Euthanasia: The Right to Die


Thesis: Euthanasia should be legalized so, if we ever have a
loved one that is suffering and death is certain,
that we have the choice to ease their pain if they
want.

I. Introduction

A. Examples showing why euthanasia is
receiving national attention.

B. A summary of reasons offered by those opposed
to euthanasia is given.

C. A summary of reasons offered by those in favor
of euthanasia is given.

D. Transition into my argument.

II. Body

A. A person has the right to die with dignity.

B. Everything should not be done to prolong life
if the patient does not want it.

C. Doctors are not always responsible to do
everything they can to save somebody.

D. Refute the argument that euthanasia is
unethical.

III. Conclusion

A. Thoughts on freedom people have.

B. A quote to end with.

"A dying man needs to die, as a sleepy man needs to sleep, and there comes a
time when it is wrong, as well as useless to resist."
-Steward Alsop, Stay of Execution


Euthanasia has become an issue of increasing attention because of Dr.
Jack Kevorkian's assisted suicides. As of October 21 Kevorkian has assisted in
nineteen suicides. Because of the increasing number of suicides in Michigan,
Gov. Engler signed an anti-suicide law in late February that made doctor-
assisted suicides a felony. During the 21-month trial period of the new law
anyone assisting in a suicide can be sentenced to up to four years in prison and
fined more than $2,000 (Reuters, 1993).
With the passing of this law I thought that most people would be against
the right-to-die, not so. In a poll cited in a 1991 issue of USA Today eighty
percent of Americans think sometimes there are circumstances when a patient
should be allowed to die, compared to only fifteen percent think doctors and
nurses should always do everything possible to save a person's life. It also
showed that eight in ten adults approve of state laws that allow medical care
for the terminally ill to be removed or withheld, if that is what the patient
"wishes", whereas only thirteen percent disapproved of the laws. Also seventy
percent think the family should be allowed to make the decision about treatment
on behalf of the patient, while another five percent think this is suitable only
in some cases (Colasnto, 1991, p. 62).
The results on mercy killing surprised me even more. Seventy percent
think it is justified at least sometimes for a person to kill his or her spouse,
if he or she is suffering terrible pain caused by a terminal illness. Even
suicide is starting to be accepted. About half the public think a "moral right"
to suicide exists if a person has an incurable disease or is suffering great
pain with no hope of recovering(Colasnto, 1991, p. 63).
About half of those with living parents think their mothers and fathers
would want medical treatment stopped if they were suffering a great deal of pain
in a terminal disease or if they became totally dependant on a family member,
and forty percent of their parents would want medical treatment stopped if daily
activities became a burden(Colasnto,1991, p. 63).
With the continuous coverage of Dr. Kevorkian the views of people will
continue to change. Euthanasia will continue to become more of an issue.
As with any issue, each viewpoint is supported by many reasons. Those
who oppose euthanasia argue that the medical profession must always be on the
side of "preserving life" (Schofield, 1988, p. 24). Another reason is
euthanasia will lead to the "devaluation of life" (Low, 1989, p. 37). Also they
think it will force doctors and family members to "judge the value of a
patient's life". Critics also say that acceptance will spread from the
terminally ill to the less serious ill, the handicapped, or the mentally
retarded. (Russ, 1989, p. 117)
One reason that just about everyone who favors euthanasia agrees with is
that a person has the right to a death with dignity. Another reason is a person
should be allowed a "natural death" instead of a prolonged death with medical
equipment(Battin, 1985, p. 19). Still another reason is that doctors are
supposed to ease the pain of people not prolong it (Battin, 1989, p. 19).
Death is one of the few things that all people have in common. This
means that there is a chance for anyone to face the decision of letting someone
go. Euthanasia should be legalized so people will only have to think about the
difficult decision of the present and not about the consequences of the future.
One