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Euthanasia: A Fatal Decision

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A white flash of lightening catches the glint of frantic black eyes peering from beneath frazzled grey hair. Screaming to his assistant, the frenzied scientist paces before the lifeless body on the table; his creation. As the creaking chains raise the corpse out of the roofless laboratory, the scientist's evil laugh echoes up into night sky. This scene, often replayed in old films, captures the horror of unrestricted medical research. When a person who is ill decides that it is his or her time to die, they are, in effect, playing God by taking control of human life by deciding when it should end. Sidney Hook, an octogenarian, suffered to the point of requesting, but not receiving, his own extermination. In his article, In Defense of Voluntary Euthanasia, Hook argues that euthanasia provides an easy way to end suffering. Examining the pros and cons of euthanasia and its usefulness if legalized, it is clear that there are very few benefits involved. When death is made a legal and easy option, it is an attempt to take full control of life and, by doing so, opening the door to more abuse than benefits.

Euthanasia is the practice of putting to death persons who have incurable, painful, or

distressing diseases or handicaps. It is commonly called mercy killing. Voluntary euthanasia

may occur when individuals who are incurably ill ask their physician to put them to death or the

patient may ask a doctor to withhold treatment, allowing them to die more rapidly. Many

opponents of euthanasia contend that too often doctors and others in the medical profession play

God on operating tables and in recovery rooms. They argue that no medical professional should

be allowed to decide who lives and who dies. This is true. The time when a person dies is a

decision only God should make.

On the other hand, why would anyone want to keep a person who is desiring death from

making that choice? Seneca, a well-known philosopher once said, "The wise man will live as

long as he ought, not as long as he can" (qtd. in Hook 484). A considerable amount of society is

in favor of euthanasia mostly because they feel that we, as free individuals, should have the right

to decide for ourselves when to terminate life, especially when an individual is suffering from an

incurable disease. No one wants to end up plugged into machines and wired to tubes. However,

as euthanasia is an irreversible decision, it should not be left to someone whose mind has been

altered by medication, pain, or depression. Life still has meaning, even when seen through the

eyes of suffering.

Although the benefits of euthanasia include ending pain, misery, and humiliation, there

are many other medical issues that would arise if euthanasia were to be legalized. There would

be reduced pressure to improve treatment that aid the sick and dying. The bettering of terminal

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