Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia: a Slippery Slope Effect

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Melanie Hart
PHI200 Mind and Machine
Dr. Martha Stillman
June 19, 2011

There are numerous pros and cons for Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia that can be argued many times over. The reasons for these arguments include less pain and suffering for the patient as well as their families, a person’s right to die with dignity, and lower health cost; to name a few. However, there are those that feel that legalizing Physician Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia could lead Physicians down a slippery slope. So, that leads to the question of: Who has the right to make those determinations, and when are they morally correct? Because euthanasia has several definitions in which each form represents various moral view points, it is important to ensure that people have a full understanding of their meanings and the issues that can arise from the different forms. “Many proponents of euthanasia want more than hospice availability or more effective palliation” (Lillehammer 2002, pp.545-550). Keown contends that proponents of euthanasia feel that doctors, under certain circumstances, should control the decision of ensuring the patient has an easy and painless death. In this paper I will define both Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia; and present two sides of the argument of Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia causing or not causing a slippery slope, and conclude with my position on both. Euthanasia (VAE) is a Greek word which stands for good death and means to intentionally administer medicine or interventions that cause the death of a patient at their request (Runge, Royle, Slater, 2004). However, there are two forms of euthanasia; Active euthanasia and passive euthanasia. Active euthanasia is when “lethal substances or forces are used to end the patient’s life; which also includes life-ending actions conducted by the patient or somebody else” (Nordqvist, 2010, pp.1, para. 4). There is also voluntary euthanasia, in which consent is given and involuntary euthanasia, which is performed without consent. Physician Assisted Suicide is when the Physician provides necessary means or information to the patient which enables the patient to take his/her own life (e.g. sleeping pills or a lethal injection) (Dyer, 2006). Even though they are known to have a similar purpose, physician assisted suicide and euthanasia could have contrasting results according to whether or not the physician participates in the action which cause the end life for the patient. PROS: “Argue that legalizing Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia is a necessary insurance policy that will ensure that no one dies in painful agony or unremitting suffering” (law.jrank, pp.1096, para. 1). Report that there are around forty-four million Americans that do not have health insurance and because of this, at times, medicine is practiced in a discriminatory manner towards minorities and certain races (law. rank). By making PAS legal, monitoring and regulating would be much easier (Dyer, 2006). PROS also argue that “in virtually every country there is never enough hospital space” (Nordqvist, 2010, pp. 3, para. 5); therefore, those healthcare providers feel they should be able to focus all of their available resources, equipment, skill staffed, medications, and available beds on treatable patients. They concur that using these life-saving resources on terminally ill patients is a waste. PROS put forth that it is more humane to allow a person that is terminally ill to have the right to choose to put an end to their pain and suffering. They also bring forth the point that whenever we put a pet down that is suffering without end; we are using legalized euthanasia methods. They question what the difference is between the loved pet and the loved human being that is also suffering with no end? They feel that the patient should not have to experience an unpleasant death. Even though all of the PROS...
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