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Essay about Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide: The Debate Continues

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Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide: The Debate Continues

 
     "This could never be a crime in any society which deems itself enlightened." So said Jack Kevorkian on CBS's "60 Minutes" on November 22, on a segment showing the first nationally televised death by euthanasia in the U.S.

 

Kevorkian offered the footage to CBS to dramatize his campaign for euthanasia for terminally and chronically ill patients. The film shows him giving a lethal injection in September to 52-year-old Thomas Youk, who had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease). Kevorkian is shown ending Mr. Youk's life by injecting Seconal to put him to sleep, followed by a powerful muscle relaxant to stop his breathing and potassium chloride to stop his heart.

 

Kevorkian says on the segment that he provided the footage to force the hand of Michigan prosecutors. "Either they go or I go," he says. "If I'm acquitted, they go, because they know they'll never convict me. If I'm convicted, I will starve to death in prison, so I will go."

 

In his book, Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide, Michael Manning, M.D. says that both euthanasia and assisted suicide (wherein the patient performs the lethal act) involve the premature death of the patient. He defines euthanasia as an action or omission which causes death in order to end suffering(1). Active euthanasia is the deliberate intervention by someone else to end the person's life(2); passive euthanasia means the withdrawal of medical treatment(2), which is allowable if it is done in order to let the patient die on his own. Euthanasia is either voluntary or involuntary, depending on the person's competency to decide. The crux of the euthanasia/assisted suicide debate is r...


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...ternal Medicine 2240 (Oct. 28, 1996)

 

Lee v. Oregon, 891 F.Supp. 1429 (D. Or. 1995), vacated on other grounds, 107 F.3d 1382 (9th Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 118 S. Ct. 328 (1997).

 

Manning, Michael,M.D. Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide. New York: Paulist Press, 1998.

 

"Poll Shows More Would Support Law Using Gentler Language," TimeLines (Jan.-Feb. 1994):9

 

Rachels, James. "Passive and Active Euthanasia Are Equally Acceptable." Euthanasia. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1989.

 

Washington v. Glucksberg, 117 S. Ct. 2258, 2262 n. 7 (1997.

-- -- --. 117 S. Ct. at 2272, quoting United States v. Rutherford, 442 U.S. 544, 558. 1979.

 

Washington Post, April 4, 1996.

 

Wennberg, Robert. Terminal Choices: Euthanasia, Suicide, and the Right to Die. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Co.,1990.



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