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The Pros and Cons of Euthanasia

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This report discusses a very controversial topic, euthanasia. There are many forms that Euthanasia can take: Euthanasia can active voluntary, passive voluntary, active involuntary or passive involuntary. As all other controversial topics, there are two extreme views. There are reasons for being against euthanasia, including religious ones. There are also many reasons for being for euthanasia, including the right to choose.

There are many reasons why people would want to go through the act of euthanasia, such as being concerned about their bodily functions and the fear of losing autonomy. There are side effects of euthanasia, such as the effect it will have on family and friends, which must be taken into mind.


Euthanasia is “the act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die, as by withholding extreme medical measures, a person suffering from an incurable, esp. a painful, disease or condition.”# Euthanasia can be traced back as far back as the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. It was sometimes allowed in these civilizations to help others die.

There are many forms that Euthanasia can take. Euthanasia can active voluntary, passive voluntary, active involuntary or passive involuntary. Voluntary euthanasia was approved in some ancient societies. Today, the practice of euthanasia causes great controversy, so much so that it has been legalized in a few countries and remains illegal in the majority. What all the different types of Euthanasia have in common is that they are all relevant to today’s modern society.

The research questions that will be answered are as followed: What are the different type of euthanasia? What are arguments against euthanasia? What are reasons for euthanasia? What are the causes for euthanasia? And, what effects does euthanasia have?LITERATURE REVIEWDifferent types of euthanasiaEuthanasia comes form Greek, meaning a “good death.”# Euthanasia is divided into four types: active voluntary, passive voluntary, active involuntary, and passive involuntary. Voluntary means that a patient has decided to end his life. Involuntary means that a patient is not competent enough to make the decision and some else is to decide what is best.

Active euthanasia is an actual lethal action is taken to end the patient’s life. Passive euthanasia is to stop giving medication and to let the patient die by the illness.

Active voluntary euthanasia is a situation where a patient has decided to have a doctor assist in his death by some kind of lethal action. Intentional overdose or morphine drip, are example of lethal prescriptions for the patient. This method of euthanasia is clearly a form of suicide.

Passive voluntary euthanasia is when the patient’s choice is made to end his life by withdrawal of any help of prolonging his life. A living will is an example of passive voluntary euthanasia. A living will says that a patient is planning to die if he becomes incompetent. A do not resuscitate order (DNR) that is given by the patient is another example of this type of euthanasia.

Active involuntary euthanasia is to induce death without the consent of the patient. This is when the patient is not competent and the choice is made by the doctor or family to mercifully end the patient’s life. Again an act of killing s involved. Passive involuntary euthanasia is also a type of induced death without the consent of the patient. An example of this would be when a family decides to not proceed with an operation for a patient in an irreversible coma. The family will withdraw medical help when it is deemed to be not beneficial.#Arguments against euthanasiaMany religious people believe that choosing the time and place of a person’s death is nature’s decision, it has already been decided. In most major religions of the world, people believe that God should decide the time and place of your death and nobody else should ever interfere with your death.

Euthanasia is a violation of medical ethics. The Medical Association has consistently condemned euthanasia as an unethical practice. As noted in Appendix A, a study published October 3 in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that support for assisting suicide and euthanasia among oncologists (physicians specializing in cancer treatment) declined by more than half between 1994 and 1998#. Today, attitudes may be changing. Recent surveys indicate that 54% of doctors in Great Britain favor euthanasia in extreme cases.# This is a difficult and unfair question to ask doctors because extreme is a very vague term. Extreme could mean when someone has cancer, is not in pain, and will never get better to one person, but to another person it could mean something completely different.

One of the most important developments in recent years is the increasing emphasis placed on health care providers to contain costs. Because of this, euthanasia certainly could become a means of cost containment.

In the United States, thousands of people have no medical insurance; studies have shown that the poor and minorities generally are not given access to available pain control, and managed-care facilities are offering physicians cash bonuses if they don’t provide care for patients. With greater and greater emphasis being placed on managed care, many doctors are at financial risk when they provide treatment for their patients. Legalized euthanasia raises the potential for a profoundly dangerous situation in which doctors could find themselves far better off financially if a seriously ill or disabled person “chooses” to die rather than receive long-term care.#Reasons for euthanasiaVoluntary euthanasia helps to end the lives of the terminally ill, who are suffering unbearable pain. No one should have to go through this terrible ordeal if they choose not to. It is cruel and inhumane to force ill people to suffer intolerable pain when their only wish is to peacefully leave and end the terrible torment that they are going through. Ultimately, our lives belong to ourselves and no one has the right to tell us what we do with it.

Most people want to die with dignity, but some people suffering from a painful terminal illness, which robs them of their dignity should have the right to control how they spend the last moments of their life. Having this right, to control their own life and death, helps people keep their dignity in the face of their suffering. Euthanasia is not suicide nor is it a private act, you are supported by family and friends. Euthanasia is about letting a person save another person from a long and painful at their request.#Causes for EuthanasiaOn 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. According to Appendix B, there were several different reasons people choose to go through this this act. 84% of people said they were scared about decreasing ability to partake in enjoyable activities and 84% also said they feared losing autonomy. 47% of people said that they were concerned about bodily functions. 37% were concerned about burdening their families. And only a slight amount, 26%, feared they would not receive adequate pain relief.

Effects of EuthanasiaNot only does euthanasia affect the person who is going to die, but also their family and friends. Grief is a normal reaction to the death of a loved one and normally does not require any professional help. Traumatic grief refers to situations where grief symptoms take too long or too short, are too intense or not intense enough, or come too late.

Unnatural death, such as suicide, can cause severe grief reactions in family members. As euthanasia is also considered as an unnatural death, it has been suggested that euthanasia may induce traumatic grief. However, the grief experienced by family members in suicide cases differs from grief after euthanasia, mainly because the relatives of the latter have had the opportunity to say goodbye, which is seldom the case in suicides.#CONCLUSIONPublic opinion on euthanasia will probably never change – some will always support it, some will always oppose it, and some will simply be indifferent to the subject until they are faced with it themselves. As long as religion plays a strong part in society’s position, there will always be a strong opposition to euthanasia. As long as we are free beings with the ability and the right to make our own choices and decisions then there is also always that argument that it is our right to decide whether our life is worth living or whether we have had enough.

It’s also important to remember that euthanasia does not only affect the one person, but also their friends and family. There are many reasons why one may want to go through euthanasia and it‘s vital to listen and try to understand how those people are feeling. “A dying man needs to die, as a sleepy man needs to sleep, and there comes a time when it is wrong, as well as useless to resist.” -Steward Alsop


Docker, C. (1996, November). Exit: Press and Press Releases. Retrieved January 25, 2009, from Euthanasia Web site: http://www.euthanasia.cc/press.htmlLisa (2001, November 2001). Euthanasia: Is This a Good Death? . Retrieved January 25, 2009, from Euthanasia Web site: http://www.euthanasia.com/lisa.htmlNational Right to Life Press Release, (2000, October 4). Cancer Specialists’ Support for Assisting Suicide, Euthanasia Drops By Half in Four Years. Retrieved January 25, 2009, from Euthanasia Web site: http://www.euthanasia.com/onco.htmlOregon Health Division, (2001, February). Oregon People Who Died By Assisted Suicide in 2000. Retrieved January 25, 2009, from Euthanasia Web site: http://www.euthanasia.com/oregonstudy.htmlPregnant Pause, (2001, November 2001). Types of euthanasia. Retrieved January 25, 2009, Web site: http://www.pregnantpause.org/euth/types.htmSwarte, N. B. (2003, June 17). Effects of euthanasia on the bereaved family and friends: a cross sectional study. Retrieved January 25, 2009, from BMJ Web site: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=166123Unknown. Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved January 25, 2009, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/euthanasiaUnknown, Arguments Against Euthanasia. from Euthanasia Web site: http://www.euthanasia.com/argumentsagainsteuthanasia.htmlUnknown, Reasons for Euthanasia. from Euthanasia Web site: http://www.euthanasia.com/reasonsforeuthanasia.htmlUnknown, (2000, October 4). Retrieved January 25, 2009, from Euthanasia Web site: http://www.euthanasia.com/onco.html

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