Death and Euthanasia

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Euthanasia

Mark T. Maxwell

Abstract

This paper will define Euthanasia and assisted suicide. Euthanasia is often confused with and associated with assisted suicide, definitions of the two are required. Two perspectives shall be presented in this paper. The first perspective will favor euthanasia or the "right to die," the second perspective will favor antieuthanasia, or the "right to live". Each perspective shall endeavor to clarify the legal, moral and ethical ramifications or aspects of euthanasia.

Thesis Statement

Euthanasia, also mercy killing, is the practice of ending a life so as to release an individual from an incurable disease or intolerable suffering. Euthanasia is a merciful means to and end of long-term suffering. Euthanasia is a relatively new dilemma for the United States and has gained a bad reputation from negative media hype surrounding assisted suicides. Euthanasia has a purpose and should be evaluated as humanely filling a void created by our sometimes inhumane modern society.

Antithesis Statement

Euthanasia is nothing less than cold-blooded killing. Euthanasia cheapens life, even more so than the very divisive issue of abortion. Euthanasia is morally and ethically wrong and should be banned in these United States. Modern medicine has evolved by leaps and bounds recently, euthanasia resets these medical advances back by years and reduces today's Medical Doctors to administrators of death.

Euthanasia defined

The term Euthanasia is used generally to refer to an easy or painless death. Voluntary euthanasia involves a request by the dying patient or that person's legal representative. Passive or negative euthanasia involves not doing something to prevent death—that is, allowing someone to die; active or positive euthanasia involves taking deliberate action to cause a death.

Euthanasia is often mistaken or associated with for assisted suicide, a distant cousin of euthanasia, in which a person wishes to commit suicide but feels unable to perform the act alone because of a physical disability or lack of knowledge about the most effective means. An individual who assists a suicide victim in accomplishing that goal may or may not be held responsible for the death, depending on local laws. There is a distinct difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide. This paper targets euthanasia; pros and cons, not assisted suicide.

Thesis Argument That Euthanasia Should Be Accepted

Without doubt, modern dying has become fearsome. Doctors now possess the technologies and the skills to forestall natural death almost indefinitely. All too often, the terminally ill suffer needless pain and are kept alive without real hope, as families hold a harrowing deathwatch.

In ancient Greece and Rome it was permissible in some situations to help others die. For example, the Greek writer Plutarch mentioned that in Sparta, infanticide was practiced on children who lacked "health and vigor." Both Socrates and Plato sanctioned forms of euthanasia in certain cases. Voluntary euthanasia for the elderly was an approved custom in several ancient societies .

Euthanasia has been accepted both legally and morally in various forms in many societies . "There is no more profoundly personal decision, nor one which is closer to the heart of personal liberty, than the choice which a terminally ill person makes to end his or her suffering ...," U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein wrote (R-1). Organizations supporting the legalization of voluntary euthanasia were established in Great Britain in 1935 and in the United States in 1938. They have gained some public support, but so far they have been unable to achieve their goal in either nation. In the last few decades, Western laws against passive and voluntary euthanasia have slowly been eased (1).

The proeuthanasia, or "right to die," movement has received considerable encouragement by the passage of laws in 40 states by 1990,...
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