Monday, October 12, 2009

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

Throughout the years, assisted suicide of terminally ill patients has been a very controversial issue. Assisted suicide and euthanasia date as far the 16th century, when Sir Thomas More wrote in his book Utopia, "Should life become unbearable for these incurables the magistrates and priests do not hesitate to prescribe euthanasia." Some view it as "mercy killings" because it ends the patient's pain and suffering. I, along with many others, disagree and believe that it is murder. The patient is not in the proper emotional state to decide between life and death and they may also feel less important to those who care for them.

The word euthanasia originates from the Greek words eu meaning "good" and thanatos meaning "death". Euthanasia is one of the many ways that physicians help to assist a patient's suicide. There are two types of euthanasia: voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary euthanasia is when both the patient and the physician agree to help the patient end his or her life. Passive Euthanasia, considered part of voluntary euthanasia, involves cases were the patient is in a vegetative state and are removed from life support or the doctors are instructed not to resuscitate. It would also include "living wills" in which the patient leaves instructions not to use heroic efforts or extraordinary means to save them.

Involuntary euthanasia is when someone other than the patient and the physician takes the life of the patient without the patient's consent. Popular forms of euthanasia are over-dose, or lethal injections of the type of drugs that are commonly used for those who are on death row.

The emotional state of people who have a terminal illness is very different from the emotional state than that of those who are healthy. Some think that they are just a burden to their friends and families and that may cause them to choose death rather than fighting. When they make that decision, they are not thinking clearly. They think that they will help their family by choosing to die, but they do not realize that they are taking something from their family, someone they really care for.

Those who support assisted suicide do not realize that when you give someone the choice to end their life, some people feel that the doctors do not care about them. That may make them think that there is no reason to live because nobody cares if they were to live or die. That causes them to feel pressured into dying and just offering that is like murdering them because they no longer have a sense of self-worth.

Those who are for euthanasia say that it will only be a choice for those who are terminally ill. That all depends on what your definition of terminal means. If you were to look up the definition of 'terminal' in the dictionary, it is says that it is "causing, ending in or approaching death; fatal". According to the famous assisted suicide doctor Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a terminal illness is "any disease that curtails life even for a day." Dr. Kevorkian, a.k.a. Dr. Death, assisted in over 130 suicides in a span of ten years. Kevorkian was tried many times for assisted suicide, eventually convicted of second-degree murder in 1999 and sentenced to 10-25 years in prison.

If assisted suicide was legalized, according to Dr. Kevorkian's definition, someone could choose to end their life instead of taking advantage of all of the treatments for whatever it is that they have. Just in the past ten years doctors and scientists have discovered many treatments, if not cures, that can allow someone to continue their life as they would if they were not sick.

Also, just because someone is diagnosed with a terminal illness does not mean that they will die right away nor does it mean that what life the have left will be unproductive. Many experts even admit that there is no way of pinpointing for sure how long a person has to live after they are diagnosed. Some people can live 20 years with a terminal disease, like when elderly are diagnosed with the incurable disease of Alzheimer's.

Some argue that assisted suicide is how people can control the time, the place, and the way they die. It can be an important aspect to someone so they can say good-bye to those they love and they know that they will no longer be in pain from day to day. If we were meant to know when and where we would die, we would have no reason to live in the first place.

The reality is that we do not know when we are going to die. We are humans that should live our lives and treasure the time we have with those we love. Our death should not be chosen because it is cheaper. We should never choose to die because we are made to believe that we are a burden to our family. We are more of a blessing because they will be able to spend more time with us even when we are sick. We should end our lives feeling like we have meant something to those we have known. We should end our lives, knowing that we have fought to stay alive and sought the cure to our illness.

1 comment:

Snuffleupagus said...

I really agree with the last part of the article. It wrapped up the entire post really well. Everybody should feel like they have a part in this world and that they matter. Nobody should be pressured into dying or feel like a burden to those who are taking care of them.