EUTHANASIA IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. Years ago, talking about death was a social taboo. Although, some civilizations have not open their minds that much, each day more people have opened their minds to a new way of looking at death. People have realized that as humans, they are not here to suffer; instead, they are here to enjoy life.

Euthanasia is a word that in the past years has appeared on the media. Cases appeared each day, and people are not still reacting to it in a good way, probably because they do not know what it is really implied on it. People think of it as only a way of killing people, not in the way of helping patients with a better departure. People think that euthanasia has been accepted, by few, as the first and only option that ill patients have to. But instead, it is the last option, the last door to open and give patients a peaceful passing.

Opposite sides conceive of euthanasia as a lower and non ethical way to help patients. Also they claim the fact that sometimes euthanasia has been practiced without the consent of patients, but at the will of doctors and families. Euthanasia is a very complex issue, and it can not be looked at as the answer for every single patient. Otherwise, it has to be thought of as a very rare and non usual way of helping people.

Euthanasia is there to let people know that they have an open option to rely on in any moment, without thinking of any legal consequence, obviously with the appropriate precautions that corresponds. Euthanasia is known as mercy killing. What euthanasia simply gives is a better ending to those patients who seem to not have any deserving end. There are various ways of practicing it, and many definitions around it have born.

A pro-euthanasia group defines assisted suicide as when someone "provides the means (drugs or other agents) by which a person can take his or her own life" (ERGO). There also exists what is called as physician-assisted suicide, in which a doctor prescribes lethal drugs in order to help the patient commit suicide. One of the most famous cases in the world concerning physician assisted suicide is the one of Dr Jack Kevorkian. Dr Kevorkian, who currently is 70 years old, has been convicted for 7 years for helping in almost 130 cases on assisted suicide. Dr Kevorkian has shelter in compassion. It means his only defense is that he was just helping all his patients that his intention was never to intentionally kill them.

On contrast, he was just giving them some peace. Around the world, this case has become one of the most important. Although Dr Kevorkian is already in prison, thousands of people support and understand him. On the other side, a new case has born. As a known newspaper from Los Angeles explains, "Attorney General John Ashcroft asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday to give federal agents the authority to punish Oregon doctors who help dying patients end their lives" (Los Angeles Times). Lately, this case has grown, showing that most of the people disapproved the idea of euthanasia.

But probably, all the problems are just the lack of information. Through the past years, different groups have started, and have tried to show what the real intention of euthanasia is. On the other hand, as everything, there also exists opposing groups that show the bitter and ugly face of euthanasia. One of the most powerful and trusting groups supporting euthanasia is the Hemlock Society.

Their mission is "to improve pain and symptom management, increase patient empowerment and self-determination and expand end-of-life choices to include aid-in-dying for terminally ill, mentally competent adults" (The hemlock society). This group has gained popularity with its numerous appearances in different protests and passing of legislation through out the United States. They not only fight for helping the dying patients, they also provide families psychological and professional help. In contrast, there is another leading opposing group known as "Not Dead Yet". This group is mostly concerned with disabled people.

They try to protect and respect people with disabilities by all means. This group started in 1996, right after one of Dr Kevorkian famous cases, where two disabled women were involved. The group explains euthanasia as "though often described as compassionate, legalized medical killing is really about a deadly double standard for people with severe disabilities, including both conditions that are labeled terminal and those that are not" (Not dead yet). United States is not the only country with euthanasia cases. Throughout the world few countries have joined to the fight whether against or for euthanasia.

"In Europe three countries have openly legalized assisted suicide, Switzerland, Belgium, and Netherlands" (ERGO). They have many restrictions in the use of it, like more than one doctor present during the procedures and some restrictions with the implements that are used during the intervention, as injections, or bags. The most controversial case has been in the state of Oregon. With the passage of the Death with Dignity Act, Oregon has opened the doors to a new whole experience. As a newspaper in Miami recalls, "in 1994, Oregonians voted 51 percent to 49 percent to legalize physician-assisted suicide" (Lockwood).

With this law many people have opened their minds, and they have start thinking in a more liberal way. As described before, there are several groups that do their best in order to fight against euthanasia. Not Dead Yet, as mentioned before is one of the biggest American groups against euthanasia. Through the past eight years this group has gained the credibility and conviction of millions of people that have believed that euthanasia is not the best answer for disable patients. They argue the fact that "People already have the right to refuse unwanted treatment, and suicide is not illegal" (Not dead yet).

So, why people should use euthanasia if they already have these kinds of solutions? Turning to euthanasia legal will just give immunization to unscrupulous doctors who will be benefit from patients. They defend the fact that people are able to commit suicide and refuse medical treatment, so euthanasia is not necessary. In contrast it should be condemned by the law.

Other big opposing group is the Catholic Church. For them live must be over everything. Their moral concepts are all based in the 10 Commandments. Euthanasia goes against one of the most important, the sixth, which says expressly that one should not kill. As the Pope John Paul II describes euthanasia in an article as "as an example of the 'culture of death' in Western societies" (Campbell). The pope as the most important person in the Catholic Church openly expresses his disbelief and concern about euthanasia and its legalization.

People against euthanasia also state that are various ways of helping patients. As an article explains, "there comes a time when continued attempts to cure are not compassionate, wise, or medically sound. That's were hospice, including in home-hospice care, can be of such help" (arguments are unconvincing). With hospice care most patients can be taken care of without looking to euthanasia. Although, hospices tend to be costly sometimes, they provide financial help to the families. The opposition claims that with the legalization of euthanasia, doctors and families will make the decision, not the patient.

Also those against euthanasia said that euthanasia is not as people called "death with dignity", because of the brutal ways of how to cause death has been shown, as how to cause suffocation with a plastic bag or people being gassed with carbon monoxide. The International anti-euthanasia task force explains that, "a surrogate's decision is often treated, for legal purposes, as if it had been made by the patient" (Arguments are unconvincing). With the legalization of euthanasia doctors and families will have the power of killing sick patients. But euthanasia problems with the general people come from the understanding that people have of it. People tend to interpret the term in various ways. For example, while opponents describe euthanasia as a cruel and heartless way of killing people in the name of compassion, advocator's think of it as a good and deserving death for ill patients.

The whole social structure of euthanasia is based on the definition. The manipulation of the term not only by people, but also from the media has created a great opposition to it. But, if people know that euthanasia is not really the fact of murder, but is the fact of helping people, or if people know that ways of employing euthanasia are not cruel as oppositions make it look, the public reaction against euthanasia would not be that hard. Euthanasia cannot be seen as the best choice that people have. Instead, one has to recognize that in fact euthanasia is about killing, but with different reasons. With proper legalization and restrictions, euthanasia can be used as a legal option in very special cases.

What this means is that using the proper restrictions on doctors, euthanasia can be controlled and will be satisfactory implemented. Now, legal groups that practice euthanasia are very careful with the usage of the existing rules in their countries. The Hemlock Society states "Only terminally ill, mentally competent adults are eligible for assisted dying consultation" (The hemlock society). With this kind of cares, the government and hospitals will have total control over the issue. What is meant with special cases is: 1) where the patient is aware of the situation, 2) where he is able to request it not just one time, but several times, 3) where the patient have had previous psychological exams that do not show any depression problem, 4) where the patient has clearly expressed its desire, this obviously means full conscience of the patient and 5) in the case when medical treatment, pain treatment, and hospices are useless. In these cases is when euthanasia can be seen as an option.

Also, in the United States, advocates of euthanasia claim that every person has the right to ask for death, or refuse medical treatment. As an advocate says "One's life, they argue, is one's own, and what people choose to do with that life, whether they choose to live or die, ought to be a matter of their own decision, a private matter" (Urofsky). A private matter means issues that are legally protected by the Constitution of the United States, which protects the privacy of every citizen of the United States. Although, in some cases this is a weak argument because just because it's a right, does not mean that one can abuse of it, only use it when it is really necessary. In cases where euthanasia is suitable, the best ways for helping the patient will be used. Any kind of brutal action against a patient will be dismissed.

Euthanasia is just about helping someone. Also if that help means killing someone, doctors will try to make in the best way permissible. As a pro euthanasia book refers, "the proposition that life, from the moment of inception to the moment of death, can be lived without suffering" (Palmer). This is the real matter of euthanasia, avoid suffering and make everything more comfortable for the patients and the families. Euthanasia is not as bad as it is portrayed, because it is portrayed as if families and doctors did not care about their relatives and that the only way to get rid of them is by killing them.

But really this is not like that; people use these euphemisms, to try to misguide the real truth of euthanasia. It is hard to understand, how doctors can kill people and not be punished for it, but this would not be a daily case, as mentioned before. Euthanasia would be used in specific and special cases, where euthanasia can be considered as a good answer. Is not about if someone feels depressed any doctor will be able to apply euthanasia.

Prior studies and psychological sessions have to be taken to see if euthanasia is the real answer. In cases were the patient is really sick, families can look at first to hospices and pain treatment, and if it does works, euthanasia will be useless. At the end, the legalization of euthanasia is just to let people know that they have an option, that instead of endless suffering and spending amount of time and money they have an option.


Arguments for Euthanasia Are Unconvincing' by International Anti-Euthanasia Task Force. Euthanasia. Opposing Viewpoints (R) Series. Green haven 2000.
web Courteney S. "Euthanasia and Religion " Infotrac. January 2000.
p 37 web 5. Nov. 2004.
web Frank E. "Choosing to die" Miami Herald. 24. June. 2001 web Angeles Times.
Ashcroft seeks power to punish Oregon euthanasia doctors" Los Angeles Times 10. Nov. 2004 web Dead Yet.
5 Nov. 2004 web Larry I.
Endings and beginnings: law medicine, and society in assisted life and death. Westport, Conn. Praeger. 200 The hemlock society. 5 Nov. 2004 web Melvin.
Rights of the people: individual freedom and the bill of rights -- Privacy" SIRS Government Reporter. 2003.