Euthanasia is defined as the act of killing for reasons of mercy. The government, physicians, and people across the United States and other countries have been debating the issue of legalizing euthanasia for years. Euthanasia should be banned and illegal in America and other nations. Euthanasia came to the public’s attention in the western countries in 1870’s. During 1920 in Germany, euthanasia began, and from 1921-1923, wounded German veterans were the first people to be put to death by euthanasia. After 1923, the practice was extended to other people who were handicapped and mentally retarded (Sloan, NP).
In 1937, the Euthanasia Society of America was founded in New York City. When people refer to euthanasia, they may be discussing passive euthanasia, active euthanasia, or assisted suicide. Passive euthanasia occurs when medical treatment to prolong a terminally ill patient is discontinued and the patient is allowed to die. In active euthanasia, a physician or a family member takes a patient’s life before he or she dies of a terminal illness or injury. Assisted suicide occurs when someone does a person’s request for help in dying.
Euthanasia is the practice of painlessly ending the lives of people who have incurable, painful, ore distressing diseases or handicaps (Bender, 12). People define euthanasia as “the act of practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly illness person or injured individuals in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy” (Bender, 12). Some people believe that patients have a right to die, in opposition, the other people consider all three types of euthanasia to be murder, suicide, and immoral. The first bill to legalize euthanasia in the United States was introduced in the Ohio Legislature in 1906.
In 1937, the Nebraska Legislature voted down a bill legalizing active euthanasia in the United States. In 1939, the New York Legislature rejected a bill about legalizing euthanasia in the United States. From about 1947 to the late 1960’s, and early 1970’s, euthanasia was illegal in the United States and Western Europe. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that doctors may disconnect a respirator that kept a patient alive. In 1990, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that people who wish to die have the right to have their life-supporting treatment disconnected and established living wills for them.
In January 1997, the U. S. Supreme Court heard arguments over the issue of doctor-assisted suicide and ruled that the Constitution does not guarantee the right of the terminally ill patient to doctor-assisted suicide in June 1997 (Berger, 121). The case of Karen Quinlan is the most famous because it was the first case to bring the issue of euthanasia to public attention. The case of Quinlan includes passive euthanasia, active euthanasia, and assisted suicide. In 1975, Quinlan got into an irreversible coma after drinking alcohol and using tranquiller at a party, and her parents asked that she must be removed from a respirator.
In 1976, the New Jersey Supreme Court agreed and allowed them to have a respirator disconnected. Although Quinlan breathed on her own and lived for another nine years after being removed from a respirator, her case was the first example of a court’s approving passive euthanasia as a legal action (Bender, 13). In the 1980s, active and passive euthanasia came to the public’s attention in the case of Nancy Cruzan. When Cruzan was left in an irreversible coma after a 1983 car accident, her parents asked that a feeding tube that provided her with hydration and nutrition be removed.
After several years in court, in 1990 they finally were allowed to have her feeding tube removed, after which she died. Her parents believed that removing the feeding tube was passive euthanasia because the tube was a medical treatment keeping their daughter alive. To people who opposed their actions, they believe that Cruzan’s parents killed their daughter through starvation. Karen Quinlan’s father, Joseph, responded with astonishment when asked in 1976 if he would seek to have his daughter’s feeding tube removed. He responded, “Oh, no, that is her nourishment” (Bender, 14).
Many people agreed with him, in contact, other people supported Cruzan’s parents’ opinions of removing their daughter’s feeding tube. More people began to argue that measures such as those taken by Cruzan’s parents could sometimes by acceptable and legal. Life is extremely valuable, and to end it through euthanasia is very unethical. All acts of killing patients and allowing them to die are morally wrong. In 355 BC, Hippocrates, a Greek physician, said, “I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest such counsel” (Cundiff, 121).
People must understand that no matter how ill a patient is, they never have a right to put a patient to death, and they have a duty to care for him and preserve life. David Bender, an author of Euthanasia: Opposing Viewpoints, who says, “Life is a gift from God that we are not free to end on our own terms. ” Since doctors still profit the hospital visits to their patients, people must recognize that there is a financial incentive to doctors to keep terminally ill patients alive. Euthanasia may destroy the trust of medical professions such as doctors and physicians.
People could become frightened of their doctors and wouldn’t think of them as their friends, but as their enemies. The citizens might fear that doctors are too eager to use the new techniques at their disposal and be scared away from proper health care. Widespread euthanasia might also serve to destroy the ethical image and trust of the medical profession. For instance, Dr. Jack Kevorkian let Janet Adkins, a 54-years old suffer of early Alzheimer’s disease, pushed a button on a machine, which released lethal fluids into her body. He had administered death to dozens to other people, and several people now don’t trust him anymore.
A person on AMA’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs says, “Allowing physicians to perform euthanasia for a limited group of patients who may truly benefit from it will present difficult line-drawing problems for medicine and society” (Pavone, 48). More than a few people who even want to die or doesn’t want to die are put to death with euthanasia. Many people who attempt to take their own lives, and many who succeed really don’t want to die, and their acts show that they are desperate for help. For example, in a legal case, a psychiatrist helped a depressed by physically healthy patient commit suicide (Cundiff, 13).
When the patient wants life-sustaining treatment, the physician won’t allow furthering the treatment to keep a patient alive. For instance, from 1921 to 1923, wounded German veterans who refused to die were being put to death by euthanasia. “The patient wants life-sustaining treatment, the physician doesn’t believe the quality of the patient’s life justifies the cost to the health institution or the physical and emotional burdens of care; and therefore, the doctor is entitled to refuse further treatment” (Bender, 23). Killing an incurable patient with euthanasia may be the easiest and cheapest way to stop his pain.
It is inappropriate to allow a patient to suffer and Due to the controversy over the issue of legalizing euthanasia, many organizations have either been developed, and provide information on the issue. There are many ways to become involved in the issue of euthanasia. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) supports scientific research on depression and suicide, educates people and medical professions on the treatment of depressed and suicidal individuals, and provide support programs for those people coping with the loss of a loved one to suicide (Leone, 80). It opposes the legalization of physician-assisted suicide.