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To Be Or Not To Be?

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Everyone can agree that it's never alright to murder someone. No one has a problem punishing a murderer. Why is it then that right here in America citizens of the state of Oregon have legalized physician assisted suicide [Oregon]? Is the term suicide easier to swallow than homicide? When is it ever ok in someone's heart to end another's life? The answer is never. Human life is much more precious than that of animals and should be treated accordingly. Terminally ill patients who wish to end their pain should be treated as any other suicidal person would be, with compassion and not some twisted definition of mercy.

The definition of euthanasia is pretty broad. This definition includes passive and active with subdivisions also including voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary. According to Jeff Rachels' definition, painlessly putting a person suffering from an incurable disease to death is considered active euthanasia, whereas passive refers to any action that allows a patient to die. Voluntary is with the full support of the patient. Non-voluntary is without the consent, unbeknownst to the patient, and involuntary is against the will of the patient [Euthanasia].

Someone might argue that all this sounds humane enough. Just as one would say putting a pet to "sleep" is humane. It's estimated by the National Council on Pet Population that nearly 9.6 million pets are euthanized annually in the United States [Animal]. Would it still be humane to put people to sleep at that rate?

How can one compare a human to an animal anyways? I understand that pets are considered part of a family, but to put them in the same category is a far stretch. For starters, pets can not give consent. It wouldn't be difficult to decide if an animal is suffering but the owner must decide whether or not to resort to euthanasia because it is impossible to read the animal's mind. Of course no one wishes for an animal to suffer and it is most certainly more humane to end the life of an ill pet than that of an ill loved one.

It is appropriate for the pet owner to make the decision because he or she owns the animal. People own only themselves. Parents do not own their children. Doctors certainly do not own their patients. Just because one cares for someone who is ill or disabled does not mean that he or she owns that person. As painful as a life might be, it still belongs to only one person. I am not talking legally; I am fully aware of wills and powers of attorney and all that. I am speaking solely on morals and ethics. The courts may grant someone custody but if that person is of good heart he will not view his loved one as a piece of property to do with at his sole discretion.

Who would be entitled to this physician assisted suicide? Those who were terminally ill or disabled? At what point does someone become terminally ill? Is it when medical science fails to find a cure or when there are not doctors available to perform the practices necessary? When is it allowable for someone to just give up?

Many argue that people with disabilities should have



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