Legalization of Euthanasia

People have the right to medical care, but pain and suffering for a person has to be one of the toughest things in life to deal with. In the health care world, few topics create a debate as heated as euthanasia. Euthanasia comes from the Greek word meaning good death. Euthanasia is the practice of ending the life of a person either by lethal injection or the suspension of medical treatment. In this essay, I will discuss the benefits and negatives in legalizing euthanasia.
Although legalizing euthanasia would help alleviate suffering in terminally ill patients, the act of intentionally killing an individual devalues human life causing a distrust in physicians and may even become a means of health care cost containment, empowering law abusers. Firstly, i’ll discuss the benefit in legalizing euthanasia, for it is a good way of ultimately relieving extreme pain when a persons quality of life is low. The biggest argument in favor of euthanasia is that the person involved is in great pain.
Legalizing euthanasia would help alleviate suffering of terminally ill patients. It would be inhuman and unfair to make them endure the unbearable pain. In case of individuals suffering from incurable diseases or in conditions where effective treatment wouldn’t affect their quality of life; they should be given the liberty to choose induced death. Also, the motive of euthanasia is to “aid-in-dying” painlessly and thus should be considered and accepted by law. Although killing in an attempt to defend oneself is far different from mercy killing, law does find it worth approving.

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In an attempt to provide medical and emotional care to the patient, a doctor does and should prescribe medicines that will relieve his suffering even if the medications cause gross side effects. This means that dealing with agony and distress should be the priority even if it affects the life expectancy. Euthanasia follows the same theory of dealing with torment in a way to help one die peacefully out of the compromising situation. Euthanasia should be a natural extension of patients’ rights allowing him to decide the value of life and death for him.
Maintaining life support systems against patients’ wish is considered unethical by law as well as medical philosophy. If the patient has the right to discontinue treatment why would he not have the right to shorten his lifetime to escape the intolerable anguish? Isn’t the pain of waiting for death frightening and traumatic? Faye Girsh, at the Final Exit Network says, “At the Hemlock Society we get calls daily from desperate people who are looking for someone like Jack Kevorkian to end their lives which have lost all quality…
Americans should enjoy a right guaranteed in the European Declaration of Human Rights — the right not to be forced to suffer. It should be considered as much of a crime to make someone live who with justification does not wish to continue as it is to take life without consent. ” That point being made, the act of intentionally taking the life of an individual also devalues human life which may cause a distrust in physicians and ultimately makes this form of pain alleviation a bad idea. Euthanasia is a rejection of the importance and value of human life.
People who support euthanasia often say that it is already considered permissable to take human life under some circumstances such as self defense – but they miss the point that when one kills for self defense they are saving innocent life – either their own or someone else’s. With euthanasia no one’s life is being saved, rather life is only taken. History has taught us the dangers of euthanasia and that is why there are only two countries in the world today where it is legal. That is why almost all societies, even non-religious ones, for thousands of years have made euthanasia a crime.
There are also two topics to discuss here: the definition of “terminal” and the changes that have already taken place to extend euthanasia to those who aren’t “terminally ill. ” There are many definitions for the word “terminal. ” For example, when he spoke to the National Press Club in 1992, Jack Kevorkian said that a terminal illness was “any disease that curtails life even for a day. ” The co-founder of the Hemlock Society often refers to “terminal old age. ” Some laws define “terminal” condition as one from which death will occur in a “relatively short time. Others state that “terminal” means that death is expected within six months or less. Even where a specific life expectancy is referred to, medical experts acknowledge that it is virtually impossible to predict the life expectancy of a particular patient.
Some people diagnosed as terminally ill don’t die for years, if at all, from the diagnosed condition. Increasingly, however, euthanasia activists have dropped references to terminal illness, replacing them with such phrases as “hopelessly ill,” “desperately ill,” “incurably ill,” “hopeless condition,” and “meaningless life. Even doctors cannot firmly predict about the period of death and whether there is a possibility of remission with advanced treatment. Bernard Baumrin, PhD, MD, Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York, wrote in his chapter, “Physician, Stay Thy Hand! ” that appeared in the 1998 book Physician Assisted Suicide: Expanding the Debate, “Doctors must not engage in assisting suicide. They are inheritors of a valuable tradition that inspires public trust. None should be even partly responsible for the erosion of that trust.
Nothing that is remotely beneficial to some particular patient in extremis is worth the damage that will be created by the perception that physicians sometimes aid and even abet people in taking their own lives. ” So, implementing euthanasia would mean many unlawful deaths that could have well survived later. Along with empowering law abusers and increasing distrust of patients towards doctors, legalizing euthanasia may also lead to using as a means for health care cost containment.
Perhaps one of the most important developments in recent years is the increasing emphasis placed on health care providers to contain costs. In such a climate, 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. Savings to the government may also become a consideration. This could take place if governments cut back on paying for treatment and care and replace them with the “treatment” of death.
For example, immediately after the passage of Measure 16, Oregon’s law permitting assisted suicide, Jean Thorne, the state’s Medicaid Director, announced that physician-assisted suicide would be paid for as “comfort care” under the Oregon Health Plan which provides medical coverage for about 345,000 poor Oregonians. Within eighteen months of Measure 16’s passage, the State of Oregon announced plans to cut back on health care coverage for poor state residents. In Canada, hospital stays are being shortened while, at the same time, funds have not been made available for home care for the sick and elderly.
Registered nurses are being replaced with less expensive practical nurses. Patients are forced to endure long waits for many types of needed surgery. Nearly all pain can be eliminated and, in those rare cases where it can’t be eliminated, it can still be reduced significantly if proper treatment is provided. It is a national and international scandal that so many people do not get adequate pain control and although voluntary euthanasia may help aleviate the pain that may come from seeing a loved one or being the one in pain, killing is not the answer to that scandal.
This form of assisted suicide will not only diminish the honour and value of human life, but cause a distrust in doctors, create a rise in law abusers and a reason to allow individuals to pass in order to cut down on health care costs. The solution is to mandate better education of health care professionals on these crucial issues, to expand access to health care, and to inform patients about their rights as consumers.
Everyone, whether it be a person with a life-threatening illness or a chronic condition, has the right to pain relief. With modern advances in pain control, no patient should ever be in excruciating pain. However, most doctors have never had a course in pain management so they’re unaware of what to do. If a patient who is under a doctor’s care is in excruciating pain, there’s definitely a need to find a different doctor. But that doctor should be one who will control the pain, not one who will kill the patient.

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