An Argument Against The Use Of Euthanasia Philosophy
Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Its Murder in the First Degree. On June 4, 1990, Janet Adkins committed suicide. She killed herself under the supervision of a man named Jack Kevorkian. Again and again, Kevorkian set up machines and killed patients that were supposedly terminally ill. He escaped punishment for years, but on March 26, 1999, Kevorkian was incarcerated for second-degree murder. (Online99) He had developed many friends and many enemies. One of his followers was a woman who had developed coronary artery disease. Her name was Donna White. She thought about suicide often, especially when her pain was incredibly intense. Help found her before euthanasia did. A hospice care facility heard about her plot to commit suicide, and they found help for her. They provided therapy for her suicidal thoughts and severe depression, and they also provided her with the medication to keep her pain free. She no longer follows Kevorkian's ideals and is against him instead. (Shapiro and Bowermaster, 94) Over 52 patients were killed in "Dr." Kevorkian's presence. (Online, 99) What if they could have found the help that they needed?
Euthanasia is ending one's life if one has a terminal disease is an incurable condition, and is done by a lethal injection. Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide began in ancient Rome and Greece. They believed that it was okay in certain situations to allow a person to die or to help a person die. This was often the case with the elderly in these cultures. Certain religions are against euthanasia. The Christian, Jew, and Islamic religions all cling to the fact that life is sacred and should not be taken away. In some cultures, helping someone to die is the same thing as homicide, and is treated so in a court of law. (Encarta, 98)
Passive euthanasia, or negative euthanasia, is where a doctor or another person does nothing to prevent death, therefore allowing the person to die. Passive euthanasia is not always wrong. It is allowing a person's body to take a natural course of death. Active euthanasia, or positive euthanasia, is when a doctor or another person takes direct action to cause death. (Grolier, 98) Active euthanasia is extremely wrong. It is murder and should not be allowed.
Assisted suicide and active euthanasia is not natural and is extremely unethical. Often times, the effects of painful diseases or severe depression are the cause of suicidal thoughts that result in euthanasia. Jonathon Gould and Lord Craigmyle, authors of "Your Death Warrant?" put the suffering of pain in perspective. They say, "Pain and suffering are inescapable at times in life, and sometimes attend its end" but "Pain, it is to be remembered. . . Generally pain can be considered natural and wholesome although unpleasant." There are ways to take away the pain that accompanies deaths. There are so many more choices than poisoning the body unto death. In fact, "medical killing of sick persons would create far more distress, suffering and pain, directly and indirectly, than it would relieve." (Gould and Craigmyle, 71) The number one rule of medicine is that "doctors shall not kill". This regimen has been a priority since the teachings of the well know physician, Hippocrates. (Shapiro and Bowermaster, 94) Some doctors often let their murders slide behind the name of euthanasia. Kevorkian did that very thing. He killed over 52 patients behind the name of euthanasia. By legalizing euthanasia, the United States of America is setting licensed murderers out on the street.
Those in support of euthanasia fight for the right to "die with dignity". They argue that a lethal injection is natural. One must argue with their ideals. Injecting a foreign chemical into the body for the sole purpose of harming the body is not natural. Euthanasia is, in fact, "intentionally making someone die, rather than allowing that person to die naturally". (Online, 98) It is often found that those who argue for the right to "die with dignity" are often the ones who are not terminally ill or in the older generation. This fact was proven in a Harvard study that read, "79 percent of those ages 18 to 34 believe a physician should be allowed to give lethal injections to the terminally ill, but only 53 percent of the older Americans agree." (Shapiro and Bowermaster, 94) Therefore, what are those that are pro-euthanasia arguing for? For their future, or for the death of those who no longer can serve their community?
Every once in a while, the older generation of this country is pressured into selecting euthanization as their course of death. Often times, the elder members of families feel as though they are a burden and, sometimes, they are not of sound mind when they are given the choice of euthanasia. One such instance of that is the case of Kate Cheyney. She was one of the first to be euthanized in the state of Oregon. She was diagnosed with cancer. Once the extreme discomfort set in, her daughter began to press the subject of euthanasia. She was given a psychiatric evaluation to ensure that she was of the right mind. Her psychiatrist could see that her short-term memory was fading and dementia was setting in. Still, he signed her waiver and she died by physician assisted suicide. It was not the clean-cut death of dignity that she underwent. It took over an hour of pain for her death to be complete. (Barnett, 99) This illustration reveals one small, but important fact. Though Mrs. Cheyney requested physician-assisted suicide, her daughter, who felt as if her mother was a heavy burden, pressured her into the choice. Her short-term memory was also failing, proving that she was not of right mind to make that decision. One recent study showed that out of the people seeking physician-assisted suicide, "75 percent cited fear of 'being a burden', while only 35 percent gave 'experiencing severe pain" as a reason." (Shapiro, 96) But even the fact of the pain is irrelevant to most people. Joseph Shapiro of U.S. News and World Report found that "five out of six of the reasons a patient says he wants to die are something the medical establishment can treat." Often a person with an ailment or disease is put rest because of the burden that it can cause a family member. It was said by a "Euthanasia Society's spokesman: 'Dying is still often an ugly business, but where should we end up once we admitted the principle that a man may be killed for the benefit of someone else?'" (Gould and Craigmyle, 71)
Those who are for euthanasia argue that the psychiatric evaluations given to patients who are suspected to not be of sound mind, solve the problem of whether or not they are able to choose the "right to die". They also argue that family members of those who are prepared to be euthanized are very supportive. When in fact, not all psychiatric evaluations are complete or true, and not all patients are given an evaluation. The fact is that family members are often supportive only if they choose euthanasia or assisted suicide. The authors of the website, Euthanasia.com found that "emotional and psychological pressures could become overpowering for depressed or dependent people. If the choice of euthanasia is considered as good as a decision to receive care, many people will feel guilty for not choosing death. Financial considerations, added to the concern about 'being a burden,' could serve as powerful forces that would lead a person to 'choose' euthanasia or assisted suicide." Therefore, it is proven that family members and doctors often have persuasive powers over the person in question.
The most important truth about euthanasia, assisted suicide and mercy killing are all forms of murder and, ultimately, homicide. It should be against both the law of the nation, and the law of the heart, because it is unethical. "This issue touches medicine at its very moral center; if this moral center collapses, if physicians become killers, or are even merely licensed to kill, the profession and, therewith, each physician will never again be worthy of trust and respect, healer and comforter and protector of life in all its frailty. For if medicine's power over life may be used equally to heal or to kill, the doctor is no more a moral professional but rather a morally neutered technician." (Opposing Viewpoints, 89) Unfortunately, physicians can legally murder in the state of Oregon. Still, this quote applies to every state. Physicians who can kill and can commit a homicidal crime, become loose in their morals and accordingly lose their trust as a caretaker, a healer.
Committing this type of murder devalues human life. These doctors act as gods instead of humans; judging whether life or death shall prevail. The doctor's job is to heal, to try as hard as they can to save the lives of those who are presented before them. Doctors and nurses cannot be gods. Much of the time, they do not understand that what the patient really needs in his or her last days is the love and respect of those around them. In fact, in one study based on "600 ventilator-dependant adults with debilitating neuromuscular conditions" who were asked "whether they were satisfied with their 'life as a whole,' and fully 82 percent responded positively. Only 24 percent of doctors and nurses predicted such positive answers."
Take for instance, Dr. Bry Benjamin. Benjamin once gave out a lethal dose of medicine to an older couple suffering from cancer. For years, he had to "wrestle with this ethical dilemma" and ". . . his conscience . . . alone." (Mattos and Sach, 96) He will never forget the death sentence that he gave that elderly couple.
In closing, an unnatural death is unethical and should not be permitted. It is the poisoning of a body and may be performed by a licensed doctor. This doctor, a person committed to curing the body of diseases and making it healthy, is committing murder; Murder that should be charged as homicide in a court of law. Euthanasia is a fever that has swept across the country, especially with Jack Kevorkian's aid. The country is sick with "right to die" flu and it is time for the doctors of the United States of America to heal them. They need to start with reorganizing their morals and placing their patient's health and healing at the top of their list. Eventually the country will begin to realize that life is much more important than the emphasis they have been placing on death.
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