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Euthanasia, Killing Or Letting Die? Essay

1071 words - 4 pages

EuthanasiaEuthanasia - is it killing or letting die? In the last thirty years, this has been a highly controversial topic, the worldly morals versus the Christian. Although there are certain instances where it is justifiably considered to be letting die, it is essentially killing.§ Euthanasia comes from a Greek word, meaning 'easy death,' and is now often associated with the infamous Dr. Kevorkian. There are three types of euthanasia - what doctors consider to be 'letting the patient die,' for instance taking both conscious and unconscious patients off of life support, not reviving the patient in case of a heart failure, et cetera. There is also assisted suicide. Dr. Kevorkian and his suicide machine have made themselves known through this technique. The machine injects a lethal dosage into the 'patients' blood stream, killing then painlessly within ten minutes.§ The first type mentioned above is known as 'active voluntary euthanasia.' This is where a conscious, mentally competent person, usually with a severe physical ailment, loses the will to live. Many have said that keeping them alive is just prolonging their death, a form of cruel and unusual punishment. They may ask that life support equipment be disconnected so that they can die quickly, painlessly, with dignity. Most doctors are trained to try their best to defeat death, or at least try to delay it as long as possible. But if the patient is hopelessly ill, and would prefer to die, the doctor may consult the hospital ethics committee, and take him or her off of life support. When taken to court in these issues, the doctors defend themselves in saying, 'I didn't kill him, I let him die.' This is illegal throughout the United States and the rest of the world, but it still is a common occurrence.§ The second type, 'passive voluntary euthanasia,' is done when a terminally ill patient's or a patient in a persistent vegetative state's (PVS) family chooses to take their loved one off of life support. A PVS patient has no self-awareness or any awareness of their surroundings because the cerebral cortex, the thinking part of the brain, id dead. The brain stem, the part of the brain that controls the major organs of the body, still works, though. A PVS patient will never become conscious again after entering this state, will remain like this until he or she dies. They are not brain dead, however. Technically, in the United States, brain death occurs when the brain tissue breaks down, disabling the lungs and other vital organs, and requiring machines to keep the patient alive. The family may choose to have the patient taken off of life support if they wish, and if the doctors comply, it will be done. §There was a case, though, where the doctor said he had a 'moral problem' in killing a patient and the parents took the doctor to court. The judge ruled that removing life support 'would be homicide and an act of euthanasia' and said that 'judicial conscience and morality' told him...

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