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Example research essay topic: Physician Assisted Suicide Terminally Ill Patients - 1,902 words

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In America today many arguments are centered on the right to choose: the right for women to have an abortion, the right for gays to be allowed to raise children or be legally married, and the right to physician-assisted suicide. These arguments all have something to do with the individual having the right to make this choice or if society should be able to decide for them, thus removing this choice. Euthanasia is a choice everyone should have, but like all rights, it should not be taken advantage of. By legalizing euthanasia the practice of assisted suicide would be an available choice as well as regulated to see that it does not get abused and used for the wrong reasons. Today, more than ever, the push is on to "change the rules. " Dr. Kevorkian, a leading doctor in the fight in legalizing Euthanasia, while deplored by most medical professionals for his methods, is heralded as a hero on many fronts for bringing this issue into the public square.

By all accounts, a time of decision is upon us. When a fully conscious person requests death, should a doctor assist the person in dying? It is the purpose of this paper to present a concise overview of the primary arguments for the legalization of doctor-assisted suicide and also attempt to identify and clarify the active / passive distinction inherent in the debate on euthanasia, before concluding, through an analysis of writers such as Rachel's, that the distinction is in itself morally important. My four primary arguments for legalizing euthanasia are as follows: The mercy argument, which states that the immense pain and indignity of prolonged suffering, cannot be ignored. We are being inhumane to force people to continue suffering this way. The patients right to self-determination.

Patient empowerment has been a trend for more than twenty-five years. "It's my life, my pain. Why can't I get the treatment I want"? The economics argument, which notes the cost of keeping people alive, is exceedingly high. Who's footing the bill for the ten thousand people being sustained in a persistent vegetative state?

Aren't we wasting precious resources when an already used up life is prolonged unnecessarily? The reality argument. "Let's face it people are already doing it." Lying in bed, alone in inconceivable pain. For many people the process of dying includes weeks, months even years of pain and suffering. For some, the pain may reach an intensity which even drugs cannot overcome.

Even where pain largely can be controlled, distress is caused by loss of control over bodily functions, physical wasting away and mental disarray or incapacity. For many, this is reality. Not being able to do anything or go anywhere restricted by their medical condition. Making someone die in a way that others approve, but he believes a horrifying contradiction of his life, is a devastating, odious form of tyranny. While the common law gives every competent person the right to refuse medical treatment, in practice such a right is often overridden. A person may be certified as mentally incompetent if he or she refuses treatment, which the attending medical professionals believe is warranted.

The treatment may then be given legally. Such cases of patient empowerment must be abolished. Some terminally ill patients who have been denied assistance in dying, have attempted to terminate they " re suffering by ending their lives themselves or with the help of loved ones, who are not trained in medicine. Some patients have botched their suicides and brought further suffering to themselves and those around them. Patients should not have to resort to suicide to end their suffering. It is their life, their pain.

They should be able to get the treatment they want. As Sir Mark Oliphant said, " if we so choose, the end of life need not be preceded by intolerable pain, or by senility and loss of bodily functions. Death with dignity is the right of every person who faces an incurable, painful or degrading future. Caring for terminally ill patients requires a vast amount of money. In 1997, shortly after the senate voted to overturn the Northern Territory's euthanasia law, doctors from both sides of the euthanasia lobby united in calling for more funds for palliative care. There is a requirement for several hundred million dollars extra to really adequately provide for the needs of the dying, particularly in country areas.

I put forth the questions to you, where is the government going to get the money from. The only way of course, would have to be to raise the taxes, or to cut funding from another specific area. Why waste precious resources on something we don't need to. Prolonging the life of a person, who can no longer live, is pointless and costly. It would be better to die a death with dignity, than to succumb to a bed for the rest of your life. Why does the government choose to outlaw euthanasia when it is done anyway?

Legalizing it would mean that patients would be able to consult doctors, and not resort to taking it into their own hands, making it safer and better. There would be no need for suicide attempts; consequently there would be less tragedies. To conclude, the only way for us to go forward would be to follow the lead of the Netherlands in allowing euthanasia to be carried out by medical practitioners under clear guidelines. Passive euthanasia is defined as allowing a patient to die by withholding treatment, while active euthanasia is defined as taking measures that directly cause a patient's death.

Essentially, the terms active and passive address how close the causal connection is between an action and an individual's death Those who state that active termination of a patients life can never be justified appeal to many strong arguments in support of their assertion. Firstly, it is thought that if a person seeks to end their life through active euthanasia, then they intrinsically contradict the value of their autonomy; Secondly, active euthanasia violates the fundamental prohibition against killing, except of course in the case of self-defense or defense of others; Thirdly it is thought that there would be a general reduction of respect for human life if official barriers to killing were removed; and lastly it is believed that if made a public policy, active euthanasia could lead to involuntary euthanasia. Those who argue against active euthanasia understand that there is a demand for active euthanasia as a response "to the fear of entrapment in a technologically sophisticated, seemingly uncaring world of medicine. In "Active and passive euthanasia, " James Rachel challenges the doctrine that passive euthanasia can be morally permissible but active euthanasia cannot.

He argues that killing someone is not, in itself, worse than letting someone die. No distinction can be sustained, and so active euthanasia is not worse than passive euthanasia. In his view, we should decide whether euthanasia is permissible in a particular case, irrespective of the means by which death would be brought about with the view of favoring the means that is most humane. Consequently according to Rachel's, in cases where a dying patient's suffering cannot be adequately relieved by palliative care, active euthanasia should be favored over passive euthanasia because it ends the suffering faster.

Rachel's observes and acknowledges the belief that actively killing someone is morally worse than passively letting someone die. Nevertheless he propounds that they do not differ since both have the same outcome: the death of the patient on humanitarian grounds. It is his opinion that the difference between the two is accentuated because we frequently hear of terrible cases of active killings, but not of passive killings. Thus, Rachel concludes, there is no inherent moral distinction between killing and letting die. The opponents can argue that Rachel's' conclusions are deficient on a number of accounts.

First, at best Rachel gives cases of two morally deplorable actions, not two equally deplorable actions. The difference is important. Rachel argues, rather, for the latter by appealing to the emotions. However, on an emotional level this in effect makes both cases (Smith and Jones) appear equally deplorable. Rachel offers several arguments in favor of the moral permissibility of active euthanasia, one of which is an argument from mercy. He begins by describing a classic case where a person named Jack is terminally ill and in unbearable pain and states that Jack's condition alone is a compelling reason for the permissibility of active mercy killing.

A more formal utilitarian version of this argument is that active euthanasia is morally permissible since it produces the greatest happiness. Critics have traditionally attacked utilitarianism for focusing too heavily on happiness, and not enough on other intrinsic goods, such as justice and rights. Accordingly, Rachel offers a revised utilitarian version: active euthanasia is permissible since it promotes the best interests of everyone (such as Jack, Jack's wife, and the hospital staff). Rachel also argues that the golden rule supports active euthanasia insofar as we would want others to put us out of our misery if we were in a situation like Jack's.

Again, a more formal version of this argument is based on Kant's categorical imperative ("act only on that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law"). The categorical imperative supports active euthanasia since no one would willfully universalize a rule, which condemns people to unbearable pain before death. It is also reasoned that it is considered bad to be the cause of someone's death and that death is regarded as a great evil. However, if it has been decided that active or passive euthanasia is desirable in a given case, it has also been decided that in this instance death is no greater an evil than the patient's continued existence. A good point is raised here, because death is supposedly inevitable in either case, so according to Rachel, if a doctor allows a patient to die or gives him a lethal injection, then the motives and ends are essentially the same. Thus Rachel would maintain that when the motives and other circumstances are the same, as in the Smith and Jones cases, it becomes clear that whether a person is killed or allowed to die is morally irrelevant.

In conclusion, denying patients the right to die with dignity and lucidity is unfair and cruel. If physician assisted suicide means giving a patient the right to choose between a life without dignity and hope, or ending their pain and suffering with an honorable closure on life, than it should be permitted. When a patient has no desire to go on living and wants to die before their condition gets worse, they should be allowed to decide how their life ends and why. Assisted suicide is known to have been going on without fanfare and without legal support for many years. It is time to give physician-assisted suicide the legal justification that it deserves. P.

S. my weakest argument would be to put abortion, same sex marriages and physician assisted suicide all in one category of the right to choose. Granted, as I said in the first paragraph, these arguments all have something to do with the individual having the right to make this choice or if society should be able to decide for them, thus removing this choice. Euthanasia still involves killing, and killing still spells out murder. [/b]


Free research essays on topics related to: terminally ill patients, death with dignity, physician assisted suicide, pain and suffering, patient to die

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