Euthanasia Euthanasia can be defined as the following: "the intentional killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit." The key word here, obviously, is "intentional." If the death is not intentional, it is not an act of euthanasia. Euthanasia can be voluntary as well as non-voluntary. The most recent case we have heard of in the news dealing with euthanasia is the Terri Schiavo case. In Schiavo's case, the fact that the doctors took out her feeding tube was a non-voluntary form of euthanasia. Rather than having her own consent, her husband made the decision, making it non-voluntary. Her husband believed it was the best choice for her because she was in a vegetated state for over fifteen years.
(Hentoff) But many people do not agree with his decision. They argue against legalizing euthanasia in itself. People who agree with euthanasia sat that the voluntary form of euthanasia will not lead to involuntary euthanasia. After much research, it has been found that there would be millions of situations each year that do not fall clearly into either category.
An example of this would be an elderly man in a nursing home is asked to sign a form consenting to be killed. This man can barely read his newspaper in the morning, let alone read a form that someone hands to him and tells him to sign. Would this be voluntary or involuntary? (Johansen) One can argue either side. Researchers say that legalized euthanasia would most likely progress to a point where people are expected to volunteer for assisted death. Just as if your veterinarian says your old dog would be better put out of his or her misery by putting her to sleep, 10 years from now, a doctor would ask you, as the closest family member to your father, to approve a form of euthanasia because your father's quality of life was not worth living. (Gallagher) The movement from voluntary to involuntary euthanasia would be somewhat like the movement of abortion.
People who agree with euthanasia state that abortion is something that a woman chooses to do, that it is not forced on her and that voluntary euthanasia will not be forced on them either. But it is not an issue of force; it is an issue of the way laws concerning euthanasia can be expanded once it is declared legal. You don't need to be against abortion to appreciate the way the laws on it have changed. It could very well happen the same way with euthanasia / assisted suicide as soon as the door is opened to make it legal.
(Saunders) Also, if euthanasia is legalized, Euthanasia can become a means of health care cost containment. One of the most important findings in recent years is the growing emphasis placed on health care providers to contain costs. If legalized, euthanasia could possibly become a means of cost containment. (Smith) In the United States, many people do not have any form of medical insurance. Studies have shown that people who live in poverty and minorities generally are not given access to any form of medicines, and places like nursing homes are offering physicians a bonus if they don't provide care for patients. With greater emphasis being placed on associated care, many doctors are sometimes at a financial risk when they provide treatment for certain patients.
Legalized euthanasia raises the potential for a situation where doctors could find themselves far better off financially if a seriously ill or disabled person 'chooses' to die rather than receive long-term care. (Smith) For example, a woman is in a mental care institute for a serious case of depression. The woman has discussed assisted suicide with her psychiatrist before. After continuously asking her psychiatrist for certain medicines and being denied them, she brings up euthanasia with him. Instead of talking her out of it and raising his costs by prescribing the medicines, he agrees with her choice to sign a consent form for assisted death. (Gallagher) Did Terri Schiavo give her consent to have her feeding tube removed? No, she didn't, but it was still considered euthanasia.
Today in America, euthanasia, much like abortion, is a topic that everyone seems to have a different opinion about. But the bottom line, for numerous reasons, is that if euthanasia is legalized, not only will things change in the medical field, but it will only become another topic that gets blown out of proportion and in turn will be another issue that gets thrown around in our government. The best way to avoid this situation is simply just not legalize it. Works Cited Gallagher, Maggie. "Euthanasia Tells Elderly, Disabled: 'Your Life is Worthless' 2003-2004. (web) 18 April 2005.
Hentoff, Nat. "Terri Schiavo: Judicial Murder." 29 March 2005. (web) 18 April 2005. Johansen, Jay. "Euthanasia: A Case of Individual Liberty?" 6 September 2000. (web) 18 April 2005.
Saunders, Debra J. "Death trumps choice." 6 Jan 2005. (web) 18 April 2005. Smith, Wesley J. "Doctors of Death." 19 August 2002. (web) 18 April 2005..