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Death With Dignity Essay

1817 words - 7 pages

In 1983 twenty-five-year old Nancy Cruzan was driving when her car careened off the road and flipped over. She was thrown out of her car into a ditched and was left lying there unconscious. Her body was victim to its surroundings and to fate. When she was found by paramedics, she was unconscious and not breathing. They concluded that she had not been breathing for at least fifteen minutes, but through the miracles of modern technology she was revived into a vegetative state (Gumm). This began a long crusade for Nancy Cruzan and her family and only added to the enduring debate about euthanasia. Should a person be able to control when to end his life? I believe that a person should control when life ends while facing a terminal illness or when death is unavoidable. In Nancy Cruzan’s circumstance, the decision of death depended upon her family. This specific situation is an example of why the debate continues. It continues to linger partly due to the fact that euthanasia covers a variety of practices.
When people are talking about euthanasia they are usually referring to one of these practices: the right to refuse treatment, passive euthanasia (under certain circumstances, family members request that life-sustaining machines or treatment be stopped for patients with little or no hope of regaining consciousness), physician-assisted suicide, or a patient may request his or her physician to administer powerful drugs such as morphine to ease unbearable pain and suffering, knowing that these drugs are also likely to bring death more quickly (Euthanasia-Reading). Nancy Cruzan was in a persistent vegetative state. After the accident, the doctors and Nancy’s family worked tirelessly to restore her to a conscious state. This continued for five years before the family, worn out and tired, decided they wanted to let Nancy go, but this was not to be.
After finally accepting that Nancy would not be revived, the family asked the state hospital to remove her feeding tubes so that she could move on. Unfortunately, it could not be this easy. Discovering that Nancy was not allowed by the state to be taken off of life support, they proceeded with legal action. After several suits between the Cruzan family and the state's attorney general in the Missouri court system, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear its first right-to-die case, that of Nancy Cruzan. In a 5-4 decision, the Cruzan family lost, buried in hundreds of pages of the Supreme Court’s opinion. Eventually, their lawyer was able to find the key that would let them retry the case in Missouri, leading them to a victory (Gumm).
Despite the success that Nancy and her family had at this time, they paid a heavy price. Nancy had been left in a persistent vegetative state for seven years. It was known earlier that death was unavoidable for her, yet she was not allowed to move on by the state due to the many ethical and medical gray areas associated with euthanasia.
Idaho is one of the states that has...

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