Euthanasia A Right to Die

Euthanasia, a Right to Die

By ruling euthanasia illegal, America’s justice system is violating one of our most natural rights, our freedom of choice. In all respects, the right to die is as natural as the right to live. Webster’s dictionary defines euthanasia as “an easy and painless death or an act or method of causing death painlessly.” Euthanasia, when administered correctly and under the right conditions can be a humane and moral procedure. There are so many misconceptions and cliches surrounding euthanasia today that it has become very difficult to make an informed decision about the subject. By examining concepts, cases, and various ethical theories relating to euthanasia we are able to take a reasonable position on euthanasia. People may consider euthanasia as a means to end their lives for a variety of reasons. Among those are people that have been victims of accidents and suffer from extreme disabilities, people in comas or a persistent vegetative state and even people with mental illnesses. When talking about euthanasia there are several different terms that come into play. The phrases “active” and “passive” euthanasia are used to make distinctions about the role a person, namely a physician, plays in a person’s death by euthanasia. The doctor that engages in active euthanasia is an instrumental part in aiding in that person’s death. The doctor that engages in passive euthanasia is allowing a patient to die by with holding treatment and is usually not held accountable for the person’s death. There is also the issue of “voluntary” and “involuntary” euthanasia. Voluntary euthanasia involves a competent adult consenting to or refusing treatment. On the other hand, involuntary euthanasia occurs when the patient in question does not make the decision regarding treatment. This paper will focus on and support active voluntary physician aided suicide as a form of euthanasia and the moral and legal implications involved with it.
There are four key arguments, which also translate into philosophical concerns, associated with euthanasia. The first is a person’s right to decide about his or her own life. People take for granted the life affecting choices they make on a daily basis, what career path to follow, when to marry, and when to have children-- just to name a few. The decision of when to die, without legal intervention, should also be considered as one of these natural rights. The second philosophical concern is that denying terminally ill patients the “natural right” to die is unfair and cruel. This point goes hand in hand with the subject of ordinary versus extraordinary treatment. A terminally ill patient has and will continue to have the right to prolong their life by means of ordinary treatment such as medicines and surgeries that do not involve excessive pain, expense, etc. When it becomes impossible for a person to continue living by means of ordinary treatment they are next given the choice to sustain their life by means of extraordinary treatment or they are given the option of refusing treatment. Many people choose the latter option on the basis of extraordinary treatment being associated with methods deemed unusual, difficult, dangerous, and expensive. The reality of refusal of treatment is a grim one. “What can be crueler than to let terminally ill cancer patients starve to death or wait for pneumonia when we can end their misery immediately (AE 233)?” By denying these people and others in similar circumstances the choice of an easy and painless death, we are ultimately condemning them to an existence filled with pain and despair. A third argument for euthanasia is that, by not giving people the option of physician aided suicide, we are in violation of the golden rule. Luckily, the majority of people will never have to make a decision as intimate and serious as euthanasia. However, because it is a subject of debate in America, we must all ask ourselves what we would do in a similar situation. Most people would say that, if they were diagnosed with a terminal illness and were to find themselves constantly in unbearable, excruciating pain, they would prefer a quick, easy, painless death. While people are able to speed up the process of death by various means