Euthanasia, also known as good death or physician assisted suicide (PAS), is a method ordinarily used for animals that are in discomfort and need to be put out of their suffering. Many pet owners contemplate this option to be the most compassionate way to say goodbye to their beloved animals. In retrospect, when a person is dying from an incurable disease or suffering from dementia requests to die instead of suffering, they are denied that right in many states.
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The dilemma created by the issue of euthanasia generally divides society medically, legally, and philosophically. Euthanasia comes in four different forms; active/voluntary, passive/involuntary, indirect, and direct assisted suicide. Those in favor of active voluntary euthanasia strongly suggest that all people have the right to die with dignity and it should be the right of individuals to decide the manner and time of their own death.(Rosenstand pp. 653) Others who oppose this act fear that it is not up to the patients or doctors to play God-there is a time to die for everyone, and we shouldn’t interfere. (Rosenstand pp. 653). While euthanasia is illegal in most of the United States, it is legal in the states of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.
Supporters of euthanasia oppose that terminally ill persons should have the right to end their suffering with a quick, dignified, and compassionate death. They dispute that the right to die is protected by the equal constitutional protections that promise such rights as marriage, procreation, and the refusal or cessation of life-saving medical treatment. A frequent comment made by adversaries of voluntary active euthanasia in the media was that the drive for a permitted right-to-die with medical assistance is considered a radical movement, which carries distressing insinuations for society.
Some people, such as Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who was imprisoned for his assistance in suicides, believes it is immoral to allow a dying person to suffer and be in a state of despair. Many families and friends of Doctor Kevorkian’s patients supported his decision to help put their loved ones out of their misery. In the past, active euthanasia was rejected by some philosophers because it was considered to be a violation of the autonomy of an individual. Passive euthanasia was more accepted out of respect for the quality of human life. Philosophers such as John Stewart Mill argued if a patient is suffering from dementia then they are losing their rationality and have a duty to die. Mill came to this conclusion because euthanasia is done to ease the suffering of the patient and their families thus creating the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest amount of people.
Individuals against the idea of euthanasia express their concerns that physician assisted suicide sends society the unsafe message that dying is an appropriate answer to life’s problems. Some psychologists and clinical workers dispute that terminally ill patients asking for physician-assisted suicide do not truly want to die. It has been said that most individuals spiral into a deep depression when they have been told they have an incurable disease and giving up should not be an option. Even though Dr. Kevorkian also known as Dr. Death thought he was helping patients, a rational jury sentenced him with a second-degree murder sentence because euthanasia is illegal in many states. Past philosophers, such as Immanuel Kant opposed physician assisted suicide regardless of the person’s mental or physical health. He believed that we should act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will it to be a universal law. For that reason, when killing patients, we must be willing for that rule to become a universal law so that everyone must do it, including your own self. Also, Kant argued that we should do moral things out of rational duty instead of emotional reasoning.
I have provided substantial opinions for both those in favor and against euthanasia and the rights an individual is entitled to on each side of the argument. Death is inevitable and how we react to individuals desiring to die on one’s own terms should be considered with an open mind. If all individuals are to be respected, then we should honor a person’s right to depart this life when they choose to. I do not agree with murder but I do believe voluntary euthanasia is a personal choice. As Americans, we have the right to make all kinds of choices in life from same sex marriage to abortion so, legalizing physician assisted suicide should be decriminalized. It is unfair to allow anyone suffering from loss of autonomy or an incurable disease with unbearable symptoms to be in agonizing pain. Despite the claims of those opposing voluntary euthanasia, they are not the one’s suffering and have no right to challenge or interfere with the personal choice of the patient. How could anyone know what is better for a terminally ill person more than the patients themselves? I too was against physician assisted suicide until my beloved father made the choice to die with dignity and leave this life before becoming too ill to enjoy it anymore. I cannot fathom watching my hero die a slow and painful death and I am certain no one wants to witness their loved ones suffer. If it was your loved one what would you do?
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