Euthanasia Essay

1366 words - 5 pages

Euthanasia, the act of relieving the prolonged pain and suffering of terminally ill patients by inducing death, has been the subject of controversy for sometime. Dying with dignity, the kind of end we hope for ourselves as well as others, has in some ways become more difficult. With the advancements in medicine having leaped forward within the last 20 years, prolonging life by means of technology has become common place in the medical community. These life-sustaining advances in treatments have brought up moral issues of whether it is the right of an individual to suppress his or her own life-sustaining treatment if they so desire. Our society has become a youth-worshipping society. It is almost as if we have taken on old-age and death as just another disease that need to be conquered. The fact is, we all die sooner or later. Death is not our enemy. It is as much a part of living as being born. Some seventy percent of the deaths that occur here in the U.S. take place in a hospital or institution, and almost three-quarters of the people who die each year are over sixty-five.(Ogg 2) This figure has not always been the case though. Before immunizations of infectious childhood diseases, death at a young age was common. In 1915 the average life expectancy was 54.5 years. Today the average is about 75 years. Most adults who died were not really old by today’s standard. (Ogg 2) Death was part of living, commonly taking place at home with family and friends. Bastian 2 Today, as the figures show, death is highly institutionalized. This hiding away makes death easier for everyone to deny. The question of how to treat the dying surfaces. As one doctor stated, “there is a time to resist a disease and a time to recognize that future resistance would be inhumane, as well as futile.” (Kubler-Ross 8) Traditionally, doctors had the responsibility for deciding what should or should not be done for dying patients. Now, patients, their families, and patient representatives have a say in such decisions. Other factors such as religion come into effect as well. Jewish custom sanctions and perhaps even demands the withdrawal of artificial machines to prolong life, whether implanted or not.(Kubler-Ross 42) The Catholic Church is opposed to any form of euthanasia, but at the same time, the Church has for centuries sanctioned the withholding of useless treatments in hopeless cases. (Colen 56) To understand euthanasia we must be able to differentiate between passive and active euthanasia. Passive euthanasia is seen as non-treatment of an illness, whereas the untreated disease or ailment is left alone so as to run rampid in the person and kill them. Also, withholding a respirator is also considered passive. Active is seen as intentionally performing an action such as administering a lethal dose of medication. Physicians who go about such actions usually inject a lethal dose of a drug called Curare.(Ogg 50) Bastian 3 Another form of active euthanasia would be removing a...

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