When someone is inevitably dying and in inexplicable pain is it really a crime to grant their wishes and end their suffering? As of right now euthanasia is illegal in many countries and is a very controversial topic. Is it compassion for the patient helping them in ending their life or murder? The doctor is not giving death as an option, it is the patients choice and even where it is legal there are many rules. Euthanasia should not be considered a crime because the patient is not being murdered; they are having their suffering end in a painless, humane way out of compassion for the patient and their family.
Euthanasia is defined by the World Book Millennium 2000 encyclopaedia as, “the practise of painlessly ending the lives of people who have incurable, painful, or distressing diseases or handicaps” (Thomas 421). There are two types of euthanasia: active euthanasia and passive euthanasia. Active euthanasia involves using a method such as lethal injection or prescriptions of drugs.
Passive euthanasia is when life sustaining medication or treatment is withdrawn (Thomas 421) There is also voluntary euthanasia and non-voluntary euthanasia.
Voluntary euthanasia is when the patient makes their wishes clear and tells the doctor or multiple doctors that they wish to have their lives ended and are aware of the circumstances. Non-voluntary euthanasia however is a little different and it is not that the patient wishes to live but that they cannot make their own choice such as if the person is in a coma, too young, senile, extensive mental retardation, severely brain damaged, or the person is deeply disturbed.
In these situations the patient is not able to make their own decision and it is on the family or the care taker to make the decision (“Should Euthanasia or Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Legal” Internet). Euthanasia is used in situations where the patient is dying of an incurable and painful illness such as cancer, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, AIDS, and many others. The biggest part is that the diseases is incurable and very painful. Also some people who are paraplegic would like to have the choice to end their suffering. The reason to legalize euthanasia is clear, these people need to have the choice to die with dignity.
Dr. Jack Kevorkian more commonly known as Dr. Death is greatly known for his opinion that euthanasia should be legalized and his work with patients seeking help. He was very important in showing euthanasia and voicing his opinion on the subject so the public could not ignore the importance of the matter. Dr. Kevorkian was said to have been involved with 130 suicides by patients who wanted to end their own lives (Nicol and Wylie 17). He had two machines he used to help the patients, one an injection and the other a mask, however both machines were operated by the patient and although Dr.
Kevorkian was taken to court many times for these he was not convicted because the patient was in control. He was very careful as to not actually commit the act himself until he was contacted by Thomas Youk, a young with Lou Gheric’s disease; Lou Gheric’s disease is when the muscle stop working and eventually the patient chokes to death. Tom’s condition prevented him from actually operating the machines and therefore Dr. Kevorkian decided that he would operate the machine himself because he cared greatly about all his patients and could not let Tom live in his constant fear (Nicol and Wylie 11).
Dr. Kevorkian taped Tom’s wishes and then himself hooking up the machine and pushing the button to inject the drugs. He then proceed to send the tape to 60 Minutes and they played it on their show. Dr. Kevorkian was taken to court and convicted of murder, he was sent to prison April 13, 1999 right after his sentencing ( Nicol and Wylie 231). He was aware of the risk of revealing the tape but he wanted to make it known that he thought what he was doing was right and he had no regrets in helping the patients who could not bare to live.
Dr. Kevorkian was an enormous influence in the fight to legalize euthanasia and his efforts opened many eyes to the issue. Many may wonder how euthanasia is relatable to their life and why they should care? Everyone needs to be aware that incurable illness’ do not chose who they effect, they are not limited to race, wealthiness or age and there are many different varieties and numerous ones could effect you or a loved one. There are many cases where people would be overjoyed with the option of euthanasia such as 70 year old Mrs.
Boyes who asked repeatedly for euthanasia because she was in so much pain she “screamed like a dog” at a mere touch (Docker Internet). What about 21 year old Karen Ann Quinlan who was in a vegetative state, her parents wanted to take her off life support but the courts denied it numerous times, she died 10 years later of pneumonia. Roman Sanpedro was a paraplegic who described himself as a “ head attached to a corpse” (Docker Internet). He was a patient who wanted the right for euthanasia and who could explain it better than a person in that situation, he stated:
“Why die? Because every journey has its departure time and only the traveller has the privilege and the right to choose the last day to get out. Why to die? Because at times the journey of no return is the best path that reason can show is out of love and respect for life, so that life may have a dignified death” (Docker Internet). These patients deserve the opportunity to make the choice of giving up and having their suffering ended with help from professionals in a painless way. With the legalization of euthanasia laws would be put into place to keep the best interests of the patients and doctors safe.
Laws have been put into place for countries who have legalized euthanasia and not have reported any major issues since legalizing the act. The laws are clear and involve things such as the patient must be terminally ill, they must have six months or less to live, they must make two oral requests and one written request, the decision must be deemed voluntary, they must know all their options and after the decision they must wait at least 15 days to make sure they are completely comfortable with their decision (“Euthanasia – Oregon’s Euthanasia Laws” Internet).
All these laws are very well thought out and are ways to insure the safety of the patients. If euthanasia were to become legalized in other countries they would have to come up with laws of their own but the above laws are a very good place to start and with a few other details such as having to have their arrangements taken care of before the act or having to have a mental examination before examining the patient to make sure they are mentally stable.
Laws could easily be put in place for euthanasia and it should be legalized because it is needed to allow patients not to live in fear everyday of their lives. Euthanasia is not murder and should not be considered a crime because it is not intended to harm the person but rather save them from themselves. When someone lives everyday in fear wondering if today will be the day their heart stops beating or the day they will no longer be able to see, speak, hear, stand or even breath something needs to be done to help these patients with their constant suffering.
Euthanasia should be legalized out of compassion for those who suffer everyday and no longer want to live with the constant pain and fear. Give patients a chance to chose their time, say their goodbyes and not only stop their own pain but the pain of their loved ones who have to stand by and watch as they slowly die without them being able to help in anyway. Legalizing euthanasia is not giving doctors permission to kill patients or perform malpractice it is letting those who are inevitably dying die with dignity.