June 18, 2014
Research Paper: Euthanasia
A topic that has been pressing for the past couple of decades has been the ethical/immoral use of ‘Euthanasia’. For those who don’t know, Euthanasia is defined as the act or practice of ending the life of an individual suffering from a terminal illness or an incurable condition, as by lethal injection “ Actively” or the suspension of extraordinary medical treatment” Passively” (Manning 1998). This leads me to ask myself a question, “Is Euthanasia an ethical request to end pain, and suffering, or just a poor admit to commit suicide?” People argue that euthanasia is conflicting with a person’s right to life. A person’s right to life is a phrase that describes the belief that a human being has an essential right to live. This means that by saying that someone should be euthanized, we are violating this right to life and it is immoral. In turn, there are some instances where Euthanasia makes sense, we don’t want to see our loved in pain right?
On October 27, 1997 Oregon enacted the Death with Dignity Act which allows terminally-ill Oregonians to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for that purpose. To understand the impact of the piece of legislation being passed, one must understand the consent debate over this topic. These past couple of decades we have seen many organizations formed that are for, and against euthanasia. In 1935, we saw the formation of first group that was for the legalization of euthanasia. It was called the Voluntary Euthanasia Society or EXIT, and was started by a group of doctors in London (Docker). The first society established in the US came shortly after in 1938, and it was called the Hemlock Society and it now consists of more than 67,000 members. The purpose of this organization is to support your decision to die, and to offer support when you are ready to die (Docker). This society also believes that a person must have believed in euthanasia for a certain amount of time before you can make the request for death (Docker). Adversely we have Tom A. Coburn a member of the American Medical Association (AMA), a practicing physician, and a member of Congress who is grossly against this action. During a hearing held before the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the House Judiciary Committee on ‘Lethal Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 1998’, he goes on to say why Euthanasia is an immoral practice.” And I would note, to begin with, that the practice of administering a lethal dose to a patient is explicitly repudiated by the Hippocratic Oath […] in Federal law because of a referendum in a single state” (Coburn). The part of the Oath Coburn is referring to is “I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion” (U.S. National Library of Medicine). So he is arguing if we as doctors took this oath, how can we possibly cause harm to another human even he asked to do so.
Euthanasia has been a controversial topic in the courts during our century. Harold Blazer was the first doctor charged and acquitted for Euthanasia in Colorado in 1935. Till this date, many cases of physician-assisted suicide have been fought in the court. . Harold Blazer was charged for the death of his daughter Hazel Blazer 34, she was a victim of cerebral spinal meningitis. Spinal meningitis is an infection of the fluid and membranes around the brain and spinal cord. Once infection starts, it can spread rapidly through the body. Without treatment it can cause brain damage in a matter of hours and can be fatal within 24 hours (WebMD). After caring for his ill daughter for the past thirty years, he came to the realization that she had enough pain and suffering. He killed Hazel by placing a handkerchief soaked with chloroform over her face until she...
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