Life or Death
The beliefs and views of our country are hypocritical and unjust. As we grow from a young child to a mature adult, we are taught many things such as that killing another human being is wrong, it is against the law and goes against most people’s religious beliefs. Yet, there are some instances when this rule does not seem to apply. If someone kills another in self-defense it is seen as an act of bravery, if a soldier kills an enemy in war it is seen as courageous and honorable. But who is to say that these acts are more justifiable than allowing someone who is in extreme pain and suffering to be given an opportunity to end their own lives with the help of another. As the world around us changes at an incredible rate, we must always ask ourselves if these changes are in our own best interest. The decisions that people make are always up for debate by anyone who has an opinion one way or another. The debate of euthanasia has been ongoing for many years and as of now, there is no end in sight.
There are many views on the topic of euthanasia, some people believe that it should be open to anyone who feels that their life is not worth living; while others think that there is no justifiable reason for euthanasia be allowed. These opposing sides have many different reasons for believing what they do, some reasons people give for euthanasia are intriguing and very thought provoking. Some people believe that a person with an incurable disease or severe disability that causes life to be racked with pain or so burdensome that a meaningful and desirable existence has ceased, then this person should be allowed to die. This conclusion should only be allowed after all other alternatives have been thoroughly considered.
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Another argument that is given in favor or euthanasia is that the role of the physician is to do whatever is best for their patient. This could mean that in some extreme situations the best answer might include hastening death upon the request of the dying. The job of a physician should always be to help their patient in any way possible. It is the duty as a professional to heal, prolong life, and to reduce suffering. In some extreme cases, when every other option is hopeless, the best service that a physician can render would be to help a person hasten death in order to relieve the unnecessary suffering they must go through.
Another argument supporting the use of euthanasia is that everyone would benefit if it were legal to show mercy when death becomes preferable over life. With that in mind one must look at the families and loved ones of those who wish to end their extreme suffering. No one would want to watch a loved one die in extreme agony, while sitting there not being able to do anything. This feeling of helplessness and despair would almost be unimaginable. Making anyone watch this while hoping for a quick end to his or her loved one’s suffering, would be wrong in itself. Although this type of case is rare in the real world is very rare, just one case alone would be argument enough for the use of euthanasia.
While the views of many people may be against the use of euthanasia, it sad to say that in all actuality it goes on almost everyday. Many people have heard of doctors who report that they have, out of compassion and mercy, given heavy doses of morphine to relieve the pain and suffering of patients who are near an inevitable death. While doing this, the doctors know perfectly well what the ending result will be, to hasten death. Somehow this is right, since the goal of this is to ease the pain and not actually to kill the patient. But would it not also be right to do the very same thing with the goal of hastening death?
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While these views and arguments are very interesting and thought provoking there are many more people who believe that euthanasia is wrong. There are majority of people can be separated into three main groups. The groups that are fighting against the legalization of euthanasia are conservative religious groups, medical associations, and groups concerned with disabilities. These three groups all have their own argument on why we should no allow the use of euthanasia.
The religious groups feel that it is God’s place to decide the time and place of a person’s death, not your own. They feel that if someone chooses to take an innocent life, they are “playing God”. Yet, if that is the case one must then question the use of medicine and the act of helping others. If someone has been in a car accident and is bleeding to death should we just stand there and watch, because it is God’s will for that person to die. Anyone who makes this claim form a religious point of view must state when human action is supposed to encroach on divine power.
The Medical associations have their own arguments against euthanasia. They believe that the Hippocratic Oath expressly forbids the giving of deadly medicine to anyone for any reason. Although the American Medical Association has condemned physician-assisted suicide as an unethical practice, the majority of doctors in some areas are in favor of this practice in extreme circumstances. The Medical field also agrees that in some cases a misdiagnosis could occur or a possible cure could be found. In this case, the physician would want to extend their patient’s life as long as possible. Another downfall would be that doctors might feel less obligated to provide the best possible care if administering death was always a possibility.
As for the groups concerned with people with disabilities, they have their own original argument. They believe that even if assisted suicide is accepted in the most limited forms, after people become more comfortable with the idea doctors might eventually allow the killing of the handicapped, the poor, or the elderly. The belief that once legal, subsequent move are inevitable and will only cause more problems in the long run. These concerned people feel that without proper safeguards this “slippery slope” will without a doubt come into play.
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These three groups have come up with there own defenses regarding the banning of euthanasia. Other people who are also against assisted suicide have their own beliefs on the matter. Some people believe that no matter what the reason we do not have the right to have other people kill us or assist us in committing suicide. The emotional effects on the person or persons who have assisted with the procedure could last for years and be extremely harmful to their day to day life. These effects could include depression, guilt, and a number of other results that anyone would not wish to have. Is this fair to allow some one in unbelievable pain and suffering to die, while causing another to be burdened with emotional distress?
Bonnie Steinbock has her own opinions on the life and death situation of euthanasia. She believes that “you have the right to decide what happens to your own body, and the right to refuse treatment is an instance of that more general right”. This statement is very bold in the fact that you may have the right to decide what happens to your body, but one must also think about the people around them who care for them. Someone cannot make decisions that will have a devastating affect on loved ones. Another statement that she makes is that, “there can be a reason for terminating life-prolonging treatment other that to bring about the patients death.” This statement is one that I really agree with; I believe that if someone is in need of treatment and wishes not to continue it due to the fact that the treatment does more harm than good, they should be allowed to terminate the treatment.
Some of the statements that she makes can be true either way in different circumstances. She states that, “once active or vigorous treatment is stopped, a quick death is not always preferable to a lingering one. In some instances this is true; if someone has treatment stopped and feels less pain or less harmful side effects, then allowing the last part of that persons life to be pleasant would be the best option. However, if stopping treatment caused more pain and suffering then a quick death would be the best option for the patient.
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No one can say in an unbiased manner whether or not euthanasia should be allowed. People will always believe the way they do because of the morals and ethics that they follow. It is extremely hard to get past these beliefs and determine the best solution to the problem. At this point in time, the debate on the issue of euthanasia is ongoing, and will continue to be as long as people stand by their own personal beliefs. If a patient wishes to end his or her own life with the help of another person, no one can judge them for choosing one way or another not knowing exactly what they are going through. Yet, if someone does choose to die, this person must determine if it is fair and just to ask someone to do such a life-altering task, while possibly causing serious emotional damage to all of the people around them.