Ethics Project Book Review

¶ … Life and Death: The Life Support Dilemma by Kenneth E. Schemmer M.D Kenneth Schemmer in his thorough, thought provoking book brings to life the controversial subject of the life support issue. For years, many all over the country have pondered, "What if a person were in some kind of an accident and the physicians told them that they were not going to make it?" And all that he or she could do is just lie there in extreme pain waiting for their life to the end. Or even worse case scenario what if they happened to end up completely brain dead? These debated questions are taken on by Dr. Schemmer in making his point that life support decisions may not necessarily be the decision of the family, the doctor or the patient but by a higher being that gives life and takes life. Schemmer uses these controversial questions in his book to give a point-of-view that has been left out by many, God's perspective. Though this point-of-view has been evaded by many experts, physicians and family members, it is clear that Schemmer does a very thorough job in opening up a can of worms that many do not want to face when it comes down to life support of a patient. Death, dying and other moral dilemmas are issues that all doctor and families throughout the world have to face and address one time or another. This subject is so controversial because believe it or not, different people have different beliefs as to what life support actually means. Most experts such as Schemmer word, describe Life support is when a person is being reserved alive for the reason that they have one or more major organs or organ systems that are either not answering or do not work at all. People who have these problems need life support to help them stay alive.

However, the debates pour in when so many different people decide to play God and choose to take matters in their own hands, thus determining the fate of the poor individual. In the eyes of those that are evangelical Christians, it would be sending a soul into eternity without even bring the matter to the throne of God. However, with others it would be an issue of not being able to keep them on because the lack of financial means or just the idea of watching someone suffers in incredible pain.

A lot of American believes that there are definite conditions where it should not be reflected murder in aiding someone with their dying process (John-Thor Dahlburg., 2004). For instance, if a person is in pain and is told that they just have a brief time before they will expire and that during those days that the discomfort will intensify. A lot of Americans really feel that they should have the right to choose if they would want to live the rest of the time with the discomfort or end it by means of medical methods (John-Thor Dahlburg.,2004). Many people believe that it is wrong to make someone suffer that way when they can just go in peace. Others state that if someone is said to have no brain activity at all, then they should not be made to live their lives that way.

Nonetheless there are many that also feel that taking someone off of life support is just plain murder. This is view is shared by the fact that taking someone of off life support is basically taking their life away. They base this assessment on the fact that when people eliminate the machine then they eliminate the person because that is all they have to hold on to.

Schemmer does a very sound job in bringing up the point that these are horrible conditions and that no individual should have to watch their family member go through such a horrifying ordeal. Fortunately, Schemmer is not alone, with so many Americans concerned with this issue; many believe that no family member should have to go through such an excruciating and depressing event. Then again, many of same individuals do not believe that this horrifying event should be put in the hands of a higher Power since a lot of people do not believe in the divine power of healing. It appears that this issue has really divided the nation among those that believe that the patient has the right to just end their life and those that hold on to the belief that God is the one in control and only HE can make that divine call. With that said, the purpose of this paper is to give a thorough analysis of...


Schemmer states opens up a can of worms that get the reader to see another side of the life support dilemma. However, he does this by using very informative information regarding the Christian point-of-view by basically employing what God would have to say about the issue. The book was very revealing because Dr. Schemmer makes the statement that the line that goes between life and death has become a little unclear due to the fact that people really do not have rights to their own life and that God holds that liberty. The author does a well written job at showing the readers how many doctors all over the world have basically come up with creative ways to basically play God with their patient's lives. He uses fascinating examples of how man has come up with advanced technology to extend physical life. However, the most fascinating and thought provoking subject was that of Euthanasia, which he describes as the mercy killing. The book does a tremendous job in explaining how it is the practice of medical doctors that painlessly take it upon themselves to put to death a person that has a terminal, excruciating, or disturbing disease or life threatening illness without the consent of anyone. However, he is carful in informing the readers regarding the negative and positive euthanasia.
Schemmer brings a lot of informative issues to the table. For example, Schemmer makes stimulating descriptions in describing how the positive euthanasia is supposed to refer to an action that is really taken in order that the person is able to end the life of a person, while on the other hand the negative euthanasia is what proposes the concealment of medical events or treatments that are from a patient that would be essential in order for the patient to live. In this point, he uses the opinions of others to support the belief on this issue and brings to light the seriousness of this subject. The author makes sure that this information gives them the insight glimpse of a form of killing that is dividing the nation.

It is clear that the subject of euthanasia was dear to the author due to the educational material that he goes on to provide regarding the issue. For example, when dealing with the subject of euthanasia, the author does a real thorough job in breaking the matter down in a separate chapter. In that section, he discusses how this subject has clutched the responsiveness of the country ever since the aided suicides that were mostly achieved by Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who was responsible for killing many patients. Schemmer states his subjective views on this matter as he gives insight on how this was merciless killing that many view as necessary slaughter. Regarding this serious matter, he brings up the point shared by many of asking whether or not a doctor really has the right to "play God" and finish the life of a patient who is demanding that they want their life to come to an end.

There are many places in the book where Schemmer spends a lot of time on making sure the opinions of other are voiced. Good or bad Schemmer does an excellent job by not being judgmental but actually respecting their views. He does a detailed job bringing up the point that as Americans living in a free nation, given the choice to put an end to the suffering of a patient for whom death is unavoidable, appears not to be that radical in wanting to see things change. Schemmer does a well-written job in depicting the suffering of a patient and how painful it is for anyone to observe. He goes deeper in mentioning the much heated debate that a person who is suffering and lying on his deathbed waiting to die has the right to put an end to the misery. The book makes the point since euthanasia is permitting the patient to have right to die with self-respect, and is supposed to be helping them by relieving the stress of mounting charges of medical prices for the dying, and allowing human nature to just take its course. The author…

Sources Used in Documents:


Court backs right to die | terminally ill have right to refuse medical life support. (1984, Dec 28). The San Diego Union, pp. A.1-1.

Ackerman, T. (2005, Mar 27). Life support battle shifts / A decade ago, patients families had to press for 'right to die. Houston Chronicle, pp. 1-B.1.

Allen, P. (2000, Oct 07). Right to die upheld despite new euro law, doctors can end life support rules judge. Daily Mail, pp. 33-33.

Dolan, M. (2001, Aug 10). Justices deal setback to right-to-die movement; health: State court bans removal of life support from conscious patients whose wishes are not clear. Los Angeles Times, pp. A.1-A.1.

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