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Euthanasia: We All Have The Right To Die

1482 words - 6 pages

Physician-Assisted Suicide, or Euthanasia, is a serious issue, and it affects people throughout all walks of life. From teenagers with angst, to older adults feeling hopeless in their life, to the elderly suffering from terminal illnesses, suicide pervades throughout their thought processes as an alternative to their emotionally and physically pervasive situations. Euthanasia, or physician-assisted suicide, has a history dating back to the seventeenth century. Only recently has it become as controversial an issue as it has.

Why is euthanasia such a touchy, beat around the bush kind of term? Like abortion, euthanasia’s arguments center on right vs. wrong in the social spectrum. In “Euthanasia Reconsidered — The Choice of Death as an Aspect of the Right of Privacy,” Richard Delgado states that the similarities between euthanasia and abortion “extend beyond constitutional doctrine to the social ramifications of present mercy-killing law. Like the prohibition of abortion, current law barring euthanasia subordinates tangible social needs to… moral convictions” (479). Issues such as the rising rate of population, pollution and poverty are all related to euthanasia as an acceptable legislation. Shouldn’t these larger world issues be more alarming than the loss of a life? Arthur Imhof, a leading German representative of historical demography, argues that, “Along with the increase of our earthly life expectancy there has been a totally different, countervailing development… because of the loss of faith in the Beyond [our lives have] become infinitely shorter” (Spiro et al. 115). From the religious side of the argument, he says that the doubling of our earthly years means little in comparison to the loss of faith in an eternity. Our government is set up so that faith and legislation are meant to be separated. If that’s the case, shouldn’t we all consider the benefits of euthanasia as purely a medical practice rather than view it as a moral debate?

As we see in the 2006 case Gonzalez v. Oregon, the Supreme Court supported the interests of physicians on a euthanasia-related case. In 1994, Oregon enacted the “Death With Dignity Act” which allowed physicians to prescribe lethal doses of medicine to terminally ill patients. This act was questioned in early 2001 and brought to court by former attorney general Ashcroft, which precipitated the Gonzalez v. Oregon debate. Ultimately, the Supreme Court decided by a 6-3 margin that physician assisted suicide is an important option for terminally ill patients (Sclar 639). We need to consider the choices of the individuals in these situations. If we are willing to accept the idea that our bodies are our own property and we can do what we want with them, then if we choose to die that should be our right. A patient who would rather die than continue to live in an incapacitated or potentially painful state – someone whose life expectancy is limited anyway and whose quality of life is poor – should have the right...

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