Euthanasia is the practice of providing east death to patients with chronic diseases with no hopes of recovery. It is done only with the consent of the patient or the close family members however, is a largely illegal medical practice in most parts of the world. The topic of the report is the legalization of euthanasia in the United States, where like many other countries euthanasia is illegal in most states. In some of the states of the US assisted suicide is legal only in certain exceptional cases. In certain cases terminally ill patients who would have to suffer long before their inevitable death due to their conditions do deserve lesser painful deaths. However, there are many ethical questions that exist in the society and particularly among medical practitioners in regards to euthanasia.
The thesis statement that will be used for the study is that legalization of euthanasia is very important as some patients lose hope for survival and live the rest of their lives in great pain and anguish. Hence, despite the opposing humanitarian ground it sometimes becomes a humanitarian act to relieve someone of their irrecoverable situations. The humanitarian ground that aims at opposing the conditions of euthanasia states that the people who have been requesting for euthanasia might be subjected to several other ways of treatment like the hospices and other palliative cares. The other reasons that are cited against the implementation of euthanasia might lead to the conditions wherein right of life of the patient will have a higher chance of being controlled by the doctors leading to the unrestricted and uncontrolled nature of the euthanasia treatment. The implementation of the euthanasia plans might further lead to the issues wherein it would become a duty on the part of the doctors to perform the murder of the patient due to the implementation of the right to die on the part of the patient. There are often observed non-reported cases of euthanasia as well.
Certain medical conditions leave patients terminally ill. However, at the same time it takes much longer for their actual death to occur. Leaving them to suffer from conditions that are worse than death in the process. On the one hand there remains no hope for their recovery from the medical conditions and on the other hand they are to suffer from great pain because of their conditions that will cause their slow deaths. It is exactly in these cases that euthanasia becomes a bigger debate. Some medical practitioners argue that at times the right to choose one’s own death is in line with the concepts of human rights.
According to Chaloner and Karen (pp. 45) laws need to be changed in relation to euthanasia considering some of the health conditions that have been witnessed over the years. They further opine that the perspective of the people in regards to euthanasia is controlled more by emotional values than factual evidence gathered from cases. Some articles have opined that a person has a right to death that is as much important as the right to life. In many countries terminally ill patients are left at home where they suffer greatly till they eventually die a slow death (Sydney Morning Herald). In the United States the cases such as Karen Ann Quinlan case of 1976 have aggravated the debate regarding euthanasia. Quinlan was declared to be in a vegetative state after she drank alcohol with tranquilizers. Her parents fought a long and hard case in the court of New Jersey to remove her from ventilation. The parents won the case and ventilation was removed. However, she continued to live till 1985 staying brain dead till she died.
Another such case of euthanasia might refer to the case of the 29-year old Brittany Maynard. The lady and her husband had made it to the headlines with their confession that they would like to take advantage of the legal conditions that are maintained by the governmental body of the state of Oregon (Eleftheriou-Smith). In this case, the lady was diagnosed with the terminal disease of brain cancer, medically known as glioblastoma. The lady was diagnosed when the disease was at its fourth stage and there was no chance of the person surviving the disease. The couple had announced their decision to take advantage of the legal structure of the state of Oregon (Bever). In this state the terminally ill patients are legally allowed to attempt suicide with the help of the medical drugs that are prescribed by the doctors. The law is majorly known as the “Death With Dignity Law” (Maynard). This law was put to action in the year 1994 and was the sole reason behind the relocation of Brittany Maynard and her husband from the Californian territories. The patient in this case, Brittany Maynard had undertaken a diagnosis in the year 2014 and had been declared to be terminally ill with a lifetime of 6 months left (Fox-Leonard). The lady died later in the same year surrounded by her loved ones in her own comfort zone. She had taken lethal drugs that were prescribed to her by a doctor, a legalised activity in the state of Oregon. The death of Maynard has further sparked the debate for the legalisation of euthanasia.
Opposing view explanation
According to Hyde (pp. 55) euthanasia from an ideological or philosophical perspective is unacceptable. The argument provided by the author is that medical euthanasia could become an excuse for medical institutions to unethically deal with terminally ill patients. He opines it is a form of murder hidden behind medical factors. Various religious leaders have also opposed euthanasia claiming that it is a sin and a crime to end one’s life before the natural death. There are also ongoing debates in relation to how far ethical standards can be maintained if also euthanasia is legalized. Hence, a persistent social debate remains in relation to the legalization in the World. The United States is also affected greatly by this debate (Hudson).
Popular opinions among the public varies greatly in relation to the acceptability of euthanasia as a valid and legal medical purpose. It has been seen that communities that have lower trust on medical institutions have not favoured the legalization of euthanasia in the US (Emanuel). These communities include the various non-governmental organisations that have been active within the political territories of the country. There are certain states within the territorial boundaries of the United States that disapprove of the steps to legalize the activity of euthanasia. These include the states like Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts and other such states. Church authorities have strongly condemned euthanasia. Moreover, in a survey held across the United States in regards to the legalization of euthanasia it was found that white Americans voted more in favour of euthanasia whereas African Americans were more sceptical about the same. The strongest argument against euthanasia in the US are concerning how if legalized it can be used unfairly to target the poor. Moreover, insurance company can save money due to the death through euthanasia of insured individuals. Some have opine it can create an opportunity for crimes such as murder (Brennan).
The most important arguments against the favour of euthanasia are in relation to the potentially dangerous legal issues that can arise if euthanasia is legalized. This argument can be said to be a genuine concern. However, euthanasia cannot be legalized directly without strong laws backing the regulations behind its implementation. According to Dinchi (pp. 67), the main idea behind euthanasia is that the doctor is helping the patients avoid great pain and slow death by giving them an easier relief. The major reason behind the legalisation of euthanasia is the fact that the patients will eventually die a painful death due to the chronic, incurable and fatal diseases they are suffering from. Hence, the argument is not in favour of euthanasia being used freely across medical institution upon being legalized. However, it is in favour of providing a handful of very unfortunate people, the right to death with dignity (Luzon). Most people that are in favour of euthanasia want it to be implemented only in the rarest of rare cases. Only under circumstances where the context will be absolutely clear and as far as possible the consent of the patient will be available without any form of emotional or psychological force being applied. The only aim is thus to reduce the pain of fatally suffering people and relieve them in a better way, as death in certain cases becomes inevitable for patients.
The activity of legalising the self-implemented techniques to fasten death in case of the terminally ill patients is known to have an array of benefits for the concerned patient. The primary reason stated by the concerned advocates of the activity discusses the fact that the given patient should be allowed the freedom to choose to live or to end his own life on the basis of the medical condition that he might be facing (Coleman). The advocates of euthanasia further state that the people who have been suffering from the various terminal diseases should not be forced to continue with their lives despite having no choice but to endure the distress that they have been facing. Barry et al. state that the euthanasic treatment might be implemented in the cases keeping in mind the best interests of the people who have been involved within the entire processes. The implementation of euthanasia in case of the terminally ill patients is known to be a boon in some cases as well (Raus). However, it should be taken into consideration that the implementation of euthanasia should be in favour of the best interests of all the parties who are involved in the process. The implementation of euthanasia might also help to provide the concerned patients with an effective way of dealing with their deaths. Bergum opines that the process of euthanasia also helps in providing the concerned patients with curable diseases with the scope of accessing and availing the resources that are being utilized for the treatment of the terminally ill patients.
In conclusion it can be said that the debate in regards to the legalization of euthanasia in the US can guide the debate in regards to the same across the world. Hence, it becomes much important that a consensus is reached among policymakers, medical authorities and other important personnel in regards to the legalization process of euthanasia. The debate has been ongoing for a long time and it is necessary that effective steps are taken towards creating positive regulations in favour of right to death. The treatment of euthanasia might be implemented in the cases keeping in mind the best interests of the people who have been involved within the entire processes. The implementation of euthanasia in case of the terminally ill patients is known to be a boon in some cases as well. The strongest argument against euthanasia in the US are concerning how if legalized it can be used unfairly to target the poor.
"A right to death, surely, as much as a right to life." Sydney Morning Herald [Sydney, Australia] 22 Oct. 2012: 10. Academic OneFile. Web. 29 Oct. 2012.
Barry, Luke, et al. "Euthanasia, religiosity and the valuation of health states: results from an Irish EQ5D5L valuation study and their implications for anchor values." Health and quality of life outcomes 16.1 (2018): 152.
Bergum, Vangie. "Discourse-Ethical Challenges of the 21st Century: Attending to Relations." Canadian Journal of Nursing Research Archive 34.2 (2016).
Bever, Lindsey. "Brittany Maynard, As Promised, Ends Her Life At 29." The Washington Post. N.p., 2018. Web. 18 Nov. 2018.
Brennan, Frank. "Oregon on the euthanasia slippery slope." Eureka Street 21.12 (2011): 18.
Chaloner, Chris, and Karen Sanders. "Euthanasia: the legal issues." Nursing standard 21.36 (2007).
Coleman, Lauren. "Thou Shalt Not Kill; But Needst Not Strive Officiously to Keep Alive: A Study into the Debate Surrounding Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide." NEL Rev. 3 (2015): 113.
Dinchi, J. (2010, June 7). Death with dignity
Eleftheriou-Smith, Loulla-Mae. "'Goodbye World' Writes Terminally Ill Brittany Maynard As She Chooses To End Her Life." The Independent. N.p., 2018. Web. 18 Nov. 2018.
Emanuel, Ezekiel J., et al. "Attitudes and practices of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in the United States, Canada, and Europe." Jama 316.1 (2016): 79-90.
Fox-Leonard, Boudicca. "My Daughter Brittany Maynard Fought For The Right To Die - But Her Spirit Lives On." The Telegraph. N.p., 2018. Web. 18 Nov. 2018.
Hudson, Peter, et al. "Legalizing physician-assisted suicide and/or euthanasia: Pragmatic implications." Palliative & supportive care 13.5 (2015): 1399-1409.
Hyde, Michael J. The call of conscience: Heidegger and Levinas, rhetoric and the euthanasia debate. Univ of South Carolina Press, 2001.
Luzon, Golan. "The Practice of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide Meets the Concept of Legalization." Criminal Law and Philosophy (2015): 1-17.
Maynard, Brittany. "My Right To Death With Dignity At 29." CNN. N.p., 2018. Web. 18 Nov. 2018.
Raus, Kasper. "The extension of Belgium’s euthanasia law to include competent minors." Journal of bioethical inquiry 13.2 (2016): 305-315.