Active Euthanasia: Dignity or Murder

Topics: Euthanasia, Suicide, Death Pages: 8 (3029 words) Published: February 25, 2013
Active Euthanasia: Dignity or Murder?
An ongoing argument in the world of medicine concerns euthanasia and the right to die. There is an important distinction to make that will be useful later on in describing the difference between active euthanasia and physician assisted suicide, because they are not the same thing. Euthanasia, more specifically voluntary or active euthanasia, pertains to an intervention, such as lethal injection, requested by a mentally competent patient so as to precipitate death. Physician assisted suicide on the other hand is when a doctor prescribes a lethal dose of medicine that the terminally ill patient requests and ingests at their time of choice that will end their life (Scherer and Simon 13). Many arguments have been made as to why this should be legally permissible. Some say that it helps end one’s suffering. Others say that the act is abiding by doctor’s oath to help patients. Robert Young claims that it does not go against moral codes by stating, “It is sometimes morally permissible unintentionally to occasion harm despite the harm being foreseen, provided there is a sufficiently grave reason” (Young 84). On the contrary, legalizing active euthanasia is morally wrong, many physical complications almost always occur, and it goes against the Hippocratic Oath. For those reasons, we believe active euthanasia should not be legalized. This issue is pertinent in many people’s lives and if Euthanasia is legalized, it could lead to the de-valuation of human life.

The first aspect to consider is the moral perspective. Active euthanasia is now being viewed as a new alternative to ending one’s suffering. Those who support active euthanasia argue that a terminally ill patient who is in excruciating pain should be given the choice to decide whether or not one wants to live, claiming that it is the patient’s right. The situation is looked at as if the patient’s life is no longer valuable or worth living anymore, but who gets to be the judge of the quality of life? Just because people may know that someone is going to die soon does not mean that person’s life is now meaningless (Gula 25-26). If it were true that one’s life was meaningless, and people knew when that person was going to die, then people’s life would be seen as not worth living. The patient can still make their last days count by accepting their fate and understanding how important, happy, and meaningful their life was.

Touching on Robert Young’s comment, having a “sufficiently grave reason” does not make euthanasia acceptable or less morally wrong (Young 84). This idea is relevant to other things in life including illegal acts of crime. A man who steals food and money for his poor family is not excused from his actions even though he had good intentions. Just because something can be beneficial to some, does not make it beneficial or just for everyone. The same goes for euthanasia. Euthanasia is based on the idea that a life can be ended if it is deemed pointless. Due to these circumstances, other medical situations may be accepted into this category as well including those who are physically or mentally handicapped, elderly people, and maybe even the clinically depressed. Supporters disregard the fact that all life is mortal and that all life on earth, no matter how short, is not worthless (Chaitin & Csikai 110).

When something is repeatedly exposed to someone for a prolonged period of time, whether good or bad, that person becomes used to it. Becoming used to something, like thunder and lightning storms, can be a good experience because it causes a person to become desensitized to something that is a part of life. On the contrary, becoming used to certain situations can ultimately be a bad thing because it can cause the desensitization in life of values that should be protected. Thus, legalizing active euthanasia could lead to a desensitized society toward life as no longer being valuable (Weir 99-100). This...

Cited: Csikai, Ellen L., and Elizabeth Chaitin. Ethiscs: in End-of-Life Decisions in Social Work Practice. Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books, Inc, 2006.
Groenewoud, JH, der H. A. van, BD Onwuteaka-Philipsen, DL Willems, der M. P. J. van, and der W. G. van. "Clinical Problems with the Performance of Euthanasia and Physician
Assisted Suicide in the Netherlands." The New England Journal of Medicine. 342.8
(2000): 551-6.
Gula, Richard M. Euthanasia: Moral and Pastoral Perspectives. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1994.
Scherer, Jennifer M., and Rita J. Simon. Euthanasia and The Right to Die: A Comparative View. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc, 1999.
Sommerville, Margret. Death Talk: The Case against Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide. Montreal, Canada: McGill Queens University Press, 2001.
Torr, James D. Euthanasia: Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, Inc, 2000.
Weir, Robert F. Ethical Issues in Death and Dying. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1977.
Young, Robert. Medically Assisted Death. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
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