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Euthanasia. Some History And Background, As Well As Current Issues On This Very Controversial Topic

2653 words - 11 pages

EUTHANASIAAARP Bulletin Feb. 1997, Vol. 38, No. 2, Washington, D.C.Is euthanasia1 the right way to die? Everyone's life comes to an end in due time. We cannot change our destiny2. We may be confused at this time in life. There are many opposing viewpoints of the right-to-die debate from different people, religions, cultures, race, moral ethics, health care ethics and legal factors that are considered at this time in life. Another big concern is the manner in which they will die and who has the right to make this decision.The word euthanasia came from a Greek phrase eu thanatos, meaning "well-death," or dying without pain. Dictionaries define euthanasia as "an act or method of causing death painlessly" or "the practice of killing individuals who are hopelessly sick or injured for reasons of mercy." It means to end a life or quicken death. Euthanasia is also known as "doctor-assisted suicide". In current times, the work euthanasia now means to do something about achieving a good death.There are two different types of euthanasia, passive and active. Passive euthanasia allows the person to die by withholding or withdrawing treatment. Respirators, heart and lung machines, feeding tubes, and other ways of maintaining life are not used when there is no chance that a patient will be cured. This idea is to stop treatment and shorten the dying process, preventing a prolonged death. Most people believe today that this is acceptable because it allows a terminally ill person to die "naturally."Active euthanasia is a much more controversial issue. Active euthanasia mean to actually kill someone in an act of kindness, such as giving them a needle with a lethal drug to help a person end their life. Some people consider assisted suicide (giving the person the means to commit suicide) a form of active euthanasia."As fast as we have been trying to figure out how to allow people to die more peacefully, we keep improving the technology that makes it all the harder to do," according to Daniel Callahan, director of the Hastings, Center, a medical ethics research institute located in New York. A common concern is that medical personnel will not be able to help people control their pain should they become seriously ill. Many medical experts feel that if we had better treatment for terminally ill patients in extreme pain, this would reduce the current demand for active euthanasia.Economic factors also are an important factor in the interest of euthanasia. The high costs of long-term medical care make people consider the burden of extending their lives and prolonging the dying process. The high medical costs could have a big influence on whether family members encourage euthanasia for dependent elders or severely disabled relatives.Another major factor in the euthanasia debate is our society's emphasis of individual liberty and the freedom to make choices. People usually want to make their own decisions about their own personal matters. These acts will have a major effect...


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