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Essay Mercy Killing

Essay by   •  July 15, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,398 Words (6 Pages)  •  2,091 Views

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There are many topics in today's society that arouse conflicting feelings in a person. A family who has to watch a loved one die, or know someone who deals with the agony of having a wife in hospice would have a dilemma on their hands. Going through an experience like this, when all you want to do is help the sick person, it can have a great impact on one's personal morals and ethical beliefs. For instance, would you want to "help" someone if the only thing you could do is end their pain and suffering? I believe this is an important topic and that euthanasia should be legalized and accepted, both passive and active.

Watching someone dying in pain is most likely the worst thing a person can do. Death is not a pleasant experience for the patient or the family. Even in a hospice situation, when the patient's suffering is being "managed", it is still awful. One of the most well known "mercy killings" was performed by Dr. Jack Kevorkian in 1998. Dr. Kevorkian received a prison sentence in 1999 after assisting the patient, Thomas Youk who suffered from Lou Gehrig's disease. Dr. Kevorkian is a right-to-die activist and claims to have assisted in at least 130 patients' deaths. He famously said that "dying is not a crime" (Jack Kevorkian, 2011).

After our discussions in class, the author I feel best conveys my opinion is James Rachels. Rachels argues that "active euthanasia may be more humane" (Mappes, 2007). I agree completely with this statement. Rachels gives the example of the patient with throat cancer, who chooses to die via passive euthanasia where his treatment is withheld and is left for death. The man will then starve to death in an agony. Now, because he has already chosen death, why not end his suffering faster and more humane? Rachels says that "killing and letting someone die is morally equal" (Mappes, 2007). I agree as well. The Smith vs. Jones case proves that there is no moral difference between drowning a child and letting them drown. If it is morally equal, and passive euthanasia is already legal, then active euthanasia should also be legal.

Another author to mention, Potts, has an opposing view. Potts, who is against active euthanasia, describes nine risks. His nine arguments are: 1. Research - no one will need advancements if everyone opts for death. I do not agree because medical research is still ongoing and important. 2. Abandonment of hope - no miracles of recoveries. I think that hope is undying and will stay with those who hang strong. 3. Fear of Hospitals and Doctors. People will still need medical attention and will not avoid it because of this. 4. Oversight (Abuse) - paying doctor to persuade patients. This is scary but with the proper attention, it can be avoided. 5. Pressure on the patient. Again, scary to think about, but some outlined laws for qualifying for euthanasia could help. 6. Doctors - AMA oath. I do understand that doctors take oaths to "help not hurt"; however, this is the ultimate way to help a patient who is terminal. 7. Societal acceptance - doctors may have depression. Doctors, according to my brother who is in medical school, already have depression over those they cannot heal. 8. Slippery slope - where will it end? This is not a bad risk to me because with the proper laws and enforcement this is not something to fear. 9. Costs and benefits - cheaper to euthanize. There are always reasons to save money, but lines are not usually crossed because of them (Mappes, p 77-81).

To me, these nine risks are not unavoidable. For example, not all murderers get the death penalty. Only in the most extreme of cases should the most extreme actions be taken. Same goes for euthanasia. If a patient, with absolutely no hope of recovery has already chosen death, then they should have active euthanasia as a choice. As Rachels puts it, it is sometimes more humane to kill them. Active euthanasia should be an option for those terminally ill and wishing for death.

After speaking to my family about

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