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An Argument for Euthanasia

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An Argument for Euthanasia Euthanasia is defined as, "The act or practice of putting to death painlessly a person suffering from an incurable disease." Euthanasia can be traced back as far back as the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. It was sometimes allowed in these civilizations to help others die. Voluntary euthanasia was approved in these ancient societies. Today, the practice of euthanasia causes great controversy. Both pro-life groups and right-to-die groups present arguments for their different sides. Pro-life groups make arguments and present fears against euthanasia. I contend that the case for the right to die is the stronger argument. I will begin my by listing the arguments against euthanasia and my criticism of each argument. 1. Euthanasia is a violation of medical ethics. The American Medical Association has consistently condemned euthanasia as an unethical practice. Today, attitudes may be changing. Recent surveys indicate that a majority of doctors in some areas, (60% in Oregon, 56% in Michigan, and 54% in Great Britain.) favor euthanasia in extreme cases. 2. Euthanasia weakens the trust relationship between the doctor and the patient. We expect doctors to heal and save lives, not to kill. I feel that I should be able to trust my doctor to do what is best for me as an individual in any situation, including ending unbearable suffering, even if it is my choice to die in order to end my suffering. Doctors may lose the trust of their patients by not helping them to end their suffering. 3. Choosing the time and place of a person's death is God's decision. This argument suggests that we should never intervene in any life-threatening situation. If a person is having a heart attack, should we just stand by and watch them die? If we were to seek medical attention in order to save his life, we would be interfering with God's will for that person to die. This argument contains nothing that can be rationally argued against because it does not tell us when it is okay to interfere with God's decisions. 4. The issue of euthanasia is a slippery slope. Pro-life groups contend that if we allow any type of euthanasia, sooner or later, we would begin killing off not only the terminally ill, but also the handicapped, the poor, the elderly and anyone else who becomes troublesome. The view that we should not make a decision because it could lead to other less prudent decisions later is not a reasonable foundation for setting policies, unless later decisions are definite, and are absolutely wrong. I would hope that the virtue of society would lead us to know where to draw the line between going far enough and going too far. At the present time, it is not clear if where the line is drawn now is where it should be drawn. 5. Euthanasia is killing. Most people believe that there are circumstances when killing is allowed, such as self-defense. The only question is whether or not the killing is justified under the circumstances. In the case of self-defense, killing is justified. The same is true of euthanasia. 6. People who request euthanasia may be requesting it because they are depressed and they may change their minds. I believe that psychological evaluation will detect the mental condition of a patient, and depression, if it exists, can be treated. Patients can be given counseling to determine if their decision is what they truly want. We must determine whether or not patients should be able to be in control of their own lives. 7. Euthanasia violates the difference between passive and active and practices. This argument contends that there is a moral difference between letting nature take its course by terminating treatment when death is inevitable, and actively taking steps to make death come quicker. The question that should be asked of this is What is the best thing to do in a worst case scenario? The answer may be to terminate pointless treatment, or to act in order to bring about a merciful, painless death, that brings to an end terrible, needless suffering. The patient may ask for either one and we may morally grant their request. In either case, death occurs and the patient's choice is involved in both. 8. Euthanasia is wrong because there may have been a misdiagnosis or there may be the development of a miracle cure. This argument is wishful thinking. Although these instances are not entirely impossible, they only require that we be extremely cautious, not that euthanasia should ever be performed. 9. Euthanasia to relieve suffering is against the role that suffering plays in God's plan. The view that all suffering is sent from God is extreme in the sense that it suggests that we should never do anything to relieve any kind of suffering. The majority of people today believe that we should do everything possible to relieve the suffering of others. To do otherwise is considered immoral. Since this is true, we can logically argue that in some cases, when pain and suffering of a patient become intolerable, relieving that suffering should take priority over extending life, if that is the patient's choice. 10. A person's independence is not absolute. Today, society does not allow individuals to do anything that they want to do. There are laws that prevent certain acts that harm people, even if the harm comes only to them. For example, we don't allow people to sell themselves into slavery. So the argument is that we don't have a right to ask someone to kill us or help us to kill ourselves. Deciding what choices should be regulated by law is difficult for any society. When a patient's pain and suffering becomes so intolerable that they choose to end their life in order to end their suffering, society and or government should not interfere with their decision. The choice to end their own suffering should be entirely theirs, because no one can know their agony but themselves. 11. The consequences of euthanasia would be bad. This argument implies that guidelines designed for euthanasia would at some point be violated, and mistakes would be made. Anti-euthanasia activists argue that patients may choose death because they feel guilty for staying alive and causing financial burdens on their families. Families may give up too soon and encourage the death to end the suffering of their loved one. Doctors may not try as hard to extend the life of a patient who is considered terminal. Society might put less value on giving medical assistance for the disabled, the poor, and minorities because death would be cheaper. Society may also become less sensitive to the needs of the suffering and more insensitive about death. These are dangers and measures must be taken to prevent them if euthanasia were to become legal. Nothing is free form abuse. The allowed practice of withdrawing life-support, already puts pressure on patients and family members. Doctors are currently permitted to give heavy doses of pain medication that often



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