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In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley shows an example of the widely debated topic of doctor-assisted deaths, or euthanasia. Formerly called “mercy killing,” euthanasia means making someone die rather than allowing them to die naturally. In Huxley’s novel the futuristic “World-State” uses euthanasia for everyone who is no longer “useful to society.” “Death with dignity,” has become a catch phrase used by euthanasia activists, but there’s nothing dignified about killing someone. Being gassed to death with carbon monoxide, suffocated with a plastic bag, and injected with lethal poison are common inhuman ways “doctors” have helped their patients to die. Although people who are terminally ill should not be forced to stay alive nor to suffer, the alternative, euthanasia, is against the law, for it pressures people emotionally and psychologically into death, and it is not a reliever of pain.
Suicide has been legalized in the United States, and some think it’s only fair to do the same with euthanasia. Since suicide has been made legal, there are more suicides everyday than homicides, but suicide and euthanasia are quite different and should not be confused with each other. Suicide is a tragic event dealing with one person acting by him or her self, but euthanasia is not about a private act. It is one person doing something that directly kills another. If euthanasia was legalized it would only lead to abuse and erosion of health care for the most vulnerable people.
Some activists say euthanasia would only be at a patient’s request and no one would be forced into dying. Although physical force is highly unlikely, emotional and psychological pressure could overpower someone feeling depressed or dependent on people. Much like in Brave New World when John, “the savage” kills himself because could not accept the life-style that the “super-society” wanted to impose on him. If the choice of euthanasia became available as well as a decision to receive good health care, many people would feel guilty for not choosing death. Too often many people feel like a burden to others especially because of financial situations. Proper health care is an expensive cost of living and slowly more states are cutting back on health care coverage for poor state residents. This again may lead some to believing they are a burden to others and again may choose death out of guilt. Even the smallest gesture could create a gentle nudge into the grave.
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