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Monday, July 4, 2011

euthanasia

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To Live or not To Live The Choice Is Yours





What do we mean when we say life? Do we mean the continued functioning of the body? Of the brain? Or do we mean the continued experience of the human being? (Pridonoff, pg. 7). Many doctors are now performing what is known as physician-assisted suicide, which is when a doctor sets up a machine, but the patient actually kills him or herself. Whereas, euthanasia is the act of the doctor killing the patient. There are two sides to this issue. One side is whether or not a person should be allowed to end his or her own life. The other side of the question is, whos decision is it to end a life? There is a difference between assisted suicide and euthanasia. The choice to have a doctor help end a terminally ill patients life is the patients decision to make.





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Many people are opposed to physician-assisted suicide because of their religious beliefs. Traditional Christian beliefs are that assisted suicide violates ones natural desire to live, suicide harms other people, and life is a gift from God and God should be the only one able to take a life from a human being (Robinson, pg.). However, there are also religious organizations that believe in physician assisted suicide. One of them is the Mainline and Liberal Christian denominations. They are pro- choice for this form of assisted suicide (Robinson, pg.7). Many of these beliefs urge followers to choose life over death, unless life is sustained by a machine (Edelheit, pg.45). Physician-assisted suicide for patients who are in a great amount of pain should not be illegal. The patients live everyday wishing they could die to end their pain. Sigmund Freud was in extraordinary pain from cancer. He whispered to his physician, This makes no more sense. His doctor then injected him with a dose of morphine that killed him (Assisted Suicide). In this instance, it was best to end his life. He was in so much pain that he no longer saw any reason to live.





One the other hand, the decision to end ones life should be a difficult decision and not easy to carry out (Assisted Suicide). Very few states have banned physician-assisted suicide. As a matter of fact, most states favor physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients who are expected to live less than six months (Cloud and Donnelly, pg.44).





The Hippocratic Oath states that, I will not give poison to anyone, though asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a plan (Biema, pg.61). However, juries are finding it very hard to convict physicians who have helped end their patients life because doctors are claiming that they never had to recite this oath. They claim that they have heard of it, but were not familiar with it. It was not a requirement to pass medical school when they were in medical students. Although the word suicide is the correct word to use, it should not be called suicide. Suicide is a destruction of ones own body. When a doctor helps to end a patients life who is in unending pain after the patient asks for an end of their life-sustaining treatment, people should think of it as allowing people to die (Quill, pg.10).





Another problem that doctors have faced is when a patient can no longer decide for him or herself, should the family be able to decide when life-support should be terminated. In some cases, however, the doctor wants to keep the patient alive and the family disagrees. This has brought an emphasis on patient and family rights in American medical ethics and in American law. So, for now, families can still decide when the patient is not able to do so (Kelly, pg.145).





Dr. Kevorkian has developed what he calls a suicide machine. This machine ends the lives of terminally ill patients. Many people try to kill themselves with overdoses of pills, but it usually doesnt work. One reason is that the people are too sick to swallow, much less move. Kevorkian says, such people who want to die need help (Rollin, pg.5). Dying should be a human right. The right to die in a manner of ones own choosing is the ultimate civil liberty (Humphry, pg.76). However, it is believed that physician-assisted suicide will harm many more people than it will help (Larson, pg.7).





One woman who had advanced ovarian cancer says, Ive always been a law abiding citizen, but I think this is a moral right. If she pleases, she can now kill herself with an overdose of drugs that she has collected. She says, I guessed right in picking the right doctor (Jewell, pg.0). Indeed, with our technology and advancements in medicine, doctors should be able to cure more patients with medicine instead of having to help end their lives. However, that has not happened, so for now people are choosing physician-assisted suicide over living. One man says, a competent patient who just happens to be terminally ill (by no choice of their own), should not have to go through a childlike state of helplessness all over again (Biema, pg. 60). If they so choose to die, they should be allowed to.





For now though, people need to decide what life really is and determine when it is acceptable to end human life. If the patient has given up hope on him or herself, then he or she needs to decide his or her own fate.





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