The Controversy of Euthanasia

God created the world in six days. The first five days he created the sky, land and vegetation, the sun, moon and stars, the sea, animals that move along the ground. On the sixth day he created man in his won image. He saw that all this was good and on the seventh day he rested. God gave us life and he worked hard to give us all the things we need to live. He even gave his only son so that if we believe we will have eternal life. This is why the controversy of Euthanasia is skyrocketing in the United States. It has created mass confusion among Americans due to the strong arguments those for and against it propose, which leaves those undecided in turmoil.

WHAT IS EUTHANASIA?

Euthanasia is the practice of mercifully ending a person’s life to release the person from an incurable disease, intolerable suffering, or undignified death. The word Euthanasia originated from the Greek language, with the prefix eu meaning “good” and the suffix thanatos meaning “death”. It originally referred to intentional mercy killing. When medical advances made prolonging the lives of dying or comatose patients possible, the term Euthanasia was also applied to a lack of action to prevent death. There are a number of vaguely related terms such as Passive Euthanasia, Active Euthanasia, Physician Assisted Suicide and Involuntary Euthanasia.

Dr. Jack Kevorkian was found guilty of 2nd degree murder in 1999 for the mercy killing of a patient with ALS in 1998.

PASSIVE EUTHANASIA

Passive Euthanasia is causing the death of a person by altering some form of support and letting nature take it’s course. For example:
– Removing life support equipment
– Stopping medical procedures and medications, etc.
– Stopping food and water and allowing the person to dehydrate or starve to death
– Not delivering CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) and allowing a person, whose heart has stopped, to die

The most common form of Passive Euthanasia is to give a patient large doses of morphine which suppresses respiration and causes death sooner than it would have otherwise happened. Administering such medications is regarded as ethical in most political jurisdictions and by most medical societies. These procedures are performed on terminally ill, suffering persons so that natural death will occur sooner. It is also done on individuals with massive brain damage that is in a coma with no possibility of regaining consciousness.

ACTIVE EUHANASIA

Active Euthanasia involves causing the death of a person through a direct action with the consent of that person. A well known example was the mercy killing in 1998 of a patient with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) by Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a Michigan physician. His patient was afraid that the disease would cause him to die a devastating death in the near future. He wanted a quick painless end to his life. Dr. Kevorkian injected controlled substances into the patient causing his death. Dr. Kevorkian was charged with first-degree murder, but the jury found him guilty of second degree murder in 1999.

PHYSICIAN- ASSISTED SUICIDE

Physician-assisted suicide is when a physician supplies information and/or the means of committing suicide. For example, prescriptions for a lethal dose of sleeping pills or a supply of carbon monoxide gas so that a person can easily terminate their won life. The term “Voluntary Passive Euthanasia” (VPE) is becoming commonly used. Dr. Kevorkian ha promoted VPE and has assisted in the deaths of hundreds of patients. In the beginning he hooked patients up to machines that delivered measured doses of medications, but only after the patient pushed a button to initiate the sequence. More recently, he provided carbon monoxide and a face mask so that his patient could initiate the flow of gas.

INVOLUNTARY EUTHANASIA

The term Involuntary Euthanasia is used by some to describe the killing of a person who has not requested aid in dying. This is most often done to patients who are in a persistent vegetative state and will probably never recover consciousness.

WHY IS EUTHANASIA AN ISSUE?

Euthanasia has become an important issue in the United States because people have many different reasons for wanting to end their lives by committing suicide. For example:

– Some are severely depressed over a long period of time.
– They live in excessive, chronic pain. Some cannot afford pain killing medications. Others are denied adequate pain killers because of their physician’s lack of knowledge, inadequate training, or specific beliefs.
– They have a terminal illness and do not want to diminish their assets by incurring large medical costs as their death approaches. They would rather die sooner, and pass on their assets to their beneficiaries.
– A serious disorder or disease has adversely effected their quality of life to the point where they no longer with to continue living.
– They have been diagnosed with a degenerative, progressive illness like ALS, Huntington’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, AIDS, Alzheimer’s Disease, etc. They fear a gradual loss of the quality of life in the future as the disease or disorder progresses.
– They have lost their independence and must be cared for continually. Some feel that this causes an unacceptable loss of personal dignity.

PRO-EUTHANASIA

Pro-Euthanasia people typically portray Euthanasia as a case of individual liberty. If a person decides that he wants to die, what right do we have to tell him what he can and cannot do with his own life. Pro-Euthanasia people often say that Euthanasia should be limited to people who are terminally ill. They define ” terminally ill” as meaning that the person will die within a few months without medical treatment.

The true motive of many leaders of the Euthanasia movement is to eliminate those with a poor quality of life. Individual rights, autonomy, and deference to families were all convenient slogans with which they successfully assaulted what twenty-five years ago was the prevailing ethic of respect for all life. Euthanasia advocates are now discarding the principles of individual and family autonomy they once extolled.. For them, there is no room for respect for the autonomy of those who want to live.

ANTI-EUTHANAISA

Anti-Euthanasia people fear that legalizing Euthanasia will lead to non-voluntary Euthanasia. Many people support the right of a terminally ill patient to die, but what if the right becomes an obligation? What about the potential abuse by impatient heirs? Should dying patients have the right to order their doctors not to start or continue medical treatment and should doctors be protected from prosecution if they shorten a patient’s life expectancy with pain-killing drugs? Most of us would answer yes to both questions, but does this mean we need a “Right to Die Law”.

Public discussion of the treatment of dying patients often confuses two separate issues. First, is the right of the terminally ill person to be allowed to die without being subjected to invasive medical procedures. Second, is the question of whether a dying person should also have the right to hasten his or her own death, and require the help of doctors and nurses to do so.
If Voluntary Euthanasia is made legal for “persons of sound mind”, there will inevitably be tremendous pressure to provide it for those who “would request it, if they were able to”-the mentally ill or handicapped, the senile, etc.

What will happen to the trust that people still feel toward their doctors if Euthanasia becomes legal? What emotion will elderly or seriously ill patients feel when the nurse approaches them with a full syringe? How soundly will they sleep in the hospital?

THE UNDECIDED VIEW

Those who are undecided are caught straddling a fence. On one hand they feel it would be nice to have the option to be euthanized if they had a terrible disease and were destined to die a long painful death. On the other hand, would God understand, forgive them and let them in his kingdom after they sought Euthanasia as a way out? Most likely not. God states clearly in the sixth commandment, “You shall not kill.” You shouldn’t kill others, nor should you kill yourself. Yet, we are only human, and those undecided still wonder if their faith would be strong enough to lay their lives and destinies full in God’s hands.

I felt this way for a while, until I realized that all Euthanasia really means is an eternity in hell . Undoubtedly it goes against God’s plan and it’s something that cannot be forgiven. What’s worse-A long painful death and an eternity in Heaven, or to die a quick painless death by means of Euthanasia, and spend eternity in hell. That’s an easy decision for me. Is it for you?
Although Euthanasia remains illegal in forty-nine states, 75% of Americans favor an individuals right to physician assisted suicide. Oregon is the only state that allows it. At this time thirty- five states explicitly criminalize it. Regardless of whether or not it is fully legalized Euthanasia will remain one of the biggest controversies in the United States. What’s right, what’s wrong, what would God do if he were one of us?

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