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Essay title: Euthanasia


Euthanasia is by far one of the most controversial topics of today. Euthanasia is a controversial issue because of the vastly different moral feelings both for the individual and between different cultures, ethnicities, religions, legal standards and medical ethics. In order to make a fair and balanced assessment about euthanasia one needs to consider the meaning of the word, the reasoning for the act, the reasoning against the act, the religious perspectives, the human rights views, the medical rationale, and the legal aspect.

The first step to grasping the euthanasia concept is to understand the meaning of the word. The Marriam-Webster (2007) dictionary definition of euthanasia is "the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy". The Greek root breaks this word into two parts "Eu" which means "good"; and "thanatos" which means "death". Both the definition and origin of euthanasia, or physician assisted suicide (PAS), is not intended to be violent but an option for those ill and dying with no hope for recovery or survival.

Two Types of Euthanasia

There are two kinds of euthanasia; passive and active. Active euthanasia is the administering a lethal drug or using other means that case a persons death. Active euthanasia tends to be under more scrutiny because the person administering a lethal drug could be labeled a "murderer". The debate against active euthanasia is more vocal and always falls under the legal arena.

Passive euthanasia is stopping treatment, which allows an individual to die, which results in death. Passive euthanasia tends to be overlooked because some feel that this is dying naturally. This debate is easily justified because some religions and cultures reject medical attention. Another justification is that the medical costs are too high and letting a patient naturally go is for the best. (The Real Hemlock Society, 1997)

Reasons for Euthanasia

The three main supporting views for euthanasia are unbearable pain; every individual's right to commit suicide; and people should not be forced to stay alive if they do not desire life. The first of these three views believes that PAS is the answer to some patients deteriorating conditions. Some patients reach a state where medication can no longer assist in pain control or in finding a cure and request for a physician assisted suicide in order to eliminate their physical state. Therefore, PAS is considered and in some regions of the world permitted. (, 2007)

The second view is that this is an individual's personal right to determine whether they want to stay alive or permit their life to be terminated. Many people believe that we have the right and freedom to live our own lives as we see fit. Euthanasia is, and should be, considered as one of those rights. If a patient is terminally ill they should have the freedom to decide whether or not to suffer on till their natural death or to dictate when their life should end. (, 2007)

The third and final view for euthanasia is the opinion that a person should not be forced to stay alive if they do not wish to. Neither the law nor medical ethics mandates that everything must be done to keep a person alive. This is considered by some cruel and inhumane to keep a patient alive against their wishes. Therefore, PAS is considered a humanitarian act. (, 2007)

Reasons against Euthanasia

On opposing sides to euthanasia, the four arguments against it are euthanasia would not only be for people who are considered terminally ill; it can become means of health care cost containment;

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