Euthanasia: Should It Be Legalized? - Euthanasia Essay Example
Jane Doe has recently been diagnosed with lung cancer - Euthanasia: Should It Be Legalized? introduction. She was given six months to live. Doctors say that because her cancer was found at such late state, she has no hope. There is absolutely no chance of a recovery. Jane knows she’s gradually becoming incapable of caring for herself. Soon she will be in a vegetative state. She is looking into euthanasia as a method of maintaining her self-worth. Euthanasia should be legalized because it helps reduce government spending, allows human beings to have control over their lives, and puts patient suffering to end.
Euthanasia is the deliberate killing of humans for merciful or sympathetic reasons. Both indirect actions like refusing someone’s life support and direct acts such as lethal injection are considered euthanasia. Euthanasia is not suicide. Suicide is intentionally killing one’s self. It is self-induced and usually brought on by depression. Euthanasia is medically assisted and is only carried out to those who are terminally ill and have no hope of living, but who are competent or have the ability to do something self sufficiently. Euthanasia is very different from DNR.
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DNR in the medicine field means “do not resuscitate. ” Many confuse the two. DNR is a commonly and legally used order that doctors use in respect of their patients who do not wish to endure cardiopulmonary resuscitation (cpr) if they were to unexpectedly stop breathing. In recent years, euthanasia has been wrongly connected to mercy killing. Mercy killing is different from euthanasia in the sense that euthanasia is doctor-assisted whereas mercy killing does not necessarily have to be carried out by someone in the medical field.
Euthanasia dates all the way back to ancient Greece. “Physicians in ancient Greece, having a status similar to other itinerant craftsmen, were poorly equipped to relieve the suffering of persons who turned to them for help. Very often, it seems, such persons regarded suicide as a means of escaping painful illness and the suffering that accompanied dying” (Robert F. Weir). A long time ago, in ancient Greece, physicians were inadequate and were not able help relieve patients from the pain that they were suffering. People would very frequently turn to suicide to self medicate.
Ancient Greeks emphasized the voluntary nature of suicide. They believed that if it was done for the proper reasons, it was justified. Reasons such as terminal illness were appropriate. In about 400 B. C physicians took what is known today as a Hippocratic Oath. The oath says, “I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel”. Physicians swore to practice medicine honestly and ethically. Euthanasia was deemed wrong and unjust even before technology came about. The issue has been around for quite some time.
In 1828 the United States had its first out-ruling of euthanasia in New York. Euthanasia was outlawed and said to be illegal. After that ruling, many states followed in New York’s foot steps saying that any act of assisting suicide was against the law. In 1870, the U. S. had its first public supporting stand on euthanasia. Samuel Williams, who was not a physician, began to support the use of analgesic pain relievers to end a person’s life. He believed that if one was in such unbearable pain, he/she should have the ability to take it away in the form of their choosing.
In 1915, a case in which a doctor had to choose between letting nature take its course and conducting a surgery, that may not make a difference, came about. Dr. Haiselden was presented with a child who had numerous birth defects. Dr. Haiselden believed that even with surgery, the child would die because of its birth problems. He concluded that it would be more effective if he held back surgery and ‘let nature complete its bungled job”. In 1930, the support of euthanasia increased greatly. By 1937, 45% of Americans believed that euthanasia should be permitted for babies with birth defects.
Over time, the support of euthanasia has drastically changed from little to none to the majority. If euthanasia was legalized, it would help decrease the amount of money spent on caring for patients who are at the end of their lives. So much government spending is put into end-of-life care. “Last year, Medicare paid $55 billion just for doctor and hospital bills during the last two months of patients’ lives. ”(The Cost of Dying: End-of-Life Care). In 2009, more than 50 billion dollars was spent on the bills of patients who died two months later.
This is more than the average amount spent on education and the protecting of the United States. According to cbsnews. com, “it has been estimated that 20 to 30 percent of these medical expenses may have had no meaningful impact. ” Billions of dollars are spent prolonging a natural death, yet it has not even been proven to be effective. The hundreds of doctor visits, refilling of pain pill bottles, and several surgeries still result in the patient dying. Needless to say, the unnecessary attempt to delay inevitable deaths will fail every time.
If euthanasia was put into play, it would cut back a large amount of government spending. The majority of terminally ill patients endure a great deal of pain. Suffering ranged from vomiting and lack of breath to diarrhea and being paralyzed. The New York Case of “Jane Doe”, according to her court declaration: I Have a large cancerous tumor which is wrapped around the right carotid artery in my back and is collapsing my esophagus and invading my voice box. The tumor has significantly reduced my ability to swallow and prevents me from eating anything but very thin liquids in extremely small amounts.
The cancer has metastasized to my plural [sic] cavity and it is painful to yawn or cough.. In early July 1994 I had the [feeding] tube implanted and have suffered serious problems as a result… I take a variety of medications to manage the pain… It is not possible for me to reduce my pain to an acceptable level of comfort and to retain an alert state.. At this time, it is clear to me, based on the advice of my doctors, that I am in the terminal phase of the disease… At the point at which I can no longer endure the pain and suffering associated with my cancer, a humane and certain manner.
I want to be able to discuss freely with my treating physician my intention of hastening my death through the consumption of drugs prescribed for that purpose. (Robert Weir) “Jane Doe” is of many who suffer greatly from their diseases. Many have no hope that things will get better. In a poll taken in 2002, “26% feared inadequate pain relief”(euthanasia. com). Many patients want to be assisted to death because they know that their pain can not get any better. Legalizing euthanasia is an opportunity for terminally ill patients to end their suffering. Everyone has the right to life.
Everyone is free to make his/her own choices and decisions. One’s own life and death are personal matters. The government has no say so. There have been plenty of cases where patients have actually wanted to terminate their lives but were not able to do so due to legalities. There are many terminally ill patients who have accepted death as being natural and want to find another method of dying. The British Columbia Case of Sue Rodriquez: The Facts of this case are straightforward and well known. Sue Rodriguez is a 42 year old woman living in British Columbia. She is married and the mother of an 8-year-old son.
Ms. Rodriguez suffers from amyotrophic her life expectancy is between two and 14 months but her condition is rapidly deteriorating. Very soon she will lose the ability to swallow, speak, walk and move her body without assistance. Thereafter, she will lose the capacity to breather without a respirator, to eat without a gastrostomy and will eventually become confined to a bed. Mrs. Rodriguez knows of her condition, the trajectory of her illness and the inevitability of how her life will end; her wish is to control the circumstances, timing and manner of her death.
She does not wish to die so long as she still has the capacity to enjoy life, she will be physically unable to terminate her life without assistance. Ms. Rodriguez seeks an order which will allow a qualified medical practitioner to set up technological means by which she might, by her own hand, at the time of her choosing, end her life. (Robert Weir) Mrs. Rodriguez is like many people who have been diagnosed with an illness that can not be cured. She knows that her time is near and her only wish is to die on her own terms. She seeks to have control over her life.
The New York Case of William Barth, according to his court declaration: In My 1992, I developed a Kaposi’s sarcoma skin lesion. This was my first major illness associated with AIDS. I underwent radiation and chemotherapy to treat this cancer…. In September 1993, I was diagnosed with cytomegalovirus (CMV) in my stomach and colon which caused severe diarrhea, fevers and wasting… In February 1994, I was diagnosed with microsporidiosis, a parasitic infection for whish there is effectively no treatment…. At approximately the same time, I contracted AIDS-related pneumonia.
The pneumonia’s infusion therapy treatment was so extremely toxic that I vomited with each infusion…. In March 1994, I was diagnosed with cryptosporidiosis, a parasitic infection which has caused severe diarrhea, sometimes producing 20 stools a day, extreme abdominal pain, nausea and additional significant wasting. I have undergone a variety of medical treatments, each of which has had significant adverse side effects…. While I have tolerated some [nightly intravenous] feedings, I am unwilling to accept this for an extended period of time….
I understand that there are no cures…. I can no longer endure the pain and suffering and I want to have drugs available for the purpose of hastening my death. (Robert Weir) Barth, like Rodriguez, represents the thousands of people who are unable and unwilling to suffer any longer. They symbolize the importance of having the ability to say enough is enough. Legalizing euthanasia will give patients the power to die at their own hands. Many people say that the U. S should not legalize euthanasia because they believe that is ethically wrong for a physician to terminate a patient’s life. A central feature of that normative view was that physicians were neither to cause nor to help bring about the ultimate harm that could befall their patients, namely the patients’ deaths”(Robert Weir). Many think that it is not the doctor’s job to bring death upon their patients. It is true however, a physician’s job to abide by a patient’s wishes. If one chooses euthanasia as the method death that he/she wants to take, the doctor has no right to interfere. The doctor’s job is to make their patients comfortable and alleviate their patient’s pain in the form that patient selects.
Instead of selling untrue hopes of their patient’s recovery, they should bring light upon their death and make it accommodating. Like Jane, millions of people are faced with the decision of either letting their sickness take away all of their independence or accepting that their death is inevitable and choosing to end their life with every sense of humanity they have left. The U. S has spent so much time and money trying to prolong life by increasing medical care. The reality is that people die.
So what is there to do when one is diagnosed with a terminal illness? Do they continue to suffer trying to hold on to the little bit of life they have left? Imagine, Society tends to allow terminally ill people seep through the cracks. After they’ve reached a point where death is near, we tend to push it aside because it’s a part of life. Unfortunately, this leaves victims feeling alone and like they’re burdens. At the very least, humanity owes it to them to allow them to choose whether or not they want to die at their own hand.