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Euthanasia, Is It Good Or Bad? Essay, Research Paper

Euthanasia is one of the most important public policy issues being debated today. Euthanasia means intentionally making someone die, rather than allowing that person to die naturally. The intention for using euthanasia is to stop the suffering of a patient that has an incurable disease or is in intolerable suffering. The use of euthanasia must be stopped. Newborns and elderly are being killed, active and passive euthanasia are being used with a lack of moral values, making death a good thing to do.

The medical profession has generally been caught in the middle of the social controversies that rage over the use of euthanasia. Government and religious groups, as well as the medical profession itself, agree that physicians are not required to use any extreme means to prolong the life of the terminally ill. What extreme means is usually left to the discretion of the patient’s family. This is why many innocent lives are being taken. Most of them are the newborns and the elderly. When a child is born with certain problems, such as Down syndrome with a life threatening deformity they are left to die. Their parents and doctors think they will have a life of suffering. Just because a newborn is deformed does not mean it will suffer during his lifetime. This is totally unethical and irresponsible. In the United States of America these children can enter one of many disability programs that can help them surpass their problems so they can have a better life. If society started to kill children because they were born with a disability many great minds would be wasted. For example, what if the parents of the famous scientist Stephen Hawking had decided to kill their newborn son, who was born with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an incurable disease of the nervous system. All the technology based on his theories would have never existed.

When it comes to the elderly this seems to happen too. Most of them have problems that can be treated and some of them only need an insignificant operation. But the family thinks it is better for loved one to die than to live in pain. Modern technological advances have made it possible for every physician to keep a person alive for long periods of time even when they are permanently unconscious or irrevocably brain damaged. Many believe that prolonging life using this type technology may cause great suffering to the patient and the family. In addition, certain life-support systems are so expensive that they cannot be provided to all the patients. But there is no real proof that the use of today’s technology produces suffering.

Another problem with euthanasia is its lack of morals values. In euthanasia there are two ways that someone can die, passive or active. Passive means to kill the person and active means to let die. The problem with active and passive euthanasia is that in both cases the patient is going to die, and the suffering could be different. Suppose the doctor agrees to withhold treatment to a dying patient, it would be wrong to prolong his suffering needlessly. If one simply withholds treatment, it may take the patient longer to die, and so he may suffer more than he would if more direct action were taken and a lethal injection given. This fact provides strong reason for thinking that, once decision not to prolong his agony has been made, could also cause more agony and pain to the patient than when he was taking the treatment. It seems that no matter what the decision is the patient will suffer. If the crucial issue in the euthanasia debate is the intentional termination of the life of one’s life by another, then how can it be consistent to forbid mercy killing, yet deny that the cessation of treatment is the intentional termination of a life? The so-called difference between active and passive does not provide a useful, moral distinction.

Euthanasia is a real threat to the integrity of what life stands for. It will always be a theme of debate because of the unsolved moral and ethical issues. But one must not forget the right to live is given by the constitution of the United States, therefore using it goes against everything this country stands for. It is of critical importance to every state in this country to maintain a body of laws consistent with respect for the dignity and worth of every human being. In particular, it is important not to legalize killing of the innocent. For it is the fundamental task of civil authority to protect the innocent.


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