Physician Assisted Suicide Essay

1548 words - 6 pages

 “Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia have been profound ethical issues confronting doctors since the birth of Western medicine, more than 2,000 years ago” (Ezekiel Emanuel). This quote speaks for itself. Death by assistance, suicide, and euthanasia have been controversial since their beginning and they will continue to be controversial. Americans throughout all states disagree as to whether euthanasia should be legal throughout the country. For many reasons, doctors, patients, citizens, and governments throughout the world have kept euthanasia from being widely legalized. Some of the reasons are: doctors should not directly cause death, euthanasia is a slippery slope, and that euthanasia devalues life. Because of these reasons, Americans should not allow euthanasia to continue to spread throughout the states.
        The word “euthanasia” comes from the Greek and means “good death” (Nargus). “Euthanasia” refers to the ending of a life. It is also known as “mercy killing” (Nargus). The ancients Greeks were generally tolerant of suicide, however great philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle argued against assisted suicide (Uhlmann 25-32). This most likely influenced many Western countries to refrain from legalizing and practicing euthanasia until the 1900s. A “euthanasia” program in Nazi Germany killed 200,000 or more in Germany and Austria during World War II. This program’s purpose was not to relieve pain, nor was it an act of mercy. Its purpose was to kill people with mental and physical handicaps. In 1934 there was an attempt by Nazi Germany to produce a “superior” race via a sterilization campaign to prevent handicapped people from having children. In 1939, Hitler decreed a euthanasia program be implemented to target “patients considered incurable.” This group later included prisoners (Medina 50-55). The “euthanasia” program in Nazi Germany is an example of how the legalization of euthanasia could be manipulated to benefit others. Euthanasia was first legalized in America in the state of Oregon in 1994 and is now legal in five states, New Mexico, Vermont, Montana, Oregon, and Washington (Eckholm). The history of euthanasia shows the consequences people experienced in the past. It also foreshadows future risks throughout the world.
        One important aspect Americans should consider when thinking about the legalization of euthanasia is that euthanasia questions the value of life. The main reasons people desire euthanasia is a loss of dignity and a fear of disability (Medina 88). These reasons for euthanasia devalue the lives of people who are disabled, and others who need assistance. If these continue to be main reasons for euthanasia, people who are disabled will most likely not be treated as equals, but more as a mistake that can easily be resolved. Also from a Christian point of view, “by creating man in His own image, God the Father gives content to the sanctity of human life and obligates us not to harm or destroy...

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