The Controversy over Euthanasia
Euthanasia, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (such as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy. The growing euthanasia epidemic has raised a profusion of controversy in recent years due to the legal and moral implications. Although described as relatively painless,euthanasia is something that should be methodically and thoroughly thought through because of the permanent effect it has on not only the patient, but everyone one around them. Euthanasia is illegal in most parts of the United States; however, not everyone is in favor of this ruling. Although many people have strong opinions in favor of one side of the debate, many remain ambivalent. Nevertheless, the history of euthanasia, the reasons why people go through with euthanasia, and the procedure itself are really opening the eyes of many.
Euthanasia is a topic that has been debated for centuries. The word euthanasia comes from the Greek term easy death. The Greek believed that euthanasia was morally reasonable and just another mode of dying. In an early account of euthanasia a French surgeon named Ambroise Par?© who happened upon three gravely wounded soldiers. An uninjured soldier asked the surgeon if they would live, to which he responded they would not. The uninjured soldier proceeded to slit their throats (Hiatt 1). Established in 1938, the Euthanasia Society of America tried to change the law, allowing euthanasia to be legal; however, they did not succeed. Later in 1997, America did allow eight states to do physician assisted suicide. The Nazi’s on the other hand had a much more dark and twisted view on euthanasia and when it was acceptable. They believed it was admissible to euthanize those with physical disabilities, mental retardation, and the mentally ill, but many times they did it in a way that was far from humane. In more recent years euthanasia has been legalized in the Netherlands, Columbia, Belgium, and Luxembourg; yet, the euthanasia discussion is far from over.
The debate over euthanasia is one that is talked about all over the world. Different countries have different laws over euthanasia and limits on who can receive it. In France, both euthanasia and physician assisted suicide are illegal. However, in Belgium euthanasia has been legal since 2002, but recently added that children under the age of 18 also have a right to die. Belgium is the first country to legalize the right of children to have this option, but they do say that that have to be able to understand what euthanasia means. Consent of parent or guardians must also be given, (Smith-Spark and Magnay 1). Many parents there struggle to watch their kids in so much pain and believe that children should have a choice, (Smith-Spark and Magnay 1). In America, things are a little different. Euthanasia is illegal, but some states do allow physician assisted suicide, which is very similar. Physician assisted suicide is done through a prescription that the patient themselves take, while euthanasia is done through an injection by a doctor. Physician assisted suicide is legal in seven states: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Montana, and California. However to receive it individuals must have a terminal illness as well as a prognosis of six months or less to live, (Physician-Assisted Suicide Fast Facts, 1). Germany and Switzerland also follow America, in that they do not have euthanasia. This is due to the complications, injustices, and abuse that the nazis gave to the term euthanasia.
Assisted suicide is the most serious step that an ailing patient can make; however, what most people don’t see is the reasons why the patients come to this serious procedure. One major reason that people see this as their only option is the relative next to nothing cost to help them with their ailment. At little more than 250 dollars, assisted suicide is a low-cost treatment for any fatal ailment ¦ With these prices, no persuasion is needed to convince patients to pick the cheaper option, compared to the helpful medicine that is very pricey, (Golden 1). Financial burden of themselves and their family trying to afford life sustaining medicine is also one of the major drives that people look at when considering the procedure. Research shows that it is not the effects of the disease that people decide to take this path, it’s the effects on the patients relatives, (Golden 2). With such a small cost that leaves loved ones and family with little to no debt, patients naturally would want to choose this procedure. It also helps that the decision making process that pressure from doctors and medical aid providers often leads patients seeing this as their only option. In the late 2000’s, cancer patient Barbara Wagner discovered that her medicine was not going to be funded by her physician; however, her assisted suicide would be, (Golden 1). These types of scenarios are seen often in medical practices and the patients lives, all leading to the patients serious decision to end their life.
There are two different types of Euthanasia: active euthanasia and passive euthanasia. Active euthanasia is the kind of euthanasia where someone is killed by lethal drugs, as requested by the patient or the person in charge of taking care of the patient’s wishes. Passive euthanasia; however, is when someone refuses medical treatment. This form of euthanasia is legal because the illness, if it continues naturally, will eventually result in death. In the U.S. it is usually accepted that a person, no matter how sick, has the right to refuse medical treatment. The procedure used to perform active euthanasia is not very difficult. It is performed by a physician who gives a fatal dose of a suitable drug. The drug the physicians use on humans is called Pentobarbital, it is used on animals as well in certain situations. The administration of the drug is not painful in any way. Though not painful, there are also many dangers to Euthanasia. Some people who want this are not in their right mind when requesting it. Depression is a big reason why many people are requesting this procedure and why more and more people want Euthanasia to be made illegal. People on the other side of the debate would argue that A life of pain and suffering is no life at all, (euthanasia 3).
Assisted suicide affects more than just the patient, assisting someone into ending their life affects the doctors, the families and the mental health of the patient. Terminating someone’s life may cause many problems, such as . long term guilt on the family of the patient. A terminally ill family member gets pretty costy, with the expensive treatments that are only slowing the painful process down. Assisted suicide drugs cost less than $300. Compare that with the cost of treating a terminal illness. (Who’s really hurt by assisted suicide? 1). What kind of morals does this family have? Does this family have the best interest for the patient or themselves? If the patient wants the drug to end their life that is one thing, but for the family to take the decision out of their hands is not their choice, and they are committing murder on their own family, imagine the guilt you will have for the rest of your life knowing you took someone’s life. If the patient is in extreme pain, and is ready to cross over then that is another case, but only depending on their mental state. What kind of mental health condition are they in when they ask to pull the plug. Anyone dying in discomfort may legally today, in all 50 states, receive palliative sedation, wherein the patient is sedated and discomfort is relieved while the dying process takes place peacefully. This legal solution does not raise the very serious difficulties that legalizing assisted suicide poses. (Who’s really hurt by assisted suicide? 1) The mental state of a patient is to be highly taken into consideration. The patient who is in no condition to make a logical decision. People who have disabilities may chose to end their own life because of all of the obstacles that comes with being disabled. Medical bills can be outrageous and some medical care is not provided by health care companies meaning that the disabled patient is out of pocket their own money for their million dollar medical treatments, and services. A patient’s mental state needs to be evaluated before making any final decisions on terminating, But when you examine how legalization affects to vast majority of us — especially those most vulnerable — the dangers to the many far outweigh any alleged benefits to a few. (Who’s really hurt by assisted suicide? 2)
Euthanasia for centuries has caused many debates over the legal and moral implications over the procedure. Before any patient or family comes to the conclusion of whether or not they should go through with the procedure, they and the doctor should methodically and thoroughly think about the consequences. Many implications go along with euthanasia, such as the next to nothing cost of the procedure, pressure from doctors, the mental state of both patient and loved ones, and not wanting to leaving the patients families with any type of financial burden. Although euthanasia continues to be a controversial topic, it is a conversation that we as a nation should be having.