Euthanasia Essay – The Need for Physician Assisted

Suicide euthanasia argumentative persuasive essaysThe Need for Physician Assisted Suicide

Man is born with death in his hand. We all will
die. We may be able to postpone death but we cannot avoid it. We all die of
something, somewhere, somehow. Although we cannot avoid death, we can control
the death caused by a terminal illness. We can determine how, when, where, and
with whom we die.

Right now at this time, there are over 10,000 patients in
the United States that are in a permanent vegetative state. Also there are
thousands of handicapped infants born each year. With the technology we have
today, we are able to help people survive for long periods. About two million
Americans die every year. About 85% of them are in an institution. 80% involve
a decision by someone to try to prolong life or to let it go. It is estimated
that around four of every five Americans will die of lingering, chronic
illness, which cannot be cured but can be artificially prolonged. Odds are not
in your favor to die naturally at home.

The following are some thing to clear
up any confusion about assisted suicide and euthanasia. Euthanasia is act of
mercifully ending the life of a hopelessly suffering patient; taken from a
similar Greek word meaning “easy or good death” Physician-Assisted Suicide –
assisted by a qualified medical practitioner in fulfilling the wishes of a
competent, terminally-ill patient to end his/her own life, usually by means of
lethal injections. The difference between the two is during euthanasia is when
death itself occurs, it’s carried out by the doctor but in doctor-assisted
suicides, the patient fulfills the final step of terminating his/her own life.

“Passive” Euthanasia is ending a patient’s life by withholding or withdrawing
life-sustaining treatments, and “Active” Euthanasia is causing a virtually
painless death by means without which life would continue naturally, usually
referring to lethal injections and lastly, suicide is the act of taking one’s
own life voluntarily and intentionally.

A very well talked about doctor who
assists in suicide is Dr. Jack Kevorkian. He has pointed out the benefits of
assisted suicide. Some of those are that it reduces patient’s suffering family
and friends of patient. Dr. Kevorkian also asks his own patients to donate
vital organs or undergo a critical medical experiment, which helps science,
medicine, society, and the lives of others. Dr. Kevorkian made up a way of his
suicide apparatus, which he called mercitron. This was invented in 1989.
This is how it worked. There was a salt solution that runs from a needle
through the veins. When ready the patient pulls plunger, injection a solution
into their veins putting then to sleep in 10 to 15 seconds. One-minute later4
a final lethal solution goes through the needle into their veins. Dr.
Kevorkian explained the difference between mercitron and euthanasia. “It’s
like giving someone a loaded gun. The patient pulls the trigger, not the
doctor. If the doctor sets up the needle and syringe but lets the patient pull
the plunger, that’s assisted suicide. If the doctor pushed to plunger, it
would be euthanasia.” (McCuen 34)

Some people say that assisted suicide is
like playing God but when are we playing God. Is it when we pull the plug or
really when we plug it in? What about birth control or blood transfusions or
heart surgery. An example I found was about a lady named Nancy Cruzan. She was
a 32 year-old Missouri woman that was in a vegetative state for seven years
after an auto accident. Her family fought all the way up to the Supreme Court
to get her off artificial nutrition and hydration. Finally, it was allowed.
When the day came to take the tubes out, nineteen people stormed the facility
to try to put the tubes back in. They were arrested and placed in jail. Now
thats playing God

The sixth Commandment states simply “Thou shalt not
kill.” However, there are 62 verses in the Bible calling for killing as a
punishment. Aid-in-dying is not killing. Killing means doing something to
somebody against their will to end their life. Physician aid-in-dying is doing
something with someone who requests it to end their dying. Murder and killing
are done against the victims will. Physician aid-in-dying is done with the
wishes of the person who petitions it. So the words murder and killing are
inappropriate when referring to physician assistance in dying.


In 1995, the Center for Ethics in Health Care at the Oregon Health Sciences University in
Portland surveyed 2,761 of the states physicians after Oregon voters passed
Measure 16 allowing physician aid-in-dying. This was the result: 73% believed
that terminally ill persons have the right to suicide; 66% believed that
physician assisted suicide is ethical; 60% believed that physician assisted
suicide should be legal; 46% would be willing to comply with a patients valid
request; 21% had been asked for a lethal prescription in the past year; 7% had
written a lethal prescription before Measure 16 passed. Some opponents argue
that, if physicians become killers, they will lose the respect of their
patients and many people will be afraid to go to a doctor. A doctor, who helps
mercifully to end suffering, gains respect because of the compassion such an
act conveys. Families are grateful to physicians who help them in such a grave
situation. People appreciate a veterinarian who puts to sleep a pet to end
suffering. These people do not suspect that this same veterinarian will kill
other pets brought in to them for healing. People loyally return to their
veterinarian who is there when you need it the most.

Different religions have different views when it comes to assisted suicide. Many religions leave
it to their members individual conscience. The Roman Catholic Church
prohibits the choice, defining it as a mortal sin. Fifty-five percent of the
Protestants and 69% of Jewish faith endorsed it. Among Roman Catholics a
surprising 61% support physician assistance-in-dying even though their
churchs doctrine prohibits it. Only the Unitarian church has officially
endorsed the right to die.

Some elderly people cant deal with the pain and
suffering anymore so they deal with it their own ways. There is no better
evidence for the fact that people need the compassionate help of a doctor to
escape suffering. There was research done on adults 75 and older that
committed suicide. This was the result of the research. 93 used drugs 17
swallowed agricultural chemicals 2 took corrosive or caustic substances 78
used carbon monoxide (includes car exhaust) 171 hanged themselves 46
suffocated by using plastic 40 drowned themselves 130 used firearms 14 used
cutting or piercing instruments 34 jumped from high places 15 jumped or lay in
front of a moving object 10 burnt themselves to death 10 electrocuted
themselves.

About 50% of patients admitted to an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) on
respirators are terminally ill. It costs about $10,000 a week to keep a person
on a respirator in an ICU. Often this money is spent on obviously terminally
ill patients with virtually no chance of recovery. Doctors Knaus and Wagner
wrote in Science, In many cases, intrusive and complicated machinery is
wheeled in to keep vital signs going, to give treatment of no benefit and
tremendous cost, depriving others of treatment while dignity disappears. (14)
Note, too, that when the machines are wheeled in, loved ones are often
escorted out. There is concern throughout the world over denial of human
rights. The violations include imprisonment without trial, torture, killings,
and discrimination against women, racial, religious and political groups. A
less recognized but also important violation is increasingly occurring in our
freedom-loving country. We deny incurable patients the right to die with
dignity and to hasten a lingering, painful dying. Individuals who have lived
free lives, making their own personal decisions since childhood, are being
denied this last choice. George Carlin said The most unfair thing about life
is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes a lot of your time. What
do you get at the end of it? A Death! What’s that – a bonus? I think the life
cycle is backwards. You should die first; get it out of the way. Then you life
in an old age home. You get kicked out when you’re too young. You get a gold
watch. You go to work. You work forty years until you’re young enough to enjoy
your retirement. You party. You get ready for high school. You go to grade
school. You become a kid. You play. You have no responsibilities. You become a
little baby. You go back into the womb. You spend your last five months
floating…and you finish off as an orgasm!

Works Cited
McCuen, G.E. (1994) Doctor Assisted Suicide and The Euthanasia Movement.
Hudson, WI: Gary E. McCuen Publications, Inc., (1989) Euthanasia Opposing
Viewpoints. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, Inc., Singer, Peter. (1995)
Rethinking Life and Death. New York: St. Martins Press., (1992) CQ Researcher.
Wash, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, Inc.,