What is euthanasia? Euthanasia is a medicinal action used to relieve pain bearing, terminally ill patients in a peaceful way. In fact, in Greek, euthanasia means “good death.” Who wouldn’t want a harmonious death opposed to the unbearable painful death their illness would cause? It seems, from my point of view, inhumane to argue on this question. Euthanasia is categorized in different ways, which include voluntary and involuntary, and is further divided into active or passive variants. Voluntary euthanasia is euthanasia performed at a patient’s explicit request and with fully informed consent. Involuntary euthanasia is euthanasia conducted when the patient is competent but without the patient's explicit request and/or fully informed consent. (Boyd) Active euthanasia is the intentionally administering of medication or other interventions to cause a patient's death, i.e. lethal injection. Passive euthanasia entails the withholding of treatments necessary for the patient’s continuance of life, i.e. medication or life support. There is also a category termed non-voluntary euthanasia which is when the patient is incompetent or not able to explicitly request death. (Boyd) Euthanasia is also referred to as physician-assisted suicide often. The main terms I will focus on in this paper are voluntary active and passive euthanasia as well as involuntary passive euthanasia. Proponents of euthanasia usually take a stance by expressing that death is inevitable and so imminent. They believe the pain that will precede death is so unbearable that the only morally appropriate response is to end the life of the person by voluntary, active means. Opponents contend that euthanasia is nothing more than suicide and murder. I compare illness or some sort of ailment to a murderer. The ill person is the victim. The victim is running down a long alley with the murderer (the illness) closing from behind. Therefore, death for the victim is inescapable. Comparing the illness to the unavoidable murder of the patient makes peaceful physician-assisted suicide seem that much more appropriate.
So when does one know when it is “right” or not to intentionally end a life? As onlookers we personally don’t know, the patient does, and in involuntary cases, the patient’s family or living will can justify when the appropriate time should be. Studies concerning end-of-life options show that most physicians are opposed to physician-assisted suicide if suggested by anyone but the patient. (Quill) Although this thought is what most physicians make so clear to the public, many individuals cannot help but worry some physicians will abuse the right of legal assisted suicide. For the most part, America has no clear boundaries for assisted suicide cases and this produces skeptical views for those against euthanasia. (Homola) But, in the democratic country we live in today, is it not true that everybody is to respect the rights of other people? Is it morally acceptable to make someone suffer until their natural death occurs against their will? Robert Weir discusses the ethical assessments and positions in his book Physician-Assisted Suicide. In the following excerpt, Weir explains that the individual well-being of a person is a main value that supports assisted suicide and euthanasia. Life itself is commonly understood to be a central good for persons, often valued for its own sake, as well as necessary for the pursuit of all other goods within a life. But when a competent patient decides to forgo all further life-sustaining treatment, then the patient, either explicitly or implicitly, commonly decides that the best life possible for him or her with treatment is of sufficiently poor quality that it is worse than no further life at all. Life is then no longer considered a benefit by the patient but has now become without value or meaning and a burden. (Weir 90) Every person has the right to decide what’s best for their mind, body and soul. Euthanasia should be a...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document