"To please no one will I prescribe a deadly drug, nor give advice which may cause death." -Oath of Hippocrates
This phrase alone supports the very battle cry of those who oppose euthanasia. Their efforts have gone as far as to help make laws forbidding doctor-assisted suicide, including strict procedures for medical staff to determine the competency of an ill patient. But then there are those who wish to "make it easier on themselves" and even the family and friends, and choose as alternative route the their suffering. Extremely difficult problems arise surrounding the issue of euthanasia: What is the difference between killing someone and letting someone die? Who determines the competency of a terminally ill patient? If a patient is incompetent, who then makes the decisions for him? Most importantly, do we even have the right to die? The question of whether this is a moral battle or a legal battle has yet to be determined. Ever though the issue of suicide may consist of both factors, if one commits suicide successfully, they "live" neither with the moral guilt nor the face the legal consequences. So then if a second party is involved, it changes the whole story.
What is the difference between killing someone and letting someone die? To get a little more technical, these phrases are also known as active and passive euthanasia. If one were to evaluate both of these, he would probably say that letting someone die were a better choice than killing someone. After all, most medical practices in the U.S. allow for the "legally." One may be preferred over the other but is that one better than the other? In an example, let's say that a doctor decides to withhold treatment of a patient who is ...
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...e judicial process. Those of us who have the right to live, and are not among the living dead, rarely stick up for the one that are. Because of this, we have left our lives in the hands of the medical practice and the law, whom both are notorious for their "God-complex". Do we have the right to live? Yes. Do we have the right to die? All we have left to rely on are the secret crimes of compassion.
Barnet, S. & Bedau, H. Current Issues and Enduring Questions. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin's Press, 1996. "Euthanasia: Should Doctors Intervene at the End of Life?" (Barbara Huttman, pgs 422-424, James Rachels, pgs 427-430).
Nankivell, R. "Right to Refuse Treatment". The U.S. Supreme Court Reporter. Washington, D.C.: 1989-1990.
Sloan, I. The Right to Die: Legal and Ethical Problems. London: Oceana Publications, Inc. 1988.
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