“Who’s Dying Here, Anyway?”
Every year millions of people are diagnosed with terminal illnesses or injuries. Most suffer long and agonizingly painful deaths. While medication may ease the pain temporarily, the long term agony is unrelenting. In the United States the idea of euthanasia has long been a moral and political fire storm. Webster’s dictionary defines euthanasia as, ”the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy.” No one with any compassion wants the sick and dying to suffer. The key phrase is “the sick and dying”. The act of mercifully killing the sick and dying is exactly what euthanasia entails. There are many people who disagree with this idea. They feel that no one has the right to end a person’s life, not even the dying person. These people believe that life is sacred and only God can decide when it is time to go, and how. This is great in theory, but in reality the question should be asked, when does a person die? For instance, take the case of Terry Schiavo, a Florida woman whose case caused a true national debate about the topic of euthanasia and even more so, started the debate as to when a person is considered dead. In February of 1990, twenty-six year old Schiavo suffered a massive cardiac event which, due to lack of oxygen, caused her to suffer massive brain damage. After she spent two months in a coma, her diagnosis was changed to persistent vegetative state. After much rehabilitation, it was decided that Schiavo would not make any kind of recovery. Her eyes were open.
Yes, she could breathe with assistance. Those are the reasons her parents and many others thought she would recover. The problem was that Terry was not there. She was medically brain dead. Having come to terms with the situation, her husband made the decision to remove her feeding tube and with the aid of pain medications allow her to die....
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