Assisted Suicide: The End of Suffering


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Huge purple, grape-like masses are what a man named Richard Chinn saw under a patient's chin when he went to work for a hospital.  This patient was diagnosed with cancer, and those huge masses were the cancerous tumor.  When this man would eat, the cancerous growth would start collecting food, of whatever he didn't swallow quickly.  When it would start growing to about grapefruit size, or larger, the doctors would amputate it.  However, this did not do much justice, because the growth would just come back.  Amputation after amputation made the patient very uneasy and want to end his life.  He and his family numerously asked doctors to put him out of his misery, and even went to court, but he was still told "no."  There was no more point to this man's life, he was suffering miserably and the cancer would never go away.  Eventually he came down with ammonia, and instead of trying to revive him, they finally let him have his peace (Chinn).  If Euthanasia was legal, then this suffering man could have ended his pain early, but due to complications in the legal system, his life was drug out too long.

 

        Euthanasia is defined as a painless, happy and easy death, which is derived from the Greek words Eu Thanatos.  Looking back to ancient Greece and Rome, Euthanasia was practiced regularly.  If they saw a person suffering miserably and they could do nothing for them, they would end their life early by feeding them poison.  However, throughout time religion was increased, and the life of a human being was viewed as sacred.  Because of this, euthanasia was slowly portrayed as wrong ("The Controversy").

 

        There are two main types of euthanasia- passive and active.  Although both are illegal in all states but Oregon, passive euthanasia is easier for people to accept.  Passive involves taking a person off of their life support, and letting them die naturally, while active is ending a suffering persons life prematurely, by helping them die, with an overdose of medication (A Euthanasia Glossary).  Although Euthanasia is not widely accepted, nor legal, there are people who try to break the rules.

 

        Jack Kevorkian, a retired pathologist, was convicted of first-degree murder, in March of 1999, and will spend 10-25 years in prison.  He injected a man named Thomas Youk with a deadly level of medicine and killed him.

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  Kevorkian also helped other ill-fated people die but made them administer the drugs themselves (Murphy).  Although his actions were illegal, it doesn't mean that his idea of ending suffering was wrong.

 

Suicide is "the act of killing oneself intentionally," (dictionary) so in a way euthanasia falls under that meaning.  However, the word suicide should be reserved for the sick minded, depressed, or otherwise incompetent person who would rather end their life than go to a counselor and solve their problems.  A terminally ill person dying from their incurable disease, suffering unimaginable pain and asking to die should not be categorized as suicidal.  However, there is a gray area to pro-life activists, which is that a person asking to end their life, most likely is not mentally stable.  It is possible that they aren't mentally stable, with all of their drugs, pain and pure agony of waiting to die.  Although, there are doctors that can say if a person is mentally competent or not, this is their job, not a pro-life activist's (Murphy).  Even then, where do the doctors draw the line between sane and insane?  Many people feel that if a person who wishes to end their life because of physical suffering, should be allowed to do so, and not be called mentally unstable.

 

        A lot of the argument against Euthanasia involves God. As one woman says, "If God's absolute ethical standards are ignored, our sense of what is right or wrong quickly becomes distorted (Schofield)."  How, as such a diverse country and world, can religion play even the slightest part in deciding if Euthanasia can become legal?  Our country is based so much on letting people have their say, their thoughts, and their individual rights.  It is a country that said there should be separation of church and state, so that people could believe in their religion and not get prosecuted for it, and people without one as well.  As in one religion, people aren't allowed to go to hospitals or doctors; should this be so for everyone, because that's the way it is for them?  No.  If this is a free country, then there should be the right to die, as much as there is the right to live.

 

        In one argument, a man suggests that Euthanasia could get out of control, and our society would change drastically, due to the new option of assisted suicide.  He calls it the "law of the jungle", where people will start going back to survival of the fittest, and we will become an "animalistic society" (Schepens).  There would be limitations to Euthanasia, so as to prevent those types of things from happening.

 

As mentioned before, there is one state that has legalized euthanasia, Oregon.  There are guidelines; the biggest being is that the patient must ask to be euthanized and they have to take the lethal dosage themselves.  They have not had problems with their state being over run by animalistic individuals who want to kill off every weak being.  Since it was legalized in late November of 1997, there have only been 43 people that have taken advantage of the new law (Murphy).  That is not many people, and it does not sound like Euthanasia is out of control.

 

        There is yet another way to make legalizing euthanasia a more stable decision.  If doctors were to push the use of a living will, then it would clear out a lot of the pro-life arguments such as mental competence, religion and one's value of life.  If someone wrote in a living will, while they were declared mentally stable, that they would not want their life to be prolonged by machines, then the law would have to respect that (Areen).  A step further would be for someone to write that, in the case they become terminally ill, and there was nothing that could be done, that they would want their life to end early.

 

        Humans are the most incredible creation ever made, because our minds set us apart from any other living thing on this earth.  Humans see things in elaborate colors; humans have emotions that include anxiety, fear, love, compassion, sadness, and happiness; but above all humans have consciousness of their own mortality.  Of all these things listed, the human race is starting to lose one of them-compassion.  People can say that Euthanasia is cruel, heartless, inhumane, and unethical, but that only shows why they are wrong.  How is letting or even making a person suffer not cruel, heartless, inhumane, or unethical?  It isn't.


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