In addition to racism, political and philosophical ideologies, and abortion, euthanasia is one of the foremost issues that divide people in the United States and the rest of the world. Some deem euthanasia as mercy killing. Others simply call it, killing. It is the taking of one's own life when a medical condition or illness becomes unbearable in terms of physical or emotional manifestations. Euthanasia is also called Physician's Assisted Suicide. The political mongering and the role of the religions cloud the whole issue of euthanasia. The Hippocratic Oath also becomes a football that is tossed around with abandon. How literally can, "(Physicians) First, Do No Harm" be taken. (Miles, 2004) In fact, does prolonging pain serve the Oath to its original intent? This essay will discuss these manifestly arguable issues.
Dr Kevorkian is known as Dr. Death. (Vonnegut, 1999) This benevolent, unassuming medic made it his lifelong ambition to allow those suffering from terminal disease to die with dignity. Dr. Kevorkian's role was limited to a point; the afflicted person administered the drugs themselves. But then in a demonstration of brazenness, on National TV, Dr. Kevorkian administered the drug to a patient himself. Dr. Death was convicted of first-degree murder and is now confined to a life sentences in a prison in Michigan.
According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, if the following criteria are met there should be legal and medical provisions for a person to be allowed to die or to be assisted to die. These have to do with terminal illness, the unlikeliness of finding a cure, intolerable pain and living a burdensome life. In addition, the person should have an "enduring, voluntary and competent wish to die." (Plato.stanford.edu, 2002)
Voluntary euthanasia involves the termination of life at the request of a competent adult person with a painful terminal condition. Non-voluntary euthanasia involves the termination of life without the explicit consent of a person. The latter is contentious and is often considered murder. There is also passive and active euthanasia. Passive euthanasia is the deliberate withholding or discontinuation of life-prolonging treatment of a terminally ill person in order to end suffering or allow death with dignity. It usually involves the termination of artificial means of life support in order to allow the natural process of death to take its course. Active euthanasia is the deliberate action to end the life of a dying person to avoid further suffering. These interventions include turning off of a life-support system or the injection of lethal substances.
First consider the position of those opposed to euthanasia and physician's assisted suicide. They believe that legalizing euthanasia fundamentally undermines the basis of law and public morality. Even if safeguards were built into a legal proposition, it would open to many gray areas. Legalizing voluntary euthanasia could be easily extended to involuntary euthanasia. There are so many intangibles as to what prompts one to make a decision to end one's life. Legalizing "voluntary euthanasia" on the basis of non-representative difficult cases would result in its being routinely practiced on a large scale. One leading medical ethicist said more than twenty years ago "We shall begin by doing it because the patient is in intolerable pain but we shall end up doing it because it is Friday afternoon and we want to get away for the weekend" (Hare, 1971). The precedent of abortion is chilling: "Aging Advisory Services" would offer a 1-stop euthanasia service. The above might seem an exaggeration. But those against euthanasia aver that this thought process could easily occur if there is a loophole was found in the system.
There is a possibility that the wish to be aided in suicide might come from misconstruing their situations. These situations can be borne from a pain threshold or emotional depression. Some specialists believe that the wish to be euthanised is more to assess a person's worth with their loved ones. And if they find that they're not worth much, they might act upon what was a tentative wish anyway. Legalized euthanasia would produce huge social pressures on very vulnerable people to 'volunteer." It would fundamentally undermine the relationships between elderly or dependent relatives and their families, with overwhelming pressures being applied on people to 'take the honorable course' and 'not be a burden'.
This would cause much suffering for all concerned. The financing and provision of proper geriatric and palliative care: with stretched budgets would be compromised. Euthanasia would then be seen as a cost-effective option for the…