The word “euthanasia” comes from the greek–eu, “good”, and thanatos, “death”. Literally, “good death”. The dictionary describes euthanasia as “a quiet and easy death, the
means of procuring this or, the action of inducing a quiet and easy death.” Euthanasia has a becomes a legal, medical, and ethical issue over which opinions are divided. I feel that if there is no hope for a cure for a terminally ill patient then if they want, let them out of their misery.
There are two different types of euthanasia. One is active euthanasia, which means that a physician or other medical personnel takes a deliberate action that will include death such as: administering an overdose of morphine, insulin, or barbiturates followed by an injection of curare. The second type is passive euthanasia, which is letting a patient die for lack of treatment that has begun. Some examples of passive euthanasia are taking patients off of a respirator or any other form of life-support and stopping the patients food supply (Compton’s Encyc).
Who decides if the patient should die? The United States leaves the decision up to the state which usually allows the physician to suggest the option of death to a patient’s relatives. Non-terminally ill patients have been put to death without their consent at the request of relatives or the insistence of the physician (Compton’s Encyc). In Washington two physicians had different opinions on the subject of assisted suicide. One physician had gotten a call from a patient who had been diagnosed with AIDS and was talking about suicide and said he was now ready to die. He had lost 60 pounds and was in so much pain the doctor placed him on morphine. The physician went to his patient’s apartment and showed him how to turn the morphine drip up to a deadly level. Six hours later he
received a phone call and the patient was dead. Another physician received the same request from an AIDS patient. Instead of helping the patient die the physician refused and put him on morphine, steroids, and physical therapy. Just before the patient died in the fall he said that he had a wonderful summer with his family (Courier).
Opposers of euthanasia feel that a person should not have the right to end their life. They think that the patient may consider taking their life into their own hands and fail, and this may create a worse situation. Those against euthanasia say that it is wrong in the religious aspect since it is unnatural to take someone’s life no matter what the situation may be. Opposers also feel that “life is a precious thing and it should only be taken by the hands of God”. The technology of today has brought and is still bringing new cures everyday. With this modern technology, cures could be discovered for the patient and with suicide cures may come too late. Those against euthanasia believe that helping patients die contradicts the doctor’s healing role. They also believe that the “desire for suicide also reflects the failure of many doctors to adequately relieve pain and emotional suffering as death approaches” (Courier).
On the other side of this issue are the supporters of euthanasia. In 1976, the New Jersey Court ruled that doctors may disconnect a mechanical respirator that is keeping a comatose patient alive. Also in 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that people have a constitutional right to have life-sustaining treatment discontinued (Grolier Encyc). A person in a terminal coma may lack all reflexes even those needed to breathe. In these cases a respirator is needed to keep the patient alive. When in a coma for much longer than a month the condition is described as a persistent vegetative state and is usually
considered irreversible (Grolier Encyc). For this reason euthanasia should be legal. If the person has a living will to have the plugs pulled then it should be done. In cases of a vegetative state the patient’s family should have the say in what happens to the patient. There is no reason to keep a terminally ill person on life-support when they want to end their pain and suffering.
Half of Americans support euthanasia and half of the medical profession would like to see it become a law and fifteen percent already practice in justifiable occasions (Groliers Encyc). In support of euthanasia I feel that everyone should have the freedom of choice and the final say over what happens to their body no matter what condition they are in.
The main argument for euthanasia is that people have watched one of their family members grow old and become extremely ill. The stress and worry on the family is extremely high. They know that there is no hope left for the ill member but there is nothing that they can do. I know how these people feel because I have witnessed this process of deterioration with a family member. The worst feeling that humans have is pain. When pain gets to a certain extent that we cannot live free, than the act of euthanasia should, and probably in the near future, be a choice that we all have.
Jack Kevorkian: The Head Crusader, or Head Murderer?: Dr. Kevorkian has assisted in the suicides of about 27 people. The way he got started was in 1987 when he placed a classified ad in a newspaper for death counseling. On June 4, 1990, he tested his machine for the first time at a campsite near Detroit. As result of that test, a 54 year-old Oregon woman lay dead in the back of his rusty, old Volkswagen van. And Jack Kevorkian, with her blood spattered on his hands and clothing, he was on his way to becoming known around the world. His method is a machine that lethally injects the patient with Carbon Monoxide, which is what can kill you in the emissions of your automobile. The gas itself is odorless, tasteless, and replaces the oxygen in your blood cells and kills painlessly.
Activists that believe in right to die issues think that Dr. Kevorkian is the leader of the euthanasia revolution and that he does nothing wrong when he kills a person that is suffering, even though it is against the law. The people that believe that Kevorkian is a murderer say that the machine is just an experiment for a pathologist, who deals with dead people and body parts. Kevorkian has no real education in dealing with humans that are alive. If there was no hope for you to live without pain, would you want to receive his services? Current World Euthanasia Acts: The world’s notice of the euthanasia issue has proven that most people want the choice to die under certain circumstances. Countries have made the choice to legalize doctor assisted suicide. One of these is Australia, who came up with the Rights of the Terminally Ill act of 1995. Another is an American State, called The Oregon Death With Dignity Act. Both of these acts have written statements that must be filled out and sent to the government. In one model that was viewed, the form had to be witnessed by 10 people. All of the witnesses must vouch that the
person that is applying for assisted suicide must be of sound mind and a doctor must also sign that the person is terminally ill and is under extreme pain.
In conlusion I feel that euthanasia should be legal, but it is morally wrong to do. If someone wants to take there life they “should” have the option to do so, but someone should not take there life because there is so much to look forward to and there is hope.