Euthanasia 11 Essay, Research Paper
In this literary work by James Rachels, the author is fighting to make his opinion believed, rather than give an unbiased article. He is arguing about the differences between active and passive euthanasia. The author makes references to several stories to try and sway the reader to believe that the best thing to do in cases where people want to die, is to go ahead and perform assisted suicide. He states that, “If one simply withholds treatment, it may take the patient longer to die, and so he may suffer more than he would if more direct action were taken and a lethal injection given.” Then, towards the end of the article, Rachels says, “If a doctor lets a patient die, for humane reasons, he is in the same moral position as if he had given the patient a lethal injections for humane reasons.” He switches his stance from saying it’s better to give then patient a lethal injection, then turns around and says there is no moral difference between giving the injection and watching the patient die. He does also point out that most people prefer passive euthanasia, when compared to someone actively helping someone die. He seems to state by the last paragraph that his final opinion is that there is no moral difference between active and passive euthanasia.
The thesis idea is that the author states his belief several times throughout the article, and that is that there is no moral difference between killing someone and letting them die. There is a huge difference between the two, but the bottom line is that active euthanasia and passive euthanasia are different from a legal standpoint. The first is considered murder, however the second is not. Rachels switches modes, and states that active euthanasia would be kinder than passive, because the patient might suffer more if there was no medication given at all. He never makes a stand on what he would do in that situation, but gives both aspects on the subject at hand.
There are a few assumptions made in this article. First of all, when he states that most doctors accept the doctrine of passive euthanasia, rather than active, he makes a huge assumption. How many doctors does this guy know? Everyone of them? Because if he doesn’t, and he hasn’t asked them all their opinion, then he is wrong for what he said. The simplest way to correct this would be with statistics. If there was a poll asking all doctors their opinion on the matter, then Rachels should have presented this statement with those stats, rather than with what he thinks.
Another assumption is made when he says, “it would be wrong to prolong his suffering needlessly.” Rachels is a doctor, and if the doctor, patient, and patient’s family all agreed to let the patient die, then it should take it’s natural course. There should be pain medication administered to make the passing of time easier, however we are not God, and no man has ever created life. Whether you believe in God, the Big Bang Theory, Evolution it doesn’t matter, because all of them agree that man did not create man; therefore, it shouldn’t be up to us to decide when others die. Along with the above statement from the article, the author also makes an argument that once the agreement is made to let the patient die, it is worse to keep them alive, rather than giving them a lethal injection. This also can be argued by what I stated about the right to end the life of others. The way to clear both of these assumptions as well as the euthanasia issue up is to simply say that if the patient wants to die, have the family release him from the hospital and any doctor’s care and let him or her jump off a building, or put a gun to his or her head, and do the job themselves. This might sound crass, and unsympathetic but when all the lawsuits and hurt is caused by doctor’s actively or passively committing euthanasia, what better choice is there than to let the patient kill themselves?
The last main assumption is made when the author states his belief that there is no moral difference between active and passive euthanasia. There are differences between the two and one of them does pertain to a moral one. To kill someone either out of rage or passion, is still taking away the most precious thing on earth, life (As stated in the movie “Contact”, 95% of the earth’s population believe in a higher power of one kind or another; therefore, most people do agree that life is the most precious thing we have on this earth). Humans do not have the right to end life, because we did not make ourselves, we were created. To let someone die is not the same as putting the lethal injection into someone. So, there is a large difference between active and passive euthanasia even from a moral standpoint.
The author seems to state his belief rather firmly without ever saying it directly. His belief is that passive and active euthanasia are the same, morally. But he makes that assumption along with a few others about the two, and therefore creates an opening for opposition. He does give a pretty good glimpse of both sides to this story, however he forces the reader to oppose euthanasia as a whole by the way he writes. For example he stated things like “it would be wrong to prolong his suffering” rather than saying “it would be wrong to prolong his life”. He very sneakily causes the reader to feel negative towards the things that he wants us to be opposed to.