Euthanasia; Whose Line Is It Anyways?

The subject of Euthanasia is a heated battle, in which lines have been drawn between warring social, religious and political groups. Many people want this controversial institution erased from the volumes of lawful medicine, but others say that we should be able to choose our fates in extreme cases. Neither the lawmakers of the country nor the people have been able to find a solution to this debate without causing an intense opposition, and the possibility for an end to this war of ethics seems very far in the distance.
A definition of euthanasia is, “a painless killing, especially to end a painful and incurable disease; mercy killing. (World Book, p. 733). This intentional termination of life by another is at the request of the person who dies, but like so many other religious, social and political terms, euthanasia has many meanings. Passive euthanasia is defined as, the hastening of death of a person by withdrawing some type of support and letting nature take its course, examples of this are, removing life support systems, stopping medical procedures, stopping food and water, not delivering CPR and letting the patient’s heart stop. The most common form of passive euthanasia is to give a person large doses of morphine to control pain, despite the likely hood that the pain killer would suppress respiration, thus causing death earlier than normal, passive euthanasia is usually used on patients who are terminally ill, suffering greatly, or in a persistent vegetative state (Robinson, p. 1).
There are three types of euthanasia that are illegal or very close to illegal even in places where euthanasia is permitted. The first is Physician assisted suicide. Physician assisted suicide is when a doctor supplies information and/or means of committing suicide to a person, so that they can terminate their life easily. This type of assistance has come to the public’s eye as the media has covered the actions of Dr. Jack Kavorkian. Dr. Kavorkian has assisted in the deaths of hundreds of patients.
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Another form of euthanasia used by Kavorkian is active euthanasia, this involves causing death through direct action, in response to a patient’s request; basically a mercy killing. A well documented case of this is the death of a patient with Lou Gherig’s disease by Dr. Kavorkian. Kavorkian injected the patient with controlled substances that resulted in his death, Kavorkian was found guilty of 2nd degree murder in March of 1999. The last form of euthanasia is involuntary euthanasia, nothing but a euphemism for murder (Robinson, p.2).
There are two major beliefs concerning euthanasia, the traditional religious and social beliefs, and the more liberal. Traditional religion condemns all suicide, assisted or not, because it violates the natural desire to live, it harms other people, and life is the gift of God and thus can only be taken by God. The other major viewpoint argues that suicide is a matter of personal choice and that it is rational under some circumstances. These two positions remain virtually the same today.
Euthanasia is only one of the many hotly debated topics of our time which revolve around personal choice. The other two prominent topics are whether gays and lesbians should be given a choice of whether to marry and should women be allowed a choice to abort their unborn children. All three of these questions are emotional laden and have entered the political and judicial systems. The issues become muddied when they are no longer the individual’s and become society’s decision. Many believe that euthanasia targets the most vulnerable of human beings when they are no longer in a position of making proper decisions.
Ultimately, I believe, that euthanasia is a question of choice. Each of us should be empowered to have choice over our own bodies and that choice includes the right to not live if life is not going to maintain the dignity that we feel is necessary for life. Due to legislation, you do not have a right to choose unless you live in Columbia,
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Japan, the Netherlands, or the state of Oregon (Robinson, p.2).. It does not matter what your life is like or how much pain you may be in.
The opposition to euthanasia comes from many places: conserve religious groups, often the same who