Topics: Euthanasia, Medical ethics, Death Pages: 9 (3215 words) Published: March 18, 2014
Everybody has heard of famous court cases regarding euthanasia or news stories talking about people who have used it, but what is it really? Euthanasia is the practice of ending a human’s life with that person’s consent, either by withholding life supporting medical care and drugs or by a specific act of killing (Newton, 2009). The patient must be in critical care and have very little chance of recovery in order to use euthanasia. Many court cases have fought for the rights to use it on patients and repeatedly their requests are shut down. So should the killing of humans be illegal, or should people be allowed to decide when and how we are going to die? What is Euthanasia? Euthanasia is derived from the Greek word euthanos, which means good death (Dychtwal, 1989). Once it was converted into English, the word translated out to mean a quiet, gentle, or painless death opposed to the harsh, suffering death that most people would face without it (Dychtwal, 1989). Euthanasia is often used by medical practitioners; the doctor would allocate the patient a lethal dose of drugs and administer the drugs to them or the doctor injects the patient with lethal injections (Griswold, 2009). More recently the word has become to be known as the act of allowing or even the act of doing this painless death (Dychtwal, 1989). There are two different forms of euthanasia, active and passive (Dychtwal, 1989). Active euthanasia is the hastening of a persons’ death by injections or a different form of assisted suicide while passive euthanasia is the withholding of treatment or medications that are currently keeping the patient alive (Dychtwal, 1989). For both passive and active euthanasia, informed consent must be present (Newton, 2009). According to the Newton, informed consent is, “A patient’s expression of knowledge and acceptance of the risks, benefits, and alternative treatment options of a medical procedure and subsequent permission to a physician to perform the procedure” (Newton, 2009). Besides using euthanasia, there is another form suicide that is commonly used on people who are close to death. Physician assisted suicide is similar to euthanasia in many ways but physician assisted suicide may involve prescribing lethal medication, offering advice on various suicidal methods, or helping a patient use a killing device to take their life (Griswold, 2009). Physician assisted suicide differs from euthanasia by the doctor prescribes lethal medication that the patient consumes on their own time instead of killing the patient personally (Newton, 2009). Assisted suicide, like euthanasia, puts the patient in control of the time of their death, the place of their death, and how their death will occur (Walter, 2009). Many laws ban the use of both of these forms of suicide, but many advocates for euthanasia are fighting for the right to use it (Supreme Court upholds right to die, 2003). Much debate is up about the quality of life versus the length of life, which one is more important? (Supreme Court upholds right to die, 2003) Advocates for Euthanasia Supporters for euthanasia have increasing grown over the last century. The Euthanasia Society of America’s membership has grown from 600 people in 1950 to over 150,000 members today (Dychtwal, 1989). Also fifty eight percent of Americans believe that if a person has an incurable disease and absolutely no chance of recovery, they should have the right to perform active or passive euthanasia (Dychtwal, 1989). Even religious leaders are in favor of passive euthanasia, for they believe that individuals should not have to go through extraordinary and painful ways of preserving their life (Dychtwal, 1989). The Bible says that taking another’s life or even your life is against God’s will, but religious leaders believe that God did not want people to have to...
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