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Euthanasia: Murder or Mercy?

In 2012, a survey was conducted regarding the popularity of euthanasia across the United States. According to this poll, fifty four percent of medical practitioners implement euthanasia on their patients, and eighty-six percent of the general public supported the use of this medical practice. Furthermore, out of one thousand and one Americans, seventy percent supported Euthanasia. (Kouwenhoven) This is a startling statistic considering that euthanasia is illegal in most states, excluding Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Montana. In my opinion, the fact that euthanasia is illegal at all is astounding, and I cannot fathom the extent of this sort of cruelty that is permitted in the field of medicine. Regardless of the emotional attachments an individual may have for his family member, how should it be allowed for this person to suffer in an irreversible vegetative state? In most cases, the patient is constantly suffering and obviously cannot survive without life support. Additionally, he is forced to live while completely dependent upon intubation and breathing apparatus, as well as continual medical care, in order to survive. No person could possibly wish to live while connected to life support machines. This is not truly living. In reality, he is already dead; even though his heart refuses to stop beating. So why should the government have the right to tell a human being that he is not allowed to die peacefully, and of his own choosing? Why can’t patients “die with dignity?” (Velasquez) That is a question I have asked myself for quite a long time; however, I trust that with the administration of a proper plan to address this atrocious disrespect for an individual’s right to die, a merciful resolution may be achieved.

As previously noted, Oregon is one of the few states in the U.S. to legalize euthanasia. In 1998, Oregon passed ‘Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act.’ This act “stipulates that physicians are limited to providing a prescription for lethal drugs, rather than administering a lethal injection” (Siu). These drugs are painless and offer a quick, easy demise, rather than the usual interminable death that an individual would endure instead. It is simply unjust for a person to undergo such agonizing pain when a swift death is available. A portion of the Hippocratic Oath dictates that doctors are required to minimize pain for their patient, as well as to do everything they can to keep him alive. In some cases, the only way to minimize a patient’s pain is euthanasia. In this instance, the contradiction of the Hippocratic Oath must be implemented. Merciful death is the only option. It is simply the humane response. In fact, “77% of physicians and 49% of nurses personally agreed with the” implementation of euthanasia (Kouwenhoven 276). Countless individuals suffer from various debilitating diseases, and they are being forced to live in pain and misery while bound to a hospital bed. In the long run, it is much more caring and kind to end the person’s suffering.

The solution to this problem is not simple, as it is not emotionally easy to confront. The law is both inhumane and resolute, and unfortunately the underuse of euthanasia is due to its illegalization. In order to restore the humaneness of medical practices, I propose peaceful protests requesting the veto of these mandates. Moreover, the most impactful manner of change regarding this law is to ignite a universal reversal of opinion. It is important to educate the population about the pros and cons of euthanasia in order to allow citizens to make their own educated choice, without the interference of the government. While not all people are going to agree, if a large percentage of the country believes in the legalization of euthanasia, it encourages the government to consider repealing the law, and to instigate a pro-choice act instead. Many euthanasia activists refer to the government as a “discriminatory legal system” (Ogden 292). Therefore, considering that we live in a country that prides itself on being the land of the free, this revelation is alarming. If a patient is in constant pain or is permanently immobilized, and wishes to end his or her suffering, it is his right to do so. Individuals have the right to commit suicide; they have the right to cause their own death, if it will free them from a bed-ridden life of pain with no chance of recovery. (Ogden) It is only just that critically ill or injured patients, who must live in a hospital, have the right to say, “pull the plug.”

If this plan is implemented efficiently and compassionately, the government should repeal the laws set in place so that euthanasia will eventually be legalized. Chronically and severely ill patients will finally have a right to their own life, or death. Ultimately, the individual is responsible for his own life, as it is his life, after all. If he or she wishes to die a peaceful, painless death, then he or she will have the right to do so. Human beings will not be forced to live in agony and pain as they live a prolonged, joyless life and wait for their looming death. They will quite simply be able to end it. Their families will not have to watch them suffer; consequently, the grieving process can be expedited and the person is then set free. However, if this plan is not employed, individuals will suffer tremendously. (Siu) They will be forced to live a monotonous life, as they are unable to perform everyday activities, let alone get out of bed. In their eyes, they will already be dead; their heart just refuses to stop beating. They will be deprived of the opportunity to save themselves; they will be denied their choice. Healthy citizens living in the United States have a right to their “rights;” individuals living in a hospital should be treated no differently.

So get moving, become an activist, and make a change for the better. Protest; write letters to your government officials. Speak for the people who do not have the voice to speak for themselves. Educate others about the ultimate mercy of euthanasia. Become educated about the people who are suffering, and begin to understand the pain that the illegalization of euthanasia causes to so many. By spreading the word, the rights of those that are perpetually suffering will be heard. All that is left to do is to let our voices be heard. Eventually, public opinion will reach our congressman, and a change will be made. Soon enough, with hard work and perseverance, the lives of terminally ill persons will be in their own hands; they will be given a choice as well as their own voice.



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