Euthanasia Essay

1823 words - 7 pages

The issue that I chose to discuss in this paper is euthanasia. I am going to concentrate on the legal aspect of this issue in contemporary America as well as discuss two different types of the euthanasia.

The word euthanasia is derived from the Greek words eu, meaning "good", and thanatos, meaning "death." In today's contexts, the word came to describe an intentional termination of patient's life to end his or her suffering. This topic has sparked a great controversy. The basic question posed by euthanasia is should a person who is terminally ill, who feels that his or her life is not worth living because of the unbearable pain, loss of dignity and capability to maintain his or her normal way of life, be given assistance in dying by his or her doctors. The issue today is should this "mercy killings" be legalized or should euthanasia be banned.

There are two different types of euthanasia: active and passive. Passive euthanasia involves withholding medical treatment from a patient whose chances for surviving are nonexistent. This method mostly applies to a patient who is living of a machine. In order to stop the person's suffering the family decides to remove life support equipment. Another example that would be considered to be passive euthanasia is stopping medications. In other words passive euthanasia allows nature to take its course. This is the most popular form of euthanasia because it is legal.

Active euthanasia involves a more direct and controversial actions by the doctors. It involves actions such as administering lethal injection, in response to a request from the patient to end his life. The most well known doctor who practiced active euthanasia was Dr. Kevorkian who assisted in about 130 euthanasia deaths. He is currently serving a ten to twenty-five year prison sentence.

Despite a 75% support, active euthanasia is still illegal in all, but one state, in this country. Oregon is the only state that permits doctor assistant suicide for terminally ill patients. The law was passed by a slip margin of 51% to 49% of the votes. This law came to be called "Death with Dignity Act." It placed many restrictions on the doctors in order to prevent any attempt to abuse the law. For example, in order to be eligible to receive assistant suicide from the doctor the new law required patient to be terminally ill and have a life expectancy of at most 6-months. The patient must be mentally competent and fully informed about his or her diagnosis, prognosis, risks and alternatives. If the doctor suspects that a patient has a mental illness that could interfere with his or her decision, he must refer that patient for counseling. The law also requires getting a second opinion from another doctor to determine if a person is terminally ill. The patient is free to change his or her mind at any time and there is a fifteen-day grace period between the time of the request and the day of euthanasia. If the patient still hasn't changed his mind, the...

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