Euthanasia is a very controversial topic with people not just in America, but around the world. Let’s start with defining euthanasia and the two different type of euthanasia. Euthanasia is, “the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy” (Merriam-Webster, 2012). There are two different types of euthanasia.
Type one is active euthanasia; active euthanasia is, “the practice of injecting a patient with a lethal dose of medication with the primary intention of ending a patient’s life, at the patient’s request” (Medical-Dictionary. com, 2012). The second type of euthanasia is passive euthanasia. Passive euthanasia is, “the ending of life by the deliberate withholding of drugs or other life-sustaining treatment” (Medical-Dictionary. com, 2012) Active euthanasia would be closer to the actual act of assisted suicide, because it requires the help of others to inject something lethal into another’s system.
Passive euthanasia would be a doctor following a person’s request for example if they had a living will or a do not resuscitate order (DNR). People have many varying opinions on euthanasia; some opinions go back and forth depending on the situation, but in my case I have one opinion and that is that euthanasia should be legalized and used if a person requests it when they are in a situation where their life will end due to a terminal illness. My father had never really taken care of himself and he had been diabetic since the age of 10.
Knowing that his health wasn’t what it should be he had a living will and a DNR done and went over everything with my mother and my two brothers. On New Year’s Eve 3 years ago my mother and father were in Las Vegas when my father started feeling sick and decided he needed to go to the hospital to get checked out. The doctors thought that he was having or had, had a stroke and wanted to run test to determine if they were right. One test they wanted to run was a CT scan with contrast.
This for my father was kind of dangerous because he was on dialysis due to his diabetes causing kidney failure and the contrast wouldn’t get filtered out of his body like a normal person’s would. They were in the middle of the CT scan when my father had a heart attack and a stroke all at the same time. This caused my father to fall into a coma. My mother called my two brothers and I and told us the situation and stated that we needed to fly out immediately.
She stated that they were putting him on life support until we could get there, because he was unresponsive and not breathing on his own anymore. I asked my mother about the DNR, because I remember my father’s wishes and knew that he didn’t want to be on any life support. She stated that they didn’t have the papers with them and therefore the doctors couldn’t follow them. She stated that the life support measure was just until we all go there to say our goodbyes and then she would have them shut off the machine.
Once I reached the hospital and saw my father hooked up to all those machines I knew that he would never have wanted this. My family and I talked everything over and decided that he wouldn’t want this and to turn everything off. When we entered the room my father’s hand moved (which was the first movement he had done in three days) and my mother and brothers instantly decided that they couldn’t turn off the machines because he moved and he might be coming out of it.
After three more days of no change I talked to my mother about my dad’s wishes and how he would never want to be hooked up to the machines like he was relying on others to clean him up after urinating and defecating on himself. This isn’t the type of man he was and he would never want this for himself. My mother agreed, but stated that she couldn’t do it; she couldn’t sign the papers to turn off the machine. My mother talked it over with my brothers and they agreed that they were not strong enough to do it either and the responsibility fell onto my shoulders.
The next day I signed the papers and we all stood there and watched as they shut everything off and my father slipped away. At that very moment I knew that I would never want to be in the same position or to put my loved ones in that position. Once I came home my wife and I discussed everything and had a lawyer draw up all the necessary papers to prevent us from ever having to experience what my father went through. We both take the papers with us whenever we travel to prevent the same situation as well. I had always been favorable for uthanasia as I believed that it was a person’s right to choose their death under the circumstances of a terminal illness, and this experience just cemented that belief even more. There are several countries that allow assisted suicide, but not in the fashion that people think. For example France doesn’t have a specific any specific laws that state suicide is against the law or assisting in suicide is against the law, but they could prosecute a person for not assisting a person in danger. The same with Luxembourg; it does not forbid the assistance, but will prosecute for not assisting a person in danger.
According to Derek Humphry there are only a couple of countries that really don’t prosecute for assisting someone in suicide; those are Switzerland which allows physician and non-physician assisted suicide, Belgium which allows euthanasia, but doesn’t define the method, and the Netherlands which allows voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (Humphry, 2005). In the United States there are a couple of states that allow physician aid-in-dying (PAD) Oregon, Washington, and Montana. Of these states Oregon was the first to create the Death with Dignity Act.
This Act states, “The Death with Dignity Act which allows terminally-ill Oregonians to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for that purpose. The Oregon Death with Dignity Act requires the Oregon Health Authority to collect information about the patients and physicians who participate in the Act, and publish an annual statistical report” (Oregon. gov, 1999). My home state of Tennessee does not allow any type of assisted suicide; however in 1985 they did draft the Tennessee Right to Natural Death Act (TRNDA).
The TRNDA states, “it to be the law of the state that every person has the fundamental and inherent right to die naturally with as much dignity as circumstances permit and to accept, refuse, withdraw from, or otherwise control decisions relating to the rendering of the person’s own medical care specifically including palliative care and the use of extraordinary procedures and treatment “ (Alderson, BS & Regan, MD, MBA, 2003). This legislation allowed residents of Tennessee to make living will and also to create DNR’s with specifics like feeding tubes, blood transfusions, and food.
With the debate being so heated about euthanasia there are always to sides or opinions for the debate, those for and those against. Those who are Pro-euthanasia argue that it is a person’s right to choose how they die. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) states that it is, “The right of a competent, terminally ill person to avoid excruciating pain and embrace a timely and dignified death bears the sanction of history and is implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.
The exercise of this right is as central to personal autonomy and bodily integrity as rights safeguarded by this Court’s decisions relating to marriage, family relationships, procreation, contraception, child rearing and the refusal or termination of life-saving medical treatment. In particular, this Court’s recent decisions concerning the right to refuse medical treatment and the right to abortion instruct that a mentally competent, terminally ill person has a protected liberty interest in choosing to end intolerable suffering by bringing about his or her own death.
A state’s categorical ban on physician assistance to suicide — as applied to competent, terminally ill patients who wish to avoid unendurable pain and hasten inevitable death — substantially interferes with this protected liberty interest and cannot be sustained” (ProCon. org, 2012). Whereas the United States Supreme Court says, “The history of the law’s treatment of assisted suicide in this country has been and continues to be one of the rejection of nearly all efforts to permit it.
That being the case, our decisions lead us to conclude that the asserted ‘right’ to assistance in committing suicide is not a fundamental liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause (ProCon. org, 2012). There are also those that argue that legalized euthanasia is a “slippery slope” and one that we may not every be able to recover from. They feel that if legalized it could possibly affect those with special needs like the mentally retarded or Down syndrome.
People with these diseases are often thought to lead less than favorable lives and in turn could be “put down” so to speak by their families to one alleviate their perceived suffering and also to eliminate the families burden. The same with the elderly; there are those that feel it could lead to the death of many elderly to take care of the burden that people feel they are being to their families or the burden that people feel their elder relatives create for them. Though this topic is heated and both sides have valid points that need to be discussed a patient’s right to choose is in my opinion a God given right.
No one should have to suffer the indignity that a terminal illness can create for them, and their families. Euthanasia needs to be addressed on a federal level so that all states have the same laws governing them, and to prevent the fears that some have addressed about the elderly and those with special needs.
Alderson, BS, A. , ; Regan, MD, MBA, J. (2003, March). A Patient’s Right to Die: Physician-Assisted Suicide. Retrieved December 3, 2012, from www. tn. gov: http://www. tn. gov/mental/omd/omd_docs/suicidePA. pdf Humphry, D. (2005, March 1).
Tread Carefully When You Help to Die; Assisted Suicide Laws Around the World. Retrieved December 3, 2012, from www. assistedsuicide. org: http://www. assistedsuicide. org/suicide_laws. html Medical-Dictionary. com. (2012). Active Euthanasia. Retrieved December 3, 2012, from www. medical-dictionary. thefreedictionary. com: http://medical-dictionary. thefreedictionary. com/Active+Euthanasia Medical-Dictionary. com. (2012). Passive Euthanasia. Retrieved December 3, 2012, from www. medical-dictionary. thefreedictionary. com: http://medical-dictionary. thefreedictionary. com/passive+euthanasia Merriam-Webster. 2012). Euthanasia. Retrieved December 3, 2012, from www. merriam-webster. com: http://www. merriam-webster. com/dictionary/euthanasia Oregon. gov. (1999, October). Death with Dignity Act. Retrieved December 3, 2012, from www. oregon. gov: http://public. health. oregon. gov/ProviderPartnerResources/Evaluationresearch/deathwithdignityact/Pages/index. aspx ProCon. org. (2012). Top 10 Pros and Cons: Should euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide be legal? Retrieved December 3, 2012, from www. procon. org: http://euthanasia. procon. org/view. resource. php? resourceID=000126