It's Time to Regulate and Reform Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

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It's Time to Regulate and Reform Euthanasia

One of the landmark cases that involve euthanasia is that of Karen

Ann Quinlan. Quinlan, a twenty-one year old New Jersey resident, overdosed

on pills and alcohol in 1975. She was rushed to the hospital where her

physical condition gradually deteriorated to a vegetative state. The

doctors determined she had no chance of recovery. Before the coma Karen

said that if anything ever happened that would leave her physically and

mentally incompetent, without any chance of recovery, she would not want to

be kept alive by "extraordinary medical procedures," notes Derek Humphry.

Karen's parents sought religious counsel from their priest. They were told

that the Catholic religion allows the removal of extraordinary care if the

patient was in a terminal condition. Karen's parents requested she be

removed from the respirator. The hospital denied their request. The

Quinlans then directed their request to the court. The superior court

denied their request. They took their request to the New Jersey Supreme

court where the decision was reversed. Karen was removed from the

respirator. To everyone's surprise, Karen began breathing on her own and

lived another ten years (Humphry 107).

The Quinlan case brought to the forefront patients' desire to die a

proud, quiet death. It also brought to the forefront the complications

caused by the advancement of medical technology ("Euthanasia"27).

Euthanasia has been practiced in Eastern and Western culture since the

beginning of civilization. The capability of medical technology to extend

life (as demonstrated by the Quinlan case) has made the issue of euthanasia

more complicated. Individuals should be allowed to "die with dignity" in

the event of terminal illness if he or she wants it. Terminating a

patient's life is much more merciful than allowing him or her to die a slow

painful death from illness. Those who oppose legalizing euthanasia and

assisted suicide say that this could lead to involuntary killing of the

aged and infirm. I agree that there may be danger of abuse and that the

vulnerable need to be protected; therefore, I support passing legislation

that monitors and regulates physician assisted suicide. The demand for

legislation in support of legalized euthanasia for the terminally ill has

been an issue since the beginning of the century.

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