The Issue of Euthanasia is one of Heated Debate

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There has been a lot of media coverage lately on euthanasia, specifically physician-assisted suicide. However, this focus has shifted attention away from other forms of euthanasia where life-sustaining measures are not provided to terminally ill or comatose individuals. In the United States, there is an ongoing debate and legal obstacles surrounding the creation of regulations for euthanasia. Many legal disputes have emerged in the past ten years regarding this matter.

Despite the ongoing debate and legal battles concerning euthanasia, there is a significant Supreme Court ruling allowing states to pass laws that prohibit euthanasia. However, individuals are currently choosing euthanasia as a way to end their lives. Euthanasia, derived from the Greek words “eu” meaning “good” and “thanatos” meaning “death”, involves merciful killing. The underlying belief is that this method provides a better and more peaceful choice for death compared to other options (Maguire, 1974).

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There are two primary types of euthanasia: active and passive. Active euthanasia involves someone else contributing to the death, while without their assistance, it would be considered suicide instead of euthanasia. However, in both cases, the person taking action is directly responsible for ending a life by either giving a lethal injection or performing a mercy killing.

Passive euthanasia, which involves assisting someone who is incapable of ending their own life or permitting someone to die when it could have been prevented, typically arises in situations where individuals are terminally ill or being kept alive solely through artificial means. While machines used in hospitals can sustain biological life, they do not enhance its quality. These distinctions significantly influence people’s perspectives on euthanasia.

While the majority of individuals believe euthanasia is morally unacceptable, they do believe that the option should be accessible in certain circumstances. Interestingly, many individuals support passive euthanasia as a morally and empathetically correct decision at times. This viewpoint is rooted in the belief that it aligns with naturalness and promotes kindness. Nevertheless, purposely ending the life of a patient who would have survived otherwise is perceived as an act that disrupts a greater force.

The main issue being discussed is whether ending someone’s life or permitting them to pass away can be seen as an act of kindness and compassion. Although we can understand the immense agony and unbearable distress, not everyone can morally defend the act of causing death. Consequently, euthanasia has far-reaching consequences in social, political, and religious domains. The practice of euthanasia affects everyone to some extent, highlighting the urgency of addressing its future for both supporters and opponents.

The topic of assisted suicide has both advantages and disadvantages. Death greatly impacts individuals and occupies a significant portion of their thoughts. Consequently, a topic like this is certain to have consequences. One factor that causes controversy and has recently gained attention is the involvement of physician Dr.

Jack Kevorkian, commonly known as the “Doctor of Death”, hails from Royal Oak, Michigan. He has gained notoriety for his participation in assisting suicides for more than seven years. He has successfully euthanized over 28 individuals (Peck, 1997). Kevorkian has ingeniously devised a device named “mercitron”. This invention facilitates the painless administration of lethal drugs to patients. The act of terminating a human life through the injection of fatal doses or combinations of medication is referred to as medicide.

Kevorkian and other euthanasia practitioners assert that their patients must meet strict criteria for treatment. These criteria encompass being terminally ill, experiencing intolerable pain, or presenting conditions similar to Alzheimer’s, as was the case with Dr. Kevorkian’s first patient, Janet Adkins.

Janet Eareckson, at the age of 54, received a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. This led to her experiencing memory loss regarding crucial information such as her family members’ names and appointments. Janet and her husband made a contentious decision to seek assistance from Kevorkian to end her life. The primary concern arising from this situation was that although Janet did not endure any pain, she chose death as a means to avoid the later phases of the illness.

Janet may have had alternative options that Kevorkian did not consider. The prevailing belief in the United States is that euthanasia is morally wrong due to religious beliefs. Many Americans, especially those who are religious, view euthanasia as an effort to defy God’s authority and believe that only He can decide when a life should end. Furthermore, several religions followed in America strictly forbid all forms of killing and deem suicide as a sinful act.

According to Kathleen Foley (1995), it is not within your power to help or allow someone who wants to die as suicide is considered illegal. Foley suggests that doctors should concentrate on finding treatments for physical and psychological illnesses rather than endorsing suicide. This poses difficulties for both patients and doctors.

There are several questions that may arise when considering the issue of euthanasia. These include: Do I desire assistance? Who will provide the assistance? Is this an easy way out? What if this is the only option? Or will I feel guilty if I assist? Does this individual truly need to die? Is this the optimal choice for this patient? Will there be any legal complications?

Both doctors and patients find it difficult to decide upon euthanasia. In addition, there is a concern about a person’s political right to make their own choices and lead their own lives. This brings up the question of whether individuals have the right to end their lives.

These challenging questions and others will continue to be debated until legislation is enacted. Until then, it remains uncertain whether euthanasia will gain more acceptance or if it will be eliminated and driven underground.

It is evident that people will persist in selecting euthanasia as a solution to their issues, leading to its ongoing growth. This paper will primarily examine the cultural viewpoint of Americans, who predominantly disapprove of euthanasia. The underlying cause for this disapproval is largely attributed to religious beliefs. Belief in a higher power entails the understanding that, as humans did not participate in the creation process, they should not be prepared to engage in its destruction.

If God determines our death, it is sacrilegious to control how and when we die. Some believe suicide ends a life prematurely, leaving unfinished tasks. Being unable to end one’s own life suggests it is not yet time to depart. When a doctor removes a life-sustaining machine, they play god.

According to Peck (1997), critics argue that doctors who engage in voluntary euthanasia may assume a godlike position by determining whether a terminally ill individual should live or die. These critics hold the view that doctors must not possess the power to make such assessments.

However, opposition to euthanasia is not exclusively rooted in religious beliefs. In fact, many members of the medical community share Mrs. Foley’s viewpoint on the importance of exploring alternatives to euthanasia. Traditional medical ethics have consistently discouraged euthanasia, even when requested by compassionate individuals.

The International Code of Medical Ethics, first established by the World Medical Association in 1949 as a response to the Nazi Holocaust, underscores doctors’ responsibility to safeguard human life from beginning to end (Trubo, 1966). Hence, it can be inferred that physicians are obliged to prioritize life regardless of their patients’ wishes. This is consistent with the core belief that killing is morally unacceptable. Moreover, the Hippocratic Oath reinforces this idea by stating that doctors will abstain from giving deadly drugs or offering advice on such matters when requested (Winslade, 1986).

Doctors are advised to take all necessary measures to prevent death, which is why machines have been developed to maintain life, even if only at a biological level. The objective is to provide an opportunity for potential cure or better treatment in the future, as any alternative is deemed preferable to death. In 1992, the World Medical Association declared in its Marbella Statement that assisted suicide, also known as active euthanasia, is unethical and should be vehemently condemned by the medical community (Foley,1995).

The statement suggests that intentionally aiding patients in ending their lives is unethical in societies. It poses the risk of jeopardizing the doctor-patient relationship as other patients may question the moral integrity of their doctors and become uncertain about their motives. Additionally, human nature drives individuals to strive for survival and to desire prolonged life for potential cures or improved treatments. Many psychologists believe that individuals in such situations may experience various psychological effects.

It is crucial to recognize that living with a terminal disease or chronic pain can lead to profound depression. Societal pressure often plays a significant role in influencing the decision to opt for euthanasia. Individuals in these situations may experience judgment from society, feeling deemed unproductive and burdensome. Therefore, it is vital to acknowledge the heightened vulnerability of patients with terminal illnesses.

The lack of knowledge and skills in managing their own symptoms may cause fear and anxiety about the future and how their illness will impact loved ones. This personal viewpoint can hinder effective coping with the situation. Professionals who frequently interact with terminally ill individuals have noticed that they commonly suffer from depression and a distorted feeling of worthlessness, which might influence their inclination towards euthanasia if it were an option. Confusion, paranoia, or distressing symptoms that could potentially be alleviated through modern treatment can also impact their decision-making process (Foley, 1995).

When admitted to a hospital, certain patients ask for permission to pass away. Nevertheless, after receiving effective relief from symptoms, they become thankful that their request was not fulfilled. In addition, individuals with terminal illnesses adapt to a degree of impairment that they previously deemed as unmanageable. Gradually, these patients acquire an understanding of the importance of life and release their anger towards the circumstances that brought them to this state. With suitable guidance and aid, they are capable of perceiving hope and potential in situations where they once solely felt despair.

Opinions on euthanasia in society differ, with some individuals advocating for the freedom of choice regarding one’s own life in a democratic country. However, the prevalent view in American society opposes euthanasia as it is believed that deciding when someone should die is God’s responsibility. Moreover, there are medical reasons against euthanasia since potential cures and advancements in medical technology strive to prolong human life expectancy. Cryogenics serves as an illustration of these continuous efforts.

It is commonly believed that patients with terminal illness have two choices: enduring unrelieved suffering or opting for euthanasia. However, advancements in palliative medicine have shown that all the unpleasant symptoms associated with terminal illness can be effectively relieved or greatly reduced using existing techniques (Maguire, 1974). Moreover, there are concerns regarding the decision-making capacity of individuals upon receiving such diagnoses.

According to psychologists, individuals in such situations may not have the mental ability to decide about their own death. The ongoing debate on euthanasia includes conflicting perspectives based on scientific knowledge and religious beliefs. Unlike many Americans, I acknowledge both the potential benefits and ethical considerations linked to euthanasia. There are circumstances where euthanasia can have positive outcomes for the person involved as well as their family and loved ones.

After considering euthanasia, I have gained empathy for both sides. Personally, I believe we should not consider ourselves superior to a higher power. We need to question if it is ethical to force God to decide when we die. However, I also believe that everyone will eventually face this choice in their life.

Within our society, we recognize and respect the essential rights of life, liberty, and property as we govern ourselves. In light of these three rights, it is necessary to recognize euthanasia as an individual’s right and choice. If we possess the right to life, should we not also possess the freedom to decide how we live or entrust this decision to a higher authority on a personal level? This idea harmonizes seamlessly with the concept of liberty.

As individuals, we should have the freedom to make personal choices without being unduly influenced. This includes the freedom to choose our own death, which is a significant and personal decision that should not be restricted or limited. Likewise, our physical body is our most cherished possession and if it fails us, we become powerless. Our body enables us to express creativity, compassion, and love.

If we do not have the right to protect our body, which is our most valuable possession, then it raises questions about our rights in general. Recognizing these aspects is important because our different perspectives and talents contribute to society, and it is through respecting each other’s opinions that society can function effectively. Additionally, we often overlook the impact on family and close friends. When a loved one receives a terminal disease diagnosis, it brings about strange and surreal emotions. I distinctly remember my grandmother being informed of her terminal cancer a few months ago and how she expressed her desire for a peaceful and painless passing after leading a fulfilled life.

My grandmother’s cancer was already in a severe stage when they revealed its extent, indicating that she would experience significant pain. In order to manage the unbearable pain, she was prescribed various drugs which caused drowsiness and emotional detachment. Regrettably, she passed away two weeks ago. I choose to cherish the memories of my grandmother prior to her cancer reaching an advanced stage.

According to my grandmother, death is an integral aspect of one’s life and it is important to respect their wishes and not impose our own preferences upon them. Some individuals may choose to avoid prolonged suffering, unlike my grandmother who may have a remaining two years but does not see the value in spending them in a drugged and incapacitated state. The memories of family members can be permanently marred by the experience of a lengthy, incapacitating, and agonizing death caused by a terminal illness.

While I believe that some individuals should have the freedom to control their own lives in certain circumstances, I personally would not opt for euthanasia and encourage others to carefully consider their choices after conducting research. It is important to acknowledge that many older individuals already perceive themselves as a financial burden on their families and society, which could influence them to feel compelled to seek euthanasia of their own accord.

The patients in question require reassurance of their worth and affection based on their inherent selves. Moreover, it is crucial for them to understand that our primary focus is their welfare, even if it entails investing additional time and resources. It is imperative to acknowledge the scarcity of instances where patients express a desire for voluntary euthanasia when their physical, emotional, and spiritual requirements as terminally ill individuals are adequately addressed. Furthermore, the symptoms prompting the inclination towards euthanasia can usually be effectively handled using existing treatments.

We should collectively prioritize delivering high-quality care to terminally ill individuals and prevent them from feeling neglected or resorting to euthanasia, as it may not be the optimal solution for everyone. It is crucial to demonstrate compassion and extend love to these patients, enabling them to live their lives to the fullest extent possible.

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The Issue of Euthanasia is one of Heated Debate. (2018, May 06). Retrieved from

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