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Death: Is It Really Your Choice?

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Autor:   •  December 17, 2010  •  972 Words (4 Pages)  •  473 Views

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The word euthanasia comes from the greek-eu, "good," and thanatos, "death," But the term has acquired a more complex meaning in recent times (Humphry). Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a pathologist states that, "Physician-assisted suicide is the provision by a doctor, consciously or legally, to a patient who has competently requested it, of the means for that patient to end his or her own life". He, like many other doctors that perform euthanasia, can be considered either a killer or an advocate for terminally-ill patients. Although euthanasia can be assumed to be an easy way out of life, people struggling from medical conditions that cause extreme suffering should be allowed the option. Therefore, assisted suicide should be legalized in the United States.

As McCuen states," Physician-assisted suicide leaves no doubt as to the fact that the patient has the final decision". In 1988, Kevorkian invented what is known as the "suicide machine" that allowed the patient to pull a switch and release a great deal of drugs into their system. For this reason, Michigan revoked Mr. Kevorkian's medical license three years later and he was no longer able to write prescriptions for lethal medications. As a result, doctors began the use of carbon monoxide in assisted suicides. (Humphry). This was not the first sign of activity, though. In fact, in ancient societies, ill people requested to have their dying hastened, though the meaning of euthanasia for them differed from the meaning today. This differs because of new technology and social, scientific, and moral beliefs of American society (McCuen 15).

Britain began the first present-day look into euthanasia in the late 1930's. Doctors called for the active killing of patients in the vegetative state (PVS), so their organs could be used for transplantation to save the lives of others. This stirred up much controversy in the 1970's though, making the public question "the reliability and even the definition of the diagnosis of the PVS" (McCord 15).

Currently, Oregon is the only state in America to allow medical suicide and this occurred in 1994. The ballot was called the Oregon Death with Dignity Act (ODWDA) and it set forward a number of requirements for the prescription of "medical" killers, including the concurrence of two qualified physicians and the written consent of the patient (McCord 17). ODWDA also required Oregon to issue an annual summary of euthanasia practices in the state; the 2005 report, issued by the Oregon Department of Human Services, states that in the seven years since the law's enactment, 208 patients have taken their lives with a lethal dose of "medicine" (McCuen 48). In addition, the permitted disconnection/declining use of life support, or "Living Wills" began shortly after euthanasia went public (Freer, M.D.).

Similarly, both Belgium and the Netherlands have joined the fight for assisted suicide. In April of 2001, the senate enacted a law that made the Netherlands the first country to allow euthanasia to suffering patients. Their law stated that doctors must be convinced that the patient's request is well-considered and voluntary, that the illness is unbearable, have reached the conclusion that there is not any other reasonable alternative and that the doctor has carried out the procedure in a medically appropriate fashion (Ireland). Twenty-five thousand deaths a year or 19.4 % of all deaths in the Netherlands are caused by euthanasia many


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