Category: that act or practice of killing or
Euthanasia: A Necessary Relief
According to Websters Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, euthanasia is that
act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured
individuals (persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for
reasons of mercy. How can anyone disagree with this concept? Euthanasia is
acceptable when the person involved, or the family if the individual is
incapable, makes a conscious decision while suffering from an incurable disease.
The whole idea of assisted suicide was started in the thirties and forties
when Hitler went on his genocidal rampage. This fact alone gives the term euthanasia
a negative connotation, but one must examine the differences between our time
and his. Hitler was bent on exterminating Jews, even if he destroyed a few
thousand others before he found his focus (King 1). This is where the
distinction lies. Our society is out to relieve pain and suffering for certain
individuals who would benefit from it, not to cause it. Hitlers victims were
people who had no rights, choices, or any influence in the outcome of their
lives, and we, as a society, need to realize that although this trend may have
begun in Germany, everything hateful, cruel, and selfish ended there as well.
A persons right to choose is even incorporated into our national laws. The
Declaration of Independence states that a person has certain unalienable rights
which are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness (Day 2). According to
this statement, any person denied this right is a victim of violation. This
said, I do believe that there should be, and is to an extent, some distinction
between someone openly committing suicide for paltry, insignificant reasons, and
someone who is asking for death for health reasons of grief and misery. Given,
if a family loses a family member by the euthanasia technique, it can cause a
great deal of personal heartache, but that pain can be matched if not doubled to
have to see their loved one suffering in a bed not able to even care for
The legal jargon is another aspect of it. Dr. Jack Kevorkian was recently put
in jail for performing assisted suicides on patients. Even though Kevorkian had
a video to prove that the subject (Thomas Youk) was indeed consenting to this,
the doctor was sentenced to 10-25 years in jail (Humphry 1). As the law is at
present, we have difficulty justifying deaths that are unnatural and though the
issue of euthanasia is a fairly new problem, somehow we have got to come to some
conclusion. The law does not accept that a person can ask to be killed (Humphry
1). And why is that? The law needs to recognize that while it can decide what is
best for the nation as a whole, it cannot limit a persons rights when it
comes to making personal decisions. We are all taught to think for ourselves,
and one can only hope that we all make the right decisions.
Some people are of the opinion that it is cruel and inhumane to just kill
someone and while the definition of cruelty differs among people, inhumanity is
not an issue here. As practiced at the EXIT facility (Society for Human Dying)
An EXIT team member provides and anti-emetic to the patient and half an
hour later, 10 g of sodium pentobarbitone is given. Within five minutes, the
patient falls into a deep sleep and within two hours, with few exceptions, will
die peacefully. The team member stays with the patient until death occurs and
there is always a witness present, usually a close relative. (Schaer 1)
The process contains no coldness, just serenity and closeness. Other people
believe that instead of purposefully killing a person, would it not be better to
simply let them die naturally? They say that people should be offered an
alternative. For example if a person does not take food or water, he will die
a peaceful death in 2 days to 2 weeks. Usually it is less than a week
(Pilgrim 1). Essentially these people are opting to let the patient starve to
death or die from malnutrition. Assuming that the person is a proverbial
vegetable, this might be the favorable choice, but if the person is of sound
mind, that treatment is far more cruel that the typical medications that are
administered during euthanasia.
What it amounts to is the individuals choice versus the government versus
the familys choice. The man wants to go through with the process, the
government will not allow it, and the family wants the man to be at peace, but
does not want to let them go. Euthanasia might as well be spelled c-o-n-t-r-o-v-e-r-s-y
because it seems that we all go in circles with our points of view. What we need
to do is sit down and put ourselves in a situation of pain, suffering, and
incompetency, and then decide what we would like our outcome to be.
Day, Jackie. The Rights of Euthanasia. 1997. Online Posting. 18 June
Euthanasia. Websters Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. 1986 ed.
Humphry, Derek. Dr. Jack Kevorkian, prisoner # 284797. 20 April 1999.
Online Posting. 18 June 1999. http://www.finalexit.org/dr.k.html..
King, PJ. Lessons from History: Euthanasia in Nazi Germany. 4 October
1996. Online Posting. 19 June 1999. http://www.ohiolife.org/euth/nazieuth.htm.
Pilgrim, Ira. Birth and Death. 15 January 1999. Online Posting. 19 June
Schaer, Meinrad. The Practice of Assisted Suicide in Switzerland.
Online Posting. 18 June 1999. http://www.finalexit.org/swiss.html.