Euthanasia: The Right To Die Essay

1686 words - 7 pages

Euthanasia, which is also referred to as mercy killing, is the act of ending someone’s life either passively or actively, usually for the purpose of relieving pain and suffering. “All forms of euthanasia require an intention to accelerate death in order to benefit patients experiencing a poor quality of life” (Sayers, 2005). It is a highly controversial subject that often leaves a person with mixed emotions and beliefs. Opinions regarding this topic hinge on the health and mental state of the victim as well as method of death. It raises legal issues as well as the issue of morals and ethics. Euthanasia is divided into two different categories, passive euthanasia and active euthanasia. “There ...view middle of the document...

“Active euthanasia defines the practice where death is caused by direct administration of a lethal substance” (Sayers, 2005). Dr. Jack Kevorkian is a physician well known for his cases of physician assisted suicide. “In his writings and statements, Kevorkian advocates a society that allows euthanasia for the dying, the disabled, the mentally ill, infants with birth defects and comatose adults; and he sanctions experiments prior to their death and organ harvesting.” (Betzold, 1997). Many other physicians and also nurses have performed euthanasia causing public alarm that some cases are actually murder. In one such case a physician and his nurse, Dr. James Gallant decided to take a Ms. Clarietta Day life into his own hands: “Day collapsed on the phone while calling 911 in the early morning of March 22. She was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with a subarachnoid hemorrhage (burst blood vessel in the brain), a condition that is invariably fatal. Sometime before she died, Day had filled out an advance directive, which included instructions from August 1995, in which she wrote that should she become unconscious, she wished to be kept alive for at least forty-eight hours. However, following the diagnosis, Day received painkillers every five to ten minutes for a four-hour period, even though there was no documentation that Day was in discomfort or agitated. She was removed from a respirator and had a magnet applied to her pacemaker in an effort to shut it off. Finally, Gallant prescribed the 100 mg dose of succinylcholine. Some fifteen minutes later, Gallant pronounced the patient dead and wrote on the death certificate that death was caused by "stroke due to subarachnoid hemorrhage." (Campbell, 1996) This case is now under investigation but the family of the victim fully supports the actions of the medical professionals involved.
I work as a med tech in a long term care facility and as a result see pain and suffering on a daily basis. Residents with painful medical conditions have lingered on for months and often even years as their family members stood helplessly at their bedside powerless to help end the suffering. I have seen cases in which death resulted from withdrawing life sustaining treatment or passive euthanasia. Based on physician’s orders, we have stopped medication, food, water, and shut down oxygen and ventilators. Individuals on death’s doorstep have been allowed to die a little faster. Advocating for the stopping of these life-sustaining treatments is hospice nurses that work with the families through this difficult period of losing a loved one. As a result of these experiences, I believe that euthanasia should be legal, although with many restrictions and laws governing the process, to allow our loved ones to die with the dignity that they deserve.
Euthanasia has gained strong supporters from a diverse group of citizens worldwide, that believe that a human being has the right to die if they so choose under certain...

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