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Euthanasia of Terminally Ill Patients

By weeheepapers Sep 26, 2012 1740 Words
Euthanasia of Terminally Ill Patients
Someone is being faced with a painful, incurable disease. They can either be allowed to choose a peaceful death or be forced to continue on while slowly forgetting their senses and loved ones. Euthanasia is the procedure of intentionally ending a life, in order to relieve pain and suffering. The word euthanasia stems from Greek and means “good death”. While some people believe euthanasia to be just an excuse for suicide, in reality it’s not. Euthanasia is the ending a life in order to stop any agony that may accompany a terminal illness, while suicide is rather just the ending of one’s life by their own will, by their own means. Euthanasia is important because it helps to relieve the suffering of people who, usually, would not be alive if it were not for medications. Euthanasia relieves the torture and suffering from dying patients, saves families money and prolonged agony, and allows the person to die in peace and with dignity. The first known statement about euthanasia was made by Greek physician Hippocrates in 400 BC, when he said, “I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel"(History of Euthanasia 1) in his Hippocratic Oath. Since then, there have been many recordings of people speaking of euthanasia throughout history. As the time line nears towards the present, people have started to accept euthanasia over time, as well as even support it. In 1990, a young wife in Florida, Terri Schiavo, suffered from cardiac arrest that destroyed most of her brain and left her in a vegetable state. In 1998, her husband went to court, asking them to disconnect the feeding tube that kept Terri alive, because she could no longer enjoy her life or be herself. All she was left to do was lay there and continue living. For fifteen years, her parents fought against the idea, but the court decided that it was cruel to keep her alive any longer and on March 18, 2005 the feeding tube was disconnected. (Jost 1-2) This case rose up the centuries-old issues and brought them back into the minds of the people. It brought up a legal understanding of whether or not euthanasia should be allowed; it brought up the right to die. Many people believe that if euthanasia was legalized, it would be the same as legalizing suicide. They believe that because the person is asking for their own death, they are in depression or have some other mental illness. People with depression are known to take their lives, usually by attention-grabbing means. A suicide is often a cry for help or a plead for attention and the problems that suicidal people might be facing, whatever it is that are causing them agony is in most cases curable. (O.Bannon and Balsh 2-3) These problems are typically mental, such as depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Although they cannot be taken away forever, they can be cured by daily doses of medications. Euthanasia is different from suicide. And to prevent the practice from becoming a "right to suicide" (O.Bannon and Balsh 1), the law states that it is only to be used for people who are dying within six months of an incurable disease, whom can still speak for themselves and do not have a mental disorder, such as depression. If the person shows signs of depression or other mental illnesses, the doctors will not allow them to end their life. (Kingsbury 2) Euthanasia is the ending of life in order to bring an end to the torture and suffering of a terminal disease, not the killing of another due to twisted judgments of the mentally impaired. The people who ask for euthanasia are not suffering from agony that is in their mind, they are facing a physical disease that is painfully taking their life. Euthanasia has to have consultation from at least two doctors, agreeing that the person has six months to live and the patient must have two requests for it within two weeks, both with two witnesses that are not doctors. (Span 2) One cannot simply ask the doctors to be killed and be allowed to; they must meet all of the requirements. As well as comparing euthanasia to suicide, many people also believe it to be murder. This is understandable, because it is the killing of another person, with the intention of killing them. It is the ending of a life and as some may argue, their death is not natural and commonly referred to as ignoring the will of God. People in the past always had loathed the killing of others, even if by a doctor. However, they had far worse medical technology. If any of the people of past centuries had come to the present, they would be able to survive the illnesses that took their lives, as they are common today. Although euthanasia is the killing of a person, the purpose is to end their misery, not just to end their life. Murder is primarily characterized as an unlawful or wrongful killing of another person with malice intentions. Although it is the killing of another person, euthanasia is to kill with peaceful intentions, rather than spiteful. It should not be considered murder, unless it is out of these malicious motives. In some religious contexts, suicide is considered a crime committed due to confusion and despair, while euthanasia is considered to be a work of faith. If an animal is in pain and people cannot relieve it, the animal is put down. Although it comes with a great deal of sadness from the pet’s owners, it isn’t frowned upon by any other means. Animal can be killed out of sympathy, but killing a person out of sympathy is considered a crime. There are many times when euthanasia is confused with assisted suicide. Assisted suicide is when someone else provides the person with the information, guidance and means to take their life; physician assisted suicide is if the person who provides the means of death is a doctor. (Euthanasia Definitions 1) It does not have to be regulated by a physician, although in most cases it is. When it comes to assisted suicide, the actual death is caused by the person on their own, in most cases receiving drugs, poison or equipment to end their life from the other party involved. This is different from euthanasia, seeing as with assisted suicide, the person must take the medication or various other means on their own. In the United States, Oregon and Washington are the only states to have legalized voluntary assisted suicide, note that it is assisted suicide that has been legalized. Of the people who obtained life-ending medications in these states, more than a third of them ended up not using them. (The Next Death-With-Dignity Battleground 3) Euthanasia requires another person to end one's life for them.

Additionally, Euthanasia has multiple other types of classifications. Voluntary euthanasia is when the person has requested to be killed, while non-voluntary euthanasia is when the person has not requested their death. Voluntary euthanasia is the most common type as well as the only type, as classified by willingness, that has been legalized in the United States. The most uncommon is involuntary euthanasia, only happening on rare occasions. Involuntary euthanasia is where the person has requested against dying and is killed against that request. Euthanasia can also be carried out by action or omission. Euthanasia by action is when the cause of death is something given, such as a lethal injection, whereas by omission is when the cause of death is by not providing the means the person needs to continue living. (Euthanasia Definitions 1) Each type of euthanasia is different and if legalized, they would each have their own lawful specifications. People who are dying from a terminal disease require medications, scans and treatments as well as basic nourishment in order to stay alive. All of these medical necessities cost money, the bills add up and families end up in debt. Once this happens, families can either keep on burying themselves further into debt or stop paying and watch their loved one die with the belief that it was their fault. With euthanasia, families don’t have to feel guilty due to the fact that it was the patient’s decision. They also will not have to have financial issues while the person is alive as well as once they are dead. If a family is in debt due to implications of disease, the money is not restored once the person has passed away. They might remain in debt for years to come. With this debt in addition to the loss of their loved family member, it could result in depression as well. If the patient chooses euthanasia, they can save their families months worth of money that would have paid for their medications. However, patients are not urged by the doctors to feel like they are burdening their family, because the goal is always to keep them alive, but if death is inevitable, euthanasia is a method that can be taken to save money and dignity. Keeping a person alive who cannot remember their family any longer and have no free will any more is considered to be more justified than allowing them to die and live in peace and with dignity. This person has to continue on, only living because they get daily supplies of medicine and assistance from nurses? These people have no dignity left, they cannot live for themselves; not only are they left with no dignity, but they are also in pain. Physical pain, emotional pain and mental pain, though not mental illness. Euthanasia is the only sure way to end this pain, it is better than any medications ever could be, because it ensures that does not come back. People with disease deserve everything that a healthy person does. Surely they deserve to live, but if it gets to the point where they will be in pain and suffering until their near death, then they should be allowed to die with what they also deserve to have: dignity, memories, peace and love. Everyone shall die of one way or another, but it does not matter how one dies. What is truly important for all people, terminal disease or not, is how they live.

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