“To please no one will I prescribe a deadly drug, nor give advice which may cause death.” -Oath of Hippocrates
This phrase alone supports the very battle cry of those who oppose euthanasia. Their efforts have gone as far as to help make laws forbidding doctor-assisted suicide, including strict procedures for medical staff to determine the competency of an ill patient. But then there are those who wish to “make it easier on themselves” and even the family and friends, and choose as alternative route the their suffering. Extremely difficult problems arise surrounding the issue of euthanasia: What is the difference between killing someone and letting someone die? Who determines the competency of a terminally ill patient? If a patient is incompetent, who then makes the decisions for him? Most importantly, do we even have the right to die? The question of whether this is a moral battle or a legal battle has yet to be determined.
Ever though the issue of suicide may consist of both factors, if one commits suicide successfully, they “live” neither with the moral guilt nor the face the legal consequences. So then if a second party is involved, it changes the whole story.
What is the difference between killing someone and letting someone die? To get a little more technical, these phrases are also known as active and passive euthanasia. If one were to evaluate both of these, he would probably say that letting someone die were a better choice than killing someone. After all, most medical practices in the U.S.
allow for the “legally.” One may be preferred over the other but is that one better than the other? In an example, let’s say that a doctor decides to withhold treatment of a patient who is to die in the next couple of days. He does this because he finds it helpless to prolong his suffering. But in actuality, when the doctor withdraws his treatment, the patient takes a lot longer to die and is in more agonizing pain. Once this decision is already made, speeding up his death through active euthanasia looks more preferable over passive euthanasia. So the point is that allowing someone to die may take longer and be more painful, where giving them a lethal injection might be quick and painless (Rachels, 428).
Even in today’s society, people think it is morally wrong to kill someone rather than letting someone die. But is it really worse? To help answer this question, there is another example that will help illustrate the issue. There was a guy named CJ who was to inherit a lot of money if anything were to happen to his three-year-old nephew. One day his nephew was swimming outside in the pool when CJ came along and drowned him and made it look like an accident. Then there was another guy named Joe who also was to inherit a lot of money if anything was to happen to three-year-old nephew. Well Joe, who decides to kill his nephew, went outside where his nephew was swimming in the pool.
To Joe’s surprise, he saw that his nephew had slipped, hit his head and fell face first into the water. Joe is excited and stands by to watch him drown and does nothing to save him. Did either one of these guys act any better than the other? If one were to look at it from a moral aspect, one would say that CJ’s actions were morally worse than Joe’s because CJ “actively” killed his nephew. But both of these guys had the same intention, goal and personal gain from the incident. CJ may look like the terrible guy for his actions and Joe may be regarded as a sick individual for watching. But didn’t Joe “do” something? Any way you look at it, these two men committed an act, whether it was passive or active, one is no better than the other.
In medical practices today, doctors may not necessarily try to destruct their patients with the same intentions as CJ and Joe. But the possibilities of active and passive euthanasia may be because the doctor may find a patient’s life “of no use” or it is or may .