June 16, 2011
"Dogs do not have many advantages over people, but one of them is extremely important: euthanasia is not forbidden by law in their case; animals have the right to a merciful death." - Milan Kundera. Euthanasia is when someone is killed in a painless way to end their suffering. Euthanasia for people is only legal in four states, but pets are euthanized all the time. Euthanasia should be legalized in all the states, not only a few. This would help many people, and already has in the states where it is legal.

A common counter claim to euthanasia is that it is not morally right and only murder. This is untrue, however, as euthanasia is the act of painlessly killing a person who is suffering from an incurable or painful disease, or an irreversible coma. Murder is very different, as the murderer plans to kill the person in an act of revenge or anger, usually in a painful way. The purpose of euthanasia is to end someone’s suffering, not to kill someone for revenge or out of anger in a torturous way. Another reason someone might be against euthanasia is because it is abused in several countries (the Netherlands, Germany) and they claim we could end up like them. That would not happen though, as there are many laws surrounding this procedure in the few states it is legal in. These are the requirements a person must meet to be euthanized in Oregon:
The person must be terminally ill.
The person must have six months or less to live.
The person must make two oral requests for assistance in dying.
The person must make one written request for assistance in dying.
The person must convince two physicians that he or she is sincere and not acting on a whim, and that the decision is voluntary.
The person must not have been influenced by depression.
The person must be informed of "the feasible alternatives," including, but not limited to, comfort care, hospice care, and pain control.
The person must wait for 15 days.
These laws were made after a ballot in 1994 in which voters approved euthanasia being legalized under limited conditions (Euthanasia - Oregon’s Euthanasia Laws, paragraph 1). As you can probably see, a person has to go through a lot to be euthanized legally. These laws prevent anyone who does not sincerely want euthanasia from getting it.

Euthanasia would help end the suffering of the terminally ill. For example it helped a woman in her mid-eighties in Oregon who had been suffering from breast cancer for twenty years. Instead of having her life taken away by her cancer, she ended her own life, and went peacefully (Euthanasia - Oregon’s Euthanasia Laws, paragraph 3). This should be able to happen in all the states, not just a few. Why should someone who is in pain have to suffer for the rest of their life (or long as the doctors can keep them alive) when their only way out is death from their illness? Think about how many people are stuck in hospitals, slowly dying while their family is paying to keep them alive, even though they know they are miserable. Most people in that kind of position would be grateful if they could control their death. They would not have to stay alive for years spending their family’s money just to keep them breathing. If their illness will eventually kill them, they should be able to decide when they die.

Another reason why euthanasia should be legalized is that it lets terminally ill people that are suffering die with dignity. Most people think it is wrong to keep pets alive beyond their natural life span (e.g. when an animal is obviously in pain and there is no cure, but the owner keeps them alive because they just ‘cannot let them go’). Not because of the extra years, but because they are in pain. Think of it this way: Your Grandmother has been in the hospital with cancer for three years. You go to visit her every week, and see every time that she is in pain, but you try to encourage her and help her through it. Everything the doctors do only helps for a little while before the cancer gets bad again. She is 87, but euthanasia is not legal so she has to die in pain. The doctors will not give up though, they say that the treatment will help eventually if she is ‘positive’ about it. But she has been positive about it since the very beginning. Nothing is going to help her get better. The only way out is death either way. So it really comes down to whether you would rather have a person suffer or die peacefully.

Euthanasia could help many people if it was legalized in the United States. People should not have to suffer until their death if they are miserable, that is not how life should be. If someone wants to be euthanized, however, they should have to ask for it. However if the patient is unable to ask (for example, in an irreversible coma), it should be up to that person’s close family members, not the doctors who look after them, like in the Netherlands. Euthanasia is not murder; there is a big difference between the two. In some countries it is used like murder, yet our country has so many laws regulating it that it could not get out of control. Look at how our government controls power. It is balanced and doesn’t rely on the opinions of one person like a dictatorship. Why would euthanasia not be controlled similarly?

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