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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 found.


1. Wennberg, Robert N. Terminal Choices. Michigan: Paternoster,1989.

2. www.cmf.org.uk/ethics/twelve.htlm3. www.euthanasia.com/debate.htlm4. www.relgioustolerance.org/euthans.htm5. www.rights.org/~deathnet/Humphry_essay.htlm

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