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An essay donated by Sloan Zimmerman

Euthanasia: The Right Choice for Some

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There are many widely debated topics that divide, and even alienate, people in our country.   One such subject has been argued about for a very long time, and still, nothing much has been done about it.  Euthanasia, also known as Physician Assisted Suicide or PAS,  concerns many people.  Some are worried that physicians would kill people against their will or without their permission if euthanasia were made legal.   Others believe that life is a gift from God, and it therefore should not end unless it is God's will. This train of thought does not make sense.  Euthanasia can help relieve the extreme suffering of many people, and can be a preferred choice over slow, painful and often extremely expensive deaths.

The abuse of euthanasia by doctors is nothing to fear.  Specific conditions can be established under which a person may ask for and be granted euthanasia.  For example, a physician may be prevented from actually killing a person, or taking specific action to kill a person.  They could set up an apparatus, so that when the patient presses a button or removes a needle, they actually begin the euthanasia process themselves.  If a person asking for help in committing suicide was going through a period of depression or was not "of sound mind", they would not be given euthanasia. Instead, they would be given treatment for their depression.  Neither family or friends could ask for help in place of the person requesting assistance. No one other than the patient could decide whether or not their life was worth living, or whether or not they could continue to contribute to society.  Such guidelines would tightly restrict euthanasia so that it is not abused or initiated improperly.

Another way people justify their claim that euthanasia is wrong is through their religion or faith.  People have claimed that suicide (physician-assisted or not) is "considered as a rejection of God's sovereignty and loving plan". 1  Others claim that "we are obligated to accept life gratefully and preserve it for His honor and the salvation of our souls". 2  These very religious people try to use their beliefs to forbid anyone else from practicing or supporting euthanasia.  However, do we not live in a country established to protect individual rights and freedoms, including the right to freely practice (or not) the faith of our choice?  It is against our constitution and customs to force a religious principle or religious-based law on all people whether they practice that particular religion or not.  If we allow these religious beliefs to govern our laws, then we are going against everything that so many of our ancestors fought for -- religious freedom for all.

Euthanasia can be of great benefit to the patients most in need of it. Many people live the ends of their lives in severe, almost unbearable pain. Euthanasia would only speed up the inevitable, but would save those persons from so much needless suffering.  Euthanasia is also sometimes sought when the necessary medical expense to prolong a person's life for a very short time becomes incredibly large.  Such patients may wish to pass any money on to relatives in their wills, or they may not wish to bankrupt their family by their final illness.  In still other cases, people are affected by a serious disorder or disease that greatly diminishes their quality of life. They may not wish to continue their hard life with no hope of relief. Still others feel that being severely ill and being cared for so continuously causes a loss of independence and dignity.  Even if they never actually choose euthanasia, many wish to have the option available if it ever becomes necessary.

It should be apparent that euthanasia can be a positive option.  Many people's severe suffering can be eliminated, merely by speeding up the inevitable natural process of death.  I feel that those who oppose euthanasia, or use some of the counter-arguments I have mentioned, have just not thought thoroughly about the issue from the viewpoint of a suffering patient near the end of life.  Restrictions and guidelines can prevent the abuse of euthanasia, and religion is not a valid or appropriate reason.  It should not be in anyone's power to force their religion beliefs into the law and onto those who do not share that religion. The minds of such people should be moved, or at least an attempt should be made to convince them.

I plan to send a letter to the authors of a web site on euthanasia. Hopefully they will take my thoughts and arguments into consideration.  But if they do not, I still intend to keep influencing people, even if it is just by debating the issue at home.  If I can properly express my opinions to others, then there is a greater possibility that they will change their minds, or pass on my thoughts.  I could also write to people such as journalists who have more of an influence on society than I do.  In any case, I hope to change the minds of those who still reject euthanasia. Even if I persuade only one person, it will be worth the effort.

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Reference used:

  1. "Declaration on Euthanasia," Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1980-MAY-05, at: http://www.newadvent.org/.
  2. "Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd edition, Article 5, Topic 2280," at: http://www.scborromeo.org/

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Originally posted: 2005-NOV-22
Latest update: 2011-AUG-13
Author: Sloan Zimmerman

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