Should Americans Have the "Right to Die?"

March 10, 2010
By Devin Horgan BRONZE, Reno, Nevada
Devin Horgan BRONZE, Reno, Nevada
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

The subject of Euthanasia, or “assisted suicide” is, to say the least, highly controversial. There are many different people who have valid opinions on whether euthanasia is ethical, whether it should be legal, whether doctors should be allowed to play a role in assisted suicide, and whether euthanasia, if legalized, would lead to involuntary killing. To narrow the subject of my piece down a bit, I’ll be focusing on whether or not it is ethical to allow someone who is terminally ill to end their misery, and under what circumstances this “euthanasia” should be allowed.

First off, to truly be worthy of stating your opinion on this issue, I feel you need to put yourself in the shoes of the person your arguing about. Let’s imagine your 87 years old, and have been diagnosed with a terminal case of lung cancer. It is very advanced, and there is no possible way you will ever fully recover. However, the doctors have placed you on a ventilator and very heavy doses of medication that need to be administered every hour on the hour intravenously. The doctors are saying if the measures they are taking work as they should, it could buy you another 6-18 months. Every breath you take is painful, you can never leave the hospital bed, and the injections are making you uncomfortable and nauseous. You feel you have lived a full life, and all you want is for your misery to end. Is it wrong of you to ask for a quick and painless end to your life? Should you be forced to drag out the days you have left in agony and horrible pain? The answer to both is no.

Now some people, absolutely believe that murder is wrong. Murder of any kind, whether the person wants to die or not. A lot of people that have this opinion back it with some kind of religious belief or moral code. It is against Christianity to kill, and it is against the Hippocratic oath to take the life of the patient you are treating, although it isn’t against either set of beliefs to “allow the patient to die.” This causes the line between killing and allowing to die to be drawn. This line, in my opinion, is as blurry as they come. Some people would say that killing is always an active thing (such as a lethal injection), whereas allowing to die is always passive (such as discontinuing the treatment that is keeping the patient alive) I don’t believe that people should argue with each other over which one is moral and which one isn’t, I think it is the situation in which the question arises that determines the ethicality of the decision.
If a person has just been informed two minutes ago that they may have a terminal case of some disease and without hesitation or second thought they shout out that they want a lethal injection rather than put up with the disease, I believe it would be immoral to give them the injection. The person needs to be fully aware of the treatment that is available for the condition they have, and any other options they may have, before euthanasia becomes an option to them. The patient should only have euthanasia be made an option to them if the disease they are fighting will undoubtedly win, and it is only a matter of time before this occurs. I think the patient should be made to write a note before the euthanasia is performed, clearly stating their reason for choosing assisted suicide, so that there isn’t any confusion afterwards that could cause complications. If these requirements have been met, I believe it is completely moral, and that it should be legal, to euthanize a patient with a terminal illness. I do not see it as an act of murder, but an act of mercy. If I saw an animal on the side of the road that had been badly injured by a passing car, but would obviously live for a few more hours, unable to move and clearly in agony, I would put it out of its misery and feel no guilt, shame, or remorse. Life should only be lived when it is able to be lived properly. Living with an illness that will wreak havoc on your body, causing excruciating pain and eventually will kill you, is no way to live.

Works Cited
-Torr, James. Euthanasia 'Opposing Viewpoints'. san diego, CA: greenhaven press, inc.,
2000. Print.
-Rebman, Renee. Euthanasia and the "Right To Die". Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers,
Inc., 2002. Print.

The author's comments:
The due date definitely inspired me to get this one done ;]

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