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Chronic Pain, Terminal Illness And Euthanasia

1953 words - 8 pages

The fear associated with death is powerful, but even more so is the fear of living an unfulfilling life full of pointless suffering. This spurs the belief for those in such situations that we as bodied people have the power to control our fate. Many movements involved with Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) have started internationally with that phrase in mind. Euthanasia is defined as, “The painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease, or is in an irreversible coma.” Christopher Docker defines PAS as, " ... the provision by a doctor, consciously and legally, to a patient who has completely requested it, of the means for that patient to end his or her own life." (Docker 8) These groups focus on the question of why should we endure untreatable suffering, especially when modern technology does nothing to alleviate the pain. Terminally ill patients should have the right to choose a merciful release.
The Supreme Court concluded in the 1981 Botsford vs. Union Pacific Railroad Co. case that, " ...no right is more sacred or more carefully guarded, by the common law, than the right of the individual to the possession and control of his own person.” If this control is given to us in life, then surely people facing terminal conditions and constantly experiencing chronic pain should be able to relieve their suffering by means of their own choosing. It is important that each individual has power over their own life included in this should be the right to die if his/her life loses it’s quality. For example, people who suffer from painful, incurable diseases such as ebola hemorrhagic fever know that the illness is going to end their life, and their death may be complicated and painful. People in such situations should reserve the right to choose the way they die.
In order to understand the opinions of pro-euthanasia movements that exist today, one should consider looking into the history of the groups. Euthanasia can be traced back to the great Roman and Greek cultures whose main concern was that the citizens died a “good death” (The word euthanasia is Latin, “Eu” meaning good, and “thanasia” death). They put great importance on dying a painless death, one which can be met with peace of mind. (Dowbiggin 9) The Romans and Greeks cared greatly for their terminally ill and found the compassion needed to give them a painless release from their current situation full of pain and general discomfort. In Roman and Greek societies people shared sympathy for euthanasia as long as it was for the right reasons. These cultures respected the right to have a dignified death and to end the suffering of those affected by such illnesses.
While the Romans and Greeks cared greatly in how their people died, the same belief was not shared by early Christianity and other religions. Edwin Dubose, author of Physician Assisted Suicide: Religious and Public Perspectives (2001), stated that “They believed that the individual was given...

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