Euthanasia: Who's Decision?

Craig Maurer
Professor Kuykendall
English IA T-TH
7 December 1998

People should have the right to choose whether they want to live or die when it is under certain circumstances. Euthanasia allows people to die a painless death when they feel they are ready. It is not something that should be used for a person who is depressed or who no longer wants to live, but in cases where patients have terrible illnesses or handicaps that they no longer wish to have burdening their lives. If people are truly mature enough and if they really think things through rationally, they can definitely make a decision about whether they want to live or die. A peaceful and painless death with dignity is a right that should be guaranteed to every human being.
Religion sparks some of the most controversial thoughts on euthanasia. Most people involved in religion see suicide as outright wrong no matter what the circumstances. Most religions stress that God is the one who gives humans life so, therefore, He is the only one able to take it away. In the information Plus series on death and Dying, a claim was made that "Neither the Old nor the New Testament explicitly prohibits the act"(59). When people claim that the bible does not specifically identify suicide as wrong, then why is there so much religious controversy? Many religious people have answered this question by stating their beliefs that there does not need to be anything written down in the bible about suicide because the act is such a terrible and unacceptable thing. The truth of the matter is that people just need to look at their own beliefs and realize that not everyone is alike. Many different religions exist and many people also claim to not have a religion of their own or a belief in God at all. These peoples rights and thoughts should definitely be taken into account. A positive thing is happening though, is that numerous amounts of people are changing their attitudes towards suicide and euthanasia when it comes to religion. Rather than viewing these subjects as wrong, more people are becoming sympathetic. The view that God does not want to see humans in pain and that He is truly loving and tolerant has become more common. As a result to these changing views of people, some religions are changing their philosophies. The Unitarian Universalist Association, which is the Unitarian and Universalist churches combined, has actually begun to support voluntary euthanasia. This association has made a ground breaking step into the future for euthanasia. Basically it all comes down to the fact that people have a right to their beliefs, whatever they may be. It is essential that everyone's beliefs be respected. If someone believes that euthanasia is the correct answer then the right should be there for those people.
People deserve the right to decide whether they want to live or die. A court case decision on March 6, 1996, found that the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees this personal liberty,"A competent, terminally ill adult, having lived nearly the full measure of his life, has a strong liberty interest in choosing a dignified and humane death rather than being reduced at the end of his existence to a childlike state of helplessness, diapered, sedated, incompetent"(81). This court case struck down a law that made assisted suicide a felony but still today, not many people are able to choose whether they want to die or not. Recently more and more organizations that support euthanasia have begun to emerge. These organizations fight for the public's right's . Derek Humphry started one of the most well known organizations for euthanasia. They named themselves The National Hemlock Society. The go by the motto," A good life, a good death." Yet another organization devotes itself to justifiable suicide. They call themselves The Euthanasia Research and Guidance Organization. Derek Humphry also founded this group. Most euthanasia support groups contain quite in depth philosophies and agendas. They support that people need to have definite reasons and follow ethical and reasonable guidelines for euthanasia. These organizations and many more see that this gets done. Euthanasia is not for everyone. An example of some of these guidelines are that the person is a mature adult, that they make a definite decision