Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia in the Modern World

Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia in the Modern World

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Euthanasia and the Modern World


      A long time ago, culture was universal and permanent.  There was one set

of beliefs, ideals, and norms, and these were the standard for all human beings

in all places and all times.  We, however, live in the modern world.  Our ethics

are not an inheritance of the past, completed and ready for universal

application.  We are in the situation of having to form our own beliefs and

meanings of life.  This struggle is now obvious in the contemporary discussions

of euthanasia.


      Of the controversial discussions involving euthanasia, the question of

legalization is an often argued one.  Whether euthanasia ought to be illegal is

different from the question of whether it is immoral.   Some people believe that

even if euthanasia is immoral, it still should not be prohibited by law, since

if a patient wants to die, that is strictly a personal affair, regardless of how

foolish or immoral the desire might be. [Rachels, 56]  My position is almost

identical.  I believe there are some instances in which euthanasia is immoral,

but I believe it should unquestionably be legal.  In the following paragraphs, I

will display the position of the opposition to the legality of euthanasia as

well as the position of the supporters.  I shall attempt to prove that, yes,

euthanasia should be legal. There is a strong opposition against the

legalization of euthanasia.  The main argument against the legality of

euthanasia is sometimes known as the slippery slope argument.  People argue that

if euthanasia was legally permitted, it would lead to a general decline in the

respect for human life.  It is professed that we would kill people in the

beginning simply to put them out of extreme agony.  This is the ideal.  But the

opposition states that the killing of people wouldn't stop here.  The killing

could perhaps escalate to mass murder of innocent victims.  When would the

killing stop?  This is what scares the opponent. The opponents argue that once

something is accepted, we have no right to deny other similar practices.  This

is when doctors and patients would start taking advantage of the new law.

Therefore, the first step should not be taken.


      I disagree with this notion and believe that there would hardly be any

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abuse of the new law.  I have formed three reasons why euthanasia ought to be

legal.  First, history tells us that mercy killers have generally been let off

easy in court.  In the case of Hans Florian, a man who shot his elderly wife to

death because she had lost her mind to Alzheimer's disease, the grand jury

refused to indict him.  His argument was that he shot her because he feared that

he might die first and then she would be left alone [Rachels, 57].  As in this

case and numerous others, the killers are usually let off easy because of

sympathetic jury members or judges.  For this reason, euthanasia should be legal,

for it goes along with current attitudes in the courtroom.  Secondly, the

constitution states that were are all allotted our certain unalienable rights to

"life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  Since we have this right to life,

it is our right to decide what we want to do with our lives, and no one else's

right to tell us what to do.   The third proponent to my reasoning is something

called Mill's Principle.  This principle states that people should be free to

live their lives as they themselves think best, as long as they are not doing

harm to others [Merkov, 21].   Also, this principle only applies to people who

are competent and can make rational decisions.   For if one is not in their

right frame of mind, they could make an ill-fated decision on their life.


        Euthanasia should be legalized because it is inhumane to allow people to

continue suffering when they request release by rapid and painless termination

of life.  Patients frequently suffer agony from pain that is uncontrollable.

Administration of death is the only effective release from suffering in these



        If a person is in excruciating pain day and night, or if they are living

vegetables  in a permanent and unrelenting comatose with no hope for life,

shouldn't they be allowed to end their lives legally.  In ending the patient's

life, you put an end not only to their agony, but the agony of their families

and friends who must watch them suffer.  None of this would be possible without

the legalization of euthanasia.  Moreover, it would put less pressure on family

members knowing that the act was committed legally.


        In conclusion, the advantages of legalizing euthanasia outweigh the

advantages of illegalization.


        It is highly unlikely that the legalization would lead to an over abuse

of the rule.  Of course there will always be some abusers, but not enough to

cause panic.  Once again, it is one's individual right to decide what he or she

wishes to do with their lives.  I believe it is no one else's business to have

the final say in what you do with your life.  If a person is on their death bed

and wishes to end there existence before matters complicate, they should legally

have that right.

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