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Should Euthanasia Be Legalized?

The question, should euthanasia be legalized can be put into a category with should we go to war with Iraq? Or should we continue to use capital punishment? Only an individual can answer these very emotional questions for himself or herself based on whatever factors he or she chooses to use. I feel life is very sacred and should not be taken lightly, but I also understand life is different for every person. It can be painful beyond belief; it can be extremely depressing; therefore, I believe people should have the choice to end life, under certain guidelines.

If euthanasia were to be legalized there must be laws to regulate the use of it. A main part in the process of getting euthanized would be the determination of why the person wants to be euthanized. This determination would be made by a group of physicians and psychologists, to determine if the person wanting the euthanasia procedure is terminally ill or in great pain. They would also have to determine if the person is of sound mind to make this decision.

In addition, I don’t think regular doctors should be the ones using euthanasia on people. There should be specially trained individuals working at some sort of euthanasia clinic. They would be highly trained doctors who would take a new oath to help end the suffering of people in need. These doctors and psychologists would be required by law to make sure a person knew about any alternatives to relieve the pain of their sickness and the chances of recovery. These doctors and psychologists would also be required by law to make the person understand the consequences of their actions. I don’t say this because I am uncertain on my position of euthanasia. I just feel people need to be aware of what euthanasia is and what obvious effects it will have on them and their families. Another benefit of euthanasia clinics would be the relief of pressure on doctors who don’t want to perform euthanasia. Some doctors wouldn’t want to actively or passively kill anyone, and that’s understandable. Also some people I’m assuming would complain about being treated by someone who takes life instead of preserving it. More laws would be made on the different distinctions of euthanasia, voluntary, involuntary, nonvoluntary and passive or active euthanasia; assisted suicide would also need laws to regulate it.

Through my research I found three types of consent for euthanasia. Voluntary is when a person wants to be euthanized; involuntary is when a person doesn’t want to be euthanized, and nonvoluntary is when the person is unable to consent to euthanasia, so others such as family consent for him or her. When a person volunteers to be euthanized and fits in the correct protocol, i.e. has a terminal illness or is incurably depressed in some cases which I talk about later, then that person should be granted the right to end his or her life because it belongs to that person.

With regards to involuntary euthanasia, a person should never be euthanized against their will no matter what the circumstances. An example of involuntary euthanasia can be found in the case of Christine Malevre (Skynews), a French nurse, who helped six terminally ill patients die. The problem is that it isn’t clear whether the people wanted to be euthanized or not. The victim’s families even said the victims had never spoken about wanting to be euthanized before.

However I do agree with nonvoluntary euthanasia in some cases like in the article “The complex Issue of Euthanasia” by Washburn (Washburn 258). He gives an example of “Baby Boy Houle”, a boy who was very deformed and not expected to live. In this case, the parents of the baby involuntarily decided to end its life. This in my eyes was the right thing to do, and they should have the choice to do it. But the doctors in this case decided to take the case to court and get an order to try and save the baby. They won the court decision and worked hard to save the baby’s life, but in the end no miracle was performed and as predicted the baby died, after what must have been 15 very painful days of life. I agree with the parents’ decision to end the baby’s life because there was proof this baby would not live long and for the time it did live in would be in great pain.

While I do agree with nonvoluntary euthanasia in cases like “Baby Boy Houle”, I don’t agree with nonvoluntary euthanasia in cases where people don’t specify that they want to be killed i.e. no living will. And aren’t in a position to make the determination. The reason I agree with the parents’ decision in “Baby Boy Houles” case and not a family member giving permission to say a 35 year old man who is brain dead from a car accident, is mainly the fact that it was proven after this child was born he wouldn’t live long even if they did fix some of his problems. The way it was explained seemed he was already dead; it was just a matter of time. Whereas the 35 year old man had time to have his wishes expressed, and maybe he wanted to hope he would recover; Baby boy never had the ability to make that choice, and therefore it was correct for his parents to do so for him.

I don’t think there is much difference between active and passive euthanasia. If a doctor feels comfortable in directly ending someone’s life, then that is fine; if a doctor doesn’t, I don’t think it should be a requirement. And most likely, if euthanasia was legalized, there would likely be euthanasia clinics created to deal specifically with euthnizing patients. Passive euthanasia seems much like active. What is the real difference between giving a lethal injection or withholding a life sustaining one? Passive seems to be the way most doctors choose to help their patients end their lives.

I think assisted suicide should follow the same laws as euthanasia. There is a problem that people who want assisted suicides aren’t always terminally ill. They could just be in great amounts of pain or even very depressed and unhappy about life. I remember watching a video about Dr. Jack Kevorkian where he helped a woman die who wasn’t terminally ill or in great physical pain. She suffered from severe depression for which there was no medical treatment available (The Kevorkian file). For along time I wondered if it was right for Kevorkian to help her commit suicide. The article by Phil Washburn called Hedonism (Washburn 189) Washburn defines Hedonism in these words, “Hedonism rests on two beliefs. First, pleasure is good. And second, pleasure is the only good.” And I find that statement to be true in my life. Therefore I believe in the case of Kevorkian helping a mentally disturbed woman, who finds no happiness in life, and cannot be helped to get over this depression. It is just as valid to help her commit suicide as to help someone who is in physical pain. I feel the laws for assisted suicide should be very similar to the laws for euthanasia with the exception that a person doesn’t need to be terminally ill or in great physical pain. If a person is showing signs they are suffering in a way that makes them want to end their life; they should have the option to get help in their death. The choice is theirs.

The term agnostic does a good job explaining how I feel about a higher power (I think there must be a higher power something more powerful than humans). In addition to that belief I’ve also learned from Philosophical Dilemmas by Phil Washburn that I agree with the moral theory of Utilitarianism (Washburn 227). The way it is described in the book seems to agree with how I feel about what’s right and wrong. And that is to say “If you want to do the right thing in any situation, you should ask what would lead to the greatest happiness for all concerned, and do that.” These factors have shaped my idea on euthanasia so that, I don’t believe in any specific god or that my higher power would care if someone ended their life when they saw fit. And I believe morally people should do what brings the most happiness to those concerned, and the only people of any real concern when dealing with euthanasia is the person considering dieing.

As I stated before, euthanasia is a very sensitive subject that when sparked can ignite great discussion. These are just my ideas based on what I know and feel to be right. They are fueled by the concept that if I was in a situation where I was in great pain or terminally ill, I would want the option of euthanasia; I find it a better way to die than many others. I feel similar about assisted suicide even though I have never contemplated a suicidal act; a person should be able to end their life when they want. And if they want help in the act they should not be alone. It all comes down to having the freedom to choose where you want your life to go.

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