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Euthanasia is defined by The American Heritage Dictionary as "the action of killing an individual for reasons considered to be merciful" (469). Here, killing is described as the physical action where one individual actively kills another. Euthanasia is tolerated in the medical field under certain circumstances when a patient is suffering profoundly and death is inevitable. The word "euthanasia" comes from the Greek eu, "good", and thanatos, "death, " literally, "good death"; however, the word "euthanasia" is much more difficult to define.
Each person may define euthanasia differently. Who is to decide whether a death is good or not? Is any form of death good? All of these questions can be answered differently by each person.
It is generally taken today to mean that act which a health care professional carries out to help his / her patient achieve a good death. Suicide, self-deliverance, auto-euthanasia, aid-in-dying, assisted suicide -- call it what you like -- can be justified by the average supporter of the so-called "right to die movement" for the following reasons: The first reason is that an advanced terminal illness is causing unbearable suffering to the individual. This suffering is the most common reason to seek an early end. Second, a grave physical handicap exists that is so restricting that the individual cannot, even after due care, counseling, and re-training, tolerate such a limited existence. This handicap is a fairly rare reason for suicide; most impaired people cope remarkably well with their affliction, but there are some who would, at a certain point, rather die. We say that there is a second form of suicide; justifiable suicide, that is a rational and planned self-deliverance from a painful and hopeless disease which will shortly end in death.
I do not think the word "suicide" sits well in this context but we are stuck with it. Suicide is the taking of one's own life. Why does the term euthanasia even exist? Is euthanasia not suicide? A differentiation must be made between the two.
Suicide is condoned by society as being unacceptable but euthanasia is viewed as moral and acceptable in most instances. The term "self-deliverance" is difficult to understand because the news media is in love with the words "doctor-assisted suicide." This is because the news media is dissecting the notion of whether or not doctors, who are supposed to preserve life, should partake in euthanasia. The media is failing to look at the actual issue of euthanasia, but instead, they are looking at the decision of whether or not doctors should assist in euthanasia. Also, we have to face the fact that the law calls all forms of self-destruction There are ethical guidelines for euthanasia. If the following guidelines are met, then euthanasia is considered acceptable. The person must be a mature adult.
This is essential. The exact age will depend on the individual but the person should not be a minor who would come under quite different laws. Secondly, the person must have clearly made a considered decision. An individual has the ability now to indicate this with a living will (which applies only to disconnection of life supports) and can also, in today's more open and tolerant society, freely discuss the option of euthanasia with health-care professionals, family, lawyers, etc. The euthanasia must not be carried out at the first knowledge of a life-threatening illness, and reasonable medical help must have been sought to cure or at least slow down the terminal disease. I do not believe in giving up life the minute a person is informed that he or she has a terminal illness.
Life is precious, you only live once, and it is worth a fight. It is when the fight is clearly hopeless and the agony, physical and mental, is unbearable that a final exit is an option. The treating physician must have been informed, asked to be involved, and his or her response been taken into account. The physician's response will vary depending on the circumstances, of course, but they should advise their patients that a rational suicide is not a crime. It is best to inform the doctor and hear his or her response.
For example, the patient might be mistaken. Perhaps the diagnosis has been misheard or misunderstood. Patients raising this subject were met with a discreet silence or meaningless remarks in the past but in today's more accepting climate most physicians will discuss potential end of life actions. The person must have a Will disposing of his or her This shows evidence of a tidy mind, an orderly life, and forethought, all things which are important to an acceptance of rational suicide. The person must have made plans to die that do not involve others in criminal liability or leave them with guilty feelings. Assistance in suicide is a crime in most places, although the laws are gradually changing, and very few cases ever come before the courts.
The only well-known instance of a lawsuit concerning this is the doctor-assisted suicide of Dr. Kevorkian. The person must leave a note saying exactly why he or she is taking their life. This statement in writing removes the chance of misunderstandings or blame.
It also demonstrates that the departing person is taking full responsibility for the action. These are all guidelines for allowing a euthanasia to take place. By this, I mean the doctor is involved in the patient's decision and actively performs the euthanasia. I believe that passive euthanasia would show a lack of interest on the doctor's part. Simply allowing a patient to die does not require a doctor's Passive euthanasia should not even exist. Euthanasia is defined as "the action of killing... " James Rachel's states in his "Active and Passive Euthanasia" that "The important difference between active and passive euthanasia is that in passive euthanasia, the doctor does not do anything to bring about the patient's death.
The doctor does nothing and the patient dies of whatever ills already afflict him. In active euthanasia, however, the doctor does something to bring about the patient's death: he [actively] kills him" (1024). Is allowing a patient to die considered to be an action? Rachel's states .".. the process of being allowed to die can be relatively slow and painful, whereas being given a lethal injection is relatively quick and painless" (1020). Disconnecting respiratory devices is not an access...
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