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Euthanasia

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Essay title: Euthanasia

Imagine yourself lying on a hospital bed totally unaware of the happenings around you. Doctors and family members come and go, mostly out of habit now, because they know there’s nothing more they can do. Many of their visits are a blur to you, with their voices and movements becoming unrecognizable. The pain you experience is nothing short of excruciating, but the hospital has exhausted all of their resources in their attempt to help you. After months of medication and efforts to assist your recovery, you’re left with nothing to show for it other than the dreadful bills. Your family is just patiently waiting for your final days.

Luckily, you are not in a situation like this, and hopefully you never will be. However one must wonder what they would want to be done if they ever were. Would you want the hospital to keep searching for answers and cures? Or would you rather be brought to the comfort of your home to die peacefully? Or would you, like many others seem to, prefer ending your personal suffering and inconvenience to family through euthanasia?

In the article titled “Euthanasia Definitions”, euthanasia.com defines euthanasia as “the intentional killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit.” An action similar to euthanasia, defined in the same article is known as physician assisted suicide. While sometimes the two terms are used interchangeably, physician assisted suicide is when a doctor provides a patient with education and or instruments useful to ending their own life without truly partaking in the death. “Euthanasia Definitions” also passionately stresses the fact that there is no such thing as passive euthanasia, which is thought of as death resulting from ending treatment that was ineffective, or providing too much medication without the intention of ending life. Euthanasia is fully an intentional act resulting in death.

With a growing public awareness and its abundant levels of controversy, the currently illegal act of euthanasia has come of widespread interest. Derek Humphry is a significant advocate for the legalization of euthanasia for the terminally ill. He wrote the book Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying that became a #1 Bestseller for the New York Times. In this book Derek Humphry provides information to the terminally ill on ending their suffering with examples that physicians are prohibited from offering. It has been revised 3 times, and the most recent edition provides the newest, critical information to patients and their families. After caring for his wife, Jean, while she battled breast cancer, Derek Humphry suffered greatly through her death. Afterwards, he was inspired to publish Jean’s Way. The story, telling of their marriage, his wife’s sickness, and her death, was Humprhy’s earliest attempt to challenge the law and display euthanasia in a sensible, helpful manner (Cundiff 72).

Some more of the most well known recent instances of euthanasia and physician assisted suicide include the participation of Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Also known as “Dr. Death”, Jack Kevorkian has been involved in the death of approximately 130 people as they sought out his knowledge and assistance in their suicide. Using some household tools, toys, magnets and electrical switches Jack Kevorkian was able to build a machine that he called the “Thanatron” (Greek for “death machine”). The Thanatron made it so that with the flip of a switch a person attached to an intravenous tube would experience drips of a saline solution, followed by the release of thiopental which would place them in a deep coma, and then the rush of a lethal dose of potassium chloride which would stop their heart in a few short minutes. When demonstrating his invention on the “Donahue” show, Dr. Kevorkian referred to the Thanatron as "dignified, humane and painless and the patient can do it in the comfort of their own home at any time they want" (“The Thanatron”).

For the many supporters of the legalization of euthanasia one main argument revolves around the dignity they preserve when one chooses to end their own life. Jim Romney who was diagnosed with the fatal disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) is quoted in the article “Choosing Suicide” as firmly stating, “I want to live forever, of course. By the same token, I don’t want to live a life without any dignity, and I don’t want to die without dignity. It’s a matter of choice.” Besides saving their dignity, many argue also that keeping a suffering person alive is sadistic and merciless. Euthanasia activists also point out that if a doctor urges a patient to delay their death then they are not only breaking their practice but also the law (“Reasons for Euthanasia”).

Many pro-euthanasia individuals feel that is also very selfish

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