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Euthanasia Debate Essay, Research Paper

Everybody is going to die sometime, but for some, serious medical conditions only prolong the wait upon their deathbed. From newborn infants with severe handicaps, to elderly men and women diagnosed with hopeless amnesia, euthanasia has found a place in society since society s creation., and a boundary is begging to be drawn.

Passive voluntary and active are the two mains forms of euthanasia. A cancer patient certain to die within a month may ask to have his or her respirator turned off and have the iv removed, presenting them with a quick and dignified death; this would be an example of passive euthanasia. A case a active euthanasia would be a person manually assisting the patient in suicide. A doctor providing a lethal dosage of drugs to be inserted into the arm would be an example. Keep in mind, however, that the doctor cannot be the one to trigger the drugs into the patient without turing the case into murder. This is the similar to the recent occurrence of Dr. Death s actions.

With perhaps the most infamous name in euthanasia, Doctor Jack Kevorkian s brave methods came to an abrupt halt in spring of 1999. He was sentenced to ten to twenty-five years in prison for the assisted suicide of Thomas Youk, a 52 year-old victim of Lou Gehrig s disease. The judge

recognized this case to be different from Kevorkian s previous trials on account

of the lethal injection Kevorkian initiated himself, rather than the regular prescription of lethal drugs tolerated over 130 times before. Kevorkian will not be eligible for parole until May of 2007; and rightfully so say even many right-to-die groups. He is a symptom of the problem rather than part of the solution, says John Brooke of Americans for Death With Dignity – a California-based euthanasia support group . Clearly euthanasia has it s share of protesters, and there even some supporters who recognize the boundaries.

The battle now returns to a handfil of states. Out of the fifty united states, thirty-five have regulations declaring assisted suicide a crime. It is regulated by common law in nine states; four states have no clear-cut laws against it, and only Oregon permits the actual assisted suicide performed by doctors. Active euthanasia and assisted suicide have certainly seen their political thresholds, but where does the less aggressive passive euthanasia stand? This form of suicide has not the protesters so hasty to point the finger.

In many opinions, passive euthanasia can be more justified than it s more active cohort.

Bette Stevenson of Nebraska was a fifty-three year old widow when diagnosed with lung cancer. The cancer threatened Stevenson s life within only seven months of being with her. Stevenson was already very hard of hearing and sight. With no children and no family within close contact, her future looked very grim.

Tired of lying in a hospital bed every day and knowing her condition would become only worse, Stevenson urged her doctor to stop treatment and send her home to face and easy death . After much contemplation, the doctor granted her request. Stevenson died within two days of her release.

Cases similar to Stevenson s are though ones to judge. Is it a crime for the doctor to grant the patient s wish to die a dignified death such as Stevenson s? There are many more instances that bring question to the minds each side of the battlefield. What of infants born with severe irreparable handicaps? Are the parents felons by letting an end to their suffer before the struggle begins? Some may say yes at first, but when the situation is in their hands, the minds may change.

Jan Anderson, a resident of Minneapolis, gave birth to a child after only five months of pregnancy. The baby weighed just over one pound, was paralyzed from the neck down, had cerebral palsy, and was blind. Discontent with her baby s dismal future, she requested that the newborn be disconnected from it s life support and be given a quick death. However, the doctors argued profusely and saved the child s life, against Anderson s wishes. Although she loves her child and cares for him deeply, she still believes that nobody should have to be put through such a suffering.

Euthanasia and suicide have been a strong disputable petition since the earliest of civilizations; yet even today s modern society has not made a decision on where to draw the line. Strong supporters like Dr. Jack Kevorkian and a slew of right-to-die groups keep euthanasia alive and well, but hasty

protesters such as the judge who sentenced Kevorkian keep the likes of Dr. Death in check. And in check is where this subject is most likely to stay as society presses on.

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