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Do People Have The Right To Die?

2661 words - 11 pages

Living life at age twenty-eight is an amazing adventure. People are at their prime – being active and living life to the fullest. However, for Nancy Cruzan, a terrible car accident took that all away. One night, driving on a quiet road in Missouri, Nancy’s car rolled off the road and into a ditch. For twenty minutes she lay there alone and lifeless. Then, a paramedic car drove by and saw the car in distress. They pulled Nancy out, and miraculously revived her back to life. However, she had damaged her cerebral cortex, the vital end of the brain that gives humans all motor functions, senses, and communication. Nancy was left in what is called a persistent vegetative state (PVS), which “is a legal term defined in 765.101 (12) Florida statutes as: ‘a permanent and irreversible condition of unconsciousness in which there is – a) the absence of voluntary action or cognitive behavior of any kind; and b) an inability to communicate or interact purposefully with the environment.” (Snow 3). Many people refer to this state as being a “vegetable.” After contemplating the situation for a long while, Nancy’s family decided that it would be best to remove the feeding tube that was forcibly keeping her alive. However, Nancy had no living will or health care power of attorney which was needed by law to remove the tube. Does her family have the right to make the decision to end her life, when she cannot make that decision herself? Who does have that right? Do people have the right to die?

This incident started many people thinking about what they believe about the issue of the right to die and physician assisted suicide. The story of Nancy Cruzan is only single scenario out of many that people have to decide where they stand on the issue. There are so many other possible cases and situations that there is no way this can be defined as a ‘black and white’ issue. People are all over the board in their approach to the issue of the right to die. There are many factors that affect one’s approach to this issue - their occupation, religion, experience with the issue, their values and morals, etc. There are three main approaches to the issue of the right to die and physician-assisted suicide. First, a religious or moral approach that deals with people arguing their side because of their beliefs or values they hold in high regard. Second, a political and legal approach that deals with what the laws state and the reasons behind them. And third, a personal approach that explains peoples’ opinions who have dealt with the issue.

Although grouped together as having the same approach, not all religious people and those who argue their opinion based on their moral beliefs, have the same stance on the issue. These people look at the right to die and physician-assisted suicide in the same way, but they do not see the same thing. There are many people coming from a religious or moral approach who have a strong commitment to...

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