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Assisted Suicide Or Euthanasia Essay

1709 words - 7 pages

ASSISTED SUICIDE or euthanasia On July 26, 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld decisions in New York and Washington State that criminalized assisted suicide. As of April 1999, physicians-assisted suicide is illegal in all but a couple of states. Over thirty states have established laws prohibiting assisted suicide, and of those who don’t have statues, a number of them prohibit it through common law. In Michigan, Jack Kevorkian was initially charged with violating the state statue. He was charged with first-degree murder and delivering a controlled substance without a license. The assisted suicide charge was dropped, however, he was eventually convicted of second-degree murder and delivering a controlled substance without a license. Only one state, Oregon, has legalized assisted suicide. The Oregon law, which went into effect in October 1997, provides that a doctor may prescribe, but not administer, a lethal dose of medication to a patient who has less than six months to live. As of April 1999, 23 patients were given the drugs under the statue, and 15 of them used the drugs to commit suicide. A report released by the Oregon State Health Division found that the law was working well and had not been subject to abuse (REED A9). The word Euthanasia originated from the Greek language: eu means “good” and thanatos means “death”. The term euthanasia normally means that the person who wishes to commit suicide must initiate the act (WORLD BOOK). However, some people define euthanasia to include both voluntary and involuntary termination of life. Euthanasia has many meanings so it is important to differentiate among the vaguely related terms. These meanings of terms were cited from George Lundberg, M.D. in Views of Assisted suicide. Involuntary Euthanasia: This term is used by some to describe the killing of a person in opposition to their wishes. It is basically a form of murder and not a popular view among most people. Passive Euthanasia: Hastening the death of a person by withdrawing some form of support and letting nature take its course. For example: removing life support, stopping medical procedures, stopping food and water and allowing the person to dehydrate or starve to death, and not delivering CPR. Active Euthanasia: This involves causing the death of a person through a direct action, in response to a request from that person. A well-known example would be the process that Dr. Kevorkian took on the Michigan resident and was found guilty of 2nd degree murder. Physician-Assisted Suicide: A physician supplies information and the means of committing suicide to a person, so that they can easily terminate their own life. The term “voluntary passive euthanasia” is becoming commonly used. Except for involuntary euthanasia, all these terms are closely related because the victim requests the action. The only discrepancy is who is actually committing the act, and that is insignificant since the choice is up to the victim. So when...

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