The Controversy of Euthanasia One of the biggest and most controversial topics throughout society today is the act of euthanasia in humans. In the medical field, euthanasia is commonly known as assisted suicide that is essentially for terminally ill patients only. When thinking about euthanasia, Americans tend to relate it towards the rights for animals, but in this specific example I will focus on the controversial topic of legalization on behalf of people who are professionally diagnosed with a life-threatening diseases. This will not include minorities under the age of eighteen or the elderly over the age of sixty.
Thus when looking at the data in today’s society, euthanasia is clearly defined as taking action of ending a person’s life to relieve persistent and relentless pain. As of today, the majority of our nations population believes that euthanasia is immoral. Although euthanasia is illegal in the United States currently, some citizens argue in defense of dying peaceful with dignity rather then suffer in a hospital bed for months on end. After several decades of consideration, euthanasia is extremely difficult task to break down due to both disagreements within the choice for and against this practice.
For instance, the term ‘euthanasia’ comes from the Greek words eu meaning god, and thanatos meaning death (Manning 2). Euthanasia can also be referred to as ‘mercy killing’ or the practice of assisting someone the aid of death whether it may be legal or illegal, depending on a country’s jurisdiction. In other countries it is legal, like Belgium, Norway, Sweden, and Albania. Most of the United Kingdom, since 2009, declared legalization in all hospitals for medical euthanasia under the condition that a patient is suffering from chronic pain along with an incurable disease (Mattlin).
The specific classification of euthanasia within legal jurisdiction becomes more complex when looking at what is considered fair and what is unjust. During the 1300s suicide or helping an individual commit suicide was considered as a criminal act. The idea of ‘mercy killing’ was not supported by the superiority of rising Christianity. In the United States of America, the first law against assisted killing, known as ‘anti-euthanasia’ was passed in 1828, New York. Euthanasia, like induced abortion, had been a major subject for deliberation since then. Within several decades euthanasia as divided into two main subgenres known as active-voluntary and passive-voluntary euthanasia (Manning 3). Voluntary is a medical classification of dying with consent from a patient within a reasonable amount of time before the termination process. Involuntary euthanasia is rarely seen today and is very uncommon due to new technologic advances in security and medical forensic sciences. In voluntary euthanasia, can although be simply defined as dying without consent (Nitschke). Under the English influence during the 15th century, active and passive euthanasia was categorized underneath voluntary medical practices.
This is demonstrated in the process of the patient’s death. For example, active euthanasia is to end a person’s life by use of drugs, whether by oneself or with the aid of a physician, when passive euthanasia is taking a persons life by not taking helping the patient survive during a ‘DNR’ circumstance, medically known as ‘do not resuscitate’ when need. Also passive termination can include withdrawing water, food, drugs, medical or surgical procedures needed in order to maintain life while sick (Manning 3).
Voluntary euthanasia is so controversial when it comes to the active practices because in the United States, residents have a legal right to freedom of speech and self-opinion. When opinions collide, we cannot simply justify both parties on equal terms under the federal laws of the U. S Constitution. In Washington, Montana and Oregon, it is legal for active euthanasia to occur if a medical practice agrees with their sick client. Since legalizations in 2009, statistics display that Oregon’s medical practices have little to no evidence on patients who had documented uncontrollable pain.
All of the patients who requested assisted suicide cited psychological and social concerns as their primary reasons. According to the Health Division, this clearly does not give the United States court system any proof of dramatic circumstances in the use of active euthanasia. Ben Mattlin, who is a known to be a famous author in the medical and legal standpoints of society, wrote “Suicide by? Not So Fast,” in November 1, 2010. Mattlin expresses, “My job as a physician is to ensure that people can see their inherent dignity reflected in they way they are cared for” (Mattlin).
He debates the issues on how ‘active euthanization’ it is not ratified enough to become nationally acceptable due to the evidence of no complications found within the state of Oregon. Mattlin powerfully expresses that actively having the option to end ones life is unjust and should not be made legal. Given the concluding data made in the state of Oregon, He believes that a person should not be able to make a decision for them or for another on the act of terminating a life. Therefore, he persuasively projects the reasoning of why a human life, disabled or frail, should not have to choose death to become dignified.
Voluntary euthanasia may be looked down upon within active medical practices, although in some cases, the view of passive euthanasia is morally acceptable. For instance, within common life-threating illnesses, a patient will take extreme measures into there own hands. When given a negative diagnosis, a sick patient pleads to end their life, in order to not go through more pain and suffering. In most states, with the exception of Washington, Montana and Oregon, a certified doctor must refuse to let the individual die and save their life no matter what.
Despite the emotional or physical pain a person endures, a doctor must remain positive and push treatment on their sick patient. A man named Derek Humphrey reasonably argues that, “In this century, medicine has made tremendous strides towards keeping us healthy and living longer, for which we are all grateful. But modern medicine has not entirely solved the problem of terminal pain, and it certainly never will be able to answer the very personal question of an individual person’s quality of life” (Humphrey 34). He claims his pro-euthanasia thoughts through his groundbreaking novel about assisted suicide, called The Final Exit.
Humphrey declares it is not right to say active euthanasia is ‘wrong’ in the sense of how passive euthanasia is morally adequate. He pushes his thoughts further by explaining that passive euthanasia is used in day-to-day cases and there is not anything we as individual citizens can do about it. This is because a doctor cannot force a terminally patient treatment if they aren’t willing to stay positive nor corporate. On a legal standpoint, Humphrey argues and debates the reasons of why active euthanasia is wrong due to the fact that many individuals refuse burdensome medical treatment in order as a legal and safe option of dying anyways.
In addition, Derek Humphrey states that actively killing oneself is just the same as asking for physical medical assistance in order to take the life of someone with a fatally ill disease (Humphrey 16). Both active and passive voluntary euthanasia is so debatable due to medical realities shown in historical studies. For example, a man, commonly known as “Dr. Death”, or Jack Kevorkian, was an American pathologist, and euthanasia activist who is best known for publicly championing the aid of life-threatening patient’s, on rights to die through physician-assisted suicide.
On March 26, 1999, Dr. Kevorkian was charged with second-degree murder due to the clear statements and legal documentation of ending at least 130 of his patients to death in order to prove a point in his battling court case. After his conviction, Jack Kevorkian declares, on live television, “dying is not a crime” (Robinson). Soon following the dramatic loss in court, Kevorkian is constrained by reporters who publicly announce the federal reasons as to why he was sentenced to prison with second-degree murder by the court. Citizens of the U.
S soon discover that sixty percent of the patients who committed suicide, with Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s, help were not terminally ill, and thirteen had not complained of uncontrollable pain. The reports further emphasized that Kevorkian’s counseling was too brief when deciding to euthanize a life. The public became officially aware of the horrid behind ‘Dr. Death’. The nineteen patients died within less than twenty-four hours after first meeting Kevorkian and evidence was found that he did not, in fact, preform a psychiatric exam in the nineteen cases he chose (Robinson).
On behalf of Kevorkian’s terminated patients, five of individuals had severe histories of depression and Kevorkian was properly aware. Despite knowing the history of Kevorkians five individuals who were hopeless for reasons their medical condition, he still decided to illegall take their life. Due to his dramatic example, legalizing active euthanasia is legally unjustified. Having verification of accurate physiological testing by a set of different medical doctors and multiple agreement forms from the severely ill person who is mentally capable of making decisions.
Ben Mattlin, a graduated from Harvard University and born with spinal muscular atrophy, believes it is impossible to keep track and verify euthanasia (Mattlin). Thus concluding, not all of Dr. Kevorkian’s patients were eligible for the active treatment of euthanasia. Criticism still arises within the U. S on the unanswered questions of what the real difference is between citizens who are terminally ill physically or who are extremely ill mentally (Mattlin). All people should have equal rights and opportunities to live, or to choose not to go on living.
Euthanasia activist clearly state in medical defense, according to Michael Manning’s historical timeline on euthanasia, that it is possible for someone who has just has become disabled, from a life-threating illness, may in fact feel depressed and will ask for death as an ulterior motive (Manning 1). Which is why, if legalized, standardization must be proposed towards the system of euthanasia that includes psychological support and assessment before the patient’s wish is granted. Technological advances are progressing each and every day and the arguments of past history are unfair to completely rule out legalization of active euthanasia.
For instances, Jack Kevorkian argues with the press during the 1990’s, “The time has come to take a historic step at least in the controlled circumstances I laid out. There’s no danger; it’s minimal. It’s a little experiment. You have absolute control. Try it. If it doesn’t work, we quit. Where’s the damage” (Humphrey 43). Many relaxing care experts argue that there is no need for euthanasia, as with modern day medications and care, most terminal patients can be made comfortable until they die naturally, though that is not always the case (Nordqvist).
Thus, Humphrey describes the importance of respecting the choice of others with disabling and painful illness. He states that the only way the patient can be helped with further treatment is by ‘clouding’ their intelligence to the point that they are no longer themselves. Many people find this more acceptable than the alternative of voluntary euthanasia, but half of our nation believes it’s not right and unfair, just like Derek Humphrey. Although euthanasia is illegal in the United States currently, some citizens argue in defense of dying peaceful with dignity rather then suffer in a hospital bed for months on end.
The act of voluntary euthanasia has been debated for several decades and is an extremely difficult task to break down due to both disagreeing sides. Assisted voluntary euthanasia, or active euthanasia, is when a patient intentionally brings about his or her own death with the help of a physician. Active euthanasia is very complex to many people against the legalization because of their religious, cultural or ethical beliefs. Although several individuals argue in favor of active voluntary euthanasia because of their beliefs that everyone should have the right to choose when to die peacefully and painlessly within medical circumstance.
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