Euthanasia and Living Wills

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Euthanasia and Living Wills

THE STORY

Imagine someone you love...better yet, imagine yourself lying in a hospital bed oblivious to the world around you, unable to move or show any signs of life, your own existence controlled by an I.V., a respiratory machine, and a feeding tube. In essence you are dead. Your body is no longer able to sustain life, its entire purpose is now replaced by a machine - you are being kept alive by artificial means. At this point the question arises - should you be kept alive by these means or should you be allowed to die a natural death? Unfortunately you are unable to answer this question because your voice is limited to a "beep" on a heart monitor machine. Who then is going to decide if you live artificially or die naturally? Who gets to play God? Well, if your family doesn't have your written consent in the form of a living will, to cease life support, then the doctor will make the ultimate decision for both you and your family.

Most often this is the case. Even though writing a living will is just as easy if not easier than writing a death will, many people don't take the time to do so. Therefore, doctors have to debate the question of euthanasia - a question that each one of us should ponder long before we are put in this situation.

What is euthanasia? Euthanasia is not mercy killing. It has absolutely nothing to do with killing. On the contrary, euthanasia by definition simply means "good death" and in the applied sense it refers to "the patients own natural death without prolonging their dying process unduly." What this attempts to accomplish is to allow a person to die with peace and dignity. In most cases life-support systems simply prolong the terminal suffering of a patient by a few more weeks or months, they do nothing to return a patient to a normal functioning human being. With most terminally ill patients life support does not mean prolonging life - it means prolonging suffering, for both the...
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