts?? One term that is widely used in this
practice is ?Voluntary (or active) euthanasia, which by definition means the
person receiving help has specifically asked to end their life (ACT). Also the
practice of ?Involuntary Euthanasia? which by definition means the person cannot
express his or her wishes because of immaturity (such as a newborn), mental
retardation or coma (ACT). Another term which is used in this practice is
so-called passive euthanasia which tends to cause a sense of confusion because
it refers to actions which are not any kind of euthanasia (ACT). Passive
euthanasia, by definition means to hasten the death of a person by withholding
some form of support and letting nature take its course (Religious Tolerance).
Such actions include stopping food and water with intentions of the person
starving and dehydration until death occurs, removing life support equipment,
stopping medical procedures and medication. However, to avoid CPR and allow a
person, whose heart has stopped, to die would not be considerd passive
euthanasia (Religious Tolerance). When we start to think about who will be
performing such procedures we assume that a licensed doctor will be the one who
manages and actively participates in the procedure.
Currently the last two decades have seen an increase in public. From 1976 to
1993 the percentage of those who support euthanasia grew from 68.5% to 79%
(Voluntary Euthanasia Society). It need be remembered that even though the
publics? opinion counts, the voice of the terminally ill should be given more
weight. A survey was conducted of 70 terminally ill cancer patients with an
average age of 65 with a remarkable 73% believing that euthanasia and
physician-assisted suicide are acceptable practices while 21% thought neither
one was acceptable and should not be legalized (Kelliher). Overall 58% of
patients surveyed said if euthanasia were to become legal they might decide to
hasten their own death if pain became intolerable (Kelliher). As mentioned
before current law forbids euthanasia and assisted suicide. current law states
suicide is a ilegal act that is theoretically available to all (Religious
In conclusion, euthanasia is a very touchy subject in which there are many
different opinions held as to whether it should be legal or not. Though by
looking at information provided by the opinion of the public, the terminally
ill, current law and by research found in can be concluded that no person should
have to spend days, months and even years in agonizing pain, which could be
avoided, if euthanasia were legal.
ACT Right to Life Association. ?Euthanasia: killing the dying? Foundation for
Kelliher, Jeff. ?Terminally Ill Favor Right to End Own Lives? Health SCOUT
Reporter. 15 Sept.
Religious Tolerance. ?Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide?
Voluntary Euthanasia Society. ?Factsheets-Public Opinion?.