In the United States, by current individual state laws, any form of euthanasia is murder and considered a criminal offense (ACT). At this time there are still no federal laws prohibiting the practice of euthanasia as a country. Euthanasia, by definition, is the intentional killing of a person, for compassionate motives, whether the killing is by a direct action such as a lethal injection, or by failing to perform an action necessary to maintain life. When discussing euthanasia there are many questions to consider before passing judgements for either side.
First we should decide Is there a need for euthanasia Next, we must determine Who euthanasia is proposed for and What practices are involved Then, we need to view the public opinion and the current view the law holds to completely weigh all the aspects of euthanasia to make an informed decision of whether or not euthanasia should be legal. The first aspect of euthanasia we must look at is Is there a need for euthanasia Terminally ill patients are the ones who actively seek euthanasia. Terminally ill patients are the major stakeholders in this debate (Kelliher). Terminally ill cancer patients are the majority who support physician-assisted suicide. Patients seek euthanasia when symptoms become too painful to endure.
Some of these patients are in such pain even under massive amounts of pain medication they would rather terminate their life then continue to suffer until the inescapable ending of death when their body finally gives up (Religious Tolerance). Pain is pain and is unavoidable in terminally ill patients, who without the choice will suffer a great deal of pain even longer. Euthanasia, for the most part has been proposed for those who are stricken by a terminal disease, from which they suffer severe pain (ACT) Euthanasia is a very unique decision in which terminally ill patients would have the choice to hasten the amount of pain in which they suffer by choosing to pass away. Though more recently euthanasia has been being used as an alternative method for persons who wish to die for some apparent reason such as being just plain tired of life. In such a case the projected intentions of euthanasia would be abused (ACT).
Even though many of us are not aware of all the terms and definitions associated with euthanasia there are two things that, regardless of education and location, everyone questions; What practices are involved in the act of Euthanasia and Who is responsible for these acts One term that is widely used in this practice is Voluntary (or active) euthanasia, which by definition means the person receiving help has specifically asked to end their life (ACT). Also the practice of Involuntary Euthanasia which by definition means the person cannot express his or her wishes because of immaturity (such as a newborn), mental retardation or coma (ACT). Another term which is used in this practice is so-called passive euthanasia which tends to cause a sense of confusion because it refers to actions which are not any kind of euthanasia (ACT). Passive euthanasia, by definition means to hasten the death of a person by withholding some form of support and letting nature take its course (Religious Tolerance). Such actions include stopping food and water with intentions of the person starving and dehydration until death occurs, removing life support equipment, stopping medical procedures and medication.
However, to avoid CPR and allow a person, whose heart has stopped, to die would not be considered passive euthanasia (Religious Tolerance). When we start to think about who will be performing such procedures we assume that a licensed doctor will be the one who manages and actively participates in the procedure. Currently the last two decades have seen an increase in public. From 1976 to 1993 the percentage of those who support euthanasia grew from 68. 5% to 79% (Voluntary Euthanasia Society). It need be remembered that even though the publics opinion counts, the voice of the terminally ill should be given more weight.
A survey was conducted of 70 terminally ill cancer patients with an average age of 65 with a remarkable 73% believing that euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are acceptable practices while 21% thought neither one was acceptable and should not be legalized (Kelliher). Overall 58% of patients surveyed said if euthanasia were to become legal they might decide to hasten their own death if pain became intolerable (Kelliher). As mentioned before current law forbids euthanasia and assisted suicide. current law states suicide is a ilegal act that is theoretically available to all (Religious Tolerance). In conclusion, euthanasia is a very touchy subject in which there are many different opinions held as to whether it should be legal or not.
Though by looking at information provided by the opinion of the public, the terminally ill, current law and by research found in can be concluded that no person should have to spend days, months and even years in agonizing pain, which could be avoided, if euthanasia were legal. Works Cited ACT Right to Life Association. Euthanasia: killing the dying Foundation for Human Development. web Kelliher, Jeff.
Terminally Ill Favor Right to End Own Lives Health SCOUT Reporter. 15 Sept. 00. web Religious Tolerance. Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide web Voluntary Euthanasia Society.
Factsheets-Public Opinion. web >.