Euthanasia, also known as assisted suicide, is described as the requested termination of a life of someone who is capable of living his or her life but is terminally ill. Although euthanasia is highly debated, most people seem to be able to agree on one thing: euthanasia relieves a person of unnecessary and long-term suffering. There are two types of euthanasia. The first type is referred to as active euthanasia, which means that a physician gives their patient different types of drugs, sometimes called a “cocktail”, which, when taken by the patient, terminates their life. The second type is called passive euthanasia, which is where the patient refuses any types of drugs or treatments, which also eventually will terminate that patient’s life. Both types of euthanasia are highly debated. Euthanasia is illegal in every state in America, while assisted suicide is only legal in four (State-by-State Guide). The debate over the topic of euthanasia argues whether or not it should be legal for doctors to practice euthanasia on their patients in America.
Those against euthanasia and assisted suicide argue that it should be illegal because, not only is it morally wrong and against many religions for someone to take someone else’s life, but it can pose danger by doctors beginning to get too comfortable performing euthanasia and, in return, think it’s okay to euthanize patients with non-fatal cases. A doctor giving a patient a “cocktail” to drink, or drugs that will cause their life to end, is considered by many people to be the equivalent of murder; just as it would be considered murder for someone to shoot someone else, even if they requested to be shot. Doug Mcmanaman, who is opposed to euthanasia, states that, “It is never justified to intentionally bring an end to human life in order to relieve one of a burdensome existence” (Mcmanaman).
On another hand, arguments have been made that if an euthanasia law is passed, surrogates would then have the right to make the decision of being euthanized for people who are not competent to make the decision for themselves, which means they may have not wanted to be euthanized in the first place (Marker and Hamlon). Many religions and certain groups have especially decided to protest this topic, because they believe that everyone was put on this earth for a reason, and they should wait until it is their time to go – they shouldn’t have someone take their life for them.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide should be the patient’s choice because everybody should have the right to do what they want with their body. Everyone has the right to life, so they should be able to take that life away if they feel that is need-be and that is what they truly want. One person who agrees with a person’s right to euthanasia suggested that, “if we believe in the right to life, shouldn’t we likewise accept that people have a right to dispose of that life, regardless of health considerations, whenever and however they want (Cartwright)?” The people who have put laws into place against euthanasia do not understand what it is like to be terminally ill, to feel immense amounts of pain and to suffer every single day. These lawmakers view euthanasia completely different.
Of course, having the genuine want to die may seem a bit absurd and irrational to the average person who is healthy and enjoying their everyday-life. Nobody really could understand unless they are the doctor, the family of that patient, or the patient themself (Cartwright). Just like many of the laws that we have here in the United States, this topic really comes down to morality and what people believe is right and wrong. While both sides of the argument on euthanasia have drastically different point-of-views, there is actually some common ground that both sides share. When it comes down to it, both sides have the patient’s best interest at heart. They only want to help. The pro-euthanasia side is trying to have the patient’s best interest at heart by giving them a way to be put of their misery (Euthanasia: The Common Ground).
Although many people don’t understand that, they are just trying to give the patient a way to end their pain and suffering. The opposing side is trying to have the patient’s best interest at heart by keeping them alive – not wanting them to die (Euthanasia: The Common Ground). They believe that life is something greatly cherished and they want to preserve these people’s lives. Neither sides wants any harm done to these people.
It is hard to find compromise on this topic seeing as though it is so black and white. However, if the people of this country allow themselves to be a bit more open-minded to each side of the euthanasia debate, a compromise could be agreed on. Assisted suicide, which is where a physician provides lethal means to a patient with a fatal case, allows them to make the final decision in ending their life. Allowing this could still prevent the doctor from “murdering” their patient, but instead allowing the patient to do it themself, with some assistance. The only time euthanasia should be allowed is when a child is too young to make a decision for themselves, and the parent can make that decision for them. Jacob Appel stated that, “In matters of child dying, as in child rearing, an enlightened society should be willing to say that parents know best” (Appel).
A certain age of competence could be voted on. The outlaw of euthanasia could still remain illegal for people above that age of competence, since that requires a physician to physically perform something on a patient in order to end their life for them. With this compromise, both sides can be partially pleased. Euthanasia itself can remain illegal, while assisted suicide could be legalized. This way, the patient has full control over the decision that they want to make on their body, and a doctor cannot be blamed for murder.
Appel, Jacob M. “Parents Should Have the Right to Choose Assisted Suicide for Their Children.” Assisted Suicide. Ed. Noël Merino. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2012. Current Controversies. Rpt. from “Should Children Have a Right to Die?” Huffington Post. 2010. Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. Appel claims that parents should have the right to choose if their child should have assisted suicide. His claim states that parents always know best and if they are presented with a situation that is terminally fatal and the child has no chance of recovering from, the parent should have the option to have their child euthanized or not. He says that parents are expected to have their child’s best interest at heart, so they should be allowed to make this type of decision for them. Cartwright, Gary.
“Failing to Allow Assisted Suicide Results in Unnecessary Tragedies.” Assisted Suicide. Ed. Noël Merino. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2012. Current Controversies. Rpt. from “Last Rights: Shouldn’t We Be Able to End Our Lives However and Whenever We Want?” Texas Monthly (Oct. 2009): 98-106. Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. Cartwright claims that if people believe that we have a right to life, then people should be allowed to take that life away, if that is what they truly want. He claims that the act will almost always seem irrational from an outside viewpoint – the only people who really understand are the doctor and the patient. “Euthanasia: The Common Ground.” Euthanasia: The Common Ground. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2013. . This website explains the common ground between both sides of the euthanasia argument: the pro and the opposed. The website states that neither side of the debate want any harm done to the patient. Each side only wants what is best for the patient. Marker, Rita L and Kathi Hamlon. “Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide Should Not Be Legal.” Assisted Suicide. Ed. Noël Merino. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2012.
Current Controversies. Rpt. from “Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Frequently Asked Questions.” Patients Rights Council, 2010. Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. Marker and Hamlon claim that euthanasia laws are not about the right to die, but they are about the right to kill. They claims that these laws aren’t in place to take away someone’s right to die, but to protect from certain doctors. They states that if these laws are passed, surrogates would have the right to make the decision of being euthanized for people who are too young or do not have the mental capacity to do so, which could mean that the patient does not want to be euthanized. McManaman, Doug. “Active Euthanasia Is Never Morally Justified.” Assisted Suicide. Ed. Noël Merino. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2012.
Current Controversies. Rpt. from “Euthanasia and the Sanctity of Life.” Catholic Insight (Mar. 2010): 24-25. Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. McManaman discusses the differences in active euthanasia and passive euthanasia. He claims that euthanasia in general is wrong, but passive euthanasia can sometimes be justified. It can only be justified by taking note of whether extraordinary measures or ordinary measures may be taken. He claims that life is very valuable, and euthanasia is morally wrong. “State-by-State Guide to Physician-Assisted Suicide” ProCon.org. 28 May 2013. Web. 04 Nov. 2013. . This website shows the states that allow physician assisted suicide and the states that have made it illegal. It then goes into the specific laws of each state and explains the details and expectations regarding the assisted-suicides.