Monday, June 29, 2009

Euthanasia Research Paper

Euthanasia is one of society's most widely and fiercely debated moral issues. No one is able to determine the significance of one’s life and the quality a person should live. Euthanasia is categorized into two separate definitions; active and passive euthanasia. Euthanasia gives the terminally ill the ability to orchestrate their death. Euthanasia lifts a burden from the sufferer as well as their caretakers. Euthanasia gives the terminally ill the final dignifying say which allows them to practice the ultimate freedom; the right to die.

Euthanasia is split into two different categories; active and passive euthanasia. Active euthanasia, which by definition, is; "Doing something, such as administering a lethal drug, or using other means that cause a person's death” (MacKinnon, 126) is more detestable than passive euthanasia, which is defined as; "Stopping (or not starting) some treatment, which allows a person to die, the person's condition causes his or her death," (MacKinnon, 126). Active euthanasia is typically the more highly debated of the two acts of euthanasia and is better known because of the actions of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who has aided in many successful suicides. Passive euthanasia, on the other hand, is rarely debated and usually never enters controversial dialogue because it is typically looked at as letting someone die naturally. In passive euthanasia one simply refuses treatment with the knowledge that death is imminent. This offers little debate for several reasons, primarily because it is seen as a natural way of dying. There are exceptions, for example, some religions refuse to accept life preserving treatments with the knowledge that without the treatment they will die. For example in the faith of the Jehovah's Witness, a child, who has been in a serious car accident and is in need of blood, will die rather that accept treatment (Humphry, 104). Although this kind of passive euthanasia would endure much scrutiny, it would be accepted because it is tied to religious convictions. In either case, active or passive, the victim will die due to the aid of a physician or another able bodied individual. There is essentially no difference between the two types of euthanasia; both aid the terminally ill in taking their own life. From herein, both active and passive euthanasia will be referred to as euthanasia. Essentially euthanasia aids people in ending their lives, and gives those who are terminally ill, the last and perhaps only decisive measure during their illness.

Supporters of the practice of euthanasia argue that helping the terminally ill to bring about their own deaths and allowing them to determine the how and when they die, defends their basic human right to decide whether they should live in suffering, or die in peace. Euthanasia is not only humane, but also allows the person the ability to maintain their dignity by planning their own end, thus letting them die with dignity and at peace. Freedom to choose how one lives their life is not taken away due to a terminal illness, thus this freedom should be carried out regardless of whether the issue is death or our freedom of speech. Supporters of euthanasia state that, "[They] believe that everyone has the right to choose how they live and die" (The Voluntary Euthanasia Society [TVES]). Euthanasia allows the person, who is principally awaiting their death, to maintain a fraction of their dignity by coordinating their own death. Thus letting the person die in peace, rather than suffering through their illness until their eventual demise. The Voluntary Euthanasia Society states that, "Each person has value and is worthy of respect, has basic rights and freedoms and the power to control his or her destiny. [The proponents] campaign to legalize assisted dying within certain strictly defined circumstances is fundamentally about choice" (TVES). The choice being discussed is their right to a person’s freedom to choose whether or not to live in pain and suffering or die in peace.

The worth of a humans life does not change because they are terminally ill, but the manner in which one lives there life changes significantly. In some cases, victims of terminal diseases suffer great humiliation due to loss of control over their muscles and other parts of their body, making them completely dependant upon someone else. These hardships are often times degrading to the sufferer and costly to both the victim and their loved ones, which puts strain not only on the person affected by the disease but also those who are taking care of them.

In many cases, euthanasia is the victims’ way to pay back their debt to their family, and their last effort at dignity. Suffering from a terminal illness is costly and time consuming for those who take care of the victim. Victims in the advanced stages of some terminal illness will have limited muscle control and experience excruciating and unrelenting pain. Rather than suffer through an illness, one should have the right to end the pain and plan their death. As the Euthanasia Society states, "Not everyone dies well. At least 5% of terminal pain cannot be fully controlled, even with the best care. Other distressing symptoms such as sickness, incontinence or breathlessness cannot always be relieved" (Dr. Jack Kevorkian). Not only does the sufferer endure the hardships of their disease, but often times their loved ones also bear the brunt of the monetary costs related to their illness.

The costs of at-home treatments as well as hospital, medicine and treatment costs are an extreme burden upon the victim’s family. In the victims eyes, their death signifies eliminating their own, as well as their next of Kin’s, perception of them dying to be a burden, physically and financially, and then can focus on the positive aspect of their death; the end to their suffering. Derek Humphry states that “patients with a high wish to hasten death have greater concerns with physical symptoms and psychological suffering, perceive themselves to be more of a burden to others” (Humphry, 127.) Patients suffering from illness simply want to lessen the weight and dependence upon their loved ones, and exercise their freedom to decide when and how they want to die.

No one is capable of determining the worth of someone’s life; however those who suffer terminal illnesses should have the freedom of determining whether the pain they are forced to endure is worth continuing their lives. Euthanasia is categorized into separate definitions, both of which are scrutinized and both allowing the freedom of choice. Through euthanasia, the choice of how and when the victim of a terminal illness should die lies in the hands of the person themselves. The victim views their final demise as a way for them to repay those who took care of them or the final lift of burden from their loved ones. Euthanasia allows the practice of basic human rights and gives the terminally ill the right to die.
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1 comment:

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