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Throughout the twentieth century, major scientific and medical advances have greatly enhanced the life expectancy of the average person. However, there are many cases where doctors can preserve life artificially. The term euthanasia has recently been employed by some scientific men in advocating the reasonableness of relieving the sufferings of those afflicted with incurable disease bye administering to the anesthetics or narcotics in sufficient doses to prove fatal. But religion, law, and medical ethics alike condem all forms of self destruction.
The controversial issue about this argument is that in these cases where the patient suffers from a terminal disease or remains in a “persistent vegetative state” or PVS from which they cannot voice their wishes for continuation or termination of life, the question becomes whether or not the patient has freedom to choose whether or not to prolong their life even though it may consist of pain and suffering. In answer to this contradictory argument, supporters of physician-assisted suicide, including, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, which is a defender of a right of an individual to receive physician assisted relief from suffering. Not only should patients be able to abstain from treatment, but also if they have a terminal or extremely painful condition, they should be able to use the assistance of a doctor in order die with as little pain as possible, that means to apply euthanasia.
Physician assisted suicide is generally recognized as illegal in association with the definition of homicide. For example in at least five of the assisted suicides, which Dr. Jack Kevorkian was involved in, all criminal charges were dismissed. Supporters against active suicide feel that it is the duty of physicians to help and heal patients as opposed to aiding their exit from this world. They also fear that the legalization of doctor assisted suicide may be abused by doctors who do not feel that there is any hope for the patient and convince them to terminate their life. However, Most people who support euthanasia believe they must find a way to legalize it in the United States, because people with incurable diseases who are in great pain deserve to die a painless death. The right to doctor assisted suicide, or active euthanasia, consists of a patient’s right to authorize a physician to perform an act that intentionally results in the patient’s death, without the physician’s is being held civilly or criminally liable for having caused the death.
One intresting arguments says that in the two places where laws were passed to allow euthanasia, it was clear that legalizing euthanasia only legitimizes the use of plastic bags and carbon monoxide to kill vulnerable people. For example, immediately following the passage of Oregon’s Measure 16, those who had said that it would enable people to die peacefully with pills did an immediate about face and admitted that it would permit the types of activities carried out by Jack Kevorkian. They also said that, if pills were used, a plastic bag should also be used to ensure death.
Euthanasia activists often claim that laws against euthanasia are government mandated suffering. But this claim would be similar to saying that laws against selling contaminated food are government mandated starvation.
People who are against euthanasia think that these laws against euthanasia are in place to prevent abuse and to protect people from unscrupulous doctors and others. They are not, and never have been, intended to make anyone suffer. In the other hand supporters for active euthanasia believe that legislation against it is ” violative of the fundamental concepts of liberty, freedom of choice, and self determination.” They base these beliefs on the content of the fourteenth amendment to the United States Constitution. The voluntary choice between life and death is to them, a basic human right which government has no right to decide. Also, neither the law nor medical ethics requires that “everything be done” to keep a person alive. Insistence, against the patient’s wishes, that death be postponed by every means available is contrary to law and practice. It would also be cruel and inhumane.
“Death with dignity” has become a catch phrase used by euthanasia activists, they think that applying this method over terminally ill persons, is respecting their dignity, because dignity is one of the most important universal values, and dying with dignity is for some people one of the most important things. However, there’s nothing dignified about the methods they advocate. For example, one euthanasia organization distributes a pamphlet on how to cause suffocation with a plastic bag. Most of Jack Kevorkian’s “subjects,” as he calls them, have been gassed to death with carbon monoxide and some have had their bodies dumped in vehicles left in parking lots.
We need to recognize that requests for voluntary euthanasia are extremely rare in situations where the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of terminally ill patients are properly met. As the symptoms that prompt the request for euthanasia can be almost always managed with therapies currently available, our highest priority must be to ensure that top quality terminal care is readily available. However if physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia were to become legalized, it could become a final control that a dying patient could have. To promote legislation that gives effect to freedom of choice and individual human rights so that any person suffering, through illness or disability, severe pain or distress for which no remedy is available that is acceptable to the person should be entitled by law to a painless and dignified death in accordance with his or her express direction. Euthanasia, for some people, may be seen as a more humane way to die. Therefore euthanasia should be legalized.
“EUTHANASIA” Encyclopedia Americana volume 10 page: 586