We, as humans, are mortal beings. Our life span is finite. Even though we are mortal, we try to hang onto our lives as long as we can; fear of death and wanting to live forever are, after all, part of human nature. Sometimes, however, the field of medicine capitalizes on this aspect of humanity. While it is certainly true that one goal of medicine has always been to prolong life, another goal has been the alleviation of pain and suffering. One point at which these two views collide is over the hotly debated issue of euthanasia.
Euthanasia, or "mercy killing," as it has been called, is certainly not an issue with just two sides. There are many shades of gray involved, so to speak. Euthanasia, after all, ranges from simply allowing an individual to die naturally without life support or "pulling the plug" (passive euthanasia), all the way to Jack Kevorkian's suicide machine (active euthanasia). To complicate things further, there is also voluntary euthanasia, "Cases in which patient requests to be killed, and dies as a result of action taken by another person," involuntary euthanasia; "cases in which no action is requested because the patient is unconscious, senile, or otherwise incapable of making a request, but the person is allowed to die or is killed," and nonvoluntary euthanasia; "cases in which a conscious, terminally ill patient states that they do not want to die, but is allowed to die or is killed anyway" (http://valdosta.peachnet.edu). While an individual may advocate one form of euthanasia, it is not uncommon for the same person to be completely against another form. There are cases in which euthanasia is wrong, especially cases involving conscious pe...
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...d dreaded events that human beings ever have to go through. This is probably the main reason that euthanasia is so controversial. It is human nature for us to try and prolong our lives as long as possible, and, through medicine, we have prolonged them quite a bit. It is important to remember, nevertheless, that sometimes while attempting to fight our common enemy death, we lose sight of the best interests of the individuals whose lives we are affecting. Are these people not the most qualified people to make this decision? It is, after all, their lives that hang in the balance.
"Murder" American Heritage Dictionary on CD-ROM, 1991.
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"Moral Dilemmas." Society 29 July-August 1992: 22.
Pallone, Nathaniel. Society 29 July-August 1992: 35.
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