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    Pros And Cons Euthanasia Essay (1795 words)

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    EuthanasiaMark T.

    MaxwellAbstractThis paper will define Euthanasia and assisted suicide. Euthanasia is oftenconfused with and associated with assisted suicide, definitions of the two arerequired. Two perspectives shall be presented in this paper. The firstperspective will favor euthanasia or the “right to die,” the second perspectivewill favor antieuthanasia, or the “right to live”.

    Each perspective shallendeavor to clarify the legal, moral and ethical ramifications or aspects ofeuthanasia. Thesis StatementEuthanasia, also mercy killing, is the practice of ending a life so as torelease an individual from an incurable disease or intolerable suffering. Euthanasia is a merciful means to and end of long-term suffering. Euthanasia isa relatively new dilemma for the United States and has gained a bad reputationfrom negative media hype surrounding assisted suicides.

    Euthanasia has apurpose and should be evaluated as humanely filling a void created by oursometimes inhumane modern society. Antithesis StatementEuthanasia is nothing less than cold-blooded killing. Euthanasia cheapens life,even more so than the very divisive issue of abortion. Euthanasia is morallyand ethically wrong and should be banned in these United States. Modernmedicine has evolved by leaps and bounds recently, euthanasia resets thesemedical advances back by years and reduces today’s Medical Doctors toadministrators of death. Euthanasia definedThe term Euthanasia is used generally to refer to an easy or painlessdeath.

    Voluntary euthanasia involves a request by the dying patient or thatperson’s legal representative. Passive or negative euthanasia involves notdoing something to prevent deaththat is, allowing someone to die; active orpositive euthanasia involves taking deliberate action to cause a death. Euthanasia is often mistaken or associated with for assisted suicide, adistant cousin of euthanasia, in which a person wishes to commit suicide butfeels unable to perform the act alone because of a physical disability or lackof knowledge about the most effective means. An individual who assists asuicide victim in accomplishing that goal may or may not be held responsible forthe death, depending on local laws.

    There is a distinct difference betweeneuthanasia and assisted suicide. This paper targets euthanasia; pros and cons,not assisted suicide. Thesis Argument That Euthanasia Should Be AcceptedWithout doubt, modern dying has become fearsome. Doctors now possessthe technologies and the skills to forestall natural death almost indefinitely. All too often, the terminally ill suffer needless pain and are kept alivewithout real hope, as families hold a harrowing deathwatch.

    In ancient Greece and Rome it was permissible in some situations to helpothers die. For example, the Greek writer Plutarch mentioned that in Sparta,infanticide was practiced on children who lacked “health and vigor. ” BothSocrates and Plato sanctioned forms of euthanasia in certain cases. Voluntaryeuthanasia for the elderly was an approved custom in several ancient societies . Euthanasia has been accepted both legally and morally in various formsin many societies . “There is no more profoundly personal decision, nor onewhich is closer to the heart of personal liberty, than the choice which aterminally ill person makes to end his or her suffering .

    . . ,” U. S.

    DistrictJudge Barbara Rothstein wrote (R-1). Organizations supporting the legalizationof voluntary euthanasia were established in Great Britain in 1935 and in theUnited States in 1938. They have gained some public support, but so far theyhave been unable to achieve their goal in either nation. In the last fewdecades, Western laws against passive and voluntary euthanasia have slowly beeneased (1). The proeuthanasia, or “right to die,” movement has received considerableencouragement by the passage of laws in 40 states by 1990, which allow legallycompetent individuals to make “living wills.

    ” These wills empower and instructdoctors to withhold life-support systems if the individuals become terminallyill . Euthanasia continues to occur in all societies, including those in whichit is held to be immoral and illegal. A medically assisted end to a meaninglessand worthless “void” of an existence is both accepted and condoned by themedical profession. In a Colorado survey, 60% of physicians stated that theyhave cared for patients for whom they believe active euthanasia would bejustifiable, and 59% expressed a willingness to use lethal drugs in such casesif legal. In a study of 676 San Francisco physicians, 70% believed thatpatients with an incurable terminal illness should have the option of activeeuthanasia, and 45% would carry out such a request, if legal (35% were opposed).

    Nearly 90% of physicians in another study agreed that “sometimes it isappropriate to give pain medication to relieve suffering, even if it may hastena patient’s death. “(R-2)Antithesis Argument That Euthanasia Is UnacceptableWith the rise of organized religion, euthanasia became morally andethically abhorrent. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all hold human lifesacred and condemn euthanasia in any form . The American Medical Associationcontinues to condemn assisted suicide . Western laws have generally considered the act of helping someone to diea form of homicide subject to legal sanctions. Even a passive withholding ofhelp to prevent death has frequently been severely punished .

    And the Roman Catholic Church’s newly released catechism says:”Intentional euthanasia, whatever its forms or motives, is murder. ” (R-1). The Board of Trustees of the American Medical Association recommendsthat the American Medical Association reject euthanasia and physician-assistedsuicide as being incompatible with the nature and purposes of the healing arts(R-2). “When does the right to die become the obligation to die?” asks the Rev. RichardMcCormick, professor of Christian ethics at Notre Dame University who spokerecently against assisted suicide at Fort Lauderdale’s Holy Cross Hospital.

    “Imagine an 85-year-old grandmother” with the option of ordering a suicide dosefrom a doctor: “Do they want me to ask for it now?’ Physician-assisted suicidesaves money. . . . This is a flight from the challenge of social compassion. ” (R-1).

    The issue of euthanasia is not a recent one. The Oath of Hippocrates issaid to have originated in approximately the fifth century B. C. and, even then,it incorporated a specific pledge against physician-assisted suicide when itsaid, “I will give no deadly medicine to anyone, even if asked.

    “What of the innocent bystanders? The family, friends or even foes ofsomeone that elects to exercise their “right to die”? It is suggested that aperson suffering from an incurable or terminal illness is not complete commandof their mental faculties and thereby incapable of such an extraordinarydecision. Surely a degraded mental capacity rules out realistic thinking withregard to survivors. How many “innocent bystanders” also pay the price ofeuthanasia?Synthesis For EuthanasiaEuthanasia occurs in all societies, including those in which it is heldto be immoral and illegal . Euthanasia occurs under the guise of secrecy insocieties that secrecy is mandatory.

    The first priority for the care ofpatients facing severe pain as a result of a terminal illness or chroniccondition should be the relief of their pain. Relieving the patient’spsychosocial and other suffering is as important as relieving the patient’s pain. Western laws against passive and voluntary euthanasia have slowly beeneased, although serious moral and legal questions still exist . Some opponentsof euthanasia have feared that the increasing success that doctors have had intransplanting human organs might lead to abuse of the practice of euthanasia. Itis now generally understood, however, that physicians will not violate therights of the dying donor in order to help preserve the life of the organrecipient .

    Even though polls indicate most Americans support the right of sickpeople to end their pain through self-inflicted death, euthanasia is one of themore contentious aspects of the death-with-dignity movement . “This is really one of the most fundamental abilities that a human being has todecide if he or she wants to die,” says Meyer, who practiced radiology for 40years (R-1). Slightly more than half of the physicians surveyed in Washington Statewould approve the legalization of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasiaunder certain circumstances. A total of 938 physicians completed questionnairesabout their attitudes toward euthanasia and assisted suicide. Physician-assisted suicide was described as prescribing medication and providingcounseling to patients on overdosing to end their own lives.

    Euthanasia wasdefined as administering an overdose of medication at an ill patient’s request. Forty-two percent of physicians indicated that they found euthanasia ethicallyacceptable under some circumstances. Fifty-four percent indicated that theybelieved euthanasia should be legal under certain circumstances . Today, patients are entitled to opt for passive euthanasia; that is, tomake free and informed choices to refuse life support.

    The controversy overactive euthanasia, however, is likely to remain intense because of oppositionfrom religious groups and many members of the medical profession . The medical profession has generally been caught in the middle of thesocial controversies that rage over euthanasia. Government and religious groupsas well as the medical profession itself agree that doctors are not required touse “extraordinary means” to prolong the life of the terminally ill . The Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliment developed and approved thefollowing substantive and procedural guidelines, or “points” for Dutchphysicians to consider when practicing or administering Euthanasia:Substantive Guidelines(a) Euthanasia must be voluntary; the patient’s request must be seriously considered and enduring. (b) The patient must have adequate information about his or her medical condition, the prognosis, and alternative methods of treatment (though it is not required that the patient be terminally ill). (c) The patient’s suffering must be intolerable, in the patient’s view, and must also be irreversible.

    (d) There must be no reasonable alternatives for relieving the patient’s suffering that are acceptable to the patient. Procedural Guidelines(e) Euthanasia may be performed only by a physician (though a nurse may assist the physician). (f) The physician must consult with a second physician whose judgment can be expected to be independent. (g) The physician must exercise due care in reviewing and verifying the patient’s condition as well as in performing the euthanasiaprocedure itself. (h) The relatives must be informed unless the patient does not wish this.

    (i) There should be a written record of the case. (j) The case may not be reported as a natural death. (R-2). Having choices, including having the legal right for help to die iswhat’s important in preserving the basic democratic fabric of the United Statesof America. The issue of euthanasia is, by it’s very nature, a very difficultand private choice.

    Euthanasia should remain exactly that; a choice; a choicethat ought not be legislated or restricted by opposing forces or opinions. (R-1) Assisted suicide: Helping terminally ill, or “quick fix” for intolerant society? (Originated from Knight-Ridder Newspapers) by Patty Shillington Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service June 15 ’94 p0615(R-2) Report of the Board of Trustees of the American Medical Association. (Transcript) v10 Issues in Law ; Medicine Summer ’94 p81-90(R-3) “Euthanasia,” Microsoft (R) Encarta. Copyright (c) 1994 Microsoft Corporation. Copyright (c) 1994 Funk & Wagnall’s Corporation.

    (R-4) Report of the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs of the American Medical Association. (Transcript) v10 Issues in Law ; Medicine Summer ’94 p91-97(R-5) The New England Journal of Medicine July 14 ’94 p89(6)(R-6) Death on trial: the case of Dr. Kevorkian obscures critical issues – and dangers. (Jack Kevorkian) (Cover Story) by Joseph P.

    Shapiro il v116 U. S. News ; World Report April 25 ’94 p31(R-7) Euthanasia and Medical Decisions Concerning the Ending of Life. by P. J. van der Maas and J.

    J. M. DeldenPhilosophy

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