Euthanasia Essay – The Need for Physician Assisted Essay

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Suicide euthanasia argumentative persuasive essaysThe Need for Physician Assisted Suicide

Man is born with death in his hand. We all will

die. We may be able to postpone death but we cannot avoid it. We all die of

something, somewhere, somehow. Although we cannot avoid death, we can control

the death caused by a terminal illness. We can determine how, when, where, and

with whom we die.

Right now at this time, there are over 10,000 patients in

the United States that are in a permanent vegetative state. Also there are

thousands of handicapped infants born each year. With the technology we have

today, we are able to help people survive for long periods. About two million

Americans die every year. About 85% of them are in an institution. 80% involve

a decision by someone to try to prolong life or to let it go. It is estimated

that around four of every five Americans will die of lingering, chronic

illness, which cannot be cured but can be artificially prolonged. Odds are not

in your favor to die naturally at home.

The following are some thing to clear

up any confusion about assisted suicide and euthanasia. Euthanasia is act of

mercifully ending the life of a hopelessly suffering patient; taken from a

similar Greek word meaning “easy or good death” Physician-Assisted Suicide –

assisted by a qualified medical practitioner in fulfilling the wishes of a

competent, terminally-ill patient to end his/her own life, usually by means of

lethal injections. The difference between the two is during euthanasia is when

death itself occurs, it’s carried out by the doctor but in doctor-assisted

suicides, the patient fulfills the final step of terminating his/her own life.

“Passive” Euthanasia is ending a patient’s life by withholding or withdrawing

life-sustaining treatments, and “Active” Euthanasia is causing a virtually

painless death by means without which life would continue naturally, usually

referring to lethal injections and lastly, suicide is the act of taking one’s

own life voluntarily and intentionally.

A very well talked about doctor who

assists in suicide is Dr. Jack Kevorkian. He has pointed out the benefits of

assisted suicide. Some of those are that it reduces patient’s suffering family

and friends of patient. Dr. Kevorkian also asks his own patients to donate

vital organs or undergo a critical medical experiment, which helps science,

medicine, society, and the lives of others. Dr. Kevorkian made up a way of his

suicide apparatus, which he called mercitron. This was invented in 1989.

This is how it worked. There was a salt solution that runs from a needle

through the veins. When ready the patient pulls plunger, injection a solution

into their veins putting then to sleep in 10 to 15 seconds. One-minute later4

a final lethal solution goes through the needle into their veins. Dr.

Kevorkian explained the difference between mercitron and euthanasia. “It’s

like giving someone a loaded gun. The patient pulls the trigger, not the

doctor. If the doctor sets up the needle and syringe but lets the patient pull

the plunger, that’s assisted suicide. If the doctor pushed to plunger, it

would be euthanasia.” (McCuen 34)

Some people say that assisted suicide is

like playing God but when are we playing God. Is it when we pull the plug or

really when we plug it in? What about birth control or blood transfusions or

heart surgery. An example I found was about a lady named Nancy Cruzan. She was

a 32 year-old Missouri woman that was in a vegetative state for seven years

after an auto accident. Her family fought all the way up to the Supreme Court

to get her off artificial nutrition and hydration. Finally, it was allowed.

When the day came to take the tubes out, nineteen people stormed the facility

to try to put the tubes back in. They were arrested and placed in jail. Now

thats playing God

The sixth Commandment states simply “Thou shalt not

kill.” However, there are 62 verses in the Bible calling for killing as a

punishment. Aid-in-dying is not killing. Killing means doing something to

somebody against their will to end their life. Physician aid-in-dying is doing

something with someone who requests it to end their dying. Murder and killing

are done against the victims will. Physician aid-in-dying is done with the

wishes of the person who petitions it. So the words murder and killing are

inappropriate when referring to physician assistance in dying.

In 1995, the Center for Ethics in Health Care at the Oregon Health Sciences University in

Portland surveyed 2,761 of the states physicians after Oregon voters passed

Measure 16 allowing physician aid-in-dying. This was the result: 73% believed

that terminally ill persons have the right to suicide; 66% believed that

physician assisted suicide is ethical; 60% believed that physician assisted

suicide should be legal; 46% would be willing to comply with a patients valid

request; 21% had been asked for a lethal prescription in the past year; 7% had

written a lethal prescription before Measure 16 passed. Some opponents argue

that, if physicians become killers, they will lose the respect of their

patients and many people will be afraid to go to a doctor. A doctor, who helps

mercifully to end suffering, gains respect because of the compassion such an

act conveys. Families are grateful to physicians who help them in such a grave

situation. People appreciate a veterinarian who puts to sleep a pet to end

suffering. These people do not suspect that this same veterinarian will kill

other pets brought in to them for healing. People loyally return to their

veterinarian who is there when you need it the most.

Different religions have different views when it comes to assisted suicide. Many religions leave

it to their members individual conscience. The Roman Catholic Church

prohibits the choice, defining it as a mortal sin. Fifty-five percent of the

Protestants and 69% of Jewish faith endorsed it. Among Roman Catholics a

surprising 61% support physician assistance-in-dying even though their

churchs doctrine prohibits it. Only the Unitarian church has officially

endorsed the right to die.

Some elderly people cant deal with the pain and

suffering anymore so they deal with it their own ways. There is no better

evidence for the fact that people need the compassionate help of a doctor to

escape suffering. There was research done on adults 75 and older that

committed suicide. This was the result of the research. 93 used drugs 17

swallowed agricultural chemicals 2 took corrosive or caustic substances 78

used carbon monoxide (includes car exhaust) 171 hanged themselves 46

suffocated by using plastic 40 drowned themselves 130 used firearms 14 used

cutting or piercing instruments 34 jumped from high places 15 jumped or lay in

front of a moving object 10 burnt themselves to death 10 electrocuted


About 50% of patients admitted to an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) on

respirators are terminally ill. It costs about $10,000 a week to keep a person

on a respirator in an ICU. Often this money is spent on obviously terminally

ill patients with virtually no chance of recovery. Doctors Knaus and Wagner

wrote in Science, In many cases, intrusive and complicated machinery is

wheeled in to keep vital signs going, to give treatment of no benefit and

tremendous cost, depriving others of treatment while dignity disappears. (14)

Note, too, that when the machines are wheeled in, loved ones are often

escorted out. There is concern throughout the world over denial of human

rights. The violations include imprisonment without trial, torture, killings,

and discrimination against women, racial, religious and political groups. A

less recognized but also important violation is increasingly occurring in our

freedom-loving country. We deny incurable patients the right to die with

dignity and to hasten a lingering, painful dying. Individuals who have lived

free lives, making their own personal decisions since childhood, are being

denied this last choice. George Carlin said The most unfair thing about life

is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes a lot of your time. What

do you get at the end of it? A Death! What’s that – a bonus? I think the life

cycle is backwards. You should die first; get it out of the way. Then you life

in an old age home. You get kicked out when you’re too young. You get a gold

watch. You go to work. You work forty years until you’re young enough to enjoy

your retirement. You party. You get ready for high school. You go to grade

school. You become a kid. You play. You have no responsibilities. You become a

little baby. You go back into the womb. You spend your last five months

floating…and you finish off as an orgasm!

Works Cited

McCuen, G.E. (1994) Doctor Assisted Suicide and The Euthanasia Movement.

Hudson, WI: Gary E. McCuen Publications, Inc., (1989) Euthanasia Opposing

Viewpoints. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, Inc., Singer, Peter. (1995)

Rethinking Life and Death. New York: St. Martins Press., (1992) CQ Researcher.

Wash, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, Inc.,

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