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The Right To Die Essay

1121 words - 4 pages

The Right to Die Modern medical technology has made it possible to extend the lives of many far beyond when they would have died in the past. Death, in modern times, often ensures a long and painful fall where one loses control both physically and emotionally. Some individuals embrace the time that modern technology buys them; while others find the loss of control overwhelming and frightening. They want their loved ones to remember them as they were not as they have become. Some even elect death to avoid burdens of lingering on. They also seek assistance in doing so from medicine.

The demands for assisted suicide and euthanasia are increasing (Kass 17). These issues raise many questions, legal and ethical. Although neither assisted suicide and euthanasia are legal, many people believe they should be. A great number of those people may never be faced with the decision, but knowing the option would be there is a comfort (Jaret 46).

For those who will encounter the situation of loved ones on medication, being treated by physicians, sometimes relying on technical means to stay alive arises a great moral conflict. I wish to explore this topic on ethical, not legal issues. Do people have a right to choose death? More in particular, are euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide morally legitimate?

Euthanasia involves a death that is intended to benefit the person who dies, and requires a final act by some other person, for example, a doctor. Physician-assisted suicide, which requires a final act by the patient, can also be undertaken for the good of that patient. The essential point is that both involve intentionally ending a human life (Emanuel 521). But how, some ask, can we ever allow people to intentionally end human lives (even their own lives) without degrading human life? How, others ask, can we simply prevent people from deciding when to end their own lives without denying people the freedom so essential to the value of a human life? As these questions suggests, the debate about the right to choose death may appear to present a stand-off between people who endorse life's true value, and those who think life's value depends on the interests, judgments, and choices of the person whose life it is.

Through self identification individuals evaluate their own lives and its quality through their own values and belief systems. In order to maintain human dignity, the public has to respect these evaluations and allow individuals to act in accordance to their values. Hence euthanasia should become legalized. The major assumption in this argument is that the individuals are fully competent and capable of decision making. The arguments against making euthanasia legal center on two points.

The first is the fear that "mercy killing" will open the door to abuse, allowing a way to kill unwanted people. The second is the Hippocratic Oath, Physicians must not kill (Meier 1195). On the other hand, death in three or four days through starvation...

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