Free To Live But Not Free To Die

1408 words - 6 pages

Free to Live but Not Free to Die


One of the few certainties of life is death, but in the twentieth century it is still a taboo subject. The "forbidden" nature of death adds to the unnamed fears and worries that most people feel when asked to confront the idea of their own death. Yet once people can overcome their reluctance to discuss the subject, most often what is revealed is not the fear of death itself, but the manner of dying. The difficulty of thinking about "death with dignity" is that it implies that one day you, or someone you love, may be in a position to want that choice. Even if someone wanted to choose euthanasia as a way to end their existence, their wish may not be carried out, unless they live in the state of Oregon, or the Netherlands, where Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) is protected under law. I believe that the laws in most western nations that state euthanasia is illegal should be changed and the legalization of euthanasia, under certain restrictions, should be mandated throughout areas where the majority wishes to have the freedom to choose their method of dying.
The word euthanasia itself is a Greek word meaning "good death". However, during World War II, what was once intended to be a kind and gentle end to a full life received a negative connotation as a result under the pretense of "research and experiments" carried out by Nazi doctors to cover up their systematic attempt at racial and ethnic genocide.
Some people fear that if euthanasia were legalized, that, in the words of Dr. James Dobsen, "We will eventually be killing those who aren't sick, those who don't ask to die, those who are young and depressed, those who someone considers to have a poor quality of life, and those who feel it is their obligation to 'get out of the way'." When aid-in-dying is legalized, lines will be drawn between individual rights and public safety and public laws will set legal anchors to insure against slides down Dr. Dobsen's proposed "slippery slope". Judge Reinhardt, of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, addressed the "slippery slope" argument:
This same nihilistic argument can be offered against any constitutionally-protected right or interest. Both before and after women were found to have a right to have an abortion, critics contended that legalizing that medical procedure would lead to its widespread use as a substitute for other forms of birth control or as a means of racial genocide.
Recognition of any right creates the possibility of abuse. The slippery slope fears the opponents of Roe v. Wade have, of course, not materialized. The legalization of abortion has not undermined our commitment to life generally; nor, as some predicted, has it led to widespread infanticide. Similarly, there is no reason to believe that legalizing assisted suicide with parameters will lead to the horrific consequences its opponents imply and suggest.
There is another argument the Judeo-Christian society exploits...

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