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In recent years, Euthanasia has become a very heated debate. It is a Greek word that means "easy death" but the controversy surrounding it is just the opposite. Whether the issue is refusing prolonged life mechanically, assisting suicide, or active euthanasia, we eventually confront our socity's fears toward death itself. Above others, our culture breeds fear and dread of aging and dying. It is not easy for most of the western world to see death as an inevitable part of life. However, the issues that surround euthanasia are not only about death, they are about ones liberty, right to privacy and control over his or her own body. So, the question remains: Who has the right?
Under current U.S. law, there are clear distinctions between the two types of euthanasia. One group of actions taken to bring about the death of a dying patient -withdrawal of life support, referred to by some as passive euthanasia- has been specifically upheld by the courts as a legal right of a patient to request and a legal act for a doctor to perform. A second group of actions taken to bring about the death of a dying patient -physician-assisted death, referred to by some as active euthanasia- is specifically prohibited by laws in most states banning "mercy killing" and is condemned by the American Medical Association. Although it is not a crime to be present when a person takes his or her life, it is a crime to take direct action intentionally designed to help facilitate death--no matter how justifiable and compassionate the circumstances may be.1 With active euthanasia, it is the doctor who administers the lethal drug dose. Since it is tantamount to homicide, the few U.S. doctors who perform it have been brought to trial but none of them have ever been convicted and imprisoned.
Modern interest in euthanasia in the United States began in 1870, when a commentator, Samuel Williams, proposed to the Birmingham Speculative Club that euthanasia be permitted "in all cases of hopeless and painful illness" to bring about "a quick and painless death." The word "painless" is important: the idea of euthanasia began gaining ground in modern times not because of new technologies for agonizingly prolonging life but because of the discovery of new drugs, such as morphine and various anesthetics for the relief of pain, that could also painlessly induce death. Over the next three decades Williams's proposal was reprinted in popular magazines and books, discussed in the pages of prominent literary and political journals, and debated at the meetings of American medical societies and nonmedical professional associations. The debate culminated in 1906, after the Ohio legislature took up "An Act Concerning Administration of Drugs etc. to Mortally Injured and Diseased Persons", which was a bill to legalize euthanasia. After being debated for months, the Ohio legislature overwhelmingly rejected the bill, effectively ending that chapter of the euthanasia debate. 2
Euthanasia reemerged in the 1970's, when in 1976 California was the first state to legalize a patient's right to refuse life-prolonged treatment. The Legislature passed the Natural Death Act, which allows for living wills, an advance directive to a doctor requesting the withholding or withdrawing of life sustaining treatment.3 Today, all states have some form of living will legislation. In addition, the individual who wishes to have such a will, may also designate a family member or friend as a proxy to make the decisions for him or her, should he or she be unable to make the decisions himself or herself. Some states also require the individual to sign a power of attorney to do so.4
In 1976, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided the parents of Karen Ann Quinlan won the right to remove her from a ventilator because she was in a persistent vegetative state. The justices unanimously ruled that this act was necessary to respect Quinlan's right to privacy.5 Some medical ethicists warned then that the ruling was the beginning of a trend--the slippery slope--which could lead to decisions to end a person's life being made by third parties not only on the basis of medical condition but also on such considerations as age, economic status, or even ethnicity.6
In 1990, the Supreme Court case, Cruzan v. Missouri, ... more
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Euthenasia In Australia
Euthenasia In Australia
Sometimes, life can deteriorate to the point where a person loses their dignity and self-respect, and are unable to communicate; life like this is longer worth living, as the most enjoyable of things are no-longer enjoyable. Euthanasia could, in my opinion, be practiced when a person reaches this point, and then only passively. If the person in question is able to communicate rationally, then their opinion must be asked first.
Assisted death, other than passively should most definitely remain illegal, and in the Northern Territory, it should be made illegal. The nation of Australia must be uniformed, or else people simply go to another state, where the law different.
People should live their lives for as long as it is worth living, as defined above. Some people wish to use euthanasia to die when they are diagnosed with a terminal illness, and given a certain amount of time to live. These people still have those six months, or whatever. If they can, they should enjoy that time, doing all the things they like to do. If they wanted, they could go out and spend all their savings, or retirement money on things that I always wanted to get one, or make themselves feel good by donating to charities. They should not look at the amount of time they dont have, but instead, at the time they have left. And besides, we all know we are going to die, these people are no different, except they know exactly how much time is left. It has been said that trials and pain make us stronger. Even if someone is in pain, that pain could make them mentally stronger than if they give up and take the easy way out. Life is full of pain, and joy, everyone goes through both things in their lives, because that is what life is.
Some say that doctor-aided death is widespread already, only covertly, and that the Netherlands is a model of how to establish the right to die by bringing the practice out in the open, where the medical and legal system can oversee it. This issue is similar to how abortion was seen before it was legalized. The main reason for legalization of abortion was because it was being done anyway. People had access to abortion, it was just being done terribly. We're in exactly the same situation today: People have access to assisted suicide; it's just being done so badly. Just because something is done, that doesnt mean that it should be legal. Many things that are illegal are done anyway. Look at drugs, underage drinking, drunk driving, and speeding; these things are all illegal and are frequently practiced. Should these or other things be legalized just because they are done anyway? This excuse is not a valid reason for legalizing anything.
Even if euthanasia were to be legalized, where would it end? Somehow I doubt that the terminally ill would be the only users. The world looks to the Netherlands as the only working model for assisted death. It is a nation known for its open approach to abortion, prostitution and drug use. In fact, cafs in the Netherlands are licensed to sell hash, and marijuana - 15 grams for $25. Hookers stand on the streets and know that they are safe from the police, and just about anything goes when it comes to advertising. This countries right to die policy is what many activists look towards as an example of a working system, but they fail to take into account the other decisions (that are questionable at the very least) which have been devised by the same system - a failing one.
Sometimes change is needed to the laws in society. Sometimes things need to be changed for the benefit of society. Other things, however, must never be changed because it is simply wrong. It will always be wrong to steal, it will always be wrong to cheat, and it will always be wrong to kill.
Henry, Sarah. The Battle Over Assisted Suicide: A Time to Die
O'Keefe, Mark. Doctor Assisted Suicide: Dutch Death
Shavelson, Lonny. A Chosen Death; The Dying Confront Assisted Suicide
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