Euthanasia And Assisted Suicide Philosophy Essay
Mr. and Mrs. Adams is a happily married couple of 20 years. Mrs. Adams is a singer and Mr. Adams is an aspiring scientist. However their love was put to the test. Recently Mrs. Adams was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She faces a constant loss of muscle control and paralysis. She is now a victim of the life draining disease. The decline in Mrs. Adams health is putting a tremendous toll on the couple’s relationship. The determined husband insists that he puts all of his professional skills to work to save his wife. Eventually he must watch her slowly deteriorate in great pain. Mrs. Adams then worries that she will soon no longer be "a person anymore – just a vegetable-a burden” for her beloved husband. She repeatedly requested that her husband end her life before the disease had the chance to. The worn down husband eventually relinquished his wife from all her misery with a poison. Mr. Adams is later indicted for murder. Given the above stated circumstances, Mr. Adams is not a killer in my eyes. I intend to prove that euthanasia should be allowed if the patient has conveyed wishes to do so. The debate about assisted suicide is similar to abortion. Both of the subjects are heated topics. Many people argue that quality of life is a concern, while those on the other side believe life must be preserved at all costs. The arguments from both sides are of both moral and legal ramifications. Supporters of assisted suicide believe that the church and state have no right to interfere with a person's right to die. I strongly agree with this. However opponents voice the opposite opinion; that no one but God has the power to determine when a human being is to die.
To begin with, Webster dictionary defines Euthanasia as the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy. The word Euthanasia was established from the ancient Greek. Eu means good and thanatos meaning death. Euthanasia and assisted suicide carry a long history. The history of the practice dates back to 400 B.C. It began in 400 B.C with the Hippocratic Oath and is still in existence as of today and recently in the year 2008 when the U.S. state of Washington legalized assisted suicide. Over the past two decades euthanasia has became a more frequent debate. In the late 1990s the topic was brought to the focus of public view with the trial of Doctor Jack Kevorkian. Dr. Kevorkian was sentenced to 10-25 years in prison. Dr. Kevorkian was found guilty for the murder of Thomas Youk after giving him a lethal injection. As of today the Suicide Act states under section 2, that assisting suicide is considered a criminal offense when it can be proved that someone committed or made a attempt to commit suicide and there was a second party that assisted them to commit suicide. There are now quite a few foreign countries that are allowing euthanasia to be performed on patients. The Netherlands and Belgium are two countries that are allowing the practice of euthanasia. The practice of Euthanasia was legalized in Belgium in 2002 and in the Netherlands in 2000. The several countries that allow euthanasia, allow the practice to be done on patients in certain conditions, such as chronic pain associated with an incurable illness, are met.
In addition, Euthanasia should be a choice. I believe that ultimately the choice of euthanasia truly depends on the religious and ethical beliefs of the individual in each unique case. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion therefore I feel euthanasia should be allowed. Life is about choice. We wake up every morning and choose what we do every single day. Removing the right to choose what your body undergoes is taking away one of the most fundamental principles this country was founded on. I am a believer in the freedom of one’s speech. If a very ill person requests to put an end to his or her suffering then that choice should be available to them. Rational and moral arguments are necessary. However our decisions are primarily based on convincing experiences and their ability to convince us in our feelings, thoughts and actions. We cannot take anything but our experiences with us. I personally don’t think anyone has the right to tell me when I can and can’t end my time. The right to live, and the right to die are basic human rights. What right does anybody (including anybody of government) have to take a decision about whether or not someone must live against their will? For example, there was a two-month participant observation done in the Netherlands in order to overall gain an idea of moral decisions made in a Hospice that tolerated euthanasia however, but did not allow it as an option. The Journal of Medical Ethics provided the Withdrawing life-sustaining treatment case. In summary this case discussed the life a fifty-eight year old woman who suffered issues with her spinal column and brain. In the early stages of her illness the woman requested to her hospice physician that she would like euthanasia if her pain became too much. After being informed that euthanasia was not an option at the hospice, her physician assured her that he would stick by her. After the persistence of the ill woman she was transferred to the hospital. Remarkably, her pain began to let up and she began to enjoy life. Unfortunately, her health began to fall once more. Physicians tried relieving her pain with medications but the woman grew more aggravated and requested euthanasia for a second time. After discontinuation of a medication and a emotional talk with her two daughters, the woman died four days later. I agree completely with this source when it goes on to explain that the needs and wishes of the patients can only be met if the “taboos” are absent. This patient requested euthanasia twice. This source mentions that the patient perhaps wanted to remain in control and independent. I feel perhaps her voice was taken and she was not allowed to do what she wished in her situation.
Comparatively, “What People Close to Death Say about Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: A Qualitative Study” provided results that that after interviewing 18 people with a terminal Illness proved that “control over the time and manner of death” was a theme in the call of the practice of euthanasia. The people interviewed shared a desire to control events and a change in the law. For example, there was a young woman from the UK who had a chronic obstructive lung disease. She threatens to commit suicide alone if there were no changes in the law. She was in a difficult situation because she could not find a place in a hospice and was in a great deal of pain. Like many others in her interview the woman emphasized her right to choose and her need to be in control:
R: “I myself want to be in control as long as I can; I don’t want doctors and nurses controlling me (…) I’m on morphine, I get a lot of breakthrough pain, when I get to the pitch where I really can’t cope with anything anymore, where my quality of life is totally gone, I will tell my husband I want a really good day out with the kids, which is when he’ll know that when I go to bed that night I won’t wake up the next morning.”
I: “Because you’re going to take control?”
R:” Yes, I’ve talked to my GP about it. He wishes I lived in another country because that decision would be helped. (…)”
I: “And if you were in control of the legislation what would you say should happen?”
R: “I think you have to really look into it seriously, whether this is the right thing for the right person because I think there is the risk it might be abused. But with myself if the legislation was there then it would be nicer for me, so I’m not on my own, which I will be because I don’t want any of my family here when it happens.”
I: “Why don’t you want anyone with you?”
R: “Because I don’t want them involved, I don’t want them to get in trouble (…) In other countries, (…) I believe now, (…) You’re allowed to choose when you die so you’ve still got your dignity. This country we don’t allow it; (…) If anyone helps us they lock them up, which is wrong. You’ve taken away that person’s dignity and nobody should have the right to do that. We should all have the right to choose when we die and how we die.”
Unfortunately the woman fears of dying alone if laws are not changed in the UK. She refuses for her family to be involved in regards to any link to assisted suicide prosecution.
In conclusion, euthanasia and assisted suicide are very serious topics and most definitely should be carefully considered. I feel that it should be a decision made in each unique situation and should be that person’s ultimate decision. I think the practice should be allowed and give many terminally ill patients their voices back. “Your life is the sum result of all the choices you make both consciously and unconsciously. If you can control the process of choosing, you can take control of all aspects of your life. You can find the freedom that comes from being in charge of yourself” –Robert F. Bennett
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