Euthanasia: Right (to Die) Or Wrong?
Essay, Research Paper
There is no denying the controversy
associated with the topic of euthanasia. There are many opinions
allied with the right to end one?s life if they are suffering. Some
groups feel that it should be illegal, others feel it should be
legalized. Regardless of opinion, the question remains: Should a
person be given the option to request assistance in dying?
(www.relgioustolerance.org)Euthanasia comes from a Greek term ?good
death?. However, the word has gained a much more complicated meaning
in the recent times. Euthanasia is a rationally, considered plan to
end a life because of pain and suffering due to a terminal illness.
(www.rights.org) Euthanasia is often confused with assisted suicide,
a similar event with a much different meaning. Assisted suicide
consists of a person administering a drug in order to help another in
committing suicide. There are two kinds of euthanasia. Passive
euthanasia occurs when a person is in a persistent vegetative state
(massive brain injury resulting in a coma and will not likely
recover). Life support would be removed, or all medical procedures
would be stopped. In active euthanasia, death is caused through a
direct action. (www.relgioustolerance.org)Despite the fact that it is
not a crime in Germany and Switzerland, active euthanasia and
assisted suicide remain illegal in most parts of the United States.
Suicide itself is not a crime. (Originally, the person?s possessions
were property of the government if their life ended in suicide.) The
assistance, whether it is active, or simply the distribution of drugs
that will end one?s life, could send a person to jail for 14 years.
Laws are strict concerning this issue because the government feels
that a person wishing death upon themselves is not stable, therefore
its is not considered a legitament decision. (www.rights.org) Many
surveys have been given to the public, in quest of a response to the
question ?Should euthanasia be legal??. Resent results have shown
that 57% were in favor and 35% were not.Currently, euthanasia has
been legalized in Oregon under the following conditions. ? The
person:- must be terminally ill- have 6 months or less to live] –
make two oral requests for assistance in dying- must make one written
request for assistance- must convince two physicians that she/he is
sincere, is not taking action on a whim, and that the decision is
voluntary- must not have been influenced by depression- must be
informed of the ?feasible alternatives, including, but not limited
to, comfort care, hospice care and pain control.?- must wait 15
days.?(www.religioustolerance.org)Assisted suicides by someone other
than a doctor or administration of carbon monoxide or injection
remain illegal in Oregon. Many other states have taken a stand in
this topic. In both Washington and New York, the Court of Appeals
stated that it was unconstitutional to criminalize a doctor for
assisted suicide of terminally ill patients. Despite this statement,
the US Supreme Court declared that a normal US citizen was not
entitled to the decision of assisted suicide. There still are many
complications related to this topic, so the issue remains on a state
to state basis. The conflict perspective on euthanasia holds strong,
and this is thanks to many religions that are against the act. Many
religions, such as Christianity, believe that God created life, and
he should be the one end it. (www.relgioustolerance.org) Christians,
Muslims, and Jews also believe that committing suicide is committing
a sin, and that God would never give them a situation that they could
not handle. (www.euthanasia.com) Some also even state that suffering
is good because it gives a person ?a divine opportunity for
purification?. (www.relgioustolerance.org) Obviously, there are
non-religious reasons why some people feel euthanasia should remain
illegal. One popular belief is that it is unnecessary because there
are alternate treatments available to end or ease symptoms. The
solution to this would be to make care more widely available.
(www.cmf.org) Some believe that many people wishing to end their life
will change their minds, and euthanasia will kill them before the can
rethink their decision. In suicides, less than 4% actually kill
themselves. Many decisions are based on depression, not pain, and
depression is curable. (www.euthanasia.com) Yet, the strongest
opinion does not necessarily concern the patient, but instead, the
doctor. Too much power is given to doctors of they are given the
right to end a life. A doctor gives the information that could result
in euthanasia, and the procedure, if legal, would be done by a
doctor. Consequently, physicians then hold the power of persuasion
and may unconsciously bias an individual?s opinion. (www.cmf.org)On
the contrary, there are many people who see euthanasia as a personal
and individual decision. There are religious opinions to this side of
the issue as well. It is said that the bible does not note anywhere
that suicide is actually forbidden. A man named Dietrich Bonhoeffer
explains that the bible does not prohibit suicide, but instead states
that God have mercy on a soul who chooses death, because they can no
longer make the right decisions for themselves. (Wennberg, p.45) Some
religions also believe that God would not want them to suffer.
(www.relgioustolerance.org)Most people who support the Right to Die
movement believe that ending one?s life should not necessarily be a
choice for everyone, only for people who are truly suffering. If a
person is slowly deteriorating and they feel that the pain is too
unbearable, some people feel that they should be able to end life if
they choose. Still, functionalists say that the issue should have
perimeters. It should only be a solution to mature adults, who have
thoroughly thought over the decision, and have already put a fight in
saving their life. (www.rights.org)Euthanasia remains a debatable
topic and will remain one for a long time. There are many sides,
perspectives, and religious matters that influence the public?s
opinions. Whether one follows the conflict perspective, or the
functionalist perspective, it is evident that neither group will
?win? the battle for some time. Many people, especially those who are
suffering, would like to see this war end, and find a middle road.
But the fact remains that to legalize euthanasia would open up a
world of both solutions and problems. The only way to control this
would be to analyze each case individually, which would be
impossible. So for the time being, the subject of euthanasia hangs
heavily in the air, waiting for a sensible solution that may never be
1. Wennberg, Robert N. Terminal
Choices. Michigan: Paternoster,1989.
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