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Today we struggle with the medical ethics on issues of life and death in a culture that denies the terminally and the infirm the right to maintain control over when to end their lives. They come to realize that at some level we are all dependent on others. From infancy to death, the cradle to the grave we rely on a number of people. One such person is our physician. In todays society a physician is expected to be dedicated to the restoration of health, and the mending of the broken body. What happens when the body is past mending? Is euthanasia the answer? What do I believe?
Through discussions with my uncle, David Hollett M.D., and first hand observation of the suffering of loved ones close to death, I have come to the conclusion that when the body is past mending, the current practice by physicians is to medicate and provide a pain management program through strong narcotics. This often causes patients in their last days, months, and even years, to fail to recognize loved ones, hallucinate, suffer from confusion, and even cause, in the most severe cases to be unconscious.
There are two types of euthanasia active and passive. Active euthanasia, which is the injecting of a lethal drug, which ends the life, is opposed by many people, and illegal in most countries. This method requires one person killing another. This is also known as physician assisted suicide. Fewer people oppose passive euthanasia, which is the withdrawal of life sustaining medical treatment. The supporters contend that through passive euthanasia, the person dies what would be considered a natural death. Possibly Gods will.
In 1990, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that patients have a right to passive euthanasia if they have clearly made their wishes known. People can do so through living wills and by granting powers of attorney. A living will is a legal document addressed to a patients family and health care providers stating what type of treatment the patient wishes or does not wish to receive if he becomes terminally ill, unconscious, or permanently comatose (Mc Graw-Hill). A power of attorney is the legal right to act as the attorney or agent of another person, including handling that persons financial matters (Mc Graw-Hill). But what about active euthanasia?
Currently only Oregon and the Netherlands have laws permitting physician-assisted suicide. There was little need to until Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a 70-year old retired pathologist from Royal Oak, Michigan. Dr.Kevorkian used bully pulpit to strongly advocate for allowing patients the right to decide when they no longer wished to live. . He challenged the legal system by openly admitted to giving assistance to patients with no possibility of any relief from their pain and suffering. He has admitted to extending help to 130 patients up to now (Naidu). Because the Michigan Supreme Court up held a lower court decision, it was ruled that the current law outlawing assisted suicide was constitutional. Dr. Kevorkian, also known as Dr. Death, was charged in 1999, tried and convicted of second-degree murder and illegal delivery of a controlled substance. This was decided after the authorities reviewed a tape originally sent to 60 Minutes. The tape was of Kevorkian directly administering drugs to a patient with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrigs disease. The judge sentenced him to serve concurrent prison terms of 10 to 25 years for the murder charge and 3 to 7 years for the drug charge (Globe). He is still in jail.
I believe that life is a gift from the divine Creator, temporarily entrusted to us as faithful guardians. Therefore, death, in and of itself, is not a road to heaven and should not be contemplated as such. I find my answers to these questions in the bible in various scriptures. James 5:16 advised that when we sin it is important for us to confess not only to God, but also to our fellow Christians. How does one do this if they have just ended their life? In Corinthians 3:16 it is stated Dont you know that yourselves are Gods temple and that Gods spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys gods temple, God will destroy ... more
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The Benefits of Science and Technology
Man, powered by his imagination and inquisitive character, has wondered he mechanisms of Nature since time infinite. This quest for the truth, the ways in which his surrounding works, has led to many a scientific discoveries and innovations.
Since the art of making fire and creating handcrafted tools, our civilization has come a long way. Science and Technology are making advances at an amazing rate. From telephones to the Internet, calculators to computers, cars to rockets and satellites, we are submerged in a sea of discoveries and inventions made possible by Science. Fields like Medicine and communications have made inroads into our cultures and thus our lifestyles.
So vast is the impact of Science in our lives, that people fear the unthinkable. It leads them to accusations such as Science tries to play God. However, according to Hume, God is part of the order that exists in the universe. If so, then Science is just helping us discover the Almighty, which most people perceive as the Ultimate Truth. To quote Charles Pierce, ""There is one thing even more vital to science than intelligent methods; and that is, the sincere desire to find out the truth, whatever it may be."
Repeatedly, it is also heard that we are so dependent on Science and Technology that we who create it are nothing but mere puppets. How can we be the slaves of this great resource? In fact, it would not be wrong to term Science as a friend of Humanity. This faithful friend has come through many a times. We have reaped innumerable benefits out of this friendship. In return, the sacrifices we had to make constituted just a small price in return. This price can be termed as a small token of appreciation for our friend, Science.
According to an existential argument, existence precedes essence. If so, then human existence is absurd and unjustified. The goal of a human being then is to justify his existence. We humans tried to take charge of our own lives by choosing to justify its cause. According to Mahlotra, a person who is aware of the fact that by the freedom of choice we have, we are responsible for our actions and performs those actions acknowledging freedom of others too, is the one who shall find meaning in his life. Satre points out for us that a man is nothing else than a series of undertakings, that he is a sum, the organization, the ensemble of the relationships which make up these undertakings. For some people Science and Technology are those actions, which fill their life with meaning.
Medicine for instance, is one of the thousands and thousands of fruits that we have harvested from this friendship. It has helped humankind in innumerable ways. People have started taking charge of their own health and life. Therefore, the life expectancy of a person living in the nineties is about twenty years more on an average from that which people enjoyed at the start of the last century. By the virtue of medicine, not only does a person live longer but also lives his life to the fullest in the best of health.
Deadly diseases such as small pox, plague and polio have caused a large number of epidemics resulting in major loss of life. The Plague Epidemic of London in the 1600s had wiped out nearly a fifth of its population. Researches and scientific effort led many scientists to find cures or preventive vaccinations for these life-threatening diseases. Today these diseases have been eradicated from the face of the earth. Thanks to our Science, millions of lives have been saved from the clutches of these evils. The benefits of discovery of these vaccines needed to be passed on to the public. To cater to the huge human population, Technology in this field evolved side by side the scientific progress. Better techniques resulted in faster and more efficient developments of these scientific discoveries.
The field of medicine today is well equipped to cope with the health problems faced by man. Science behind Medicine has led to awareness and preventive education among the public. Certain procedures propagated through these awareness programs such as regular exercising and taking ... more
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