The Controversy And Ethical Debate Surrounding Euthanasia

1436 words - 6 pages

Dax Cowart was hospitalized after a gas explosion engulfed his car because he suffered stern burns. He was “burned so severely and [was] in so much pain that [he] did not want to live even the early moments following the explosion.” He repeatedly asked his doctors and family to end his agony. Dianne Pretty had a motor neuron disease that instigates a painful death. She wanted to have “a quick death without suffering, at home surrounded by [her] family.” 85-year old Mary Ormerod was starved of nutrients after she went into a coma. Her doctor and daughter made the decision to end her torment, however the doctor got suspended in doing so (BBC).
These and many other cases have occurred in medical history, and many more are bound to occur. This ending of the anguish is called euthanasia. In order for the ethical concerns of the issue to be discussed, euthanasia needs to be defined, and the different classes of it understood. The discussion itself has to be based on a method of reasoning and logic. One of the sources of ethical rationale, and probably the major method of reasoning in some parts of the world, is religion. Different religions differ in their view of euthanasia, some share similarities while others differ completely.
According to the book titled “Euthanasia: a Reference Handbook” by McDougall and Gorman, the Merriam Webster dictionary defines euthanasia as “ an easy death or mercy killing.” Suicide is also defined as “the act of killing oneself purposely” (McDougall, Gorman and Roberts). Thus, physician Assisted suicide is the act of taking one’s life with the aid of a doctor (McDougall, Gorman and Roberts). Euthanasia is a very disputable matter, some regard it as a human right while others deem it unethical. One of the biggest activists of euthanasia is Dr. Jack Kevorkian also known as ‘Dr. Death.’ The doctor supported the terminally ill patient’s right to die. He has assisted 130 patients in achieving their death; he believed that "dying is not a crime." He was tried numerous times for helping those patients in committing suicide (Betzold). Dr death was trying to change the meaning of euthanasia from ‘physician-assisted suicide’ to ‘the right of a dying patient.’
Dr. Death’s case erupted an argument that is still debated within ethical committee. This disputed brought forth many distinctions and classifications in euthanasia in order to find a cogent solution. Euthanasia has been codified into two variations; active and passive. Active and passive euthanasia differ in the that the first is directly inflicting the death of the sick person by the doctor or a third-party, while the latter is defined as letting the person die by withdrawing life support or ceasing treatment (McDougall, Gorman and Roberts). Euthanasia is then further classified into three categories. Firstly is voluntary euthanasia, which is when the patient gives the consent to undergo the procedure. Secondly is non-voluntary euthanasia, which is done when the patient...

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