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There are many sides to the dilemma of whether or not
euthanasia should be carried out. There is the question of morality, the
question of active versus passive euthanasia and the question of when
euthanasia should be put into use. None of these questions are totally
cut and dry. There seem to be more gray areas within this issue than
there are black and white. Yet when you look at the problem on a personal
level with the actual individuals involved, some of those gray areas
almost disappear. People are put on this earth to live. When it gets to
the point where the quality of a person\'s life gets so bad that they can
no longer function in the world, there is no reason to force that person
to stay alive. Euthanasia is therefore a necessary evil for those whose
practical life is in effect over due to a terminal illness or otherwise
life devastating condition.
If a person is in unbearable pain and close to death or is in a
vegetable state and no longer able to function, their life is by all
practical means over. There is no reason to keep them alive. The only
way to end their physical life is by euthanasia. The question is whether
to do this by way of active euthanasia or passive euthanasia. Many are
against active euthanasia because in this case you actually kill the
person rather than letting them die. But both methods are used for the
same end which is to end someone\'s life without further pain for the
patient as well as for the family. The only choice to make after this
fact is established is which of these means better carries out the end.
James Rachels, a philosophy professor, says that, "if one simply withholds
treatment [in the way of passive euthanasia], it may take the patient
longer to die, and so he may suffer more than he would if more direct
action were taken and a lethal injection given." (Rachels, p.111) This
defeats the purpose of euthanasia which is to end suffering. Therefore,
in cases where euthanasia is going to be carried out, active euthanasia is
the better choice.
The problem with euthanasia then lies in defining the conditions
under which it would be carried out. Cases where depression or painful,
though not terminal, diseases are involved should not have the option of
euthanasia. These people can recover from their illnesses and go on to
lead very fulfilling lives. Clear cut cases would be those in which the
patient has a terminal illness that causes them incredible pain as they
get closer to death. Euthanasia would end the needless suffering and
quicken the already inevitable death. There are also the cases involving
people in a vegetative state. Sometimes their bodies can function on
their own and live with the help of intravenous nourishment. Other times
they need countless machines to regulate their breathing as well as their
heart. In all of these cases the individual has lost the brain capacity
to be conscious and to think. Without our thoughts we would not truly be
alive. People in this condition can only cause pain to their loved ones.
There is no legitimate reason not to end their lives when their quality of
life has already deteriorated to almost nothing.
Cases in which a living will is concerned are legitimate since the
person involved has the right to dictate what happens to their bodies but
they are less clear cut. Take, for example, the case of a person who has
specified in their will not to take any extraordinary means by way of
medicine in order to save their life if a medical emergency were to come
up. This person then has a heart attack and dies because the doctors are
not allowed to do anything to save them. A heart attack is by no means a
terminal illness. Many people who have them survive with the help of
today\'s medical technology. Yet this person is allowed to die because
that is what they asked for. This is a form of passive voluntary
euthanasia. It is acceptable simply because it is voluntary and legally
bound to a living will.
Everyone has a different view on the acceptability of euthanasia.
What might seem legitimate to one person may be outrageous to another.
Religion plays a big part in this controversy and along with it, morals.
Because everyone has differing religions and morals, it would be near
impossible to make up a set of universal rules for
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Euthanasia, Medical ethics, James Rachels, Animal euthanasia, Voluntary euthanasia, Legality of euthanasia
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