AP Language and Composition
March 12, 2013
Noseless, fingerless, handless, vision less, and jawless, Matthew Donnelly pled for death. Matthew spent his last thirty years conducting research of x-rays and as a result aquired skin cancer. This skin cancer caused him to lose his nose, his left hand, two fingers on his right hand, part of his jaw and his vision. During this crucial stage of cancer, Matthew was given less than a year to live and suffered extreme pain both physically and emotionally. As his longing to live decreased his desire to rest eternally increased. As Matthew's plead to die grew stonger, he was finally shot by his brother, Harold Donnelly, with a .30 caliber pistol. Matthew's death demonstrates all that the world could avoid if euthanasia was legal; violation of one's civil liberties. Euthanasia, or as many like to call it, assisted suicide, should be legalized. Euthanasia is the taking of one's own life, purposely, with the assitance of another person and is derived from the Greek words Eu Thanatos. In ancient Greece and Rome, Euthanasia was practiced often but as the importance of religion increased the practice of Euthanasia diminished. (SOURCE HERE (mcdougall & martha gorman). Though there are different distinctions of Euthanasia such as passive and active Euthanasia, the results are all the same; the end of suffering and the beginning of eternal rest. Passive Euthanasia involves less extreme measures, such as removing a patient from life support. Active Euthanasia causes death in a more direct manner, for example, providing an overdose of medication (Mcdougall). Oregon's Death with Dignity Act was introduced in the Legislative Assembly to allow physicians to provide terminally ill patients with medication to end their life. Under the qualification of two witnesses and the clearance of any mental conditions, terminally ill patients in Oregon can choose to die rather than suffer. When the word Euthanasia is used, many unconsciously associate it with the low and behold Adolf Hitler. Hence, the poll that was made after World War II that illustrated that the support for Euthanasia was lower after the war than it was before the war (ENTER SOURCE). Adolf Hitler's “Euthanasia Programme” included the murder of many people who were in asylums for the mere purpose of perserving food for Germans during this wartime. This form of Euthanasia,however, has been long gone. Euthanasia now is done for the pure and simple reason of ending suffering and preserving deserved rest for terminally ill patients. First, Euthanasia should be legalized to deliver patients relief and rest from the pain experienced by the terminal illnesses. Often times nurses are faced with patients who are terminally ill and desire an end to suffering. Assisted Suicide is an eternal pain killer for all terminal patients who are free from mental problems. In Vacco v. Quill the American Civil Liberties stated that “The right of a competent, terminally ill person to avoid excruciating pain and embrace a timely and dignified death bears the sanction of history and is implicit in the concept of ordered liberty” (ACLU). If a patient is experiencing tremendous pain and anguish, it is their right and perogative to free themselfs from this misery. Diane Pretty is a 43 year old women who suffers from motor neurone disease (Sarah Barclay). It is nearly impossible for Pretty to speak, eat, or even breathe. A simple sentence requires 20 minutes of assitance from her various machines and aids, to communicate a simple “I love you” to her husband or to swallow a small amount of saliva requires a tremendous amount of pain and time. Diane addresses herself as practically dead and her mother agrees. The legalization of Euthanasia in United Kingdom would have allowed Diane to be placed out of her own misery and into the land of paradise and rest. Her husband Brian has contemplated risking his future for the love of her life. In the United Kingdom, assisted suicide can result in a maximum sentence of fourteen years in jail. Brian encounters Diane's constant struggles and hates seeing her in such a troubled state. In the legalization of Euthanasia the government must take into account the lives of the terminally ill, all the Diane Pretty's of this world; the hopeless, the suffered, and the tormented. When a person is suffering from any medical condition their first response is to seek medical attention from professionals. However, when medical attention has failed year after year and is simply not enough to preserve the life of a sick person, there are not much options but to await the physical death of an already dead spirit. What is a patient suppose to do when their death is knocking on their door while simultaneously experiencing unbearable pain? A significant part of the Hippocratic Oath is the duty “to care for and meet the needs and desires of a patient in all stages of the patient's life” (Ronald A. Lindsay). The duties of medical professionals are simple and concrete; caring for a patient's desires and needs is one of the many simple responsibilites. The needs of terminally ill patients consist of sleep needs, nutritional needs, medical needs and comforting needs. Once the physician has attempted to its upmost ability to meet the needs of the patient and the result is no improvement in health, which is usually the case, hence the word “terminal”, the desires of the patient must be met to the fullest extent. When the needs of the patients are not met, the desire of death rather than life makes assisted-suicide acceptable. “To take a deliberate action with the exppress intention of ending a life to relieve intractable (persistent, unstoppable) suffering” (Medical News Today) should be allowed under government law. Secondly, Euthanasia should be legalized because people should not make end of life decisions without medical advice. Although assisted suicide may not be the intial advice from a physician for a terminally ill patient, the legalization of this practice would enhace a physician's acceptance in hearing a patient speak towards the issue of suicide. The legalization of Euthanasia would provide patients with the opportunity to seek medical advice, opening a free way for patients to openly and comftorably discuss pallative or psychiatric care and eventually physicain-assisted care, if desired. According to Alan Marzilli, patients are more hesitant to speak to their physicans about suicide because of the restrictions placed on physician-assisted suicide. The lifting of bans on Euthanasia would cause patients to seek Pallative care and Psychiatric care with more acceptance knowing that if this care lacks effectiveness assisted suicide could be an alternative. Throughout it all, the patients are seeking medical advice. Therfore, assisted suicide would be conducted in a safer manner, as a trusting and comftorable relationship between the physican and patient is established. Under the circumstance that all other care has been offered to limit the distress and suffering that a patient may feel, physicain-assisted suicide will be practiced. Given that 60% of patients with cancer report experiencing forms of distress (Susan D. Block), medical advice would be extremely beneficial prior to physicain-assisted suicide and the legalization of this practice would enhace this advice. Many fear that if Euthanasia was made legal, abuse of this practice would occur. In other words, If one was feeling distressed or afflicted a simple ride to a local hospital and an injection of a needle would do the trick; inflict death. The legalization of Physician-Assisted Suicide, however, would ensure that only those who are terminally ill receive this assistance which reduces the abuse that is so often feared. Strict standards and qualifactions will accompany the legalization of Euthansia, as has been done in the state of Oregon. Under Oregon's Death With Dignity Act, the only act in the United States legalizing physician-assisted suicide, a patient suffering with terminal illness may only recieve this assistance if he or she has been cleared from any “mental condition impairing judgement” (Medical News Today). As physical damage occurs in a terminally ill patient so does emotional and psychological damage. 47% of patients with cancer met the criteria of aquiring a psychiatric disorder. These disorders included depression, anxious moods or organic mental disorders. (Susan D. Block). Terminally ill patients are already less expected to acquire happiness and hope due to their limited time of life, therefore making them less eligible to participate in physican-assisted suicide and forcing them to turn to other alternatives such as other medical cares or simply taking their matters and their lives into their own hands. If the procedure of Euthanasia was made legal and strict no person experiencing psychological disorders or suicidal struggles would recieve this treatment and medical advice in regards to life or death decisions would be widely accepted. Thirdly, Euthanasia should be legalized because forms of Euthanasia are already present in society therefore, the legal acceptance of this act would merely enhance the pursuit of ending the life of those in desperate need of rest and relief from pain and suffering. Euthansia is already occuring, it is simply titled a differeny name. The Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (DNCPR) form is filled by a patient who in the event of a cardiopulmonary arrest will not receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Euthanasia and the DNCPR form have a common result; in the event of a certain situation or circumstance the patient has the right to determine their life or death. Euthanasia can be broken down into various titles yet the objective remains the same. Passive Euthanasia, according to Jennifer McDougall is “letting someone die....it is more about lack of action than taking an action”. The lack of performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation is clearly a prime example of Passive Euthanasia. Although these two forms of Euthanasia require the performance or the lack of performance of different tasks, the intended results are still the same. Therfore, if Passive Euthanasia, also known as DNACPR, is permitted lawfully why is Euthanasia, a humble and desirable act of ending suffering not permitted? Another and very important diguised form of Euthanasia that is present and widely accepted by our government and society is Palliative Sedation. Suffering tremendous amounts of pain and distress is one of the many intolerable results of terminal illnesses, part of treating this pain is Palliative Sedation. This includes the inducing of sedative medication such as Valium or Phenobarbitol, in hopes of gaining unconscioussness to allow the patient to experience a state of release from all the pain associated with certain illnesses. Active Euthanasia, according to Jennifer McDougall is causing “the death of a sick person without the person's anticipation”. In Palliative Sedation, there have been cases where the only way to ensure freedom from pain is complete unconscioussness until death is upon the patient. If during Palliative Sedation, physician's are aware that the use of sedative medication, to a certain extent, will result in death why is Euthanasia not allowed? During Euthanasia physician's acquire the same knowledge that is present when performing Palliative Sedation; the patient is encountering ridiculous amounts of pain and it must end now. Forms of Euthanasia are ever present in our society and medical world, it is a matter of accepting and conforming to the law once Euthanasia is legalized. Those who are enduring great hardships and pain deserve to dictate who whether they want to continue experiencing a dredful and complicated life. 86% of the public support Euthanasia for the terminally ill or those patients on life support (Euthansia Statistics). The government should be representative of the policies and practices in which their citizens desire and support. For the love of those suffering and the acceptance already present in our society, Euthanasia should and will be legalized. The final reason for why Euthanasia should be legalized is because in cases of terminal illnesses, people should have the right to determine when and how death will be brought upon them. A patient's fate should not be determing by the government but by their own inclinations.