Passive Euthanasia in American Society

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Concordia University Wisconsin
MBA 575: Business Ethics
Passive Euthanasia in America Society
Steven Miller

February 23, 2011

Passive Euthanasia Outline

I. Introduction- What is passive euthanasia and my opinion (I believe it is ethical)

II. Body
A. Ethics of passive euthanasia
1. Compassion
2. Allowing the terminally ill to die with dignity
3. Free will
B. Passive euthanasia and religion
1. Roman Catholicism
2. Protestant religion
3. Judaism
C. Effects on society
1. Comfort to terminally-ill patients
2. Affects society positively
3. Cost-effective to society

III. Conclusion- My closing and views on passive euthanasia

Passive Euthanasia

Have you ever known anyone who was only alive because of medication or life support? Do you know a terminally ill person who refuses to take medication or refuses to have a surgery to treat his or her condition? Should a person have the right to prevent the prolonging of one’s own life? All competent, terminally ill people should have the right to choose passive euthanasia because it is ethical, and it is accepted in most of the religions, and it is beneficial to society. Having this choice allows the ultimate liberty in making end-of-life decisions. Passive euthanasia, also called withdrawal, is "the avoidance of extreme or heroic measures to prolong life in the case of incurable and painful terminal illness. Its advocates maintained that treatment should be withheld not to hasten death, but to avoid the pain and suffering of prolonged dying (Manning, 1998).” Passive means submissive. Euthanasia comes from the Greek words "eu," meaning good and “thanatos,”which means death (Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus, 1991). The literal meaning is "good death." When death occurs from passive euthanasia it is because nothing is done to either preserve life or rush death. Examples include, "switching off the life-support machine, disconnecting a feeding tube, refusing a life extending operation, or not taking life-extending drugs (BBC - Religion & Ethics, 2006).”


The ethics of passive euthanasia have been debated for many centuries. Many believe that it is considered either murder or suicide. However, others believe that the patient should have the freedom of choosing to end or continue medical treatment. It is thought that passive euthanasia is ethical for many reasons. Some reasons include being compassionate toward the terminally ill, allowing the terminally ill the right to die with dignity, and allowing one to have free will. Many terminally ill people suffer tremendously while prolonging their lives through medications and surgeries. In many cases, the terminally ill, prolong their lives not because they are afraid of death, but because of the people they would leave behind. If loved ones would let terminally ill patients know that it is okay to refuse medical treatment, the I patients will feel that it is okay to let their lives end naturally, therefore suffering for a shorter period of time. Compassion plays a key role in the ethics of passive euthanasia. It is unfair to force one to live under the constant use of medications. Having compassion for the dying should involve honoring their wishes. “It is cruel and inhumane to refuse someone the right to die when they are suffering intolerable and unstoppable pain or distress (BBC - Religion & Ethics, 2006).” When terminally ill patients request that nothing be done to prolong their lives, one should be compassionate and let them live without medical support. There is also the sense of dignity that the ill does not want to let go of. Many terminally ill patients feel they become a burden to their family because they cannot do things for themselves. They need help with things that are taken for granted by the healthy. Some need help with simply tying their shoes or being fed. Ronald Dworkin, a law professor, states that many people do not...
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