Euthanasia in today's society has run rampant, but whose choice is it really to
end one's life in the case of excessive suffering? Euthanasia has become one of the
most controversial issues in the medical field. There are many questions that must
be considered when euthanasia is involved. For example: Whose right is it anyway?
Do physicians have the right to perform assisted suicide? Is it morally right? When
is "competent" not competent enough?
Euthanasia is preceded the decision that a terminally ill patient's life will come
to an end before natural death. Euthanasia can also be defined as any killing
carried out by medical means or by medical personnel; whether intended for the
termination of suffering or indignity of a life not worth living. A standard definition
of euthanasia is the intentional putting to death of a person with an incurable or
painful disease. No matter how the term is defined, it is intentional suicide and it is
When terminally ill patients are considering euthanasia, common questions
arise such as: Whose right is it anyway? What do those rights entail? There are
four basic rights that must be considered when euthanasia is involved. These rights
include the right to reject or terminate unwanted medical procedure, the right to
commit suicide or the right to "rational" suicide, the right to assisted suicide, and
the right to active voluntary euthanasia. These rights, however, are not protected
by law. In fact, assisted suicide is illegal in most states. For instance, the Jack
Kevorkian case, a Michigan physician who believed in aiding patients in suicide.
The patients of Dr. Kevorkian requested death because of their incurable suffering.
Did they not have the right to choose life or death? Well, Dr. Kevorkian felt that
they had the right to choose, and he aided them with their choice. After ending the
suffering of many terminally ill patients, Dr. Kevorkian was tried and indicted by
the US District Court for violating laws banning physician-assisted suicide and was
later tried for murder (Burnell 87). Was Dr. Kevorkian just showing compassion
for his dying suffering clients, or did he have an ulterior motive? Dr. Kevorkian
claims compassion, yet others question his moral. The more trying issue here is
whose life is it? Do we not have the right to choose whether we suffer or end our
own suffering? These questions may never be answered (Hamel 234).
Voluntary euthanasia is defined as one's decision to end one's life after he
or she has consciously and expressly approved of the decision. Involuntary
euthanasia refers to the terminally ill patient's unknowing of the decision to use
euthanasia when he or she has not consciously and expressly approved of it in
advance. When voluntary euthanasia is approved or carried out, it is called active
euthanasia. Active euthanasia is exactly what it sounds like: active, meaning
characterized by motion...